6 .30am. The sun just beginning to peek through the clouds. As the northern beaches locals were rushing for their morning coffees or attempting to beat peak hour traffic, the Greenies boys were congregating at St Augustines College, jumping aboard the mighty mini bus for the trip south-west to face St George.
After a couple of unsuccessful trips to a variety of petrol stations, designated driver Harj Dhillon finally had some luck in pumping up the bus tires. Huge moment in the context of the day. We now had a functioning mode of transport. Crucial. Highlights of the bus trip would have to include the intense game of UNO taking place, Marcus Campbell’s unusual sleep patterns, and the skipper already reminding us all of his coin toss record this season.
After a group consensus that the traditional breakfast run was a necessity, the boys descended on Hurstville McDonald’s, with Josh Lawson telling the boys about his 4 egg omelette which he had earlier on, before devouring a serving of pancakes and a burger. Confirmed, fast bowlers need food.
The boys returned to the bus, even after skipper Josh Cooper was left stranded crossing the road, coffee in hand. Ah well. He got there in the end. Olds Park was the destination, and after a couple of close calls, Harj Dhillon navigated a tiny Hurstville dead-end street to get the boys to the ground safely. Thanks again Harj.
An inspired warm-up ensued, the boys immediately working off the multiple McMuffins and Hash Browns they’d just eaten. Billy O’Brien dominated the A-Z competition, after the category of “cities” soon turned into “towns, suburbs, countries.” Clearly no geographers in the group. Due to the rushed start, heartbreaking news that the Vortex match would be abandoned was poorly received by the boys, the Nerds in particular who were looking to recover from their abysmal performance last round.
Skipper Josh Cooper went 5/6 for the season at the coin toss, calling correctly once again. Tahs batting first on a ground which resembled the MCG in size. Important to note, Ethan Buchanan had already lost Shrek once again. Poor form from the big fella.
Tommy Karnaghan was pushed up the order to open the batting, and after quoting “I’m pooping myself nervous,” was unfortunately castled first ball he faced. Manly 1-3. Other opener Keelan Mendel and the skipper consolidated, and quickly concluded that 2’s and 3’s would be the story of the day, with boundaries extremely hard to come by. Unfortunately, Coops departed for 22, before Keelan and Andrew Boulton took the team to drinks.
Keelan was dismissed shortly after the break for a gritty 26, before Andrew was bowled for a well made 20. Roop Dhillon joined Billy O’Brien, and they combined for a brilliant 74 run partnership, building into their innings before accelerating at the end. Billy targeted straight down the ground, while Roop scored all around the ground as they took the team towards a strong first innings total. Billy departed for a crucial 35 off 42 balls, before Roop brought up a maiden Green Shield half century. Liam Toole came to the crease after Billy’s dismissal, and with 1.5 overs left, everyone was keen to see what the big man could deliver. True to form, Liam dispatched one of the biggest sixes many would have seen, clearing the cow corner boundary with what was later measured to be an 86 metre bomb. The Tahs finished 5-192, Roop 58* (71 balls) and Liam 9* (7 balls).
With the huge dimensions of the ground, the boys knew 192 was worth slightly more on a normal ground, but understood they’d still have to bowl well to defend the total.
Josh Lawson and Marcus Campbell started well, however no breakthroughs early. As has been the case multiple times, vice captain Andrew delivered the crucial breakthrough with a good low catch from Marcus at mid wicket, Saints 1-45. A dangerous partnership then began to build, helped by a few missed opportunities in the field. After yours truly declared “I’m going for a walk around the ground to change our fortunes,” Roop Dhillon took two wickets in the following over, the first LBW, and the second courtesy of a smart catch from Sentarou, to have the Saints on the back foot. I’ll certainly claim credit for those breakthroughs. Roop soon had his third wicket, with a safe catch from Keelan at cover, Saints 4-92.
St George’s key partnership was now at the crease, with their opener still frustrating the boys with a few half chances falling just out of reach. Sentarou again was crucial in the field, delivering the breakthrough with a run out from mid on after one of the funnier instalments of the “yes, no, sorry” call between the batting pair. Bailey Lidgard then dismissed their dangerous skipper for 18, LBW, to see the Saints in real trouble at 7-126. A sharp pick up from Tommy Karnaghan after a rocket throw from Keelan at point saw the back of the new batsman, and the Manly boys could almost smell victory. How the game can change. With a few missed chances, St George rode their luck, a 39 run 9th wicket partnership seeing the Manly parents with a few less fingernails then they started with, the game now on a knife’s edge.
Another lap around the ground from your author delivered the crucial breakthrough, Liam Toole holding onto the chance at cover off the bowling of Josh Lawson to have the Saints 9 down. Credit to Josh for a brilliant second last over, only conceding 3 and taking the important wicket. Saints needing 21 off the last over, Andrew Boulton to bowl it. First ball, four. The Manly crew continued pacing around on the spot. However, Andrew kept his cool under pressure and bowled a clinical next four deliveries (1, 1, Dot, Wicket), the penultimate ball of the day bringing the match winning wicket, Boults castling the Saints No.10 for 27. Saints all out for 178.
“Ohhhhhh, we’re on the march.” Roop Dhillon led the team song as the boys celebrated their fifth win of the season, heading into the final round against Randwick Petersham.
The bus ride home. Wow. Green Shield assistant coach, also qualified doctor and television presenter, Andrew Rochford, led a fiery round of Trivia, where two teams, patriotically captained by Billy O’Brien and Roop Dhillon, faced off. After some aggressive protests from Josh Lawson about some of the answers, and Charlie Johnston at some points having absolutely no clue what was going on, Sentarou showed his academic capabilities to take home the championship for Billy’s team.
Another great day for the Tahs, who go 5 from 6 after a close finish against the Saints. We take on Randwick Petersham on Thursday at Coogee Oval.
Huge thank you to St Augustines, in particular Jamo, for organising the bus for the boys, and to Harj for offering to drive the bus to and from the ground.
3 Points – Roop Dhillon – 58* (71) and 3-38 (10)
2 Points – Billy O’Brien – 35 (42)
1 Point – Andrew Boulton – 20 (47) and 3-25 (8.5)