Tony Blardyfarken (being the switched on owner/operator that he is) had decided to cash in on the momentous occassion, and had scheduled* the Bushies as our opponent for the night... long time rivals and the 41st meeting between the two clubs, since the first game against them back on 16 May 2000.
With a 21 win and 19 loss record against the Bushies leading into the game, the scene was set for a titantic struggle, with the toss of the coin being all important... until the umpire said they've got 5 players and you've got 7, so you're fielding. With the customary declaration of "this clubs f*@#ed" we went into field one player short and I thought to myself if we can keep them to less than 112 we can win this.
I threw the ball to DUBBBBBYAAAAAHH looking for some early inspiration. Young Tom "Agent 99/The Graduate/One below/9 squared/yet to be formally nicknamed" McGaw arrived just as Dubbyah delivered the first thunderbolt of the night which dippied, fizzed and zooted off the seam to take the edge and a catch was held from the first ball of the night. The roars of DUUUBBBBBBBBBBYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH echoed around the centre and I thought to myself "surely we can't lose it from here" but stopped short of uttering the magic words aloud, and Dubbyah continued in fine fashion to take 2 for 1.
Tom raced onto the field at the commencement of the second over and Knuckles called him for a cha-ching... Agent 99/The Graduate/One below/9 squared/yet to be formally nicknamed response was a potentially fine-worthy "eh? what for???" provoking a chorus of "don't you know the rules" from those in earshot... he was saved further questioning as he ran to the WaWa memorial seat of death while Bevo commenced the next over. Bevwaaaaah bowled without luck with a couple of catches being grassed and went for 19.
Agent 99/The Graduate/One below/9 squared/yet to be formally nicknamed was up next and seeking his first wicket for Da Famulee, bowled a tight over. The batsmen set the tone for the night, boring everyone to sleep by nudging the ball into the side nets for an uneventful (and wicketless) over of 12 and the ball was thrown to Hersch. The Indian rubber man is in search of a paltry 5 wickets to become the second Famulee player to the magical 500 career wickets milestone and he commenced what would become the unluckiest over of the night.
First ball saw an edge go between fielders hands for another boring 2, before the next ball totally deceived the batsmen and caught the leading edge. The ball spooned slowly into the air and floated towards Agent 99/The Graduate/One below/9 squared/yet to be formally nicknamed fielding at the back net... and then floated, floated, floated over the top of number 99 to go all the way for a zak. It had the hang time of a Ben Graham punt and was truly a WaWa-esque spoon zak taking at least 23 seconds to make the journey. Needless to say with luck like that, Hersch went wicketless and the first pair had bored their way to 52.
Luckily I had planned exactly that and when the next pair came in, I decided** to keep the game plan on track by bowling another wicketless over for 10 before throwing the ball to Knuckles who didn't let me down by also bowling another wicketless over for only 7. Boof was up next and finally jagged a wicket 45 balls after DUBBBBYAAAAAHHHHH had taken two in the first over. He bowled beautifully but still without luck to end with 1 for 2, and Biccarki bowled a skin-tillating over of 1 for none.
And so the third pair entered the field with 71 on the board. Four overs (courtesy of Agent 99/The Graduate/One below/9 squared/yet to be formally nicknamed, Bevwaaaaaah, myself and Herschelle), one wicket (and the first career wicket to Agent 99/The Graduate/One below/9 squared/yet to be formally nicknamed) and not a single f*#&ing attacking shot played between the batsmen later, they left the pitch to the sound of deafening yawns and had 98 on the board. It was perhaps the most boring four overs of criggit i'd played in 200 games, and I sensed that the game needed a lift in intensity (mainly to stop me from lying down for a quick nap).
And so Boocakeie took the ball to deliver the 13th over, and the reward of finally having a decent keeper behind the stumps (i.e. Buckarky was no longer there) paid off with Boof claiming a briiiyant stumping first ball. Da Famulee roared as one and the next four overs saw much frantic diving, leaping and appealing as Boof, Duuuubbbbbbyaaaaaaahhhhh and Knuckles finished the Bushies off for 111. The highlight of this foursome was Boofs excellent over, only to see his last ball dispatched towards the back net and the distinct sound of the ball nicking his fingertips on the way through for a zak - CHA CHING!!!!!
