A new look Green Shield side full of youth arrived at the Butchers Cafe bright and early for a team breakfast, ready and raring to go for Round 1 of the 2020/21 season. With 12 of 15 players from last season’s squad having departed, only three incumbents returned, in Josh Cooper, Andrew Boulton and Roop Dhillon. This brought 12 new faces into the squad, with the group all absolutely pumped to get the season underway, and coming up against one of the competition favourites gave the boys an opportunity to show their skills first up.
The traditional vortex battle has been a staple of the Greenies warm up for years now, and has always presented an opportunity for the Hulios and Nerds to face off. Last season, the Hulios took home the crown with 6 wins to 2 in a comprehensive series of performances. After some inspiring words from veteran Nerds Dave Gainsford and Josh Seward, the Nerds were keen to restore some pride and right the wrongs from last season. However, their plan quickly crumbled as the Hulios dismantled their opposition with great skill, winning 4-2.
Newly appointed skipper Josh Cooper quickly exclaimed “we’ll bat first” after the Gordon skipper misjudged the revolutions of the umpire’s coin toss and called incorrectly. After some inspiring words of encouragement from coaches Dave Gainsford and Andrew Rochford, and an energetic warm up led by assistant coaches and past Green Shield players Josh Seward and Joel Davies, openers Keelan Mendel and Billy O’Brien strode out to the middle ready to get the season underway. Both started watchfully, but soon eased into form, with boundaries flowing regularly along with some positive running between the wickets. 0-76 after 17 at the first drinks break and the boys were pleased with the strong start but knew that more work needed to be done to get the Tahs up to a strong first innings total. Billy O’Brien continued batting positively after drinks but was unfortunately dismissed shortly after for a well made 42(58), bringing the skipper to the crease to join Keelan, who soon brought up an excellent 50 on Green Shield debut. Coops began his innings carefully, but soon grew more confident after a few lovely shots to the boundary. Keelan was caught at mid off looking to up the tempo, departing for a 64(98) to leave the Tahs 2-154 and in a very strong position heading into the last 10-15 overs. Andrew Boulton started positively but was without some luck, however, helped his skipper reach a classy 50. Coops fell soon after for an important captain’s knock of 52(74). To their credit, Gordon’s bowling unit bowled very well in the latter stages of Manly innings, to restrict the Tahs from pushing up towards 250+, but their was still time for a crucial few runs from Boulton (25), Dhillon (12), Charlie Johnston (9), Tom Karnaghan (2*) and Bailey Lidgard (7*). Manly finished 6-235 off 50, a strong total first up, but the boys knew they would need to bowl well to back up the batting performance.
The Manly parents provided one of the all time great lunchtime spreads much to the delight of the Manly boys, before the players got ready for a big second innings.
After Rochy’s simple but critical words of “take 10 chances,” Josh Lawson and Charlie Johnston took the new pellet and immediately built pressure on Gordon’s openers with some disciplined lines and lengths. Both were unlucky not to have a couple of wickets each, with multiple balls passing the outside edge and a few close shouts. Mitch Gilligan entered the attack but struggled to find his rhythm, before vice captain Andrew Boulton collected the much needed breakthrough, castling the dangerous opener for 26 just as he was started to get going. Following this, Gordon began to build a strong partnership, with their captain and number three going along well. Right when the boys needed some luck, skipper Cooper calmly accepted a run out opportunity, even after wicket-keeper Tommy Karnaghan had his heart in his mouth after initially fumbling the throw. With the storm clouds looming, and a lengthy delay in play after Gordon’s new batsman injured himself while walking out to bat, the Tahs were desperate for another wicket to sneak ahead in the Duckworth Lewis equation.
Right on cue, Keelan Mendel came on to bowl from the Raglan Street end, immediately causing havoc for Gordon’s batsman, before picking up a crucial breakthrough courtesy of a sharp catch from Ethan Buchanan at slip. From there, Keelan bowled an exceptional 6 over spell, collecting another two crucial wickets, both caught behind by Tommy, to finish with figures of 3-14 to go with his 64 with the bat. From the other end, Bailey Lidgard contributed perfectly, bowling 10 overs straight at under 3 an over, helping to peg back the run rate and push Manly ahead in the game. Skipper Josh Cooper brought himself on after Bailey and in his own words, “burgled” 4 late wickets to wrap up Gordon’s batting innings and see the Manly boys victorious.
The boys charged into the change rooms to sing the song, which proved quite a challenge for three quarters of the team who could only recite the “ohhhhh” and “soooo” at the start of each verse. Definitely something to work on and hopefully they’ll get another opportunity to sing it soon.
A great performance to start off the campaign, and the mood was obviously jubilant as we entered the usual fines meeting, with fines master Liam Toole taking his job far too seriously, carrying around a book to record his teammates’ mishaps throughout the day. Josh Cooper was undoubtedly the most fined player, mainly for getting one of his parents to knock in his new cricket bat. Poor form from the skipper.
Unfortunately, due to the development of the Northern Beaches COVID outbreak overnight, our scheduled games against Parramatta on Sunday and Randwick-Petersham on Tuesday have been postponed, meaning the Greenies boys will have to wait until the new year to resume the season. However, in the grand scheme of things, this is only a small sacrifice and hopefully once cricket resumes in January, the spread will be under control and allow the Greenies boys to get some more cricket under their belt.
To all the Manly family, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – see you all in January for some more cricket.
Photos below courtesy of Ian Bird Photgraphy