The West Coast Rollers made it two from two to start the 2021/22 season, but for much of the game it looked as though the result would go against us.
Playing at the PP Smit fields in Bellville, the Rollers took first strike in blustery conditions. As it turned out, the Strikers bowlers were fairly blustery themselves, bowling at a decent pace and with impeccable line and length to make scoring runs extremely difficult.
Cornell Keulder apart (20 off 23 balls), the strike-rates were a bit 1980s Test cricket as Michael van Dewenter (5 off 16), Tom Stapylton-Smith (12 off 31) and Ryan Cooper (20 off 33) battled to get the likes of Francois (7-1-20-1) and Louis (7-1-21-2) off the square. To his credit, Andrew Young only wasted two balls for his duck…
Struggling at 69/5 after 20 overs, the Rollers’ prospects looked about as good as the weather, but Jarryd van Wyk found some form (and a fair amount of luck) to propel us to 149/7 off 35 overs, making the most of being dropped five times (!) to finish unbeaten on 58 and sharing in a 52-run sixth wicket partnership with Neville Cooper (18 off 30).
Not the greatest of scores, so we knew we needed a good start against a strong batting line-up to stand any chance, and once again Cornell delivered with 2/9 off his opening five overs, the second of which was the big wicket of Tim, caught expertly at slip by Peter Muller.
Ruan de Jongh (1/21 in four) and Izak de Beer (1/32 in six) kept it tight while picking up some important wickets, before skipper Michael brought himself on for a crucial spell of 3-0-10-2 which changed shifted the course of the game. Hannes Moore then produced the RamSlam delivery of the day - a peach which pitched middle and clipped the top of off to send Herman Oosthuizen, playing his 100th match for Strikers, packing.
Still, needing 19 off 6 overs with three wickets in hand, the boys from Brackenfell were favourites, but Tom (6-1-21-2) summoned as much aggro as he could muster to bowl a double wicket-maiden (resulting in some odd, private school celebrations), before Cornell pegged Wayne’s off-stump back to secure a 17-run victory.
As always, the game was played in a fantastic spirit, with many a story shared and brandy specials consumed afterwards. Thanks again to Riaan, Francois, Herman and the rest of the Strikers - the 13th meeting between the two sides and still one of the most anticipated matches for either team.