Cricket’s a game of fine margins. The centimetres either side of a boundary, the lacquer of paint on an off stump, or the spot on the ACC pitch from which the ball does whatever it wants. On Saturday afternoon, the centimetres, the paint, the pitch, made a 15 run defeat all the more frustrating. It’s the same for both teams, of course, but I’ve been eating the sourest of grapes for a few days.
The first innings began with us in the field, and it all started promisingly. Prem (2-14) and Kaushal (1-39) opened the bowling with accuracy and penetration. ACC were three down within the first 10 overs thanks to some good bowling and catching, and the run rate, but for a monstrous over Myburg (70 from 58) took off Kaushal, remained under control.
Throughout the middle overs Myburg continued on his merry way, offering a tough chance or two, but wickets continued to fall at the other end, thanks to good bowling and catching (Sander picking up three from behind the stumps). Stefan collected a crucial wicket, but it was the introduction of Kirk that really changed the game. His generously titled medium pace flummoxed the batters, and he finished with 4-20. His current sub-10 bowling average for the Zamis speaks for itself. The tail wagged a little (more on wagging tails to come), but an outstanding runout from the irrepressible Kaushal, and a tidy bowling spell from Wouter (2-19) meant that VCC went into the luncheon interval feeling quietly confident that chasing 162 was manageable.
So manageable was it, that Graham, feeling a misguided sense of both competence and confidence, announced his intention to bat through the innings. Four balls later, he left one on his off stump, and trudged back. Nobody applauded (rightly so), and even his dog remained firmly rooted to the spot, embarrassed to be associated with such a fraud. The other opener, Ivo, lasted a little longer, before an LBW shout got the better of him.
However, the Zami strength has always been its middle order batting, and partnerships built gradually. Auke, Gijs, Sander, and Jatin all scored between 15 and 30, and put the opposition under real pressure. They were running out of bowling options, running out of hope, and running to the square leg umpire to ask for a caught behind decision. Myburg, unsatisfied with top scoring, even bowled 8 overs. In a last throw of the dice, ACC brought back their opening bowlers, who proved to be unerringly accurate enough to account for some crucial wickets. And, naturally, there was a run out in the middle of it all.
The tail was left to mop up the runs, and while they batted valiantly, we were bundled out just 15 runs short. On another day, the result could have so easily been reversed. While the margin of defeat was larger than in the previous game, against Bloemendaal, Saturday’s performance felt more like that of a team (11 players, 2 dogs and a dog sitter, to be precise), rather than a set of individuals. This bodes well. Onwards and upwards for next week!