And so my gameplan had worked to perfection - we were chasing less than 112 (as I had predicted*** at the start of the game) and two of the new boys were up first. Bevwaaaaah and Agent 99/The Graduate/One below/9 squared/yet to be formally nicknamed were up first despite Bevos protestations at being sent into bat before he could have a smoke... he declared he couldn't bat until the sweet scent of nicotine was wafting from his eyeballs, but admitted that he probably would be able to run between wickets a hell of a lot faster.
And so he did crafting his way to a handy 19 before blasting a zak from the second last ball of the partnership. Meanwhile at the other end Agent 99/The Graduate/One below/9 squared/yet to be formally nicknamed was not having much luck, falling victim to some catches and some beautifully manufactured runouts from Bevwaaaah in his innings of 3. Young Tom did have more luck in the nickname stakes though, as Da Famulee members behind the back net debated his potential nickname before finally settling on Tom "Sparkles" McGaw. I said it was after the league player, but Knuckles said it was because of the sparkles in his eyes - then again he is an umpire.....
And so Bevwaaah and Sparkles came from the field with 29 on the board and I decided on sending in 445 games worth of experience in Hersch and myself. And in keeping with my carefully engineered game plan, I proceeded to give the crowd what they'd come to see. i.e. I proceeded to lash out in a fine display of closed eye, top net slogging and lost a wicket in every over - the last one a particularly fine run-out engineered by Hersch to ensure that I would end on the exact same score I did in my first game... minus 3 - CHA CHING!!! Meanwhile Hersch cruised to a chanceless 17 runs and we came from the field to rapturous applause, much laughter and 43 on the board.
The gameplan dictated that dynamic duo of Boof and Bukakke were up next (as they'd both kept wicket and had nicknames starting with B) and they entered the field with my instructions (S U R E L Y you couldn't bat as bad as I just did) ringing in their ears, they put on a clinic of clinical batting and despite losing a wicket 2nd ball, rocketed along to a well made 30 runs (Boof 19 and Boo-cake 11). Highlight of the partnership was undoubtedly the run-out that Boof engineered, managing to con Bukkake into trying to steal a run while the fieldsman standing alongside the stumps had the ball - to which the crowd roared it's approval.
And so Knuckles and Dubbbbbyaaaaaaaahhhhhhh were left chasing 39 runs for an improbable (and highly mediocre) victory. I felt the utmost confidence that my game plan was coming to fruition as 39 was my football jumper number, and if ever there was a sign that mediocrity was about to ensue, that was it!
The first two overs moved along briiiiiiyantly with 22 runs flowing from the bat, until DB who was spectating uttered the magic phrase "surely they're looking good out there" and sure enough the wickets tumbled - Knuckles with a straight drive destined to be a zak until the fieldsmen juggled and bobbled a catch instead. So after 3 overs they'd scored 21 and still needed 18 runs for victory.
And so the final over. 1st ball, wuuuun. 2nd ball wuuuun. 3rd ball two, 4th ball two. Four balls remaining and 12 runs still needed. 5th ball wide, yep we'll have it again thanks, wuuuun. 3 balls left, 9 runs required. 6th ball Dubbbbyyaaaaaaah punches one into the back half for three and we need six from two balls. It was then that I unleashed my captaincy masterstroke which had I waited all night to use..... I uttered "S U R E L Y the bowler won't put this one into the slot for Knuckles" and sure enough the 7th ball was pitched up and dutifully spooned to the back net for a zak by Captain Furious. Much celebration ensued and the cries of S U R E L Y rang out around the stadium as the 8th ball was delivered to Dubbbyaaaaaahhhhh. He steps forward with a delightful defensive stroke and attempts to french cut the ball back onto his stumps, but the ball trickles away from the stumps and Da Famulee notch an unlikely victory by a single run - the first win this season since returning to the Hawaiian shirts.
And so there was much celebration, back slapping and passing over of gold coins into the kitty (esp from yours truly) on a highly memorable and forgettable evening all at once.
Much thanks to Boof and Reuben for allowing me the honour of skippering the Purple and Lime Green in my 200th match and to all the players for following my gameplan**** to perfection*****.
It's been real!!!
* May have actually been a total fluke.
** May not have actually been my decision
*** Yeah of course i'm talking sh!t here
**** May not have actually had anything to do with the gameplan
***** May have actually been total mediocrity