Updated: Aug 21
Fresh off the highs of a fantastic VISAS campaign the Metchosin Cougars traveled north to lake Shawnigan to contest the Craggs Cup against friendly rivals Cowichan this past weekend. In a fixture that is always a season highlight for both clubs, the Cougars looked to take home the silverware for an unprecedented 5th year in a row.
Izak was planning for his transition into middle age and was tied up in a golf tournament on Saturday morning so it was fortunate that Doug pulled out a clutch toss victory and elected to bat. On a hazy day Tanzil and Cocksy weathered some sharp bouncers and hooping outswing from Rosco broken up nicely by 15 year old debutant Oliver from the other end, bowling a consistently nagging line and length. Tanzil asserted some dominance with a quick-fire 27 before a miscued drive ballooned to mid on. Cocks looked comfortable despite wearing a Rosco bouncer on the chest (via the glove) which inexplicably ballooned just short of 2nd slip. Cole came in at first drop and departed pretty quickly thanks to an absolute peach from Rosco, an outswinging yorker that hit the base of off stump, bringing Ross to the middle. A bowling change brought on the spinners, and Cocks immediately took one of them to task, hitting him for 3 consecutive fours. The leg spin proved more effective, Cocks out stumped shortly after reaching his 50. Nick and Ross departed in quick succession in near identical fashion - chopping on attempting to cut against the King's deceptive variation. This brought Olly to the crease in what would prove to be a debut innings for the ages. Setting the tone early with his first scoring shot, a lofted drive that almost cleared the deep cover boundary he took the bowling to task. First partnering with Doug, who made a swashbuckling 30 including some nice cut shots and a lovely pull shot off a sharp Rosco bouncer, then with Arnie, (H)Olly-Wood played some exquisite shots, sending folks ducking for cover on the deck on a number of occasions. The cricket purists amongst us also appreciated his padding up to the spinner, drawing applause from teammates and opposition alike. Shot of the day was a massive six hit over cover off Rosco, unequivocally stamping his authority on the game. Bringing up his hundred off just 60-odd balls, he ratcheted up the aggression even further, until ultimately he departed stumped for 126, putting the Cougars in a commanding position. Some crucial late order opposite-field hitting by Savage, coupled with the steady presence of Rajeev at the other end brought the total to 313 for 9 wickets, with Izak still MIA, presumably searching for his lost (golf) balls.
To say that the tea prepared for the two teams was a feast would be to undersell it. There were two picnic tables full of all manner of food, from biryani, jerk chicken and chicken curry to pizza and sandwiches, chips and scones and of course the traditional English Breakfast tea. The Cougars would like to extend our thanks to our gracious hosts for putting on such a spread, even if the post-tea coma slowed the away team down a touch in the field (perhaps that was the plan?)
A moment of panic was averted as Cocks was not required to open the bowling, with Izak and Neville arriving just in the nick of time as the away team took to the field. Arthur and Vipul started quickly, peeling off a 50 run partnership in no time at all, despite some quite tight bowling by Izak and Savage. Savage struck in his 4th over with a seemlingly innocuous ball just short of a length which Viupl chopped onto his off stump. The cry of "We're on here now boys" from Savage belied the truth - he had learned to bowl swing just this over. A convert from baseball, Ben clearly didn't understand the nuance of the ball shining process and asked Norrish the innocent question: "What's the go with only shining one side?" A quick primer on the history of swing bowling was all it took for Savage to pick up the concept of inswing and proceeded to use it to absolutely devastating effect. He steamrolled most of the Cowichan top order and by the time his spell was done he finished with figures of 5-37 and had put the Cougars well and truly in the driver's seat. The five-for was sealed by Izak taking an absolute screamer at slip? Gully? We're still not sure, he'd moved there by himself for some reason. Regardless, falling to his right the ball stuck in his big mitts and the team erupted in cheers - it had been a while since anyone had taken 5 for MCC. Mick was not going to go quietly however, and put on a showcase of controlled batting, building from the ashes of Swingin' Savage's performance. Cole put on a season-best bowling performance, coming on at first change and bamboozling the batsmen with flight and bounce, while Arnie had it turning at right angles from the other end. Cole finished with 1-37 and could easily have taken 5 wickets on the day. Credit to Mick who finished unbeaten on 115, a match-winning performance on any other day. His innings included some towering sixes and a cover drive hit so forcefully it went THROUGH Jon fielding at deep cover. Unfortunately for Cowichan, they weren't quite able to get over the line, finishing at 279/8 at the conclusion of the 45th over. A team effort from the Cougars, every single player contributed to this win and it was a pleasure to be a part of a match played in absolutely the best possible spirit. The Cougars retain the Craggs Cup in 2023 and we already look forward to next season's fixture.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention how the two clubs honored Nagy this weekend. Respects were paid over the course of the day to his tree and Rosco shared a lovely message from Laureen and Pamela to the two teams. Scotch was drunk, stories were told and he was remembered as the driving force holding Cowichan CC together in it's dark days, as well as his legacy in how strong the club has now become. Indeed, debutant teenager Oliver had been coached by Nagy as a youngster, his passion and legacy now playing out in real-time during the match. The history and future of CCC and MCC is inextricably linked by Nagy's legacy and we are all better off for it.
The post-match celebrations continued long into the night with singing and pool at Black Swan.
Metchosin look to round out the season with a win next weekend against Islanders at Beacon Hill Park.