The grass-stained gladiators of the Shand series have been buffing their boxes, polishing their pads and coaxing out their inner athletes all winter for the right to be crowned the social cricket champions of the shire.
The Grand Final is the day the dove of hope flicks into the flightpath of the eagle of destiny, and the Full-Tossers, assembled from the seething fleshpots of Byron by the assidious Ash, met the Geckos, apostles of St Seymour called to the field on a kind of yearly cricketing crusade.
A flukey northerly fluttered the famous turf of Lomath Oval as Ash won the toss and asked the Geckos to bat. Ageing adolescent Adeha and bloodyminded Brian saw off the pacey Adam and Troy but Ash was chopping and changing the bowling and Richie’s dipping leggies took the first scalp with the score on 19.
Dan (47) began waving his curvaceous handmade bat around like a baton, conducting the ball to all parts of the ground as the Geckos charged early. Christian took a double just before drinks including season top scorer James in a victory for science and rationalism over the airy-fairy metaphors of English.
After drinks the flying ponytail Anthony (35 n/o) mercilessly chastised the bowling and Simon was showing off his seventeen varieties of the pull shot. Plucky Ali was biffing the ball around and it looked like the Geckos were on their way to a corpulent compilation of runs.
Warhorse John (4–15) changed all that with a severe editing of the lower order to close the innings for 174 and sausages were munched with the fabled trophy up for grabs. High flyer Neil and Richie (30 n/o) gave the Tossers a great start and it took a game-changing grab in the dazzling depths of backward square by the annoyingly effective Brian to halt Byron’s momentum. This brought big hitters Troy (32 n/o) and Jade to the crease and it looked as though the title was heading east into the sunrise as they tore great chunks off the required total like bull sharks hitting a whale carcass.
Wily on field leader James had held back some of his best bowling however and wickets to himself, Dan, Anthony and Brian and tidy spells from Peter Wynn-Moylan and St Seymour had the pressure back on Byron with 42 needed off the last four overs.
Christian was a revelation, taking aim at the skate park with some huge hits, batting partner Jamie followed suit and with two overs to bowl the Full-Tossers needed 22.
Ali’s second last over was tidy, leaving 14 to score off the last six balls and the Geckos nearing panic in the field.
Jamie took two off Dan’s first ball and swiped hard at the second, sending an arcing high ball down the ground where James, with an eye on the boundary cones a step behind him, pouched the catch.
Christian swung big on the third ball and all eyes were on Trent as he plucked the Kookaburra from the sky on the long-on boundary to give Dan 3–20 and bring the Geckos home in a thrilling finish, their second Shand title. Nick Shand was lauded and toasted by his mate a very happy Pete Wynn-Moylan, and after the ceremonial lap of the oval in the back of a ute the players got down to some serious exaggeration of their prowess on and off the field, and all agreed the series is in good shape for next year.
Thanks go to Laurie of the Court House Hotel and The Echo for their support all year.
Photos ~ Tree Faerie