Well our 16 Reds walked a tightrope on Saturday. They had to attack the stumps and take 8 wickets. They also had to defend the paltry target of just 85 runs. Against the top team, coming off an outright last week. No safety net. No room for error.
If you were looking for an analogy for this game, some classics would spring to mind… Colditz, Alcatraz, Stalag Luft III which inspired The Great Escape featuring Steve McQueen. We had dug a tunnel for ourselves, but it went nowhere near the fence.
But in the spirit of those Hollywood blockbusters, plot twists and turns can make even the most futile situation seem possible. All we had to do was take a breath, dig deep and believe! The old adage that reality is stranger than fiction would be surely tested by the end of the day.
The first hour tested everyone’s patience with the target being whittled to just 49. The scales of possibility were rusted in their favour, but the seeds of greatness are sown in such adversity and James de Preez and James Ingram seized their opportunity and turned the tide with 3 for 4. The game was back in the balance at 5 for 59.
Cricket needs good leadership for the team to function effectively. With Harrison Rahaley and James Cleggett, our two appointed leaders for the season seconded to 1st Eleven and Senior duties respectively, Hamish Porter felt like a comfortable pair of shoes as he was parachuted into the captaincy for this week. And he did an outstanding job under the difficult circumstances we found ourselves in.
Excellent tight bowling, good rotations and well placed fielders were playing their part in a game that was now a 50-50 bet.
6 for 65 saw the odds slightly in our favour, but as all good punters know, a streak can finish just as quickly as it starts. Ashley Eckermann and John Bliss had consolidated our chance with nagging line and length. This was now becoming an epic. Round for round, blow for blow. Ali v Frazier.
In Chicago, the 40km/h winds were buffeting Nick Walenda as he edged towards the end of the 454 foot cable, 150m above the ground. There was no room for error. Only a 10-second delay in the television broadcast in case he fell.
At 6 for 84, it felt like our feet were slipping from the cable. No tether. No safety net. No room for error.
Hollywood movies have introduced some forgettable quotes. Especially the B-grade ones. In a recent one on Fox Classics the projectile that was slated as a “head remover” didn’t have a patch on the ball that travelled like a bullet at Hamish Porter’s face in the slips. Good thing he has big hands! 7 for 86 and the pendulum had swung again. John Bliss owes him one.
A cracking straight drive boundary, by a tailender no less, another three overs had gone past and defeat was again staring us in the face. 7 for 93. No safety net. No room for error.
Caught sub-fielder Evans, bowled Eckermann, with just a hint of controversy kept our waning spirits alive. Reality is stranger than fiction. It really is. Ricky Dumas’ finger was vertical. The batsman thought “bump”, Ricky clearly thought “chump”. There was no point in a challenge. There was no camera. 8 for 93. 8 for 94. 8 for 95. 8 for 97. And then the script went awry.
Rain had delayed the start of this game against ladder leaders TTG, and ultimately it would play a significant part in the result. The shower that caused a slightly early tea brake turned into a drizzle that would eventually see the game called off almost on the stroke of 5pm.
Had we cheated defeat? or had we been denied one of the great victories? James Ingram’s dad remarked as we walked away from the ground: “We’ll never know”. I thought to myself… do we really want to?
Cricket’s rich chronicle of stories had just been embellished with another intriguing chapter.