This match wasn’t a Development League fixture, but it had all the hallmarks of a classic league encounter; where the momentum shifted back and forth for the duration of the game. The cricket was competitive and the standard consistently high across both innings.
West won the toss on an overcast day with intermittent light drizzle, but play promptly started at 1pm - with the opposition inserted to bat on a decidedly green deck.
Ferguslie made their intentions clear from the outset with Taimoor Ahmed racing to 30 inside the first five overs as West/Hillhead struggled to contain in the early periods. This pattern continued leading up to the 15th over, and there was no respite from Ahmed, who’s entire innings was played in fifth gear. He subsequently made a rapid 86 out of 105, before being caught at short fine leg. Then two more batsman came and went in the next over. The first victim was leg before, and the second to a quite incredible piece of improvisation from keeper Piash Khan, who somehow caught the ball between his knees on the rebound after the initial drop!
The dynamic of the game had changed. Liam Howgate added another wicket to complete a first 5-for at any level/age group for West!
Ross McCallum prized out the opposition skipper Tahir and now West/Hillhead were jubilant. The bowlers were rotated regularly throughout the innings, and new Hillhead recruit “AJ” looked extremely handy with the ball, and ended up with a cheap 2-for. Ferguslie’s innings deteriorated quickly, and West/Hillhead wrapped up the innings in the 27th over, with the home side positing 151.
West came out to bat, but were immediately under pressure due to consistent - and occasionally hostile - bowling. Early wickets led West/Hillhead slumping to 23-4 off 6 – which promptly became 45-5 after the Howgate was comprehensively cleaned up. Enter West hero, Graeme Etheridge, who at the skipper’s request was asked to ‘float’ in the batting order, and duly arrived at number seven in this crucial period of the game.
A succession of fours from Etheridge’s bat, and a high proportion of runs straight down the ground were seen. At the halfway mark West were 85-5. West/Hillhead continued to make a fightback. Opener Ross McCallum supported Etheridge with a well-paced innings where West/Hillhead looked comfortable off both front and back foot. The score was 110-5 before McCallum departed and Ferguslie sniffed victory in sight.
The final period of the game was thrilling, with AJ playing an extremely patient innings, but when Etheridge was dismissed for 63 it appeared likely that West/Hillhead might just fall short.
But Marriott-Laurie and Bratt (both West juniors) both played gutsy innings under pressure, soaking up balls and allowing AJ to just bat, with the run-rate no issue. Ferguslie did eventually dismiss both, but with 9 needed, and self-confessed rabbit (his own words) Adam Khan appearing at the crease at 11, West/Hillhead knew that they would have do something special.
Five were now needed, and then a edge flew past first slip for two, and a lofted drive just evaded the fielder. AJ chipped one over the in-field for two to complete the victory. His innings was a remarkable 13* after batting for a considerable amount of time with the lower order.
Unfortunately, West/Hillhead aren’t back in action in the league this Sunday, but will be back in action on 9th June at home to Poloc Academy at Hughenden.