The day has broken hot and sunny here again in Sri Lanka and the boys have a well earned rest day.
Yesterday we played the Kulutara District Development U15/16 Team – well that is what the program said but on arriving at the ground we soon realised the age group was a mere indication. The team was more like an U20 side (all the players we asked were aged between 17 and 19) and their captain plays at a level one down from first class!! To make it more of a challenge it was 35 degrees, 80% humidity and the ground was in a bowl with no wind so the paying temperature was 40 degrees plus. We also had out first signs of illness, with three or four players clearly not a 100%. Our plan was also to keep giving players opportunity to shine. Clearly you would be thinking that our roll would stop today. Not to be the boys played well, with everyone making a contribution of some shape or form and we notched up a convincing 77 run win. A truly outstanding effort.
The main details from the match are:
Game reduced to 45 overs due to the threat of rain – truth be known the Sri Lankan’s prefer shorter games given the way the play (ie they go after the ball when they bat, modelling their games on the T20 format generally). PS it didn’t rain or look like it today but light would have been an issue. The individual lucky NZ pennies used for each game and then given to the opposition were again used …. and again we lost the toss but they asked us to bat. Hugo needs to work on his technique, that said great outcome!
Paul (who had been nauseous in the morning but bounced back) and Nick opened. Opening stand of 34 off 5.1 overs before Paul was out for 6 but another good start had set the tone. Nick was in great touch and looked set for a big one but got seen off by a poor LBW decision (Anthony has photographic evidence!!). Nick scored 37 of just 33 balls and his innings included 7 beautifully timed boundaries. Hard to be critical of the umpiring though as it has generally has been very good and was for this game too aside from this decision. We unfortunately kept losing wickets at regular intervals which put us under pressure. A very good 4th wicket partnership of 69 saw us 138/4 after 24.5 overs. Charlie out for 26, Jack scored a very impressive 61 of 69 balls before being the 7th man out. Unfortunately the middle order didn’t fire today and we were 173/8 after 34.3 overs – 10.3 overs still to go.
Our reassessed target was now 200. Lead by our outstanding captain, Hugo Fletcher, having his first meaningful bat on tour, saw us not only bat through the 45 overs but rack up an impressive 239, with the free and strong ball striking of Matty P helping the cause immensely as well as entertaining his team mates, the teachers and the parents. Matty P 22* of 7 balls, including 3 massive sixes (one out of the ground), Hugo 21 off 27 and Ryan 16* off 34. Matty, with Ryan’s support scored 22 runs off the last over = 6,1,dot,wide,no ball,1,6,6. To date we had bowled well on tour but had always let the pressure off with extras or loose deliveries. The plan was to bowl much tighter today something we managed to do very well. Great opening bowling from Aston and Gibbo. Both picked up a well deserved wicket and the Sri Lankan’s were just 41 for 2 after the opening 12 overs. The change bowlers all managed to keep the pressure on them and they lost wickets at regular intervals and were never really in the hunt to win especially after Hugo removed their captain for 26 of 26 balls. At this point they were 117/7 after 28.3. Tim Burke wrapped up the game picking up his 1st First XI wicket with a good catch by Scott. All 8 bowlers bowled well and worked us a unit backed up by some good fielding again. Charlie and Ryan again shared the keeping duties Hugo picked up 3 wickets, with Aston, Gibbo, Kent, Ben and Tim B all getting 1. Matty P and Scott bowled well without anything go their way.
Two games to go with Matty P and Gibbo to get there chance in the top 6 in the last two games.