The opponents for the early game were Mod Squad - arch rivals from previous campaigns, and the outright favourites after giving us a 149 run hiding only a month earlier. On the line was a spot in the Grand Final against Hugh Jarse - the unbackable favourites who had won their last 5 games by around 150 runs each.
And Da Famulee were on fire early, conducting the coin toss with umpire Handy and the opposing captain downstairs, and the boys upstairs in the bar tapping their heads to indicate the call. And continuing our run of good fortune from the previous week, we won the toss and elected to bat.
As we didn't yet have a captain named, Sticks assumed the captaincy and was about to pick the first batsmen when he noticed Boof and Hersch were already striding to the wicket with the words of Tony Blardyfarken "you clowns have got no chance!" ringing in their ears. I was greatly relieved to hear that Blardyfarken had tipped against us, as I figured the dud has no idea and it only served to improve our chances!!!
Sensing that the tone of the evening was about to be set, the crowd was hushed awaiting the first ball of the night with Hersch (losing to a rock/scissors combo) on strike. Da Famulee erupted as one when he dispatched the first ball for a couple of runs and we were away. 15 runs from the first over and the boys were on fire. Hersch lost a couple of wickets before unleashing a bewdiful zak in the second over to take the score to 21 after 2 overs. This fired Boof up and he dispatched the bowling to the back net in the third over to up the run rate and we were 33 after 3 overs.
The 4th over was a fantastic Famulee display of mediocrity as the boys worked their way to 43 runs with a ball to come. With a 50 partnership beckoning, Hersch unleashed a mighty zak and the crowd cheered as one - only to see a weary Boof (who had notched up his 200th season run) runout at the bowlers end. This of course led to louder cheers, as it was sublime 'tooth points work to deny Hersch another zak on his tally and the boys finished up with a fine 38 run stand (Boof 30 runs, 1 wkt from 17 balls and Hersch 8 runs, 3 wkts from 15 balls).
Captain Sticks put himself and Schlangy into bat next and courtesy of a paper-rock, Schlangy was first up. Schlangy carried the load in the first over as Sticksy (needing 6 runs for 3000 career runs) failed to get bat on ball in a superb captains display and they limped to 11 from the first over. The eyes had adjusted to the fuzzy beer effects in the 2nd over (or was that just the bowlers pies) as Schlangy dispatched a good length delivery over the fence on the way to 15 runs from the over.
Some beautiful top net hoiking from Sticks in the 3rd over and cheeky running from Schlangy saw a blistering 21 runs from the 3rd over and they kept the accelarator down for the final over to finish with a soup-burb partnership of 60 runs - Schlangy with 24 runs, 1 wkt from 17 balls and Sticksy notching his 3000th career and 700th season run with 34 runs, 0 wkts from 15 balls.
With the scoreboard at an impressive 98 runs after 8 overs, in came media mogul Forrest, and a supremely confident Herc... and with a licence to swiiiiiiiiiing batter, they made a shaky start with Herc (who had apparently failed to renew his licence) the victim of a stumping and some arsy catching to move forward by a single run after the 1st over. Sensing that the boys were needing a boost, the heckling increased ten-fold from the back net with many a cry of "6 to equal" and "sway wawa sway" and didn't they respond in fine style.
The 2nd over was caned for 17 runs with Forrest working over the back net and Herc slashing drives through cover. The third over was looking good until in true Famulee fashion the boys lost two wickets from the last two balls to end on -3 for the over. But just when the Mod Squad felt they were getting back into things, the door was slammed in their face with a solid 16 runs (even with a dodgy run-out to Herc) as the boys finished on 129 after 12 overs. Herc recovering from his ugly start to finish on minus 2 runs (cha ching!) with 4 wkts from 16 balls and Forrest lashed out like a drunken politician on his way to a hard-hitting 33 runs, 1 wkt from 16 balls.
With Da Famulee sitting pretty on an astounding (for us) 129 after 12 overs, the crowd were getting restless - especially some of the Hugh Jarse players who had come early for a look at the opposition... and surely we could post a defendable score from here!!!
The final pairing of Knuckles and Rabs strode out to face the music as the crowds gathered around the MCG to watch the final chapter unfold. Or should I say unravel as Knuckles executed some briiiiiiiiyant bunt and run 'tooth runouts on Rabs who was caught out not holding his ground and they lost 3 wkts in the first over to moonwalk back to minus 7 after 1 over. The heckling went up another notch to match the increased levels of beer consumption, and the boys steadied the ship with a few wuuuns to graft 10 runs from the 2nd over.
The 3rd over saw the boys get stuck into the Mod Squad for 18 runs with some bewdiful shots that pierced the field like a hot needle through a pus riddled zit, and combined with some cheeky running, the Mod Squad's fielding fell to bits. The last over saw Rabs (batting with Schlangys bat) finish with a flurry of edges and after his 2nd consecutive edge through the slips for wuuun, Rabs brandished the bat at Schlangy questioning the bat and owners sexuality. However after his next delivery for a zak, he withdrew his comments and came from the field hugging the bat and with a large grin on his face.
