The West Coast Rollers got their first taste of a T20 Test Match on Sunday at Kelvin Grove, and passed this particular test with flying colours.
There was some excitement in the week leading up to the match given the format; so much so that, for the first time in a while, we had to drop some players. They’ll be even more bleak for missing out after reading this, especially the batsmen amongst them, with the Rollers piling on 363 runs in just 40 overs.
This was largely thanks to a 138-run opening stand between Jarryd van Wyk and Tom Stapylton-Smith in just 14 overs, and in particular to Juice, who brought up his 100 in 51 deliveries. It was a knock of top, top quality, belying his form so far this season, and the abundance of ‘kopwurms’ in his head.
Tom was pretty handy himself, falling four runs short of a half-century, before the returning Hannes Carlson (2) and Cornell Keulder (13), along with Bryan Bowler (7*), Hannes Moore (6) and Michael van Dewenter (15* off 4), got us to 202 in the first innings. For Mike, it was also a sign of things to come …
Kelvin’s reply didn’t get off to the best start, with Mike (1/20) and Bryan (2/19) having the hosts three down for 32 after six overs. Dean Griffen (33) and Seth Nieburgh (27) made a fight of it, but Casper (2/20), Ryan Cooper (1/20) and Ruan de Jongh (1/18) ensured a healthy 75-run first innings lead.
The batting orders swapped around for the second dig, and this time the Rollers found the going a bit tougher. At 30/3 Kelvin were very much back in it, but they hadn’t counted on the opposition skipper. Tal Nieburg called it when he said ‘big wicket here’. He was likely being very literal, but 75 runs later off just 44 balls, and it proved very prophetic. Big Mike played the innings of his life, hitting seven towering sixes, including one into the tennis court and one that hit Newlands Rugby Stadium very, very high up.
That demolition job got the Rollers to 161, and an overall and unlikely target of 237, and at 46/3 in the ninth over the game was over as a contest, with the unlikely destroyer-in-chief being none other than former-Northern-Transvaal-Schools-opening-bowler (in fairness, 33 years ago) turned-wicket-keeper-extraordinaire, Neville Cooper (3/28).
The match was well and truly over, but for one more bit of excitement (if you were wearing Kelvin colours). Alex Griffen, who scored just 3 off 15 deliveries in the first innings, took a liking to Mark Haselau, hitting him for six consecutive sixes which, along with a no-ball and a single, meant a 38-run over. Still, a comfortable 71-run win for the Rollers.
Massive thanks to Tal and his team for a match played in excellent spirit, and for a format that was massively enjoyable and very refreshing!