Not having played the established Rose Hotel before, The Quokkas were unsure what to expect going into Sundays match. The Rose are founding members of the league and ever-present at all league events; be it the Big Day Not Out, league meetings or even training. Further, they all seem to have residency status at their pub.
The Quokkas, in contrast, had to field a combined team at their first BDNO, never train (obviously) and are rarely sighted at 197a Brunswick Street.
Similarly, Sundays match was a game of contrasting styles. The Quokkas arrived at the game expecting to bat first, as they were hosting, only to be told it wasn’t the ‘done thing’ and a toss would occur. Following tradition, The Quokkas lost the toss and were sent in. This proved to be the first of many moments of confusion through the game.
The Rose definitely brought a more direct view to winning to the game, whereas The Quokkas brought a more ‘moneyball’ approach, with little plan to take the points. Not that there are points to take, it’s a pub league.
This initial confusion (over the toss) did provide some entertainment though, as Cupsy ended up moving his car 3 times to keep it out of the ‘danger zone’. Given that the ground was roughly the size of the MCG, it was perhaps slightly delusional that anything near the ropes would get hit.
With no wind blowing from behind their backs from the River End, The Rev (captain for the match) opted with a risky approach in handing the new ball to an off-spinner and medium pacer. Well, a medium pacer and an “off”; you couldn’t call Ed a spinner.
Still, the strategy worked and The Rose had 4 men back in the shed after the first 4 overs. Curto taking a brace of catches and executing an excellent stumping.
Noticing the multiple speeds of the pitch and the success of the slower / more accurate bowlers, The Rev continued the approach by giving the pill to The Phantom (8 runs off 2 overs), Mo (2 off 2) and Paz (2 wickets & 8 runs off 2).
Only when he ran out of slower bowlers (aside from The Big Dog, who was being saved for later) did The Rev bring on the quicker boys. Robbo came on and was immediately penalised with a dangerous ball. This would prove to be a sign of things to come with The Rose’s umpires awarding 7 dangerous balls against The Quokkas. The Rose, on the other hand, were awarded 2 against them. Another point of confusion and something that proved to be decisive to the result.
Before all of that confusion though, The Rose went into drinks at 8/50 and the Quokkas were bowling and fielding as well as they ever had. Only The Rev, possibly distracted by the million field changes he had made in 12 overs, dropped one, but managed to pick it up and get it back to Mo to run the non-striker out. Spirits were definitely up & there was talk of starting the barbecue during the drinks break ahead of wrapping up the tail quickly.
Actually, the talk about the barbecue continued after the drinks break too, with poor Kathleen being asked by The Rose as to whether the barbecue was big enough, why it wasn’t on, then why it was on, then why the food wasn’t ready. Much like the time before monkey, primal chaos reigned.
Coming back from drinks, The Rose hit their straps & their dangerous ball calls with Robbo, Alex and even Curto being penalised. Emu was brought on and showed us all what an in-swinging yorker looks like, Big Dog bowled a couple of tight overs that created chances and The Rev finished off the innings using the Nichols connection with Paz taking a fine catch off his bowling on the fence.
For the Rose, their captain batted well though to make a fighting 33 not out and Mr Byes was next top scorer with 21.
Facing 102 at the innings break, The Quokkas were slightly upbeat but realised that it was a tricky pitch to play on and victory was far from assured.
Continuing the moneyball approach, The Rev asked The Phantom and Paz to open the innings, hoping for a good left-right combination. He would have taken any sort of combination over what he got though, with Phantom soon back in the stands for 1, quickly followed by Robbo (1), Mo (1) and Paz (6). Alex and The Rev then started something of a partnership, before Alex (10) went out swinging.
It would be easy to blame the 2-speed pitch but The Rose boys could seriously bowl.
Emu then came to the crease with scores at 6/36 and The Quokkas now needing several retirees to save the game. He wasn’t to be one of them; missing a crafty leg-spinner (who knew that was allowed at this level?) which took out middle stump.
Fresh from taking 3 catches, a wicket of his own and executing a fine stumping, Curto came to the middle ready to save the day. Pushing hard for singles with clever uses of his flick to fine or square-leg, the total started looking less daunting and more achievable.
The Rev had managed to stick around through all of this, though was tiring from all the running and repeated execution of his old friend; the forward defensive. Somehow he had scored 19 runs. Deciding he didn’t have the shots to get the team home, he walked up the pitch offering no shot and was enthusiastically stumped by The Rose’s ‘keeper.
Not wanting to single out the ginger man behind the stumps, all of The Roses fieldsman were enthusiastic and provided a good contest. The main discrepancies / moments of confusion with the fieldsmen arose when they put 3 men behind square of the wicket, then pulled them back saying it was outside the rules, only to put them back there again later in the game.
With The Rev gone, Cupsy arrived at the crease with The Quokkas needing approximately 50 from 8 overs and a sudden sense they could grab the win. Cupsy and Curto continued to sprint 1s, 2s and 3s, before Cupsy loaded up and hit 14 off a tricky over of in-dipping out-swingers. Curto then tried to follow, but was caught on the boundary with another fine Rose catch. The Rose really couldn’t be faulted in their fielding, never dropping a catch and keeping the pressure on the batsmen with good throws back to the ‘keeper.
With the man who produced more singles than the Bee Gees, Curto, joining the rest of the maroon army on the sidelines, Ed strode to the middle like a man averaging 5. Ditching his 2012 form, he struck the ball straight and powerfully as he and Cupsy kept the chase on.
9 was needed from the last over, then 8 from 5 and so on until 3 were needed to win off the last ball. Ed was on strike and looking every bit like a man in control. T Bone was bowling for The Rose with pace and guile from around the wicket and got one to swing away from the right-hander. Ed was playing swiftly and late, and managed to lash it through the covers. The batsmen took off and the fielders gave great chase, it looked like a tie may be salvaged.
“Run!” cried the men in maroon as Cupsy and Ed rounded back for the second, but The Rose’s fielding was too good. With a single action, the fielder grabbed the ball from the ground, span and threw directly to the ‘keeper, who whipped the bails clean off with a roar. Eds dive was just too short and just too late.
With the game done, both teams shook hands, The Rev bought T Bone a beer, acknowledgements were made to Kathleens fine efforts and applause was given by both teams to one another. While they had contrasting styles, both teams had come for a game and got a real contest.