After false starts to rival those of Raelene Boyle, the Far South Coast cricket competition finally got underway last Saturday.
A number of late team withdrawals resulted in a change to the competition structure as late as last Thursday.
The new format involves the amalgamation of A and B grade into a first division competition comprising 10 teams.
Two finals’ series will be run in parallel, with 1 to 4 and 5 to 8 playing each other for separate titles. There will also be a separate, 10-team C grade competition.
Southern Eurobodalla has split into two separate clubs, Southern Eurobodalla and Tuross Head with both clubs fielding a first division and C grade side.
Therefore the numbers are somewhat diluted, with three teams becoming four.
There were some concerns that the mismatch of talent in the new first division teams could result in … well … cricket scores.
These fears were in front of mind as the Southern Eurobodalla Pirates travelled away to face the reigning A grade premiers, Tathra, at Tathra.
The Pirates side was depleted due to injuries and absences, with only 7 regulars from last year’s A grade side available.
But spirits were high, fuelled by stunning weather, a cooling sea breeze and whales breaching in the sapphire waters that make up the picturesque backdrop to the Tathra field.
The Pirates won the toss and elected to bat. The new captain, Dean Friskin, teamed up with Ben Dibben to face the Tathra openers. It didn’t take Friskin long to find his not insignificant stride, striking a boundary off the first ball he faced. It was an impressive start to the season by the openers with an opening stand of 55 amassed in quick time before Dibben was dismissed for 8 in the 13th over. The pace didn’t relent with the arrival of Matthew Corbett who smashed the third ball he faced to the mid-on boundary, with the fielders to a man being grateful they were not in its way. Unfortunately, his innings was all too brief as he departed for 7 with score at 2 for 71 in the 16th over.
The turning point in the innings came as Friskin was dismissed by the first ball after drinks. Two ducks soon followed and the fine opening stand looked to be squandered. But David Sweet held the innings together with the tail, grafting an impressive 32 not out despite a blow to the ribs that left a mark as colourful as his language. Despite Sweet’s heroics, the Pirates were dismissed within their allotted 40 overs for exactly 150. It would be a difficult score to defend against the reigning premiers.
In keeping with the defence of a modest total, the Pirates opening bowlers Nick Mason and Ben Dibben, kept it tight in their opening spells. Tathra scored just 16 off the first 8 overs, keeping all ten wickets in hand. But that changed with the change in bowlers with Matthew Corbett taking the prize wicket of Stevenson with his second ball. Scoring became more fluid, with Tathra progressing rapidly to 52 in the 14th over before Corbett struck again. In a spell of 8 overs, 4 for 37, Corbett wrestled the match back in the Pirates’ favour, if only just at 4 for 89 in the 22nd over.
The game was on a knife edge. The blade was more keenly sharpened as Mason and Friskin bowled an exceptionally tight spell. Mason finished with the impressive figures of 8 overs, 1 for 6 and Tathra were at 6 for 98 in the 28th over, still needing nearly 4.4 runs per over to get home. The final twelve overs saw the pendulum swing many times, with an infrequent six breaking the tension of tight overs and the occasional wicket. At 8 for 137 in the 36th over, it was still anyone’s match, but the Tathra tail held their nerve to win with four balls and two wickets to spare.
Losses are never worthy of accolades. The result was better than expected, but less than what had become possible due to efforts of Friskin, Corbett, Mason and the bruised man of the match, Sweet.
The first division takes a break next weekend to let sore muscles rest and representative fixtures take centre stage. C grade will kick off with a match against Eden.