In the old days there was no such thing as Leicester City winning the Premiership, there was only the big four clubs dividing up the spoils each year.
But all that has changed , Leicester did win the Premiership and despite being singled out for relegation by Paul Reynolds the Phoenix 5ths have started their season with 4 wins from 4 which is bringing lots of laughs in our changing rooms these days as Claudio Mooney has never spent so much time on Twitter with his #weareleicestercity hashtag!
Anyway back to business and we have two matches to update you on this week.
The first was the 5th XI game away to Sandyford in Marlay Park. Claudio Mooney was the stand in skipper as the Admiral was sitting on a plane to LA staring at the Cricket Leinster website waiting on updates from his charges.
The Phoenix team was Black, Mooney, Maginnis senior, Maginnis Junior, Evan, Hillman, Nalawade, Mehmood, Zafar, Louis and Mick Mc Donagh
And just like the old days Mooney lost the toss and Phoenix were batting first.
Stephen Black and Mooney opened against some tight Sandyford bowling- The Marlay Park outfield did not give Stephen reward for his shots and when he fell for only 1 run of 13 balls he was entitled to be disgruntled! Alan Maginnis was in next and both he and Graham got Phoenix to 47 off 15 overs- slow progress but such is the way at Marlay Park!
Alan fell for 16 and with drinks in sight Graham was bowled for 22 Phoenix followed swiftly by James Maginnis for 8 Phoenix were 71-4 at drinks.
Next in were Sunny (Arsalan Mehmood) and Evan Chester.
Momentum was quick to change as Sunny set about the bowling with some lusty blows. Evan at the other end just kept rotating the strike allowing Sunny to motor- The pair added 69 in just 43 minutes in 11 overs. Sunny got to his 50 (7 fours and 1 six) and was out next ball!
But Evan kept going. Akarsh was out first ball (2nd season syndrome is in full swing with Akarsh!) but Conor Hillman battled hard alongside Evan who was starting to take up the running. Evan has had a few near misses waiting for his first senior 50 and today he wasn’t going to be denied!
On 49 he let loose with his 6th boundary of the innings and a significant milestone was achieved- there’ll be plenty more to come we hope! When Conor fell for 11 (a partnership of 58 in 33 minutes and 8 overs!), Louis Mc Donagh joined the cause with only a couple of overs left. Quick singles were the order of the skipper and while Louis did get run out for 3 it was to keep Evan on strike. Zafar and Evan closed the innings off with a couple more quick runs- Phoenix finished on 194-8 off their 40 overs. (Evan finished on 61 not out!)
When Phoenix set out to bowl they knew 194 was a big score in the slow scoring Marlay Park.
Skipper Mooney rattled through the bowlers making sure Sandyford couldn’t settle. Zafar bowled tightly all day (6 overs 0-17), Conor (7 overs 0-32) and Sunny was good too (8 overs 1-28) but again it was the youngsters that kept Sandyford down. At drinks Sandyford were 62-4 needing 133 off the last 20 overs. James Maginnis bowled well to get 3-19 off his 8 overs, Evan chipped in with his first wicket in a long time to round off an excellent performance and Akarsh popped up with 2-30 off 8. Just to make sure there was no comeback Louis was drafted in to get the dangerous looking Ravi Singh (on 57) and obliged in his first over 1-16 off 4 overs)
From 35,000 feet somewhere over the Atlantic the messages from Claudio Mooney were emphatic- a great team effort in a tough place to play cricket- getting value for shots is difficult and to get to 194-8 was a great effort. While we weren’t as good as previous weeks in the field we did enough and the bowlers got the ball in the right areas just enough to ensure that we kept getting wickets!
Man of the Match- Evan Chester with his first senior 50 (followed closely by Conor Dillon who travelled to the south side to score for us- thank you Conor!)
With the Admiral enroute from LA, Claudio Mooney stood in again (in fairness instructions had been sent from the cockpit somewhere over Nova Scotia- it’s all part of the Aer Lingus service you know!)
The 3rd XI were a few short for their Division 5 clash which meant Evan got promoted upwards so the Phoenix team was Black, Mooney, Ijaz, James Maginnis ,Hillman, Nalawade, Mehmood, Zafar,Theo, Louis and Mick Mc Donagh
Skipper Mooney lost the toss and North County batted first.
As we have said already, it’s a joy to unleash our young team in matches and this was certainly the case with Theo Dempsey on this day. A ruthless spell of bowling had North County in trouble from the off. Backed up by Zafar at the other end Theo had Butt caught behind 12-1. It was 16-4 in a blink of an eye as Theo got another two wickets and Zafar chipped in also!
Paddy Mann and James “Bisto” Mooney staged a recovery guiding County to 35-4 at drinks. Progress was slow but steady when the score got to 84. At this stage Conor had bowled tightly, Sunny had been very efficient and both Ijaz and Akarsh were not letting scoring get out of control. Mooney was looking for wickets (“It’s the brand of cricket we play don’t you know…???”) and in the 30th over decided to go on the attack.
As you can tell this is his version of events but whatever -it worked!
Mick took the pads and Louis got to work- we can’t say it was great bowling but it was doing the trick as in 3.3 overs Louis had 4 for 17!!. At the other end James was getting stuck in too and finished the County innings off in a hurry with 2 quick wickets – 119 all out. The score moved from 84-5, 96-6, 104-7,109-8,118-9 and finished on 119!
At tea, the Aer Lingus shuttle had delivered the Admiral and the batting order was outlined!!
Black and Mooney to open, Sunny at 3 followed by Ijaz and James. Akarsh was given a chance to score a run (yes one would be a start!) and as a gesture of goodwill Zafar was promoted from number 11 to number 7. Louis would come in at 8 with Conor, Mick and Theo fighting it out at the end!
Zafar has been playing well in the nets and looked pleadingly at the Admiral for a bat- well why not then!
Stephen and Graham got under way and pretty soon were back! 1-1 became 8-2 as young Owen Graham bowled nicely from the Chesterfield Road end.
Sunny and Ijaz got Phoenix going with some big hits but when Ijaz was out LBW (26-3) and then Sunny at 55-4, followed quickly by James and Akarsh to leave us at 61-6- we were being a bit too generous! North County were up for the fight. Bisto was firing the ball in and young Woodhouse had us tied down at the other end too!
Zafar and Louis came in in the 16th over- would we make it to drinks???
But the Phoenix boys were resolute and at drinks we needed 49 to win!
Zafar looked unsteady but somehow stood his ground, Louis survived a run out when the keeper didn’t have the ball in his hands when demolishing the stumps- it was all very nervy although the Admiral looked calm (or maybe he was asleep in the corner…)
Suddenly Zafar sprang to life with some big hitting and the runs needed fell dramatically. All of a sudden in the 29th over Phoenix needed only 8 to win which Zafar blasted with ease to finish 40 not out (Louis loves his average finished 12 not out also!)
Man of the match is too close to call- Theo was superb, Louis has the club’s golden arm thus far and Zafar stood up when called on with the bat!
So a 4th victory for the 5ths to maintain our 100% record and this victory encapsulates what we are about so far this season- lots of ups and downs but everyone standing up at one stage or another to contribute to the team performance.
As the real Claudio says “In Italy the Coach is a paratrooper who jumps out of the plane but doesn’t know if the parachute will open or not”
Google it- that’s what he said!
What it means maybe Graham knows…..