Less than a week after their roller coaster against North Kildare, the Phoenikers were in action again, this time in the 25 over Minor cup. The team who travelled to Malahide to play on the new top pitch was:
Kate Voice (Captain), Helen Caird (Hon. Sec), Lisa Kelly, Karinda Tollard, Sarah McIntosh, Debbie Chapman, Orla Martin, Vanessa Kelada, Sheila Martin, Lesley Anders, Ali Keenan
Malahide were an unknown quantity to us as they had just moved down from playing in division 2. They won the toss and asked Phoenix to bat first. The regular openers Helen and Lisa started proceedings and it was obvious from the start that this bowling was of a better standard than we had previously experienced this season. Both opening bowlers were keeping the ball on a good length and on the stumps. They even impressed our umpire the Chair of Cricket who is notoriously difficult to impress.
The openers battled manfully (womanfully?) taking singles where they could and being very selective in which ball to attempt to come forward to. After 7 overs we were 23 for no wicket, a solid start but a bit slow. In the 8th over Lisa attempted to wellie one which went straight up in the air and was caught by their wicket keeper so the first wicket fell at 29. Karinda Toland came in at number 3 and was warned by the outgoing batsman and the Hon. Sec. that the bowling was very accurate. She proceeded to hit her first and third ball faced for a boundary – you can take the girl out of Australia but not the Aussie out of the girl.
After 10 overs Malahide made a double bowling change but these 2 were also very accurate and there were no juicy ones down the leg side to move the score along. In the 12th over the Hon. Sec. was bowled trying to make some room to free her arms and the score was now 48 for 2. Debbie then came in and showed us that the 4 she hit in the previous match definitely was deliberate as she and Karinda added 12 before Debbie was bowled and Karinda was caught going for yet another big shot in the next over.
Vanessa then made her season debut having finished her leaving cert and she was joined by Orla. These 2 batted very sensibly together with Orla showing us, amongst other shots, a classic cover drive boundary. They had a partnership of 21 before Vanessa was bowled by the returning opening bowler and Orla was bowled by the 5th bowler who was also amazingly accurate. Sarah and Captain Kate battled to the end against the tight Malahide bowling and the Phoenix innings ended on 88 for 6. Top scores were 18 for Lisa, 17 for Karinda and 12 for Orla but commendably there was not a duck or a run out in sight.
At the break Phoenix were reasonably happy that they had put up a decent display and not been blown away by the good bowling but with the rate required at only 3 and a half runs per over we would need to put up a dazzling display of bowling and fielding to get out of this one.
Malahide had the luxury of 5 bowlers whereas we only had 3 due to Deirdre having left the country for some Barbados sunshine and Hannah being in London for a stylish end of leaving cert. celebrations (none of this Magaluf business for Phoenix ladies). We had the demon fast bowler Vanessa (aka Bret Lee), the deadly accurate Orla (aka Glen McGrath) and the perfect length of Sarah (aka Chaminda Vaas).
Vanessa showed that she still had her golden arm when she clean bowled their opener in her first over and, not to be outdone, Orla bowled the other opener in her second over bringing the score to 15 for 2 in the 3rd over. This gave the Phoenikers hope that if we could remove the openers we could perhaps remove the rest of the batsmen as well before they reached our target. The Malahide 3 and 4 bats then batted for over an hour slowly accumulating. Phoenix resolved to make every run difficult to get and the fielding was tight and accurate. Vanessa bowled her 9 overs straight through and finished on figures of 9 overs 2 maidens 1 wicket for 19 runs.
After 20 overs the score was 58 for 2 so 31 were required off the last 5 and Phoenix started to think that rather than an honourable defeat we really had a chance of winning the match. Orla and Sarah continued bowling accurately and the fielders were super, backing each other up and putting their bodies on the line. There were a few dropped catches but the Captain explained afterwards that these were tactical drops because we wanted to keep bowling at the 2 batsmen at the crease rather than risk a big hitter coming in next.
With 2 overs to go 14 runs were required and the tension in the Village was palpable. Orla bowled her last over for just 3 scrambled singles and a leg bye finishing on 9 overs 1 for 32. So the pressure was on Sarah to bowl the last over with 10 required for a Malahide win and 9 for a super over eliminator. The first ball of the over was hit very hard straight into the hands of Captain Kate who clearly thought she should hold on to this one so no runs could be scored that ball. The new bat faced a dot ball and a wide, then crashed a 2 and tried to do the same thing the next ball but by grace of some quick fielding we ran out her partner before the second run could be completed. The score was 83 for 4 so 6 were required off the last 2 balls.
Everyone told Sarah she could do it, just keep the ball on the stumps, but it is a lot of pressure for someone who is not quite 14 yet. Sarah rose to the occasion and bowled a good straight ball that the batsman failed to connect with. So with 6 required off the last ball the field spread and the blood pressure mounted. All credit to the Malahide bat who determinedly strode down the wicket and made every effort to get the 6 required. She connected well and hard and the ball went sailing in the air towards an unmanned part of the boundary where it bounced about 3 yards inside the boundary before going over for a 4. It was all over and the Phoenikers had won by 1 run.
It was a great game of cricket played in good spirit and showed that every run counts and it is never over until the last ball has been bowled (or the Hon. Sec. sings !).
Thanks to Conor for scoring, David for umpiring, former President Barbara for supporting us and especially to 10 year old Ali Keenan who fielded her heart out for us.
The Phoenikers will now be appearing in the Minor cup semi-final in a few weeks time.