Cricket the winner in Castle Avenue epic
Stu Daultrey (CricketEurope)
As I drank my morning cuppa and listened to RTE Radio (BBC Radio 4 is useless on Sunday mornings until 8:50), I checked the rainfall radar: a few light showers over Co. Meath, otherwise nothing. After an hour going through my notes of Saturday's Leinster Senior Cup semi final and putting something onto a blank screen, I had a second cuppa and drove over to Clontarf.
The Waringstown bus was already in the Castle Avenue car park, and its occupants were either warming up at the Castle end of the field or carrying their chairs and refreshments round the Killester end of the field to take up a position under the scoreboad. Umpires John Andrews and Clive Colleran, two of the safest pairs of hands in town, ambled out to the middle.
Lee Nelson won the toss – has Eoghan Delany won a toss at all this season? – and took all of a millisecond to decide to bat. Waringstown were missing James Hall to ligament or tendon damage, while Clontarf were missing Conor Kelly to illness. Hall's absence meant that the vastly experienced Kyle McCallan would bat at three. Kelly's absence lengthened the tail and meant a start for young left-armer Adam Craig.
Adam Dennison and James McCollum, teenaged and talented sons of famous fathers, took to the field to face Aussie Mick Granger, coming down the hill from the Killester end, and Joe Morrissey, the former Gonzaga boy coming up the hill from the Castle (or city) end. Dennison launched into a Granger hall volley with a cover drive which Delany did well to stop, and pushed another full length delivery straight for two.
In Morrissey's second over Dennison flicked him to mid wicket for four then clipped him over mid wicket for four more. McCollum square cut Granger to the rope, cover drove him for four more, and made it a dozen off the over with another square cut. Morrissey bowled a maiden, and Alex Cusack replaced Granger down the hill. McCollum pulled him for three, leaving Dennison on strike.
Cusie is normally a quiet and courteous man, but something fired him up, because when Dennison played the ball back down the track and stood a foot out of his ground, the bowler picked up the ball and hurled it at the stumps. When the ball struck the batsman's pad, Cusie turned round a roared an appeal at Clive Colleran, presumably for obstructing the field. When Sid shrugged his shoulders and called “Over”, the bowler was outraged!
His mood would not have lightened when Dennison cover drove him for four then carved him up and over cover for another. That took the score to 43 off nine overs, but Joe Morrissey got the breakthrough when McCollum, on 19, drove too soon and was well taken above his head by Connor D'Arcy at mid on. Kyle McCallan played out the rest of the wicket maiden.
The total had advanced by only two when McCallan followed the Morrissey delivery that doesn't move back into the right-hander and nicked it to Bobbo Forrest, standing up. Cusack and Morrissey bowled a few quiet overs until Dennison back cut JoMo for four. Granger was recalled, and was off driven for six by Dennison. Lee Nelson off drove two more, then chipped the ball to Connor D'Arcy at mid on, who dropped a sitter.
Drinks were taken at 64-2 from 17, after which Adam Craig replaced Morrissey and Granger continued from the Killester end. Dennison lofted him over mid on for four, then pulled him off the front foot for six. Nelson pulled Craig for four, and the Aussie got the shepherd's crook in favour of Connor D'Arcy. It was all change as Stephen Moreton relieved Craig, and Dennison completed his fifty.
The score had advanced to 105 when Dennison, on 55, swept at Connor D'Arcy, miscued and gave a catch to the brother, Adrian. David Dawson came in and looked busy with an on driven four. Nelson lofted Moreton over mid on for four, then Dawson moved out of his crease to D'Arcy but the ball deflected off his pad and evaded Forrest. The batsmen took a leg bye, then Nelson slog swept a six, took a single, and it was 127 from 31.
Moreton got one to lift a little on Nelson, and the ball deflected off his pads onto the bails, Nelson bowled for 35. Dawson slog swept two, took a very tight single and Greg Thompson was on strike. He played himself in by lofting the leg-spinner straight for four then slogged four more. Drinks were taken at 147-4 from 34, after which Craig returned, this time from the Killester end.
