Captain Hannibal Smith loved it when a plan came together. Who doesn’t? The West Coast Rollers sure enjoyed it when their plan ‘came together’ against Black Batts in our previous encounter, and celebrated accordingly.
This past Sunday, however, our plan unraveled in spectacular style.
In December 2020 at the Gary Kirsten Oval, we figured that we’d keep back our main strike-bowler, Cornell Keulder, for the obvious threat of the Batts’ middle order duo of Brandon Nash and Steve Palframan. It worked a treat, with Cornell picking up both wickets in a fiery spell of 4-0-10-2 as we won by 74 runs.
‘Why change a winning formula?’, we argued as we took the field on a toasty Sunday morning. As it turned out, however, Nash and Palfers didn’t even have to face a single delivery between them this time around…
There were two major differences between December 2020 and January 2022. Thirteen months ago we posted 205/9 in our 35 overs, thanks largely to a majestic 100 from Neville Cooper. On Sunday, we were six down for 61, and only just made it past 30 overs.
Batting first, we lost Morne Snyman (7) and Charl Bester (6) early on, the in-form Neville only got 13, while Cornell eventually lucked out for 20, having presented three earlier chances. Tom Stapylton-Smith (4) and Peter Muller (0) departed soon afterwards - all before the 13th over - with Brandon Thorpe the destroyer-in-chief with 4/33 in 7.
Hannes Moore and Ryan Cooper managed to halt the procession for a bit, putting on 40 for the seventh wicket before the former was caught at midwicket at the second attempt for 21. Debutant Chris Potgieter (1) was followed back to the hut soon afterwards by Ryan, run out for 55 courtesy of a rocket of a throw from the deep cover boundary.
Captain Michael van Dewenter’s unbeaten 18 got us to 160 - not a great score on a small and fast field, but at least something to bowl at.
Or not, as it turned out …
Back in 2020 we had the Batts three down for not many, allowing Cornell to work his magic against the aforementioned duo. This time we got Ross Holing fairly early thanks to Peter Muller (5-0-26-1), but then looked on as Gustaf Pienaar and Callum Cann put on 93 for the second wicket.
Realising - probably too late - that we’d better get Cornell on, he duly castled Pienaar for 40 in a spell of 7-2-22-1, but it was but a mere consolation.
It must be mentioned that the Rollers were also significant architects of their own demise, bowling a staggering 39 wides in trying to defend 161. It was never going to work.
Batts got the winning runs with more than eight overs to spare - Nash and Palfers having not yet worked up a sweat - as the Rollers sunk to only a second defeat of the season.
The blow was lessened significantly with boerewors rolls and ice cold beers in the clubhouse, and again when we found our old friends the Coastal Strikers enjoying some brandies on the main clubhouse balcony.
Defeat notwithstanding, it was still a great day out against a cracking team played in fantastic spirit. Palfers and Co, thanks for having us, and please get yourselves a bit higher up the order next time.