Report by Dave Williams:
The mottled cloud cover had some intense greys threatening rain, but which held off and indeed dispersed by the end of this, the final scheduled match of the season.
Captain Cam Petrie won the toss and chose to bowl. The light can get difficult by the close of play at this time of the year, but there was a nearly complete team in place ready to start quite close to 5:30 - good effort, lads!
Qaiser Ahmed opened up for us from the Windsor Road end, elegantly and repeatedly beating the otiose bats of the Shark openers. Qaiser deserves special commendation for his three overs for 7, including a maiden. Saad Shoukat at the other end ran in smoothly and generated good pace but took more stick as the Sharks moved up through their gears (three overs for 23), although he successfully knocked down an opener's off stump. Will Phelps as first change was tending to bowl too short; his two overs went for 23. Joe White at the other end had good control over line and length, making another bid for champagne moment of the year by bowling two in two balls; the hat-trick ball was just about fended off. (Joe's figures: three overs, 2 for 20.) Pete Ames send down some crackers with good loop, although the short-pitched stuff got the long handle (two overs, 1 for 20). Chris Badger finished things off with a well-directed one over, 14 off it. Julius Rix kept well, with unusual consideration for others and with agility - one legside take at full stretch caught both the ball and the eye. (That one goes out to all you lovers of zeugma.)
109 seemed a modest and eminently chaseable total. What went wrong?
Cam spent three balls trying to pick up the legside line of the opening Shark off-spinner before missing a straight one. CJ Barrie looked balanced and confident, elegantly carting the offie over square leg and through midwicket before chipping one off the other Shark opener to cover point (16 off 14). I'd hardly faced any by this time, but managed an edge fine of third man and a crunchy off drive before missing a yorker (9 off 10). We were ticking along at 8 at over, which was slightly faster than the asking rate. Julius glanced elegantly to the third man boundary a couple of times before holing out to mid-off (13 off 13). Sam Thomas's go-to first-gear nurdles weren't coming off today, but the slow-down wasn't through lack of eagerness to run: Sam and Julius went for a cheeky single that ended in them being together at the same end *twice* before a comedy of fielding errors allowed Sam to complete the one. Scoreboard pressure was building up; when Sam miscued to mid-on (9 off 20), Chris and the incoming Will had three overs to make 40 runs. Will impressively hoiked one to deep midwicket right on the boundary; the fielder, mindful not to overstep the line, parried the ball back (when he could have just caught it), then stepped over the white line as daintily as a show-horse in an Olympic dressage event, sashayed back on to the field and threw back. At least he saved the six. In the gathering gloom Will (14* off 6) and Chris (23* off 26) had a good go at getting the target but sadly came up short.
The golden glow - in meteorological terms at least - of our relatively early finish allowed us to say our socially distanced goodbyes for the season in (I wish) the bright hope of freedom from anxiety in 2021.
Many thanks to all those played and who stepped up to play a part in making things happen in this difficult year. I single out Daniel, Cam, Joe and Dave Norman for ensuring we could play in safety; there are no doubt others to whom our gratitude will be none the less for their selfless contribution, whose generous and sociable undemonstrativeness has made it difficult to know even who they are.