The Rollers made a belated start to the 2021/22 season, but it proved worth the wait as a solid, all-round team performance secured a comfortable six-wicket win against the Rondebosch Pumas on Sunday.
We have a very proud, 100% winning record against the Pumas, but that looked in jeopardy as the visitors took to the field with nine men, of which six were severely hanging after a brandy & coke-laden poker evening which had finished just hours earlier.
One of the six, Hannes Moore, then proceeded to hold the game up for 10 minutes as nature came a calling ... no doubt the after-effects of the above-mentioned brandy and braai-broodtjies combo.
Stand-in captain Garth le Roux clearly picked up on the sorry state of some of the opposition and elected to bat on a hot and bright morning, and there were worrying signs when opening bowler Peter Muller started with four wides - two down leg and two heading for second slip.
But the Rollers are made of tougher stuff and he proceeded to york David Novos with his next delivery, before bowling Toufeeq Leeman with another beauty to finish with 3-0-9-2 (he physically couldn’t bowl another over). At the other end Cornell Keulder had a bee in his bonnet and bowled at breakneck speed without any success, while Tom Stapylton-Smith kept the pressure on with a spell of 4-1-14-0.
Captain Michael van Dewenter went for 20 in his first 3 before bouncing back with figures of 2/28, but the star with ball in hand was Jarryd van Wyk, whose ‘off-spin’ yielded returns of 3/11 in four overs. Cornell returned for a second spell to clean up the tail and finish with 2/9, while a special mention must go to Charl Bester for a superb fielding effort.
So the Rollers set 131 for victory, and they were helped in the chase by some ‘generous’ bowling in the early stages as 11 wides were sent down in the first four overs.
Jarryd (5 off 7) was the first to go with the score on 26 before Cornell walked in and hit the third ball he faced for 6. He clearly had somewhere better to be as another six sailed over long-on, but a brainfart meant he was out soon after for 19 off 10 balls. And when Ryan Cooper (16 off 15) missed a straight fulltoss next ball, the Rollers were precariously placed at 52/3 - still 78 runs short of the target with some wounded soldiers in the dugout.
Charl entertained with his 17 off 21 before skying one to long-off with the score on 74, bringing Neville Cooper and Michael together for what was - initially, at least - some of the slowest batting ever witnessed in the FCA. If Neil Watson were on the lookout for potential sponsors for the league, their batting would have scuppered any hopes of a potential deal and watching paint dry at one point seemed a more intriguing option.
But then, as if summoned by the brandy special behind the bar, Michael suddenly cut loose with a massive six over square-leg, followed by a Lara-esque inside out drive over backward point. He finished it off with a glorious pull shot through midwicket as the Rollers cruised to the target with 10 overs to spare.
Neville, too, deserves some praise for his patient, mature knock of 27 not out off 53 balls, showing all the experience that 82 years of playing cricket brings. As he kept pointing out afterwards: “I was playing the situation.”
So a good start to the season for the Rollers, and once again a special thanks to Garth, Mike, David and the Pumas boys for a game played in excellent spirit.