The Phuket Cricket League was back in action last weekend at the Alan Cooke Ground after a short break for the festive period. The first game back was also the first 40 over game to be played after the T20 season and first warm up rounds of the league in December.

Seemant Raju reluctantly shaking hands with opposition skipper Andrew McMillan after handing over the Shezza Cup. Photo: Dave Thomas - See more at: http://www.thephuketnews.com/thalang-reclaim-%E2%80%9Cshezza%E2%80%9D-cup-55786.php#sthash.7QXj0fAg.dpuf
Seemant Raju reluctantly shaking hands with opposition skipper Andrew McMillan after handing over the Shezza Cup. Photo: Dave Thomas

This game was not only special due to this, but, more importantly, it was the annual Tristan Sheridan “Shezza” Cup game between Patong CC and Thalang CC.

The “Shezza” Cup is played every year between these two teams in memory of Tristan Sheridan who played for Thalang, and who unfortunately passed away in 2013. Due to the memory of Tristan both as a fantastic player and gentleman, this annual game tends to inspire both teams to perform well, and this year was no different.

With the sunshine beaming down over a lush but hard ACG outfield, Thalang won the toss and selected to bat first. Both teams were unsure of what would be a good total, however, Thalang were eager to bat Patong out of the game, desperate to win back the “Shezza’ Cup for Tristan’s parents who had made the trip over to Phuket for the game.

A Runhaar and R Bentley opened the Thalang innings. Runhaar is a seasoned “veteran” of the Thalang side, however, it was Bentley’s first game. There were no first game nerves however, as Bentley proceeded to open the batting in confident fashion looking to dominate the Patong opening bowlers right from the start.

The score rattled onto 20 in just the third over when Runhaar (7) was cleverly stumped by Van Blerk, failing to return to his crease after playing his shot! This brought G Lane in and together with Bentley, rapidly accelerated the run rate, punishing all deliveries before them.

The partnership of 74 was only broken when Lane (28) was caught and bowled by Swart in the twelfth over. This wicket brought Captain A McMillan to the crease and he continued where Lane had left off, smashing any and all loose deliveries to the boundary.

It was looking to be a very long day in the field for the Patong players and heads were starting to drop. The prize wicket of Bentley came with the change of bowler, the slower pace of Wetherell tempting Bentley into a big shot only to sky it to Hamilton in the deep.

The end of a fantastic innings, Bentley departing for 61 off 46 deliveries – possibly a match winning innings.

Big hitting H McDonald (2) was next in, however, he didn’t last long looking to hit the ball out the park, only to find the safe hands of Paddy Morton on the square leg boundary. This was the big wicket that Patong needed and it came exactly at the right time as they were desperately trying to stem the flood of runs.

M Rehman (65 runs off 32 balls) had other ideas however, and played magnificently before the wiley off spin from Thomas forced an early drive straight to Swart at short mid off who held on to a good sharp catch.

M Foster (4) was sent straight back to the clubhouse, clean bowled by Thomas who was enjoying an inspirational spell of aggressive spin bowling. The experienced W Stahmer was next in and played the spin with a watchful eye.

McMillan (55) had been playing a captains innings, but was eventually dismissed by Mustaq, clean bowled looking to attack. P Lederboer didn’t last long either, bowled by Mushtaq for a duck and H Sylar stumped off a lovely flighted delivery off Thomas.

The Thalang innings closed with W Sthamer (13) and A Dupont (4) the not out batsman. Thalang had smashed their way to 307 for 9 off their 40 overs, however, they would be kicking themselves after looking to get 400 at one stage.

Patong had fought back well with the ball but now faced a mountain to climb with the bat. Thomas was the pick of the Patong bowlers with 3 wickets for 29 runs in 4 overs.

After a well deserved break, Patong openers I Mushtaq and S Raju strode to the crease firmly focused on the task at hand.

The Thalang team was buoyant knowing that Patong were weary after a full day in the field. The first few overs were played cautiously, Patong knowing that an early wicket would be a disaster. However, in the fourth over, Raju (4) was tempted to play at a full swinging delivery off Dupont and was bowled. Definitely not the start Patong were looking for.

J Swart (3) was next in but fell to the last ball before the drinks break, well caught by Bentley behind the stumps off Runhaar.

With 2 wickets down after 10 overs and well behind the run rate, Patong needed to regroup. S Hamilton joined I Mushtaq after drinks and together started to rebuild the Patong innings, but tight bowling meant they were always behind an ever increasing run rate.

A sharp bouncer from Rehman struck Hamilton on the side of the head, but left the batsman unhurt, but perhaps jaded. The next ball but was a full straight delivery that beat the forward defense of Hamilton (22), clean bowling him. A great piece of aggressive bowling by Rehman.

Patong's Stewart Hamilton (22) bowled by Mudasir Rehman  (Michael Way)
Patong’s Stewart Hamilton (22) bowled by Mudasir Rehman (Michael Way)

P Morton was the key Patong batsman and took the attack to the first and second change Thalang bowlers. A partnership of 72 runs with Mushtaq followed before the latter was stumped by Bentley for a fantastic 78 runs off 71 balls which included 9 fours.

Patong's Imtiyaz Mustaq made 78 runs and took 2 wickets  (Michael Way)
Patong’s Imtiyaz Mustaq made 78 runs and took 2 wickets (Michael Way)

There was a glimmer of hope for Patong now with the increase in run rate and flagging Thalang bowlers. S Wetherell came to the crease and continued where Mushtaq had left, attacking and scoring at will. Game on!

The partnership between Morton and Wetherell was worth a lively 62 runs when Morton (62 runs of 46 balls) was eventually bowled by McMillan. The innings contained 7 fours and 3 sixes. This put Patong well in position to push for the win.

Pinch hitter P Sami was elevated up the order, a move which had the desired result, hitting an entertaining 22 runs of a mere 9 balls, only to be bowled by McMillan. D Thomas (5) was next in and firmly focused on each and every available run, so much so that he was run out backing up at the non striker’s end, McMillan deflecting a powerful off drive from Wetherell straight to the stumps.

A very unlucky way to go, but perhaps Thalang were making their own luck now. With only a few overs left , A Van Blerk was looking to score off every ball, but unfortunately the rate was just too high and ended not out on 10, together with N Quail on 7.

Thalang won by 25 runs but it was anyone’s game with 5 over left. The game had once again produce inspirational performances by both batsman and bowlers, with a total of 589 runs being scored and 17 wickets taken. Thalang had reclaimed the “Shezza” Cup in fitting fashion.

There are cricket matches nearly every Sunday at the purpose built Alan Cooke Ground in Thalang. Directions to this first class cricketing facility can be found at www.acgphuket.com. Anyone who may be interested in getting involved in playing cricket, umpiring/scoring or simply wish to watch and support at a social level, please get in touch by emailing phuketcricketgroup@gmail.com. Alternatively, you can log onto www.phuketcricket.com and leave a message and/or contact PCG via their Phuket Cricket Group Facebook page. 
 
PCG welcomes all players of any standard to join their highly social and laid back cricketing fraternity here in Phuket. They look forward to hearing from you or seeing you at the ACG soon!

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