Cork Cricket Club

County fightback stuns Railway

Cork County fightback stuns RailwayIt’s July, the nights soon will begin drawing in and, finally, summer has arrived in Dublin. The Railway and Steam Packet Union sports ground, on the coastal side of Park Avenue in Sandymount, had been closed to cricket until very recently because of running repairs. I wouldn’t have ventured there anyway, for fear of frostbite.

But I happily drove up Cold Blow Lane, got out of the car in my shorts and short-sleeved shirt without being chilled, and viewed the marquee in front of the clubhouse and the ranks of those awful beer garden tables with attached benches, the ones that are uncomfortable to sit facing the table, and just about tolerable facing out.

The only thing resembling a seat from which you might want to watch an entire cricket match was the Grehan family seat up by the sightscreen at the St. John’s Road end, miles away from the scorers. I settled down for an uncomfortable afternoon. The Railway Union team were warming up near the Grehan seat, and were missing their captain, Kevin O’Brien, away with Leicestershire.

But this was Railway’s sixth match of the season, and Kevin has featured in only one. With Patrick Collins not returning from Australia and Greg Lambert preferring the easier pickings of Division 4, their team is heavily dependent on their younger players, who may not lack talent but do lack experience.

At the Sandymount end the Cork County players were indulging in five a side football, a great way to injure yourself before a cricket match. Their squad was missing Morné Bauer and Abubakar Siddique, two bowlers and a top order bat. Both sides needed the win, Railway to stay above the drop zone, County to get out of it, depending on the continuing failure of Malahide and Pembroke.

Cork County won the toss and batted. Saad Ullah bowled the first over to the left-handed Ross Durity from the St. John’s Road end. Second ball Durity padded up to a straight one and umpire Nigel Parnell raised the index finger. Young Rory O’Keeffe, a tall lad, came in at three, and immediately got himself well forward, a key to success on the low, slow Railway decks.

Rachid Gaur bowled from the Sandymount end, and was driven through the covers by O’Keeffe to the line. With skipper Stephan Grobler happy to nudge and nurdle, and O’Keeffe eager to drive, the partnership flourished. O’Keeffe drove Saad through extra cover for four, then Gaur through mid off for four more. An on drive off Gaur was miscued, but flew through to the very short boundary at square leg in front of the bowling green.

But in Saad’s fourth over he drove too soon and was caught at mid off by Mohammed Tariq for 25 out of 31-2. In came the left-handed Robin Russell, no stranger to Park Avenue, but across the road in Pembroke. Mo Tariq replaced Gaur and was driven to the extra cover boundary off the back foot by Grobler, who took another boundary from his second over.

In his third over we saw a rarity – a misfield by Adrian Murphy which gave Russell a single. The boundaries dried up, but the pair ran their singles well. After six overs, Saad had a rest and was replaced by tall youngster Niall Hunt, who bowled steadily with a nice action. Tariq took a break and Kanal Kapoor, Dhruv’s brother, came on to bowl his leg breaks.

At other end, Gaur returned in place of Hunt and immediately bowled Grobler for 26 out of 74-3 in the twentieth over. Gaur had just the two overs before being relieved by off-spinner Dharam Singh, and medium pacer Andrew Jackson was given the over before drinks in place of Kapoor. This was another change that had immediate effect when Robert Duggan drove loosely and was caught at mid on by Abdullah Hafiz for eight.

Drinks were taken at 90-4, after which Chris Banon, another left-hander, joined Russell, who took four off the back foot through extra cover from one Singh dropped short. In his third over Jackson was driven straight for four by Russell, then through mid on for four more by Banon, and straight away got the dreaded shepherd’s crook from Kenny Carroll.

Saad bowled a couple of overs, Kapoor returned at the Sandymount end in place of Singh, and the batting power play was taken at 127-4 from 35 overs. Dharam Singh had been switched to the St. John’s Road end, and had Banon caught at mid off by Carroll for 19 out of 132. In came wicketkeeper Mike Richardson to slog Kapoor for four then play a proper shot off Singh, a back foot extra cover drive, for four more.

The final over of the power play was delivered by Gaur, who bowled Richardson for nine. On the same score, 147, Singh had Russell lbw for 36, and the tail had nine overs to get past a par score which the local savants agreed was about 180. Jack Rietschel made 10 before edging Gaur through to Josh Uddin behind the stumps, and after Singh finished his set of ten Siddarth Joshi drove a two and a four off Saad.

Hunt returned to the attack, conceding just one boundary to Joshi and having Junaid Amin caught at deep point by Gaur for nine. Andy Wootton took a two, a four and a couple of singles from Saad’s final over, and with Joshi on 20*, the innings closed on 199-9, just better than par. Best of the Railway bowling was from Singh, with 10-4-27-2, with Gaur (3/41) and Saad (2/38) having a decent afternoon.

The President of the Leinster Cricket Union, Roland Bradley, had found me a proper seat, on which I sat alone munching a multi-seed roll with egg mayonnaise and spring onion keeping guard over Judy Cohen’s treasures inside the burger van that is used by the scorers. When everybody emerged from tea my seat was rapidly surrounded by Railway players and connections.

