That time of the year rolled around for the annual 'over the hill' trip to Masterton for the tournament between Taita, Greytown, Petone, Upper Hutt and Easts. A few new faces awaited the 1sts and 2nds, including Dingle, but without a doubt the highlight was the off season transfer of Furbies brother, Dom's son and Grace's older brother...Sam Outtrim. An awkward silence greeted both Easts and Taita on a calm, balmy Masterton morning, but the call of 'John' could be heard from the rivals camp, none other than that of TDCC former bad boy...S. Outtrim. The trip also gave the lads the chance to meet the new strayan on our shores, James Crowley. Jimmy or Bondi Vet had the honour of travelling the Rimutuka Hill with Taita's leading WRC driver, Dvae Gillespie. Upon arrival Dvae explained the unfortunate morning he had thus far. Blunders ranged from the alarm not going off, to picking up James, but not before being unable to turn the club car alarm off and stitching his wife up, making her walk to bowls in the Hutt from Stokes Valley. Well done Dizz, surely the weekend could only get better for you...
Due to dewy conditions and lack of wind, the game was delayed by 1 hour, but after numerous coin tosses, Houghy came out the winner and put Easts in the field for the first T20. The early loss of Taita's only french cricketer, Sam Le Gros (pronounced De La Gwah) provided the opportunity for Phil and Deano to thrill the supporters with some lusty blows. The departure of Deano did not stop the fireworks and Phil combined with Bondi Vet to keep the scoreboard ticking over. A few lusty blows and the odd wicket followed, but some red ink from Shooter helped the score reach 140.
The first time outdoors for many since last season was a chance to blow the cobwebs out, but against our great 'mates' from Easts, meant that there was always something riding on the game and even though most of the bowlers were slightly below par, Sully and Tony Cliff provided 8 overs of tight lines and hard lengths meaning Easts required 7 runs off 6 balls. With two right handers at the crease and hitting to a smallish boundary, not much was in favour of the experienced death bowlers. Bang, bang, bang and the game was over and Mutcha was left seething from a game that could have been snatched from the jaws of defeat. Extras were the achilles heal and possibly were the difference between the first 'W' and an unfortunate 'L' in the first hit out.
A big selling point to head over the hill for many out of season cricketers was the lunch on offer. Although it filled the gap, it did not fuel the fire that was needed to put Greytown to the sword, except for one man...Mutcha. A slightly below par batting effort struggled to create a sense of excitement amongst the boys and 113 was put on the board for Greytown to chase down. With bodies slowly starting to seize up and the afternoon sun starting to beat down at Rathkeale College, the bowlers were needing to find something deep within to help get the first of what should be many 'dubyas' this season. Sullivan and Blomfield opened up the attack and before Deano had a chance to warm up his hands in the cordon, balls and bails were flying everywhere and Greytown were four fa spit early doors. A dry afternoon ball, a pronounced Senator seam and great swing conditions with a slight northerly fearfully creeping over the ground provided ideal bowling conditions for all bowlers. Mutcha was in great rhythm and bowling with some beans, Sullivan was tighter than a Bombay money lender, Patty H letting go some jaffas and the rest of the blokes were just doing their 'thang' and chiming in with wickets regularly. Greytown dismissed for close to 60 and the boys could walk off the field with a wry smile and a sneaky eye on what was in store for a potential repeat show down with Easts. As is tradition though, both teams headed back to the local pub near the main drag for a refreshment and then back to the boarding hostel to sort sleeping arrangements.
Spoilt for choice with sleeping arrangements this year, players had the luxury of branching out amongst the St Matthews rooms and it was clear there was a divide between, elder statesmen and the youthful, exuberant mob lead inspirationally by Taita's very own small screen fishing star, Liam Sullivan. Once the formalities of showers and a general chin wag about the day was completed the teams headed to the great eatery that is Thai Master Chef. Great hosts and very accommodating of our antics it was pleasing to see not much had changed on their behalf, but could not be said for Taita. Notable omissions included Walsh, Tait, Rammell, Te Moananui, but some great replacements in Kopey, Bondi Vet, O'Connor and Stevens. A few highlights from the restaurant include the spring rolls, wontons and curry puffs ordered by Tunnicliffe, the extra meal ordered by an anonymous player, Flake's curbside quiche down the fence line and Caramel's jug skull out of a water jug. A $25 taxi awaited the remaining 'hangers-on' which was greeted by a lot of swearing and cursing from younger members of the van, especially Furby.
For what promised so much and delivered last year, The Horse and Hound was rubbish and a move south down the road to The Aberdeen allowed a fewer of the more 'artistic' players the chance to cut shapes and mix and mingle with Wairarapa's finest for the night. For some, two T20's and a BYO meal was enough and an early night was on the horizon, but for others the night had just begun and Sam Stevens set the benchmark early on. Nobody could match Sam, although anti-Radler campaigner, Sully was quickly into his stride showing the stamina that is needed in the Cook Strait to haul in the big catches. Closing time neared and all headed back to the hostel in the hope that rain wasn't far away and a delay or reduction to Sundays 50 over game was on the cards.
