Our last match of the season saw us play Morton 3rds, whom we had beaten in a close encounter 9 weeks ago. Some late injury and illness problems meant that could only field 10 players. Even that tally was only reached through Mike MacLean’s dad kindly agreeing at 12.30 to play in his first game for 40 years as we would otherwise have been 9 only. Another debutant was Toby Tucker’s daughter Emily, who donned the keeper’s gloves after (as usual) we lost the toss and Morton opted to bat.
The openers started as if they meant business, but we got an early wicket, courtesy of a useful catch by a nerveless Emily. But despite some steady bowling and occasional wickets, Morton reached 74-4 after 20 overs. On a wicket affected by the previous evening’s heavy rain this was a fair score. We continued to rotate bowlers regularly in search of wickets, which did come but were interspersed with boundaries, and the Morton innings closed on 148-9 (one batter retired hurt). Tom Mullin took 4-20, in a useful spell, to add to his 18 wickets for the 3rds in his debut season in club cricket. Our catching has improved in the second half of the season, and 5 were safely pouched through the innings.
We knew that the wicket would still be difficult to bat on, and the call-offs had affected our batting line-up. George Baltzer and Alan Borthwick opened, but both were out within the opening few overs, the captain failing to make his ground while going for an ill-advised second run. Ewan Robertson, back in the side after a stint in the 3rds, and Craig Bryen had to try to steady the ship, but struggled against some tight bowling. By drinks we were only 37-2: some way short of the equivalent Morton tally. Good progress in the next 8 overs took us to 72-2, but alas Ewan (on 25) was bowled, exposing the later batters to what was still some good bowling. The 29th over was, for this writer, the best over at this level he’s seen for many years: quick, full and bang on target. The Morton bowler P Verma first pinned Craig (on 34) dead in front of his stumps; the next 3 balls were too good for Emily, then Toby, then Tom. At this stage 6 wickets in 6 balls seemed not impossible, but thankfully Ian managed just to keep the next two balls out. The bowler fully deserved his team-mates’ plaudits.
The clatter of wickets pretty much sealed our fate, and while we managed to squeeze a few runs out of the next few overs we ended up 87 all out, losing by 61 runs. Unfortunately, results in the other games in our division on Saturday didn’t help us, and we ended up 8th out of 9 teams left in our division. Not many points separated the teams in 5th to 8th places, but there were two games when we didn’t gain many points at all and that was enough to make a difference. Always next year!