Kenny Carroll faced up to Andy Wootton from the Sandymount end, took a single to put Abdullah Hafiz on strike, and watch his mate play down the wrong line first ball to one that hit off stump. At some stage during that over the ball was driven back into umpire Sum Wijesundera, whose ample frame absorbed the impact. A debate ensued around me about whether that was five penalty runs or a dead ball. It is neither.

Carroll drove Junaid Amin through extra cover for four, Wootton bowled a maiden, then Mohammed Tariq square drove Amin over the short point boundary, narrowly missing your correspondent. He then edged Wootton behind, but the chance was dropped, then he edged Amin for four and edged Wootton again , this time for two.

Grobler took over from Amin to bowl his leg spin, and in his second over was slogged for four by Carroll then swept for four by Tariq. Wootton dropped short to Tariq and was pulled for six, but then mistimed a driver at Grobler to give a return catch and make the score 47-2 from fourteen overs. Wootton had ceased to move freely, but managed to finish his spell for 10-2-18-1

Adrian Murphy had announced his intent with a swept two and a slog swept six off Grobler, after which Joshi’s slow left-arm was introduced, and Junaid Amin bowled in place of Wootton. Murphy off drove him for four then chased the next delivery, edged it, and was dropped at slip. Wisely, the Bajan cooled his ardour and with Carroll took the score through to 84-2 at drinks.

Cork County have no dearth of slow left-armers, and brought on another, Jack Rietschel. Murph said “Hi, Jack,” with a straight six, and a quite muted Carroll off drove Joshi for four. Grobler replaced Joshi and Murphy slog swept him for six then swept him for four. Robert Duggan replaced Rietschel and immediately had a prolonged and very loud appeal followed by some unparliamentary language and dissent.

Umpire Sum Wijesundera was not having any of this, and called skipper Grobler over to let him know. Duggan’s humour was not lightened when Murphy pulled him for six to reach fifty, but he bowled two more overs and just about kept his cool as he was plundered for 21 runs and the match was running away from his team. Duggan finally made his contribution when he caught Carroll at a short and wide mid off from Rietschel’s bowling for 40 out of 146.

That was immediately prior to the batting power play taken after 35 overs, during which Murphy carried on merrily, pulling Amin for six. Anxious to keep the strike he called Rachid Gaur for a short single, which would have been fine had there been no hesitation,, but there was and an accurate throw from Grobler saw Gaur run out for two. Murphy was then dropped at backward square leg, the bowler, Rietschel, being further punished by a straight six.

The power play ended on 171-4, a further 29 needed from ten overs with six wickets in hand and one batsmen in sight of his century, surely the doddliest of doddles. But in limited overs cricket especially, dot balls bring wickets. Murphy pushed Amin out square on the off side and began mentally to prepare for the next delivery.

However, non-striker Saad saw a run and called Murphy through. Keeper Richardson was quickly out from behind his stumps with his right glove removed, and threw down the stumps at the bowler’s end with Murph well short. He had made 84 from 97 deliveries with four fours and six sixes. Saad then compounded his error by pushing a catch to Rietschel, and it was 171-6 with nine overs left.

Dharam Singh promisingly straight drove Rietschel for four, then Josh Uddin pushed Amin straight for two. Singh was bowled by Amin for 5, then Uddin slapped Rietschel to cover to be caught by the sub fielder, on for Wootton, also for 5. That was 184-8, leaving nine, ten, jack 16 more to get from three overs. Grobler started his tenth over with plenty of fielders saving one in a ring around Kanal Kapoor, who swished at the ball and diverted it in a gentle arc toward short extra cover.

Rory O’Keeffe called for the dolly and dropped it. Kapoor slogged a two and a one, leaving 13 to be got from two overs. He swung Rietschel high toward cow corner, over the left shoulder of O’Keeffe. The Cork man pursued the ball and hung on to it for a quite excellent catch. One more run came from the over leaving a dozen to be scored from the fiftieth, to be bowled by Joshi.

Andrew Jackson swung and hit out to long on where Chris Banon kept it to two. Jackson swung again and the ball squirted to square leg for a single. Niall Hunt swung and made a pretty good connection, and the ball looked to be going all the way over Banon’s head, possibly for six. But Banon steadied himself and took the catch over his head. Some Railway connections claimed that he’d stepped onto or over the line, but he quite clearly hadn’t, and County had won by eight runs.

Kenny Carroll wasn’t happy, and went straight to the umpires to complain, I suspect about an earlier piece of fielding by O’Keeffe which had involved a sliding stop on the boundary saving two runs. Kenny had complained at the time that O’Keeffe must have been over the line when in contact with the ball, but the incident was five yards from me, and the stop was legitimate. Also, what’s the difference between losing by six runs and losing by eight?

For Cork County, Junaid Amin finished with 2/35, Jack Rietschel with 3/37 and Stefan Grobler with 1/52, each from ten overs. They were very lucky to win, but that slice of luck has lifted them out of the bottom two to sixth place, four points behind Railway. Their next match is at home to Pembroke, then at the end of July they play Railway in The Mardyke. Much depends on those two games.

Source: Stu Daultrey (CricketEurope), 6th July 2015

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