The West Coast Rollers were in their finest Jekyll and Hyde mood when we travelled to Rondebosch for a clash with Black Batts at Gary Kirsten Oval on Sunday.
It’s been a season of inconsistency - the only constant being how inconsistent we are - and this game saw a full array of emotions on display.
Missing quite a few regulars (wives’ birthdays, injuries, netball tournaments), the Rollers decided to take first strike on a wicket that looked like it could be about five overs away from a Pune Day 5 pitch, but then turned out to be a pretty decent strip for the 70 overs.
Ryan Cooper and Kobus Muller got the visitors off to a good start against some tight bowling before the latter departed for a run-a-ball 22, and he had barely made his way off the field when he was joined in the changeroom by Izak de Beer - his ‘vision board’ of “30 off 22” proving a pipedream.
Peter Muller, signed a fast bowler but now the Rollers’ leading runscorer this season, was next in and did what he did best - smashing it long and straight in a 60-run partnership with Ryan (57) which was stopped in his tracks by a shot that, generously, could be described as a ‘hoik’.
That, and an expert spell of bowling from Matthew Hart (7-2-13-1), looked to have severely dented the Rollers’ hopes of a competitive score on a small field with a lightning quick outfield.
But Batts - and us, for that matter! - had not counted on Handré Scheepers. Fresh from a first-baller on debut last week, he absolutely tore into the bowling, smashing his way to an unbeaten 68 off just 44 balls in a 103-run partnership with Ruan de Jongh (22).
That knock - and a very generous 52 extras - propelled the Rollers to 244/6, a very good score which looked all the better when Tom Stapylton-Smith had Gustav Pienaar trapped in front for a duck, and JP de Bruyn got Ross Holing caught at mid-off with not much on the board.
Cue the rollercoaster going completely off the rails …
Callum Cann and Matthew combined for a devastating partnership which took Batts to an eye-watering 151 at drinks - needing less than a hundred for the win and at a comfortable run-rate. Jordan Corfe stemmed the flow with some accurate left-arm spin and Peter (1/26) eventually broke the stand with a slower-ball which hit the base of the stumps, but in a surprise turn of events which even the Indian bookies didn't see coming, the hero with the ball turned out to be Izak.
As it transpired, his vision board was the wrong way around, and his 5-0-20-3 (including bowling Callum with a 'jaffa' for 66) turned the tide firmly in the Rollers’ favour again. Ryan added to 3/26 with his off-spin to seemingly make it safe, but an equally unlikely last-wicket stand of 40 (helped by some generous ‘catching’) between Graeme Cann and Riaan meant only nine was needed off the final over.
JP (2/42), who started with seam-up and then switched to leg-spin before returning to seam-up, bowled Graeme with an inswinging yorker to seal victory, but not before some serious squeaky bum time.
It was a great game with almost 500 runs and some memorable chirps (Peter …), and in the end celebrated with some fine boeries and ice-cold beers. Thanks again to Paul and his team for a memorable day out!