On Saturday 21st November, The Phuket Cricket Group once again hosted the Singapore Cricket Club, an annual tour which brings the famous team from the “Lion City” to the picture perfect Alan Cooke Ground in Thalang.
PCG Chairman Anthony Van Blerk Reluctantly hands over the “Sensible” Cup to SCC Captain Hugh Darwell
On a glorious afternoon for cricket, SCC won the toss and chose to bat first. The recent rain had resulted in a lush outfield and the SCC was eager to put some runs on the board early.
There was also something else on the minds of the touring team, and that was to avenge their loss to the PCG in last year’s fixture and take back the “Sensible” Cup to the Pavilion of the Padang, the famous headquarters of the SCC.
As eager as the SCC were to win back the cup, the PCG side were not going to let go of their hold so easily, proving a very difficult team to be at their home ground in the past. The stage was set for an intense game.
SCC openers R Shah and V Jeyaratnam strode to the crease in confident fashion. In order to win the game, the PCG knew that chasing would be difficult later in the day together with the risk of thunder showers. The key would be to restrict SCC to as low a total as possible through tight bowling and even tighter fielding.
A Runhaar opened the bowling for the PCG and immediately set the tone by an over of tight line and length. H McDonald opened from the other end and must have been inspired by his opening partner as he too found a great line and length, together with good pace.
It wasn’t long before the first wicket fell after the buildup of pressure, with McDonald clean bowling Jeyaratnam (1). C. Thompson was next in and immediately steadied the ship in typical fashion for first down.
Together with Shah, both batsman guided the score to 50. The lack of further wickets did not worry the PCG too much as they were keeping the SCC to a slow run rate due to their exceptional bowling.
However, the breakthrough came after the first drinks break with a change of bowling, S Raju removing Thompson (40) after a good innings. The loss of the stalwart and need to increase the run rate seemed to play on the SCC batsman mind, with a flurry of wickets to follow.
A change to the slower bowlers done the trick, with opener Shah (17) caught in the slips by M Whetton off the bowling of Whetherell, N Power (5) clean bowled by Whetton , Skipper H Darwell (8)hitting a catch straight back to bowler Raju, D Wright (7) caught in the deep by McDonald off Runhaar, H Thompson (5) edging to the keeper off Runhaar, S Bird (7) c&b McDonald and B Grigg (6) clean bowled by Mydeen.
M Seabright (3) and A Hahtani (0) were the not out batsman.
SCC finished their innings on 129 for 9 off 30 overs. With only two SCC batsman making double figures, PCG fancied their chances of chasing down the score and an early shower.
PCG openers O Pringle and S Hamilton took to the field, looking to be positive from the first ball. However, this mindset was immediately changed when Hamilton was clean bowled first ball off the bowling of Grigg.
Certainly not the start the PCG had envisaged, but with the experience of S Wetherell coming in at 3 it wasn’t a complete disaster, until he nicked one behind for a duck as well!
Commeth the moment, commeth them as they say with star batsman P Morton next in. Together with Pringle, they steadied the PCG “ship”, however, the early wickets had slowed the run rate considerably. O Pringle (4) was unlucky getting bowled by Streeton to one that kept low.
A Van Blerk (9) came out playing his shots and was unlucky to be caught looking to increase the run rate. At this stage, the run rate was equal but PCG had class players still to bat and were still firm favorites. Next man in was S Raju (15) who also fell looking to push the run rate up, being caught off the bowling of Mahtani.
There was concern now in the PCG dressing room. Too many wickets had fallen with not enough runs on the board. SCC could smell a hint of victory in the air and they pounced on it.
M Whetton played with a cool head, taking singles and doubles without risking the big shots. Everyone had forgotten about Morton who had weathered the storm, taking his score into the forties. He was eventually bowled by Thompson for 41, very unlucky not to make his half century.
This was the key wicket and D Mydeen soon followed him back to the clubhouse after being bowled by Bird for a duck!
The wheels had well and truly come off the PCG run chase. Big hitting H McDonald was the trump card and together with D Thomas decided that it was all or never. McDonald took the attack to the visitors scoring a quick fire 14, while Thomas (4) was unlucky playing on to his stumps from a wide ball from Streeton.
A Runhaar and P Sami were the last hope but Singapore kept the pressure on and Runhaar was dismissed for a duck, cleaned bowled by Streeton. Pir Smai the not out batsman.
Singapore has clinched an unlikely victory from the jaws of defeat, a well-deserved victory which proves that the game is never over, until its over, winning by a mere 4 runs.
Singapore clinched the “Sensible” Cup once again and PCG look forward to the next meeting between these two great friendly sides next year.
Hico McDonald goes BIG!
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