A match which could have had any of three results as the last ball was bowled ended with the worst possible result for the 4ths, a one-wicket defeat.
We opted to bat against Stewarts Melville 3rds on the Inverleith astro on an afternoon which seemed set fair. A fast outfield gave us hope of putting up a good score, which we’d then have to bowl well to defend. Adam and Alan opened, but alas Adam was out in the first over, too quickly for expected no. 3 Calum Pretty to have his pads on! Daniel Bryen stepped in, but both batters struggled to get many runs against some reasonable bowling. Disaster struck in the 16th and 17th overs, with first Alan bowled, and then Calum and Daniel run out within 4 balls. At 40 for 4 we seemed (not for the first time this season) to be facing another batting calamity. In came 13-year-old George Baltzer, fresh from a school game in Glasgow, and after being told by fellow batter Ewan Robertson to take his time George hit his first two balls over the bowler’s head for 4. The game changed rapidly, as George, aided by Ewan, set about the bowling. Our 69-4 after 20 overs became 115-4 after 26 overs, and though Ewan (29) and George (58: his first ever 50 in any cricket) were out Julian Fontana and Charlie Robertson kept up the momentum. We ended with 201-7 from our 40 overs – an excellent score in the circs.
We had to bowl and field well though to defend our total, and though Julian took a smart early catch to dismiss one of the openers, the Stew-Mel batters settled in and coped with few alarms against our attack – aided by a couple of dropped catches. At drinks Stew-Mel had the game in hand, at 100-1 (20 overs). We needed an early wicket to change things, and George was the man with the golden arm, bowling the oppo no. 3 first ball after drinks, and then getting a second wicket in the same over. Game on! We bowled and fielded better in the next few overs, taking our 4th wicket at a score of 118 in the 26th over. The oppo opener was joined by his captain, and their partnership of 32 seemed set to become a winning stand, until Charlie Robertson took two wickets with successive balls: 160-6 in the 32nd over. By now drizzle had been falling quite steadily for a while. Bowling with a wet ball is never easy, and when the pressure is on it is doubly difficult. The bowlers and fielders did their best, and two well-taken catches saw Stew-Mel at 190-8 with 2 overs left. A good 39th over by Daniel Bryen meant it was 7 to win off the last over, to be bowled by Kevin Weavers. A four off the second ball put the pressure back on us, but we had a lucky break off the fourth ball when the batters half-ran and half-stopped at the same point: run out! Three to win with two balls left became three to win off the last ball. Alas for us, a thick edge past point off the last ball brought two runs, and in the frenzy of returning the ball to try to run the batter out the ball evaded the keeper and the Stew-Mel batters were able to return for a third, cueing unbridled joy and despair at the same time.
Few present at the end, which included some parents of players on both sides, will forget the agony of the last few overs as the game swung to and fro, in a match which showed why 40-over a side cricket can be as thrilling as T20 matches. Full credit to the Stew-Mel batters for keeping their nerve and trying to play shots. Final thought is that the school-age players on both sides played a full part in the game, contributing with bat or ball or both, and not being over-awed in the least by anything that went on. That can only be good for Edinburgh cricket in years to come.