Updated: Aug 23
We’ve all heard commentators describe teams having a bad day out as “forgettable” performances, implying that the performance was simply mediocre, possibly bad, perhaps bordering on downright turgid. This implies that the team can move on and players and spectators alike will quickly wipe the performance from memory, written off as an anomaly safe in the knowledge that inevitable regression to the mean will erase the sting of a sound drubbing. This provides comfort to all, ensuring that the inevitable bounce back game victory is all the sweeter as a result. A rare performance transcends the boundary of forgettable, forever etching a horrifying and unyielding mark on the brains of all involved. The performance tendered by the MCC this past weekend against a newly bolstered Oak Bay side was eminently and forgettably unforgettable.
The day started off in chaotic fashion with the Victoria pride parade (love is love, etc) closing Douglas street at game time and precipitating a start delayed by 30 minutes as the umpires scrambled to recalculate an alternate route to the field. Doug lost the toss (again) and Oak Bay elected to bat on a hot, dry day providing perfect batting conditions.
Izak took the opening over and appeared to have gotten the Cougars off to a dream start when Param tried to pull a sharp bouncer and ended up spooning a dolly to Savage at mid off. The slip cordon had all taken second mortgages on their houses to bet on Benny’s safe hands securing the first wicket of the day but alas, a sleepless night on the back of a COVID-esque flu conspired to see that catch spilled. Looking to bounce back, Cougar spirits were buoyed a few overs later when Himanshu produced an absolute Jaffa, shaping away then coming back off the seam to take Aalap’s off stump, bringing Akshay to the crease. Sadly, this was the high point of the afternoon, with things taking an ever accelerating turn for the worse. In what became the overarching theme for the day, Param was dropped again at first slip a couple overs later, Cocks managing to get enough fingertips to it to stop it carrying to Mikey at fly slip, but not enough to snag it himself.
The Oak Bay batsmen then proceeded to punish the bowling “attack” in a manner that could best be described as destructively ruthless. Every shot inexplicably came right out of the screws and the runs piled up. Benny was savaged for 3 sixes in an over. Cole bowled 2 bad balls and was pulled in terror. Doug threw poor Yuri to the wolves in desperation, with the batsmen feasting on his dibbly dobblers to the tune of 33 runs in a single over. Even Chewy wasn’t spared, being pummeled twice over backward square for 6 in one over. Hopes of restricting them to less than 300 were dashed further with each dropped catch; a total of 8 were spilled throughout the course of the day, including a couple of disappearing hand tricks that would make David Copperfield blush. Nobody was spared the dropsies, with the usually safe hands of Izak, Cocks and Benny all getting amongst the missed opportunities. Finally Izak was able to break through Param’s onslaught but the damage had already been done - he departed having made a bruising 150 bringing Vinod to the crease. Vinod picked up right where Param left off, annihilating everything the Cougars threw at him, scoring 54 off just 28 deliveries before he hit a full toss to Izak on the boundary who miraculously held onto it. A carefree Manvinder managed to hit yet another 44 runs at a strike rate of 150 before the pain was finally, mercifully over. Final score? 384/5 leaving the Cougars a monumental mountain to climb with the bat.
Cocks delivered a ranting, raving speech in the changerooms to just Cole and Benny at teatime, everyone else wisely electing to simply eat some food and forget about the existence of any and all cricket for the next 30 minutes. This left the former questioning every life choice he had made that led him to this moment and the latter unconscious.
With full bellies Ross and Cocks strode to the crease with the required run rate of a tick over 8.5 looming large over them. Ross wasted no time and was aggressive from the start, picking a fine ball off a good length and depositing it onto the tennis courts in the first over. Cocks looked confident against the pace attack, tapping into some mid season form to keep the run rate ticking over at 8 for the first few overs.
Pace quickly turned to spin, and the runs kept coming until Ross tried to pull one that perhaps wasn’t quite short enough, losing his off stump. Mikey and Cocks put on 50-odd runs for the 2nd wicket, with Mikey playing some nice pull shots through mid wicket. Cocks hit a long-overdue 50 before deciding to get aggressive and picking the worst possible ball to do so, departing caught behind to a (maybe?) feather edge. Cole made a brief cameo, out chasing big runs to his credit, before Chewy and Izak put on another 50 run partnership, picking off runs against a very defensive field. Both departed in quick succession in the 32nd over, Doug following suit shortly thereafter. Amit clubbed a couple of boundaries before being caught and bowled in bizarre fashion, leaving those in the scorebox convinced it was a bump ball. Yuri was a man on a mission with the bat. That mission was to score enough runs to nullify his disastrous over from earlier in the day. Along with Nick who provided a steady presence at the other end, the pair put on 63 runs for the ninth wicket. Yuri chipped the ball about and helicoptered the odd boundary and Nick stubbornly ensured that Oak Bay would at least need to bowl all 45 overs to secure the inevitable victory. In the final over Nick holed out bringing a now-well-rested Savage to the crease to block out the final 15 overs, errr, I mean 2 balls.
Metchosin finished their innings at 252/9, a total that is very defendable on any other day. Yuri ended unbeaten on 35 so mission accomplished, he nullified his historic over and then some. The Cougars had 4 partnerships worth more than 50 runs. These marked a handful of small positives the Cougars could take out of their batting performance, moral victories that were difficult to come by on an historically challenging day for the club. Credit to the team for not giving up in the face of overwhelming odds and fighting until the bitter end. With 636 runs scored through 90 overs it was definitely a batsman’s wicket and the better team won on the day. If they can turn around this disastrous fielding form the playoffs are still within reach for the Cougars, but they will need to go pretty close to 1.000 for the remainder of the season. They look to turn things around against United with the first home game of the season at MCG this Saturday.