The Rollers really don’t do anything in half measures. In a season in which we have been unable to defend 180 and chase down 100, we finally got our first victory in emphatic fashion against arguably the strongest team we have played, archrivals Western Province Cricket Club.
Our old mate Neil Watson was none too pleased at losing to us last season, so he pulled out all the guns to rectify that this time around, loading the side with a few first teamers, including some kid from England who later treated us to a master-class in batting.
But then the Rollers have some pretty impressive cricketers of their own, and they finally came to the party on a blustery Sunday afternoon to fashion a thumping nine-wicket victory.
Having been offered the toss, Ryan Cooper made one of his few wise decisions all year by electing to bowl on a wicket that offered a lot more than it initially seemed it would. The result was a very tight opening spell by the skipper himself and Hannes Moore, who lost his last few strains of hair running into the pumping South-Easter.
The result was only 25 runs scored after 11 overs, with Ryan completing his spell of seven overs for only eight runs and Hannes finishing with 2/31 after taking some stick from said lefty in his last two overs.
Jakes Oberholzer came on into the wind and immediately hit the spot to keep up the pressure, and two tight overs from Cornell Keulder meant the hosts were struggling at 57/2 at drinks.
However, a combination of some dropped catches in the howling wind and a two-over brain fart by Louis Pretorius, who rolled back the months to the Old Mutual game and bowled 11 wides and two no-balls in two overs, swung the game back in WPCC’s favour, with the lefty playing some amazing shots en route to an unbeaten 50.
But his departure, some sharp fielding from the likes of Ross Kennedy, Hannes Engelbrecht and ‘Dronk’ Charl Viljoen, and tight bowling at the end by Cornell (3/34) and Jacques Laubscher (1/31) restricted the hosts to 156/8 – a tough target given our recent batting performances.
A between innings debate over the ‘lotto’ system seemed to confuse the matter even more, but we eventually settled on Scooter’s plan of picking batsmen 1, 3 and 4 and drawing the rest – and the result backed up the bold decision.
Neville and Nico Rheeder opened the batting and got the Rollers off to the perfect start, with Neville eventually retiring on 50. Not his most fluent knock ever, but one of the most valuable for sure.
Slang was stuck by our new ‘Gunsmoke’ when Ross adjudged him LBW for a battling 24 – also a crucial innings in the circumstances.
And that proved to be the only wicket to fall as Louis (41*) – over his ‘moment’ from a few hours earlier – and Cornell (37*) played with great maturity for an unbeaten 70-run partnership to get the Rollers home in style with three overs to spare – Louis’ straight six off the little English wonderkid highlighting our dominance.
Having not won in such a long time, the Rollers seemed a little stunned in the dressing room after the match, but we soon found our feet and supported the bar (because they need it, you see…) before a few of us continued the celebrations over a pizza and some drinks.
So a great victory, now let’s build on it in the final game of the year this Sunday against Gardens. Hopefully Dave Hillman can make a turn again and inspire us to another win. Nice to see you Skip … thanks for coming down.