Cusack came back for the batting power play, and after Thompson had miscued a pull over Andrew Poynter, the Irish international bowled Dawson for 14. That was 152-5 after 36 overs, a slight advantage to Clontarf. Thompson despatched an above waist high full toss from Craig for four, then leg glanced four more. The young pace man had aggravated an old injury and limped off after bowling just four overs.
Cusack, Granger and Morrissey completed the power play, and Granger still had no luck when an edge from Thompson went low to Forrest's right, but Bobbo couldn't hang on to it. Granger continued to haemorrhage boundaries and got his third shepherd's crook of the afternoon. Thompson got out the reverse sweep to Moreton for a four and a single, and in a preview of things to come both Thompson and Ruan Pretorius got after Connor D'Arcy, taking 13 from the 45th over.
Cusack conceded six in the 46th, and the total was 223. A good final four overs would see Waringstown to 260, perhaps 270, which might well not be enough. The South African paceman had other ideas. He on drove D'Arcy into a Castle Grove back garden and waited patiently while Delany threw back the nice white ball Stella Downes had given him and rooted in the bag for the oldest, muckiest one he could find.
It nearly worked. Pretorius heaved the changed ball high to mid wicket where it just cleared the fielder to the left (as we looked from in front of the pavilion) of the scoreboard and sailed for six more. The third delivery soared over the sight screen into a different Castle Grove back garden to bring up the Pretorius fifty off 35 balls, and this time Stella knew the drill – oldest, muckiest white ball.
The fourth delivery was slogged high onto the hedge that protects the back gardens along The Stiles Road. The fifth cleared that hedge, and the sixth also evaded the hedge and disappeared into somebody else's back garden. I'd been watching the telly when Yuvraj Singh did it, but I never thought I'd see it in the flesh. For readers who don't know Castle Avenue, it's not a small ground, although The Stiles Road boundary was shorter than either straight boundary or the Pavilion boundary.
Cusie conceded five wides then a bye to bring Pretorius on strike. He leg glanced four, slogged four and belted a full toss for four. Granger was the last man standing and got a call-up as welcome as a bacon buttie at a bar mitzvah. Dot, two, wide, one was OK to good, but a six to bring up Thompson's fifty, then a straight four and a square cut four which took the total to 296 with an over to go wasn't what was required.
Pretorius, on 86, off drove Cusack for four then leg glanced him for three. Thompson hit a four through mid wicket then took a single to point to reach 66* from 49 deliveries. Pretorius sent the fifth ball high into the car park to reach 99, then drove to long on for two more and his century in 49 balls with eight fours and seven sixes. As the late David Coleman would have said, “Extraordinary!”. Wimbledon has just started, and in memory of Dan Maskell, “Ooh, I say!”
Waringstown closed on 316-5, having taken 93 from the final four overs. Morrissey escaped the carnage and finished with 9-3-30-2; next most respectable was Moreton, with 9-0-37-1. You can find the others on the website, but you'll need a filter for adult viewing.
After tea, James Mitchell came down the hill and was square driven off the back foot by Bill Coghlan, a nice shot. Bill, at 6'5”, was accompanied by Stephen Moreton, about 5'4”, and brought back memories of Clive Lloyd batting with Harry Pilling in the very good Lancashire team of the 1970s. Like Pilling, Moreton is adept at the pull, and he took four with this shot in Mitchell's second over.
Phil Eaglestone was bowling his left-armers up the hill, and got lofted over extra cover off the front foot by Coghlan. Clive Colleran incurred the wrath of the Clontarf players sitting outside the pavilion when he disallowed four leg byes off Mitchell, presumably for no shot. Ater Coghlan had square cut Eaglestone for four, Clive got an ironic cheer when he allowed four leg byes from another Mitchell delivery.
The score was 27 in the eighth over when John Andrews incurred the Clontarf opprobium by giving Moreton out lbw for 7 to one that may well have been straight, but looked a tad high. But Morts is very short, and Anders doesn't get much wrong. Coghlan pulled Mitchell off the front foot for four, lofted him over extra cover for four more before Alex Cusack off drove him for a couple.
Coghlan leg glanced Eaglestone for four, lofted him over mid off for four, then picked him up into the pavilion for six. With Clontarf on 52-1 off ten, it was double shepherd's crook time, and Pretorius was brought on down the hill and Gary Kidd bowled his left-arm wrist spin up the hill. Coghlan pulled the South African for six, then square cut the Irishman for four. He reached his fifty out of 74 in the fourteenth over.
