T20? Next to the race track? Four MCA debutaunts? At 3.30 Sunday?
These were strange times, indeed, for the mighty Reds MCA XI turning out in a bizarre fixture that saw Sheepy and Tooms picking up covers at 10am to take to a B grade fixture in Flemington.
Arriving at the club early to see our latest recruits of the 4th XI take on Jacana with some lusty hitting, we were lucky to have Mike Phillips rock up on the off chance he could get a lift – unaware of the late fixture change to an already late game.
If this is hard to keep up with, it was. The fixture having already changed once in the pre-season changed again later in the week after pitches were deemed unfit for play.
This saw the Reds head west to Newmarket on an odd shaped ground wedged between Flemington Racecourse, a bowls club and a roundabout.
The toss was lost by the skipper and Youlden-Parkville had a bat with Sheepy and Max opening the bowling from the Racecourse road end (ends were switched every 5 overs... just coz). A strong LBW chance was turned down on ball one with Sheepy beating the opener for pace on a two-toned wicket.
Maxy proved he would be tough to face this season, returning 1-10 from his four and taking the wicket of the left handed opener.
Things descended in to the truly weird as a ball hit to cow corner was fetched by a passing dog. The ball, clearly on the way to the longest boundary was called dead ball and re-bowled. A call that drew mirth from the YP crowd and would have direct consequences on the match.
A run out to Sheepy and a handy catch to Hugh ‘Heff’ Hannaford on debut kick started the Reds fielding tilt. Good off-side bowling to strong fields tightened the Reds hold on YP who had found it hard to dominate the game with boundaries in the middle overs.
Indeed, fielding was the feature of the Reds effort for the afternoon. The distance of neighbouring Flemington straight was the appropriate comparison for the effort in last seasons corresponding fixture.
No catches were grassed and twos cut to ones as the Reds took advantage of a YP mix up to run a strong middle order batsman out.
The sliding doors of T2O were evident in Sheepy’s last over that saw him taken for back to back sixers onto the bowls club roof from decent length balls. This projected the final score of 120 into the run a ball realm, a reasonable psychological spot to be in and to take the game to an even keel. Certainly the newish adage of ‘you just need one good over’ rang true at Newmarket.
The Reds got their good over immediately with Simon getting ten from the first before Tooms ran himself in the next out to let everyone know that nothing has changed and Mike went for a wide one and was caught.
At 2fa 13 there wasn’t any panic on the bench as Simon and Caspar quickly steadied with a stream of runs.
YP changed their bowlers around each over to unsettle the batsmen and Simon went swinging at a straight one that bowled him.
Big hitting Jim Magee sent a ball onto the 57 Tram on Racecourse road early, accelerating the score before being caught at deep square.
Hugh continued the upward trend with the stoic Caspar before quite unluckily miss hitting one to mid off.
Despite the mish-mash activity per-game, the scores was one for the beancounters, now evenly poised in the actual sense at 5/61 at the conclusion of 10 overs.
If the Reds were halfway there, the prayer that they were livin’ on was the Skipper in Caspar who took the ball down the ground easily to draw closer to the target.
Rowdy and Cas steered the Reds to inside 6 runs of the target, picking up boundaries regularly while ticking the score over.
Rowdy was caught and Dan Harrington sacrificed his wicket to bring Caspar onto strike to seal the game with only two needed from the last over.
After a couple of nervous dot balls to a close field the runs came unusually from 4 byes after a good length ball lept off the pitch and beat the keeper.
The Reds have set themselves a fielding benchmark with a win over a strong opposition with well executed bowling and some shrewd batting. Caspars excellent 56 from 50 balls was ultimately the difference.
You can’t help but wonder about the dog, though…
Royal Park Reds 8/123 Defeated Youlden-Parkville 6/120cc