It has been a long time since The Quokkas have won two matches in a row, so it was fitting in a way that they were made to wait out a long game against The Palace Hotel to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
Journeying over the bridge to the dreaded South of the River, the Quokkas arrived at JL Murphy reserve and looked at the wicket in puzzlement; when did pub league games start being played on turf?
With warm-ups in full swing, The Quokkas did a head count and found they managed to have 14 players available for the game, though no opposition, so a 7-a-side begun being discussed in earnest.
The Players from The Palace did appear eventually, though it seemed they had already had their post-match celebrations such was their merriment and revelry.
Captain of the Day, The Rev, let The Palace bat first under the impression that the match may be over quickly given the state of some of their players. How wrong he was.
Where he was right though, was opening the stanza with a quartet of slow-bowlers in one-over bursts (despite protestations from Emu).
Opening up with The Big Dog and Ed, wickets were taken early while Dutchy kept the run rate down with his left-handed Chinamen; something else surely never seen in Pub Cricket & a welcome change from his traditional dog-leg swingers.
Relenting to the cries from behind the wicket, The Rev brought on Snipper who bowled with accuracy and pace, though without wickets. The same went for the other seamers; Robbo, Local and Matt.
It was left to the big Emu to break the wicket-drought, hitting the stumps with an in-swinging Yorker. The voice from first slip is in delicious form already this season.
A run out & a great catch from new boy Matt off the bowling of Ed, who must be getting confused by all the wickets he is getting from catches being held, saw The Palace at 5/60 at drinks. A good score, particularly when considering the wicket was playing like a Barry White ballad: slow and low.
The post-drinks session was a real test for The Quokkas, Cade from The Palace was punishing the bowlers through the offside whenever given a chance. The effects of the beer seemed to actually empower The Palace’s batsmen and the score ticked over to a daunting 140 by the end of the 25 (very long) overs.
The Big Dog disappeared with Chef at innings break to find a working barbecue (many thanks to The Palace for availing their kitchen to us!) , requiring a quick restructure of the batting line up & depriving Cat of the chance to run out her partner. Again.
A quick note on the lunches: really excellent work. Prawns, BBQd dim sims, snags and a great salad. Also, all the profits from the…donations (not beer sales) went to the Father Bob Foundation.
Right…back to it:
Cat and Matt walked out to bat looking every bit like proper cricketers, which actually brought about their downfall. Playing proper shots against erratic bowling on a turner was not the place for Rolls-Royce cover drives, but Ford Fiesta nurdles around the corner.
With the openers contributing a combined total of 1, The Big Dog was found and sent in at first drop with Radar soon to follow. The ‘Dog put on a demonstration of Fiesta batting, nudging the ball everywhere apart from forward of the wicket, testing The Palace’s increasingly unsteady fielders.
Radar was unluckily beaten by a straight delivery, bringing The Rev to the wicket who heeded the Big Dogs lesson & helped lay a foundation, taking The Quokkas to 3/56 at drinks.
Thankfully The Rev didn’t stick around for any more foundation development after drinks, bringing a sequence of Dutchy, Curto and Ed to the crease, all of whom made runs in quick time & brought the required run rate back to a level more in tune with todays interest rates.
The retirement of the Big Dog and the loss of Emu (not playing for his average) and Local for few runs suddenly put the chase in question, though the steady and powerful play of Snipper and Robbo (23 off 10) saw The Quokkas home.
Many thanks must go to everyone at The Palace, particularly Mark Pratt, for putting the team together, helping with the barbecue, providing more beer when we ran out etc.
Thanks also to the team at EcoEnergy Ventures, for providing a trophy for the game & the ground hire.