Untested as a batsman, Judge’s reputation as a left-arm, pace swing bowler has however rapidly gained respect amongst Phuket’s senior batting ranks, with regular coaching sessions hosted by club coach, Ashan Fonseka clearly paying dividends. And following the young man’s knock at the weekend, Phuket cricket can revel in the emergence of such a high-calibre all rounder.
In batting first, PCG captain Curt Livermore invested in the partnership of Jeremy Bootsy and Dan Nicholson to open under oppressively hot conditions, while the right-hand, left-hand combination proved awkward for the Panthers’ bowling as Bootsy and Nicholson scored freely from the outset.
By the 5th over, PCG’s total had reached 60, enhanced by more than 20 extras, as an in-form Bootsy closed in quickly on a second 50 in as many weeks.
New to Phuket cricket, but already a key player to any side in which he’s played, Gudu Yadav was to sully Bootsy’s stats in the 8th over, when the PCG opener was dismissed by a Bhanu Pratap catch just three runs short of his half-century.
Nicholson’s innings ended soon after in the 11th over, but a solid 24 off 28 helped PCG to 106 for 2, as Imtiyaz Mushtaq and Joe Ninan, both players recovering and not able to fire on all cylinders, came to the middle.
Carrying a rib injury, Mushtaq’s manoeuvrability was minimal, but he grabbed 33 in a 48-run partnership with Ninan, eventually giving Pratap his second catch, this time off Ali Khan’s bowling.
Ninan’s tentative start did not offer much promise, but he focused to wipe away the cobwebs as Michael Rhys Thomas, Livermore and Shivam Bhattacharaya failed to impact on the game, with just seven runs being added by the three batsmen to the score-line, now at 187 for 6.
The next 12 overs brought a 107-run partnership between Ninan and Judge, both producing a variety of text book ground strokes and punishing pull shots.
A well worked final over, which began with Judge on 47, prompted Panthers to close the field, but a confident Judge called a quick single on the fifth ball to bring up his first, and well deserved, 50 not out, with applause from both teams ringing around the ACG.
A 79 not out from Ninan was crucial to PCG’s final tally of 294 for 6 from the allotted 35 overs, while Panthers’ Pratap topped his team’s bowling with 1 for 14 off four overs.
Panthers’ captain, Mayur Deuskar took opening responsibilities alongside Seemant Raju, both enduring a very vocal PCG welcoming committee throughout the first few overs.
Clearly, irritated by the continuing PCG banter, Deuskar (0) drove wildly at a good Mushtaq delivery only to miss and have his wicket rattled in just the fourth over with the score on 24.
An edgy start from Raju developed into a confident innings by clattering 35 off 22, before Sajal Gaur ended Raju’s innings achieved by a Livermore catch in the covers.
Samir Khan’s efforts ended on 14, but began Judge’s three-wicket journey with a searching in-swinging delivery that nipped the edge of Khan’s bat for Bootsy to collect behind the stumps. Bhattacharaya then beat Ali Khan’s bat with the score on a competitive 104 for 4 in the 11th over.
From the 12th to the 17th over, Pratap’s scoring was bring restricted by Judge and Bhattacharaya, while the Panther also had to deal with his team’s collapse to 130 for 8.
Taking the wicket of Sami Pir LBW in the 13th over gave Judge his second wicket, but it was his 11-year-old brother Ollie Judge who impressed during this period with two clean-bowled wickets to his name and eventually finishing with figures of 2 for 21 off 3 overs.
The game’s result was not in any doubt for PCG as Wasim Mir joined Pratap for the final wicket stand, and the pair certainly were not giving up in almost bringing up a 100-run partnership.
But it was Dom Judge who sealed his name on the game’s MVP award, bowling Mir for his third wicket in the 28th over and putting an end to the Panthers’s tail wagging at 229 all out, giving PCG a three wicket victory.
With the MVP award deservedly going to Dom Judge, it was otherwise an excellent showing from several players in both squads in producing an entertaining game of cricket.
Written by Neil Quail
Photo Courtesy of Michael Flowers