With playoffs firmly out of the picture Metchosin looked to round out the season with a moral victory, fielding a very strong side with the goal of handing the Islanders their first defeat of the season in the final round.
The match kicked off late thanks to some umpire tardiness, with Doug back to usual form losing the toss, and the Islanders electing to bat first. The Islanders batsmen started strongly, with both Prashant and Vatsal keeping the run rate ticking along at 5 against the opening pair of Izak and Swingin' Savage. Both Izak and Benny struggled to control the swing early resulting in a number of extras which helped the Islanders cause. Vatsal was the aggressor, clubbing a couple of big sixes and notching his 50 before being dismissed in the 19th over thanks to a fine catch taken by Chewie off the bowling of Cole, who has looked red-hot with the ball over the final 2 games of the season. Prashant departed soon after, Cole again taking a key wicket thanks to an even better catch made by Doug taken over the shoulder at backward point. Cole would go on the finish with best-on-ground bowling figures of 2-36 off 9 overs. The change bowlers were soon required, with Cocks managing to snag the key wicket of Chamba, caught at deep backward square by Olly in true VDCA fashion. Unfortunately Cocks rode his luck with the ball a little too long, bowling far too full and getting taken apart in his final over which included 2 massive sixes off the first two balls. Savage came back and immediately had an impact on the middle order, picking up 3 key wickets in quick succession and swinging momentum back in the Cougars' favor. The tail wagged just enough, with Doug coming in for some punishment despite bowling quite well on the whole. Chewie picked up a couple of wickets at the close to slow the run rate, with the Islanders setting a decent-but-definitely-gettable 261 to chase, a far cry from the 400 rumored to be under discussion in the sheds pre-game.
Tea was eaten.
Ross and Cocks opened the batting and immediately looked troubled, with Vikas in particular having the ball on a string in the first few overs making conditions difficult. In vintage Ross style he clubbed a glorious cover drive towards the tennis courts for 6, before falling victim to a Vikas off-cutter that cartwheeled his off stump. The shoe was also very briefly on the other foot for Cocks as he dispatched a rank full toss into the carpark for 6 in the third over, but things were very quiet other than this, with plenty of dot balls and false shots played. Unfortunately Vikas broke down in his 3rd over with what looked to be back spasms so, even more unfortunately for the Cougars, Vatsal was asked to take over. Vatsal's first spell was bowled with pace and venom, generating swing and surprising bounce off a good length, keeping the pair of Cocks and Chewie very quiet. With the exception of a single lucky pull shot for 4, Vatsal gave up very little, and ultimately had Chewie walking back to the pavilion having nicked off to a beauty of a ball that kicked and moved away from him off the seam. Duke and Cocks managed to see Vatsal off, only for Cocks to have a brain fart at the prospect of the first ball he'd seen in half an hour that he could score off, holing out at mid-off to the change bowler. This brought Olly to the crease, fresh off a debut ton with the hopes of all the Cougars resting on his shoulders. Cricket is however, as we all know, a shit sport, played by dickheads, and Olly was on the way back to the pavilion a couple of overs later after a moderately questionable (high? leg stump?) LBW decision for just 4 runs in what would be an unfortunate portent of things to come.
Tanzil, who had been microdosing Tumz since the innings break strode to the crease with the promise of fireworks in one form or another. He then proceeded to play an uncharacteristically defensive innings as he and Dukey put on 30 for the 5th wicket, Chris slapping a pair of nice 4's down the ground in the process. Unfortunately for Tanzil, the umpire had a dinner engagement to get to, and he was out triggered LBW before the appeal could even leave Deppy's lips. Irrelevant apparently was the fact that he had danced down the pitch a good metre-and-a-half and was attempting to play his signature leg glance over mid wicket. Incredulous, he laid the bat on the pitch as a yardstick in an effort to process what had just happened, before accepting his farcical fate and slowly wandering off the field. Chris followed just a couple of balls later, slicing a miscued drive to Vatsal at backward point who took a regulation catch.
This brought Izak and Doug together and apparently signaled to the Islanders that the game was well and truly theirs. Every single Islanders player proceeded to have a turn at bowling, including Ankit who started the innings keeping, which required some creativity in the scorebox. Doug and Izak were unfazed however, and proceeded to knock the ball around at around 6 an over, keeping hope for the Cougars alive. As their partnership progressed and the run rate required climbed slower than the fielding team would have liked, there was an edge of tension between the fielders, some chirping and bickering amongst themselves that a team fully in control may not have experienced. Doug in particular was putting on a batting showcase against strike bowlers and part-timers alike, with some lovely shots through backward point and a huge six over cow corner. Eventually Prashant returned to his strike bowler, bringing Vatsal back on to almost immediate results, Izak caught behind. Cole departed the very next over thanks to a very sharp catch from Prashant (now at short cover) off a flushed drive that came out of the screws. When Nicko edged one and was caught behind (by Prashant, apparently now keeping again), it was up to Doug and Savage to bring it home. During the ensuing partnership of 32, Doug notched his first 50 of the season, finishing unbeaten on 62 at the end of the days play, a fantastic captain's knock that injected some much needed respectability into a game that was fairly one-sided for the most part. Savage was out caught in the 42nd over selflessly trying to chase an impossible run rate and MCC were all out for 201, falling a good 60 runs short of victory.
With that we wrap the 2023 Division 1 season for MCC. I want to personally thank the entire club for a fun year. While we weren't as competitive as many of us would have liked, there are some positives we can draw from this season and I believe we'll come back much stronger next year. Highlights included the always fun Campbell River trip, the Craggs Cup weekend and the Manthers game, as well as a number of our guys participating in VISAs after a five year absence. We still have an upcoming intersquad match, some folks finishing up midweek cricket finals and a tour match against Meralomas on September17th so still more cricket to look forward to. As always there will be the Metchosin Classic golf day and presentation nights upcoming, as well as the MCC holiday party in December. Look forward to having a (fake) beer with you all.