After the shellacking Southern Eurobodalla Pirates A grade team received in Tathra last week, it seemed like a daunting task for the B grade side to journey there on the weekend and face 2018's premiers. Despite feeling as though they were reinforcements being sent to an unwinnable battle, the team of the regulars, demoted David Moran and superstar-in-waiting Madelaine Czubara, took a pragmatic approach.
The first battle was the coin toss. In hot and windy Tathra, batting first is critical. As the A grade found out the week before, things can get out of hand quickly. Captain, Kyle Field passed the first test and elected to bat. Sadly, wickets tumbled and, at 4 for 24, all seemed lost before it had started. Enter John Smith. Batting as though he had something to prove, he put away the reckless swing and played himself into form with forward defence and dispatching bad balls. Smith was ably supported by Kyle Field's resolve and the freshness of talent of the Women's 11 star, Madelaine Czubara. As Smith passed 50, with a six over long on the Pirates felt confident they would compile a competitive total.
With so many wickets falling early, the challenge was batting out the overs against last year's premiers who were rich with bowling depth. After 35 overs, the team had achieved a score of 8/169. Smith's 64 was his first 50 for the Club. Czubara, with her attacking cut shot and resolve in defence looks like a reliable option for the Pirate's middle order. Other contributors were Adrian Ridgely with 10 and Field who combined with Smith to steady the ship, over many overs for his 13 and a 61-run partnership.
Early wickets were the key as Tathra went into bat on a familiar and happy hunting ground. The left "Field" decision to pair Matt Klose with opening bowler, John Smith proved to be a good move as Klose took the first wicket at the score of 10. Smith, fearing cramping and all sorts of soreness accepted Field's offer to bowl his allotment of 7 overs straight rather than to cool down and have a second spell. Smith removed the other opening batter, caught with a Cameron Bargwanna classic and proceeded to remove another two top order batters before retiring to the outfield, a crippled mess.
Through a combination of thoughtful bowling changes and three catches from debutant Czubara, the Pirates had the home team walking the plank at 7/100. It was only that Tathra had secured a talented ring in, visiting from Pakenham in Victoria that they managed to steady the ship.
Pakenham's Jason Williams made a crafty and dogged 47 not out. Regardless of the two-wicket defeat, the Pirates, playing at Tathra's fortress pushed the best team in the competition all the way.
Bargwanna, Czubara, Klose, Matt Moore and young talent, Riley Dawson all took a wicket each.
For the Pirates A Grade team, eager to bounce back from the previous week's trouncing, it was a return to the Black Pearl and a chance to correct failures. Unfortunately, however, batting first, the Pirates collapsed to 3/14. It wasn't all bad however, returning Alex Filmer-Smith, Dean Friskin and Elijah Blair provided some recovery, scoring 25, 20 and 18 respectively. Dalmeny is a difficult ground to score heavily on which made these contributions valuable. The As finished all out for 115.
Merimbula reaching the target two down with 13 overs to spare. Jake Cooper was the only bowler to strike with a run-out accounting for the other wicket.
Full scores and statistics for both games are available at website
http://www.fscca.nsw.cricket.com.au. The Pirates A Grade travel to Eden this week and B Grade play Merimbula at Dalmeny Oval.