With so much of the modern sporting world either given over to a cynical grab for corporate bucks or hijacked politically for jingoistic fervour-channelling, it’s good to know that the winners of the Shand series – although they will gain nothing but a sip of red from the trophy and the priceless right to boast about their prowess for the coming year – will probably be happier and better adjusted than many a pro-sports brat.
Lomath Oval was as neatly shaved as a dancer’s bikini line for the second semifinal between the salty suntanned surf dudes the Suffolk Swingers and the denizens of the upper strata and product of advanced networking the Byron Full-Tossers.
Ash of the Tossers won the toss and, noting the dazed state of some of his team after a brutal night at the 50th of a notable socialite and Barrack Obama predicting a weather event for the afternoon, invited Levi and the Swingers to field.
The Suffolk lads generally start well as at least half of them have jogged down for a quick wave before the game, and this was again to prove the case as Levi (2–23) and Jacob had both openers in the shed early. Jamie (40 n/o) was as consistent as a tax demand; he and Mike put on 60 to steady the innings. Adam showed class and restraint, a bit like Jason Day, to sensibly set up a late over charge.
When he fell trying to launch Luke’s bowling into the kites lining the skyline it was 6–110 and Suffolk had the steam. ‘Dutchy’ John (32 n/o) and Christian (30) then took to the bowling like a pack of Canadian fur-sealers on a weekend kill, the Tossers total blowing out to a twitching and throbbing 184.
This sent a bit of a chill through the fancied Suffolk team over lunch as the predicted rain began to drizzle, rendering the famous outfield slick and greasy as a dodgy rocker cover.
Lionel and Owen (32 n/o) chased the new ball, hoping to cash in before it transmogrified into a bar of soap. Zac took the first scalp but from there Nick and Karl (30 n/o) bustled and scrambled out a partnership.
Wickets to Jamie and Ash slowed the rate, but some nice hitting from Jacob had the scene set for the last overs, 42 needed off 42 balls. Witnesses say Levi was sweating two-dollar coins as he waited to bat with Wortho and Luke at the crease. Watto’s direct hit from cover removed the big-hitting Luke and the crowds on both sides were biting knuckles as Levi took up the bat.
Byron could sense an upset win and were giving nothing away. History records that Wortho (27 n/o) proved worthy and Levi long wearing enough to drag the Swingers into the final with three balls to spare.
They now seek deliverance from banjo-toting rustics the Left Bankers in the 2015 Shand final next Sunday. After the final the cricketers’ all-star band will be at the Court House Hotel for the post-mortems and the handing out of this year’s awards.