The Cougars faced off this past weekend against Nanaimo CC looking to build momentum on the back of their first win of the season 7 days prior.
Pre game chat strongly supported a bat-first strategy considering the team's woeful record chasing this season. The toss was lost and Nanaimo elected to bowl first, rendering the decision moot, the away team doubtless hoping the overcast, breezy conditions would provide some assistance to their bowlers.
Missing a few key players, the Cougars hoped to set a competitive total to take the pressure off a depleted bowling attack. The new look opening pair of Cocks and Ross padded up and strode to the crease looking to set a platform. Despite a couple of early jitters, including a dolly delivered to point by Cocks that was spilled, the Aussie see-you-next-Tuesday's managed to see off the first half-dozen overs while keeping the scoreboard ticking over at a little more than 4 an over. Ross found the juicy half-trackers being bowled by Pannu a little too tempting, holing out at mid on while trying to deposit one of them onto the tennis courts where it belonged; a classic VDCA wicket. Tanzil made a brief cameo at first drop, playing a couple of nice lofted cut shots over the field before edging one to gully. Chewy and Cocks kept the runs ticking over, despite a bit of confusion between the wickets on a handful of quick singles. After another uncharacteristically patient innings Cocks committed the cardinal sin of being struck on the pads in the VDCA, triggered LBW despite having taken a leg stump guard and charged at least two feet down the track to play a leg glance. In the umpire's defense, it hit him on the full and the away team's consistent, lengthy appeals surely raised doubts about a not-out decision. This brought Cole to the crease, hot on the heels of some rich form with the bat. He and Chewy put on 40-odd runs in a key middle order partnership. Again Cole looked very strong on the front foot, building his case as a very capable middle order batsman and hitting one huge six over long off. Chewy departed in the 23rd over, getting a decent ball that cut back off the seam to take his off stump, triggering a terse exchange between bowler and batsman. Dukey strode to the crease and proceeded to hit a couple of huge sixes into the trees in an important cameo that is sure to build confidence and provided some important middle order runs. He holed out at cow corner taking on the spinner which brought Robo to the crease. He provided a stabilizing presence and kept the runs flowing with some classy shots through the off side. Cole was dismissed going after the spinner in rare fashion for the VDCA: stumped while dragging his back foot ever-so-slightly while trying to go over the top. This brought Doug to the crease in the 33rd over, with a target of a-run-a-ball to get the team to a very defendable 200 on a slowish Beacon Hill outfield. Doug gave up a couple of chances but looked very composed, especially when rocking back and pulling the spinner behind square. As the game wore on he was required to fill the role of slugger, with a couple of crisp boundaries hit through cover and flat-batted down the ground. Doug (top score with 34) and Rob were still at the crease at the end of the 45th over, with Metchosin ultimately setting a defendable 199 for victory, and leaving Mike, Amit and Nick stranded with the pads on, for the second straight weekend in poor Nick's case.
After a curry-fueled break, Metchosin took to the field with a depleted bowling attack, expecting to lean heavily on Rob, Chewy and Amit to take some wickets early. Nanaimo got off to a fast start, with the first ball of Rob's opening over hit straight up in the air off a leading edge, carrying for six over square leg. Their openers were looking to be aggressive right from the off, displaying a flagrant disregard for established batting technique bordering on disrespectful. Some of the shots played while aesthetically vomit-inducing were nevertheless effective, seeing them surge to 20-0 after just 3 overs. Rob was bowling with swing and venom; he never wavered from the plan and was rewarded in the 5th over with a wicket, Dukey taking a great catch at mid-on off a miscued drive. Chewy opened the bowling opposite Rob and was generating incredible pace off a midweek runup, arguably faster than Izak (we need to invest in a speed gun and settle this debate once and for all). He struck in the 5th over uprooting stumps and then again in the 7th with a nice caught behind held comfortably by Nick. Wickets just kept coming, with Amit joining in on the fun and Rob White at one point on a hat-trick following a close but very questionable LBW decision (karma). Chewy also set up Nis perfectly with a string of short balls and strategic fielding changes followed up with a perfectly executed inswinging yorker that hit the bottom of middle stump. All told Nanaimo lost their first 7 wickets for just 19 runs, more or less shutting the door for the away team. Mikey Smith made some acrobatic saves in the slips, saving at least 3 boundaries and Amit uprooted stumps with a beautiful off-cutter, as the final batsmen stubbornly hung around. Doug brought himself on in an effort to make up some overs, and Cole came on only to be hit around a bit by Punia who had gotten his eye in and apparently quite likes spin (he ended up top scorer of the match with 49). Cole got his revenge the very next over however, when Punia tried to go over the top yet again and was caught by Cocks deep in cow, ending Nanaimo's innings at 115 and the match with a much-needed Cougars victory.
This was a true team win with contributions from up and down the lineup with the bat, a great confidence-building sign for a team who has struggled in that area for most of this season. Rob, Amit and Chewy were excellent with the ball and Cole chipped in with a key wicket when it counted as well. Executing in a must-win game, the Cougars move to 2-3, with Alcos up next weekend.