Reports of Dizzy's experience with technology surfaced early the next morning, the yarn at breakfast was of a mislead walk along the main train line to Napier in an attempt to save on time. Reportedly this only succeeded in Dizzy falling off a 1 metre step face first and the damage was clear for all to see the next day judging by the cuts he was sporting. Other notable incidents were Furbies loose lips on the way home, directing two young ladies where they should go and comments about their physical appearance and Sam and Flake's expertise on road signs and their need to be in the local residents front gardens.
A few woke dusty, but all in all most were OK. Tired bodies was the common theme. The news of 100 overs had spread like wild fire early and the mood had darkened quickly at the prospect of spending 50 overs in the field. Upon arrival Mark took it upon himself to negotiate a shortened day, valiant, but to no avail. Upon losing the toss, Taita were staring down the barrel at 3 1/2 hours of torture, but an early wicket and some restrictive bowling in stages didn't allow Easts to compile too many runs and the modest target of 223 was set.
Young Rachin and Le Gros opened up and worked hard early to get through the new ball. The loss of Rachin slightly stagnated the run chase and although James and Sam looked confident during their stay at the crease, losing was always going to be a hard pill to swallow against this opposition. Crowler was judged to be caught behind from a ball that didn't touch the willow and this provided another hurdle for Taita to jump. Sam continued to blaze away and looked confident at the crease with some amazing shots, including a contender for Smashed 'em bro when he danced down the track and opened up the front leg to dispatch the Easts skipper confidently over the white wash. A farmer was overheard to be asking his neighbour if the ball went over the boundary and the reply was...'yeah definitely'. The dismissal of Sam and the regular fall of wickets knocked the wind out of the sails of the lower order and the total was too far out of reach, Taita falling 40 runs short.
Notable highlights on the field over the weekend included:
- Sam Le Gros' 96 on Sunday
- Phil's 60 on Saturday morning
- Three solid contributions and tidy work behind the sticks from Crowler on his debut for Taita
- The bowlers attitude on both days in foreign conditions
Left wet, grey and windy Wellington for the blue skies and heat of Masterton. Game 1: versus Petone Reserves. Taita won the toss and batted first, making 120-2. Taylor Wenlock, returning from India, batted through the innings for 30 not out, Rahul Jayakar chipped in with 20 with his first bat in 6 months and Jason Doyle got 50 not out. About a par score, and when Sam Stevens (summoned out of retirement with the lure of fine Masterton woman and bacon and eggs for breakfast) and Sean Gillespie knocked the top off, Taita looked on track. Unfortunately some wayward front feet, and a few lucky edges saw Petone home with a few balls to spare.
Game 2: versus Kurinui Seniors. Lost toss and fielded first. Another good bowling performance meant Kurinui were restricted to 101 from their 20 overs. Key performers with ball; Jack Walsh (filling in at short notice) 1-12 from 4 overs and Pat Smith and Bede Jordan also picking up a couple of wickets. Taita got off to a slow start in reply, with a couple of run outs. Declan Outtrim has begun a purple patch, and made 34 not out, batting through the innings. Taita looked down and out with 25 needed off the last two overs and 7 wickets down. Big hitting (if unconventional) Aaron Cope then hit 16 off the penultimate over (including back-to-back 6's) to leave only 9 needed off the final over. Unfortunately, ended up 4 too many.
Game 3: versus Kurinui Seniors (40 over game). After a long night, and several players struggling with their conditioning, the prospect of a 50 over affair was not sitting well with many. Especially as the sun baked down on a ground with no running water within a 15min walk. Fortunately 10 overs was knocked off and 40 overs it was. The toss was won, and Taita batted first. Taylor Wenlock continued his good weekend and batted for a majority of the innings making a 50. Rahul Jayakar chipped in with a 30, however with 5 overs to go runs were hard to come by, and wickets fell quickly. Aaron Cope stepped up with another hard hit 20 off 10, including back-to-back 6's again. 150 on the board, felt about 20 short, however could be enough. Unfortunately back-to-back days of cricket was too hard to get up for. Pat Smith bowled a terrific opening spell, picking up two early wickets, however whilst the effort was there from the rest, the execution wasn't. At drinks, with only 7 needed (and Kurinui still only 2 down), we stayed out. Then Taylor took 2 wickets in an over to cause a near timed-out dismissal, before they won (fittingly) from a wide. To top things off, Diz had been and purchased several bottles of water, which were quickly snapped up by a thirsty Taita team, only to be sorely disappointed when the "water" fizzed when opened, revealing anti-thirst quenching sparkling water.
Whilst losing all three, it was a promising start to the season, with a team made up of predominantly players from last years thirds team (plus a few even lower grades), competing in all three games. Everyone was able to come away from the weekend and say that they had contributed with either bat or ball. Thanks to those who filled in at late notice (Sam, Jack, Akhila).