For the second round of the 2018 Irish Senior Cup, we were drawn away to Instonians and according to all the expert forecasts we were not starting as favourites. The team that made the trip up to Belfast on a cold cloudy Sunday morning was:
Thomas Anders (c), Rory Anders, Adam Chester, Fletcher Coutts, Brad Kneebone, Richard Lawrence, Louis McDonough, Gordy Millar, Reinhardt Strydom, Sine Tsotsa, Ben White.
Tom won an important toss (I believe that is 12 out of 14 tosses he has won this season) and we elected to insert the opposition. Things started well with Fletcher removing one of the openers caught and bowled in the sixth over. Then followed an unbroken stand of 132 between Smith and Commins and the wheels on the Phoenix bus appeared to be coming off. When the third wicket fell at 210 with 11 overs still to be bowled it looked like there was no Phoenix bus at all and we would be chasing a very large score. The Instonians number 5 (former Irish international Getkate) smashed the ball to all corners with 42 off 29 balls and the score kept on rising. Apart from some tidy bowling by Reinhardt and Thomas all the other figures were not pretty so I will not give specifics. Instonians finished on 273 from 46 overs and DLS set a revised target of 280 off 46 for Phoenix. The team trudged off the field dejected, as if they were going to have to walk all the way back to Dublin in the rain.
We sent out our senior officers Reinhardt and Richie to bat first. The sky was as dark as the general mood and thoughts of being rescued by the rain and having a second attempt in the Park were entertained. When we came off in the seventh over for more than an hour I was giving my colleague in the score box directions on how to find the Phoenix Park. Eventually the sky brightened and the new target was 200 off 29 overs, still a very tough ask.
Reinhardt was not even considering any rain dances, he was going out to win this cup tie. He proved to be over forty (happy belated birthday) and fabulous. He struck 13 boundaries (9 4s and 4 6s) on his way to 86 off 75 balls and when he fell to an excellent catch in the deep we were 149 for 2 off 20. Still 51 runs required off 9 overs – game on. Rory Anders kept the momentum going by blasting 3 balls over the back fence and into the river and his 45 off 36 balls got us within touching distance. When Rory was caught and bowled in the twenty third over the score was 166 for 3. Still 34 required off 41 balls, we were favourites now but work still to be done – was that a bus I saw appearing on the horizon?
Fletcher started his innings by swinging at the first 5 balls he received like he was a demented Conor McGregor (better not mention a bus here) and did not make contact – a wicket maiden, things were tense. Brad, who had been sensibly taking singles at the other end had a chat with him and this did the trick as over 24 produced six well judged singles and a wide. So 5 overs remaining and 27 runs required. Over 25 was bowled by Getkate who had bowled tightly up to that (4 overs 2 for 12) but 16 runs off the over ruined those figures. Fletcher started with a single and then Brad showed his class with 11 runs off the next 4 balls and Fletcher added a boundary off the last so 189 scored off 25 overs. Surely we could not be let down by a puncture or engine failure now with 11 to get off 4 overs. Brad was in the driving seat and smoothly hit the next 4 balls for 2 runs, boundary 4, boundary 4 and the winning run. Phoenix win by 7 wickets with 20 balls to spare.
One may ask what inspired the team to go from dejection coming off the field to an inspired winning run chase. Was it motivational team talks, team spirit, determination, pride ? These are all great things we need to hold on to every time any Phoenix team takes the field but in this case I believe it was the home made cakes at tea. Instonians put on a delicious spread including home made buns and cakes, apple crumble and rhubarb tart. Our beloved Lesley Anders does excellent baking but any other members/friends of Phoenix out there who like to bake, please fell free to bring along any confectionery creations to the next big fixture which is the quarter final of the Leinster Senior Cup this Sunday at home. As an aside Coffee cake is my favourite closely followed by lemon drizzle.