2020 has without a doubt been the worst year on record, but the gloom was lifted significantly at the Gary Kirsten Oval on Sunday as Neville Cooper put on a batting masterclass to steer the Rollers to a 74-run victory over the Black Batts.
It’s a bizarre stat that, given his obvious talent, Neville has never reached three figures for the Rollers, but perhaps being on the verge of 50 has brought about some wisdom, and he played every shot in the book en route to a match-winning unbeaten ton.
Batting first on a beautiful track and fast outfield, the visitors suffered an early setback when Hannes Moore (1) was trapped in front by Steve Palframan, one of his four wickets on the day. Ryan Cooper was in at three and looked in top form until he had a brain-fart and danced down the wicket, only to be caught behind for 21.
Jarryd van Wyk (7) and Cornell Keulder (9) didn’t last long, but Neville continued on his merry way, playing some exquisite drives and pulls. And in James Lamprecht he found a partner willing to stick around as they put on a game-changing 94 for the fifth wicket before James fell for 39 from 44 balls.
Neville eventually reached his 100 off 112 balls with 15 boundaries, in the process becoming only the fourth player to score a 100 for the Rollers.
Andrew Young came and went 4, 6, 6 to propel the visitors to 205/9 off the allotted 35 overs - a good total, but perhaps 20 or 30 short given the conditions and the strength of the opposition batting line-up.
But Batts were on the back-foot from the word go as Ryan (5-0-25-2) snaffled two wickets off two long-hops, while Jarryd ‘bowled’ beautifully to finish with 7-0-30-1, picking up the dangerous Paul da Costa in the process.
The Rollers had the Batts in a similar position last season, only for Brandon Nash and Palfers to smash us to pieces. But last season we were without our main strike-bowler, and keeping Cornell backed proved a masterstroke as he picked up both the big wickets in a blistering spell of 4-0-10-2.
At the other end, Nicky Rheeder continued with his wicket-taking ways, bagging 3/30 from his six overs, before his old man Nico finished the match in style with a ripping leggie to dismiss Sean Rouseau, leaving Batts 74 runs short.
A great time was had around the fire afterwards, before the Rollers hit the main bar for some Brandy and Cokes to celebrate Neville’s 100. When they closed, we decided to celebrate some more at Ryan’s house, eventually calling time on said celebrations in the early morning hours.
A big thanks to Steve and his team for being the perfect hosts; as said repeatedly during the post-match drinks, this is how the game is meant to be played. We look forward to meeting up against next season.