On a mist-shrouded meadow in the wild hills of Wanganui is archaeological evidence that there were once great cricket gatherings among the rustic locals. The Nick Shand Memorial – NSM.
Certain initiates can still walk you over the site pointing out the bump in the grass where Nick Shand parked his butt waiting to bat, the clover flowers that line Ed the witchdoctor’s run-up, or the withered branch where Mungo Macallum once warmed his box in the sun.
These days you can still see the odd vestige of the Wanganui spirit in the Nick Shand Memorial Cricket Series, the competition that keeps people like cultural anthropologists in a job.
Lomath Oval was as fine and cool as a coy mistress on Sunday as high-flying Byronites the Full-Tossers took on reigning champs, the clannish cliff-dwellers of Left Bank.
Scruff won the toss and asked Byron to bat, the captains to their credit agreeing that all play was to take place from the southern end, thus avoiding any potentially catastrophic clashes with the large turnout of netballers on the adjacent courts.
Left Bank had the better of the first session, veteran debutante Phil taking the first scalp of the season with a nice in-dipper and Eli holding a nice running catch off Zac’s bowling.
Neil was nudging the ball around and Mark thumped the first boundary but the scorer was snoring at 2–48 at drinks.
This was all to change in the second session as Byron came out swinging like Dave Warner and Paul Gallen standing back to back. Mark, Greg-O, Christian and Jeff all cleared the boundary cones like an art student clears cones.
Before you could say ‘where’s the money’ the Full-Tossers had run off, compiling an imposing 178. In reply the Bankers were scoring like Amy Winehouse’s manager but Janny took Leon’s wicket for 25 and Neil and Chris (3–12) also had success, the honours even at the last break at 4–75.
Scruff swung his slablike bat around and tonked up 30 in a no-nonsense way, leaving the cleanup crew, Simon and Brian, to polish things off. Late scalps to Ash, Greg-O and Jeff messed things up to the point where 21 were still needed and last men in were ‘stonewall’ Phil and retiree Scruff.
Phil dug in at one end like a driller on the St Helena tunnel crew, bunting around a few singles while Scruff hit the paydirt with his unbeaten 54 to bring home the game and three votes in the Saffron Shand good sport award, sponsored by the Courthouse Hotel.
Next week the switched-on Suffolk Swingers take on the tuned-out Main Armers.