And well he might smile as they had finished with a partnership of 52 runs from 3 overs - pity about the -7 from the first over!!! It was a fine display from Knuckles who spanked his way (settle Muzz) to 36 runs, 0 wkts from 16 balls and Rabs fought back to post 11 runs, 3 wkts (all in the first over) from 16 balls.
At the change of innings, Da Famulee had registered an incredible 174 runs (our 3rd highest score for the season) and all in the pressure cooker atmosphere of the Qualifying final. The crowd (read us) were in raptures and high fives were dished out all around. Not even the heckling from Bevvo and the rest of the boys from Hugh Jarse who were obviously keen for a Famulee vs Jarse matchup in the big one could diminish our spirits, as the boys leapt onto the court with the winning feeling running high (or was that the slight inebriation caused by downing beers with glee while waiting at the back?)
Boof opened the bowling and we got off to a flyer with briiiiyant bowling and electric fielding seeing Boof take 1 for 3. Schlangy was up next and he confounded the batsmen to take 2 for 1 and break the magical Famulee milestone of 60 wickets in a season for the first time in Famulee history. He was followed by Rabs who bowled some poor bloke neck and crop to finish with 1 for 5. Hersch finished the first batting pair bowling without luck to finish with 1 for 12 (his 50th wicket of the season) as the first pair retreated with their tails between their legs on 21.
The first four overs had seen some incredible catching and fielding occuring all over the court to take regular wickets and keep the pressure on. However the best part was that in addition to all of the wickets being taken, dropped catches had started to mount and da kitty was running hot!!!
The Mod Squad could sense the game slipping away and sent out their usual closing pair, but they were soon under the pump as Forrest blitzed them in the first over with 1 for 6 (Hersch taking an absolute screamer of a catch at the back), followed by Herc's virtually unplayable over where he bowled without luck to finish with 0 for 6. Sticksy followed with a couple of lucky catches (Knuckles taking one after it bounced off his groin region, and Herc deflecting a certain zak back into Sticksys hands) to register 2 for minus 1. Forrest finished off the partnership with a fine over to take 1 for 5 and after 8 overs the Mod Squad were in all sorts of trouble on a paltry 37 runs - still short of Da Famulees first skin and an unprecedented 137 runs behind!!!
The third pairing came out with the game already gone and Knuckles (0 for 11) bowled without luck, but more suprisingly without getting a mankad from his first over. Boof bowled his second and tightened the screws with a soup-burb over of 2 for 3, and Hersch continued his unlucky spell going for 0 for 13. There was nothing unlucky about Schlangys second over as he rested on his "60 wicket for the season" laurels and was flogged all over the park for 0 for 22 as the third pairing piled on 48 runs to move to 85 and give them a snowflakes chance in hell of winning.
The last pair came out needing a miracle (and 90 runs) to acheive a victory, and they came out swinging. Knuckles (0 for 12) contained them well in his second over, again being unlucky not to take a wicket. Herc bowled the next over and was briiiiiiiyant taking 1 for 2 and being highly unlucky not to finish with better figures, as he watched the play of the day unfold in his final over. With the game well in hand and extreme pressure mounting on the batsmen, he bunted the ball down into the WaWa valley of death.
As the non-striker took off, the striker panicked and called No as Forrest pounced from his position to snare the ball. With both batsmen by now stranded at the strikers end, Forrest decided against throwing the ball to the waiting Hersch and instead took off running from the bottom corner.
The striker began chasing him down the pitch in a bizarre sight as Forrest reinforced his moniker by sprinting to the middle of the pitch. It was about this stage when he realised that the batsmen only needed to run to halfway and not even his momentum would acheive a run-out. So he let fly with a throw that can only be described as mediocre at best (I think it hit the back corner) and the batsmen got home for a hard earnt "wuuuun" much to the Herc's delight*.
After this "highlight" the match lost its fizz in the final two overs, and Da Famulee relaxed with a lead of 75 with two overs remaining - SURELY they couldn't lose it from here... but we gave it a crack as Rabs (0 for 25) went for two zaks from his first two balls, and Sticksy's tripe (1 for 19) also went for two consecutive zaks in the final over as Da Famulee cruised home to a magnificent victory with 31 runs to spare and close to 10 cha-chings in 'da kitty for dropped catches.
And so it was that Da Famulee advanced once again to the Grand Final - this time against another arch-rival, Hugh Jarse who had caned us by 188 runs only two weeks prior to the finals... surely THEY couldn't lose it from here?????
But as Hugh Jarse crammed into the skinny net down the side to practice, it was upstairs time for Da Famulee to celebrate the vanquishing of yet another opponent while drinking a few dozen beers and consume truckloads of pizza to pass the time until the Grand Final matchup...
* May not actually have been delight.