This weekend saw the Cougars migrate northward to take on Campbell River CC in their annual away game. In an unprecedented move, those on TST set their watches forward 12 hours and elected to travel up on the Friday night for some pre match festivities including golf, gambling and [REDACTED], resulting in enough transfers of wealth to make Adam Smith blush. The remainder of of the squad elected to make the pilgrimage in the early hours of Saturday and braved the gloomy, overcast and downright miserable weather, the spectre of a washout hanging over the entire trip. Thankfully upon arrival the skies had cleared and the match was able to start on time, with Doug winning the toss and electing to bat despite some potentially favorable swing bowling conditions. With the Whistlin' Waffles barely having had time to settle, the team donned the pads and got to work.
As has sadly become custom this season the Metchosin top order collapsed in spectacular fashion thanks to some outrageous swing bowling from the CR openers. They had the ball on a string, routinely moving it up to a foot in the air and occasionally half that again off the deck. By the 4th over the away team was 4-4 and staring down the barrel of an embarrassingly low total and the prospect of getting on the booze before George's afternoon naptime. With Cocks and Cole now at the crease, some disciplined batting was required to avoid disaster. The boys set about the task and with the exception of some wild swings outside off from Cole and one very scratchy over from Cocks against Parmeet's consistently inconsistent swing, they were able to weather the storm. Cocks displayed some uncharacteristically patient batting while Cole looked to be a bit more aggressive at the other end. The duo saw the team through almost to drinks, Cocks holing out in the deep taking on the spinner in the 21st over for just 8 runs off 54 balls (it felt like more, weird). The bottom order started to bump the run rate with Rob and Cole picking their spots before CR held onto a catch and Cole departed for a well-earned, match-altering 39 off 86 balls including the first 6 of the day. With the swing having abated Rob and Tanzil turned on the runs. Despite T only having the use of one arm he still managed some nice shots including a big 6 over cover. The tail was able to wag producing a run a ball and the team survived 45 overs with a defendable total of 149, thanks also to some excellent work from Xavier Tras who scored 24.
CR provided lunch in the form of Domino's pizza which was welcomed by all, followed by teamwide distribution of Tums about a half hour later for those who over-indulged. With the injuries piling up the Cougars took to the field, Koko substituting for a broken Tanzil and a hobbling Cocks confined to slip, having been stung by a Parmeet delivery on a botched leg glance attempt.
Izak and Mr Cricket took the new ball and generated results almost immediately, with the CR opener nicking off to Izak in the first over of the innings in a dream start for the away team. With Rob bowling tight lines and generating foul inswing runs were hard to come by, and some great fielding by Doug generated a runout to send another batsman packing. Despite being taken for a few runs by Xavier Tras, Izak was bowling with venom and an inswinging yorker had Parmeet's middle stump cartwheeling and the home team reeling at 3-24, bringing CR captain and key wicket Aaron to the crease. He looked very comfortable on the front foot and managed to peel off a handful of runs before Izak wound the clock back to 2012, delivering a vicious bouncer that deflected off the gloves to Nick who was keeping at 3rd slip for some reason. This key wicket shifted momentum and the Cougars capitalized, with a string of wickets to follow. Cole continued to play a big role in the match, taking an absolute screamer off a Noel half-tracker that Ben absolutely pummeled to him at mid wicket. Amit produced a fine spell of disciplined bowling which netted him 3 wickets at a very economical 2.12 per over, borderline MOTM material. Fresh off a quick change of knickers, Cole came on to pick up a key wicket with a ball that took an edge, bounced off the batsman's helmet grill and popped up to Dukey at backward point, who looked decidedly shorter and hairier in the moment. Chris also took the final catch of the innings at mid-on, cradling it against his body, dismissing the home side for 92 and providing the away team with a victory that would have seemed all but impossible mere hours earlier.
The victory celebrations proceeded to the hotel where many beverages were consumed and kicked on with a night of golf, gambling, grannies and [REDACTED] that will long be remembered by all. Longest drive award went to Doug (although I'm convinced he cheated) with 257.
On a beautiful Sunday morning the Cougars fronted up only slightly worse for the wear for the social T20 match. This was a very village affair with beers, cigars and partially clad players all enjoying the atmosphere and one another's company. All left with a new appreciation for this terrible sport we subject ourselves to, with the possible exception of the die-hard cricketing purists amongst us. The match had it all - wickets, boundaries, towering sixes, huge wides, folks being called back after being dismissed, bowlers batting and batsmen bowling, one-hand-one-bounce, frivolity, laughs, fun... I could go on. Is this how it's supposed to be? Can we play cricket without hating the opposition and ourselves? Do our collective deep-seated daddy issues melt away in the sheer presence of camaraderie and fun? Can we bottle and sell Adam's whole vibe? We may never have all the answers, but a fun time was had regardless, and cricket truly was the winner.
On behalf of the entire Metchosin Cricket Club I'd like to extend our great thanks to Ben, Aaron and the whole Campbell River team for their hospitality and warmth over the course of the weekend. This trip has quickly become a season highlight for our crew and that's in no small part due to how welcoming and fun the Campbell River folks have been. Sometimes we forget why we play this dumb sport but it's nice to get this annual reminder. Looking forward to next year already!