BILBROUGH HALF TON ENSURES PENULTIMATE BALL THRILLER

TGCC 217 FOR 9
PHOENIX RFC 212 FOR 10 (12 A SIDE MATCH)

Scorecard: Will follow

The run into this fixture was, even by contemporary Grafton standards, a shambles.  5 players, then 7, game off, game on again, then 9, and so it went on right up until kick off (with 8 Graftonites as it happens – if the loose collection of mercenaries now masquerading as Graftoners count) and we borrowed 3 from a very willing and friendly opposition.   Which became 4 when it was agreed that it would be 12 a side.

Lost toss and, on a warm day, out went Young and Lewis Bilbrough, and back in came Young lbw for 4 edged runs.  Onens soon followed, only for Bilbrough and (ringer) Paddy Naylor to put on a fine stand.  Bilbrough massively increasing in confidence and Naylor a nurdler, not quite in the Mark Russell mould, but very effective.  By the time he was out, stumped  from the worst delivery ever witnessed in South Warwickshire, it is fair to say that the innings needed a short, sharp injection.  Killian habitually eyes up the borage at this time of year, but enough of his eating habits, this was borage and cereal crop mayhem.  While Bilbrough efficiently tucked the runs away at one end – passing 50 most serenely – Killian set about a crop rotation policy not witnessed since Townshend dreamt it up during the eighteenth century agricultural revolution.   Only one lost ball, later found by the slavering chops of that beast the Bilbrough family keep locked up – or the dog – one or the other.  Killian’s 49 off 6 balls came to an end with a sharp catch at the stumps and, as Bilbrough’s splendid 58 also closed, there was a mini-collapse – nothing unusual on a Sunday.  4 wickets in 9 balls meant a flurry of pads, boxes and whatnot as players came and went.  217 for 8 or 9ish at tea.  Given who was scoring that could be plus or minus 35.

Tea, another sumptuous affair, meant the captain washed up, having positioned the field, for the first 10 overs with Howard Benjamin and Adam Kirk plying their trade from either end.  Two wickets to Kirk but runs coming at a tempo that suggested more than a contest.  Benjamin was removed from the attack before the captain could get back on the field, and Pheonix’s Tony bowling ably, soon to be paired with Pheonix’s Dan, once Kirk was bowled out.  A chap called Jason seemed to be scoring all the runs and it was becoming a very getable four-point-something an over when Onens and then Killian were brought into the attack.  The vociferous Onens bowled all sorts from one end but was hugely successful as a combination of self-destruct and him successfully willing them into believing they were actually facing a bowler saw the demise of 5 Pheonix players – one outrageously caught one handed by a back-pedalling Killian at mid-off.  Williams, replacing Naylor after 20, was unrecognisably good behind the stumps.  Calm, assured, confident, quiet.  And at the other end Killian, off a middling run, simply strangled them (although lost any credibility when he appealed, tripped over, and finished his appeal on his back…turtled).  A very getable 50 off 10 needed, steadily mounted as only 7 runs were taken off Killian’s first 6 overs, effectively, along with Onens’ five-fer, winning the game.  10 off the 40th was never going to happen with a reverse-power –play and every man Jack on the boundary ruining Phoenix’s final assault.  A random collection of players thus beat Pheonix by 5.

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