8th and 15th of February vs. Onslow.
With many of the younger generation having never ventured to Nairnville, there were a few late-comers. Fortunately Captain Doyle won his first toss in a couple of months and chose to bat on what looked a very batter friendly wicket. Bourne (returning to his 2012/13 form) and Swain (backing up from his 1c tequilas) proved the pitch observation correct, putting on 140+ for the first wicket, before Bourne missed a straight one just before lunch to be dismissed for 50. Swain (despite several Powerade-coloured yacks during lunch) battled through his developing hangover and scored his maiden Taita (and personal) hundred (121) in his final game of the season. Brownie (34) and Doyle (55) chipped in, and saw us through to a very competitive 310-7 declared from 75 overs.
With a session to bowl, we were confident of chipping out a few wickets and restricting runs, to make it very difficult for Onlsow the following week. Cope bowled his best spell in a Taita uniform (1-17 from 8), and got his first first-class scalp in nicking off Stuart Rhodes (celebrated by throwing high-fives/elbows all over the show). Day one ended with Onslow 120-5, and struggling to avoid follow on. Unfortunately, Day 2 saw us lose our keeper, and Shooter rolled back the years to don the gloves. After a terrific opening spell from Glugsy (3-41 from 14) and new boy Matt Kelly(2-57 from 17), we couldn't sustain pressure and Onlsow battled through to 243-9 from their 75. Just avoiding follow on, and effectively killing the game. All that remained was Taita to bat a session, to end 151-1 (Curtis 29, Doyle 75* and Brown 44*). Despite Onslow now choosing to try and make a game of it (after blocking out 40 overs in the morning for 130 runs), wickets never looked like falling, so no risk was taken to lose our first hard earned two-day points.
22nd and 1st February/March vs. Hutt
What was an incredibly hard week for club captain Seano (a massive shout out for finding 33 players), saw us find out 11th player at 9.30am on the Saturday. With a lot of the old timers at old-timers day, injuries/holidays/weddings/other finally took their toll. Coming up against top of the table Hutt, at full strength was a big ask, let alone with the 5 ring-ins we had to use (another shout-out to Rob Wall, Bestie, J.Walsh, Bill, and Tax for filling in). To make matters tougher, we lost the toss and were put in on a dodgy green looking wicket. Whilst the top older battled, it was tough going against a Premier quality attack, and at 7-2, 13-3, 27-4, 100 looked a long way away. Fortunately Pat (I’m a batter now) Houghton compiled an attractive 30, and Jack Walsh a hard hit 26 to get us through to 91-7 at lunch. From there, Bill Edwards and Cope showed great ticka, as they batted for almost an hour, before Bill batted with Tax (hadn’t played in 4 years) and Shaun (well, we all know what he’s like with a bat) to see us through to 178, finishing on 56 not out himself. A great debut for the wily veteran.
Sadly, along with our lack of batters, we were light on bowlers too (as well as fielders) and Hutt showed their quality by ending the day 229-4, with a few dropped catches helping them along. Day two started, with Hutt a little weaker, and us a little stronger, but a long way behind the 8-ball. We knocked over the last 6 wickets for 60 runs, with Cope (3-48 from 13), and Matt Kelly (1-22 from 9) doing the damage. Shooter even managed to knock the last one over, picking up his first ever wicket in a game of cricket (stat checked by Steve Cole).
Hoping to try and set a target later in the day, our 2nd innings started poorly with the top 3 knocked over early, and us stumbling at 23-3 at lunch. The middle order chipped in, but no-one went on to a big score that meant we could safely set a target (CJ – 32, Doyle – 37, Shooter – 40, Bill – a nice double with 31). When Shooter and Walsh fell in a few balls to leave us at 150-7 (only 40 ahead with 40 overs left in the day), we were staring down the barrel. First innings heroes Bill and Cope batted for an hour, before Cope (defying his usual close the eyes and swing technique) batted with Matt Kelly for 45 minutes and Shaun (yes the same one) for almost an hour. Cope ended up 41 from 109 (before finally closing eyes and swinging and missing one) and Shaun finished with a 33 ball 0 not out. Afterwards, Cope tried to compare himself to Brendon McCullum. Hutt needed 106 from the last 8 overs of the day, and gave it a good try, ended up 80-4. A hard earned draw, a moral victory from where we started on Day One.