Cork County hosted Malahide on Sunday last for what was a crucial game in Leinster Division 2. The home side knew a victory would see them secure promotion and put them right back into the title race. A Malahide win would see the visitors all but mathematically win the league.
Conditions at the Mardyke were overcast and a little cold as Callum Riches won the toss and asked the hosts to set a score. Ross Durity and Stephan Grobler strode out to face Peter Saville from the Tennis Club End and off-spinner Reinhardt Strydom from the University End. Both opening batsmen looked in good touch and the wicket was playing beautifully with excellent bounce and carry. Four economical overs from Saville coupled with consecutive maidens from Strydom meant that County were 12-0 from eight overs and struggling a little to get going.
Grobler recognised the need to push things along and square cut Saville to the fence before lofting him over mid-off. With fourteen runs coming off the over in total, Saville got the shepherd’s crook from his skipper Callum Riches who fancied a bowl himself. It proved an excellent change as in his first over, Durity edged through to Fintan McAllister behind the stumps, the ‘keeper taking a good, low catch to dismiss County’s captain.
Morne Bauer joined Grobler and wasted no time in opening his shoulders, first Riches and then Allesandro Morris being driven over extra cover to the boundary. Grobler meanwhile continued to play positively and brought up his fifty with a single to square-leg. Some excellent running coupled with frequent boundaries pushed the score to 113-1 when drinks were taken.
Grobler and Bauer upped the pace after drinks and having pulled Leslee Muttahotil to the fine-leg boundary, Grobler flicked him through mid-wicket for two to bring up a terrific century, his second of the season. He perished soon afterwards however, holing out to long-on off the bowling of the returning Callum Riches for a superb 106.
Anthony O’Reilly joined Bauer who had just reached his half-century but as the home side attempted to up the run rate, wickets began to fall in clusters, first O’Reilly then Duggan departing for single figures. Ian Coleman came to the crease with ten overs remaining and put on a quick 28 run partnership with Bauer before driving too early at Reiny Strydom, the South African taking a simple return catch.
Morne Bauer was next to depart, bowled by Strydom for an excellent 88 out of 246-6. Andy Wootton and Aidan Kelleher saw the innings to a close, County finishing on 265-6.
Reinhardt Strydom and Fintan McAllister opened for Malahide and had put on 70 in 14.1 overs when McAllister was bowled by Grobler for 15. Jim Govan was out just one over later, falling LBW to the final ball of Andy Wootton’s spell.(10-1-42-1)
George Deans joined Strydom and much like Grobler and Bauer had done earlier played positively and attempted to take the game away from the opposition. Strydom had a life when he was dropped by Anthony O’Reilly at point on 65 but he didn’t let that bother him, reaching a century in the 38th over to rapturous applause from the considerable Malahide support that had made the journey down.
George Deans meanwhile had taken his partner’s lead and reached his fifty with a four through point. Malahide looked to be well in control but Strydom then feathered through to Coleman behind the stumps, Callum Riches holed out at deep mid-wicket and Alan Reynolds was stumped, all off the bowling of Stephan Grobler.
Malahide now needed to go at 8.6 an over and despite the best efforts of George Deans, he was rapidly running out of partners, Ian Guerin the next to go, caught by Ross Durity to give Grobler his five-for. 23 were required from the final two overs and it would be Robert Duggan who would bowl the penultimate over. An excellent variation of length and speed meant that Malahide could only muster two from the first five balls before Duggan ran out David Arnold off the final ball.
21 runs were required from the final over and it was Oscar Cotter who was chosen to bowl it. Despite a six from Deans, Malahide could only take 14 from the over, giving County a 6 run victory and a place in Division 1 next season.