From Captain Local…
Pub league games at Fairfield oval on a pleasantly warm day in late November are placed squarely in the column marked ‘good’ on life’s ledger.
When they’re played against a team like the Royston and with such Quokkas at a captains disposal as we had on this day, the entry edges over to ‘excellent’.
That’s not to say we won the game. Captain Local does not break his duck that easily. But a good game – a bloody good game – was had, and the Royston were deserved winners.
Bowling first, the Quokkas brought the heat to bear in support of an audaciously conventional field set by Local (conventional in the normal cricketing sense. In the pub cricket sense it was optimistically heavy on off-side fielders and conspicuously light on legside boundary riders. Luckily Dutchy was there to point this out several times).
Our bowlers were up to it however, and the Royston found boundaries hard to come by throughout the period before drinks. They still clicked along at 7 or 8 an over, but they had to run for it. They retired a couple of batsmen and both Alex and Jay took the first of their wickets.
After the break, the Quokkas turned the screws, ripping through the middle order. Alex and Jay did the bulk of the damage, not just bowling but also catching off the other’s bowling in an outrageously courteous display. The runs kept coming though, and as the fielders tired, mistakes crept in.
We hung on against some huge hitting in the last few overs – and some injudicious use of our greatest bowling weapon, Big Dog, by Captain Local – but while the Royston ended up posting a big score (219), to the Quokkas credit we bowled them all out, including their returned retirees. Jay finished with 3/7 off his three overs, which is not a bad return in any form of cricket, let alone one only slightly less batter-friendly than playing on the beach.
The last wicket of the day featured an all-time classic Quokka catch from Sizzle, running along the forward square leg boundary to take an unbelievable one-hander right on the rope. MAGNIFICENT. It was exactly what we needed to send us in to the sheds in a positive mood.
After an excellent bbq laid on by the Royston, our openers Ed and Special suited up to begin the chase. Showing off his full range of shots, Ed began effortlessly harvesting singles down to backward point, having survived a scare on the second ball of the innings when he was dropped at third man (this would set the tone for the Royston fielding all afternoon). Special offered support and elegant stroke play as the pair took us towards drinks and our total.
After Ed retired and Special departed for 23, Jay, J-Rod and Sizzle all swung the bat, each making valuable contributions, but at this stage the run rate had started to climb. Dutchy and Radar then came together and lifted the Quokkas back into contention, each composing their own style of 30 in quick time.
Alex came and went, the victim of an unfortunate run out but doing the right thing and trying to keep the score moving, before Nimble and Local came out for the eighth wicket partnership. Nimble was damaging square of the wicket and the pair ran hard, benefiting from both dropped catches and some wayward throwing.
The last over began needing an unlikely 24 off of it, but Local got lucky and sent the first ball over the backward square leg boundary. Hope, that cruel flower, began to bloom in Quokka hearts.
Alas, the Roys held their line and neither Local or Nimble could find anything more than ones and twos for the remainder of the over, coming up shy of the total by just 11 runs.
Despite the loss, it was an excellent performance from the Quokkas against very high quality opposition, and a lot of credit has to go to the Royston for their win. Their big hitting in the final overs of the first innings was always going to be hard to overcome, but their hospitality after the game made losing very easy to endure.
Congratulations to all the team from the day for the effort, especially Ed, Dutchy and Radar with the bat and Alex and Jay
(and Sizzle!) in the field.