After months of uncertainty, friendly cricket finally returned for the West Coast Rollers at Cape Town Cricket Club on Sunday … and it was well worth the wait!
Given the lack of practice and playing time, coupled with a pitch which only started being prepared earlier in the week, it was quite a shock that both teams managed to score over 200 runs.
The hosts took first strike and were off to a flyer thanks to captain Darren Nash and Andrew Saunders, who capitalised on some poor catching to put on 90 for the first wicket, when the former was stumped for 42 off 38 balls.
When Saunders retired unbeaten on 50, CTCC were sitting pretty on 115/1 after 19 overs, but veteran leggie Nico Rheeder turned the tide for the visitors, getting both Francois Vermaak and Dave Holgate caught in the deep to finish with figures of 2/32.
And when Cornell Keulder (1/19) bowled Shane Martin for 2 in the 25th over, the Rollers were well and truly back in it as CTCC slumped to 146/5. But some big hitting from Wayne Hendricks (34) and Storm Kotze (29*) propelled the hosts to a very competitive 205/6 from their 35 overs, though that could have been a lot more but for a brilliant spell of death bowling from new skipper Michael van Dewenter (4-1-19-1).
Like CTCC, the Rollers got off to a flyer, with Cornell and Ryan Cooper putting on 70 in 12 overs before the latter was stumped for 30 off Wayne, who proved more than a handful as he finished with 2/25.
Hannes Carlson (1) and Neville Cooper (9) came and went, but Cornell was showing no signs of slowing down, smashing his way to 50 with a succession of massive sixes that threatened the tennis players next door. He was eventually undone by Storm, but not before scoring a career high 76 off 81 balls.
Cornell's dismissal left the Rollers needing 63 off just under 10 overs - by no means an insurmountable task - but Storm was proving near unplayable, accounting for Tom Stapylton-Smith (2), Michael (1) and Leon Theron (2) to finish with 4/29.
However, the Rollers had one more ace up its sleeve in the form of Jarryd van Wyk. ‘Juice’ has all the talent in the world, but a combination of his brain and hangovers often does him in. Neither tripped him up on Sunday, though …
Struggling along at 24 off 35 balls and battling to find the middle of the bat, it suddenly all clicked into gear as he smashed 43 off the last three overs - including going 6, 6, 4 off the first three balls of the final over - to finish unbeaten on 70 from 52 and see the Rollers home with two wickets to spare.
Naturally, a few beers and brandies were consumed to celebrate the victory, and a big shoutout goes to Darren and his team, as well as the supporting Roger Moult, for making sure the return of friendly cricket was a memorable one.