Cusack lofted Pretorius straight for four before Coghlan lofted him over mid on for another four. Coughlan then pulled Pretorius towards Lee Nelson, but the Waringstown skipper couldn't make the catch and saved two. I say skipper in the loosest sense of the word: most of the talking and arm-waving was coming from Kyle McCallan.
McCallan was brought on (brought himself on?) in place of Pretorius and immediately took a wicket when Cusack played the ball onto his stumps, out for sixteen out of 91 to the first ball of the seventeenth over. Drinks were taken, after which Coghlan continued to accumulate boundaries, mainly off the back foot and occasionally off the edge. Andrew Poynter took his ones and twos, and ran brilliantly between the wickets.
Greg Thompson had replaced Kidd with his right-arm wrist spin, and eventually induced Poynter to miscue to short third man where Nelson took the catch. Poynter had made 11 of 134-3, but had seen Coghlan close to his ton. He on drove McCallan for four, and slog swept him for two to reach 94. He then flicked Thompson high to mid wicket where my view was blocked off by the crowd in front of the bar.
I'm told that Gary Kidd appeared to lose track of the ball, but as it fell just inside the rope Kidd threw himself full length to make the catch. 144-4 became 146-5 when Adrian D'Arcy wandered down the pitch to McCallan, missed and was stumped for nought by Andrew Mitchell. This brought in the aggressive Bobbo Forrest to join the more cerebral Eoghan Delany. The skipper pulled Thompson for four, then Forrest swept him fine for another boundary.
Forrest continued to pursue Thompson with sweeps and lofts over the infield, and drove McCallan for six. James McCollum was given an over in which he conceded a four to Delany with a full toss, and wasn't seen again. Gary Kidd started the batting power play overs, but conceded eight and got the crook. Eaglestone and Pretorius bowled the other four, during which Forrest reached his fifty.
The power play had yielded 44, and Clontarf needed 84 more from the final ten overs. McCallan had bowled out (10-1-39-2), and Kidd had four more to bowl. He started his spell well by having Forrest lbw for 60 out of 247-6 – no moans about this one. In days of yore, Joe Morrissey was often the enforcer. He started with an inside edge for four, and had got to 12 when he was bowled by Kidd.
This is where the absence of Conor Kelly proved crucial – he's a good bat who scores quickly. Connor D'Arcy isn't any sort of a bat, and had made one who he flapped Kidd to short mid off where Pretorius held the catch. That took Kidd to 10-0-59-3. Delany, who had reached fifty the previous over, was now going to have to bat with two more tailenders. In first came Granger, better described as a ferret, for his first knock of the season, with Clontarf requiring 41 more to win from four overs.
Outside the pavilion Adam Craig was furious that the Aussie had gone in front of him. To calm him, he received a long lecture on batting with a runner from Andrew Poynter. Delany ramped a high full toss from Pretorius for four, and six came off the over. Greg Thompson bowled the antepenultimate over for five runs. Pretorius conceded a bye which got Delany on strike, then bowled a second above waist height full toss, which Clive Colleran called.
There were some barrack room lawyers around the pavilion who argued that Pretorius should have been taken off, but the ruling in force is that a warning is issued only if the full toss is directed at the batsman, which neither had been. Delany had taken a single from the no ball, and now Granger was run out trying to get off strike. In came Craig and his runner, and now it was the turn of the Waringstown barrack room lawyers.
The ban on runners is an international regulation, because the big boys cheat. It doesn't apply in the Irish Senior Cup. Three singles and a dot ball followed, leaving 24 required off the final over to be bowled by Thompson with Delany on strike. He hit four, two, two leaving sixteen from three – at least two sixes were now needed. The fourth ball again went for two, meaning only a no ball or some wides could do the trick.
Thompson didn't oblige, and although the fifth ball was hit for six, eight were still needed. Deller accepted defeat graciously and steered a single to take him to 85* out of 310-9. The six sixes had won the day between two very strong sides, either of whom would be worthy winners of the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup. What a great day's cricket – and the sun shone!