The smell of sizzling sausages and ‘burgers wafted across the spectator area of a floodlit Norm Minns Oval last night, as arch rivals , the Pies and the Hawks prepared to do battle. Yes, it was the summer version of the ‘derby’ or, more appropriately, the tussle for bragging rights between the Evans Street neighbours.
This innovative promotional gesture by Wang-Magpies pushed the 20/20 fixture back by a few hours, so enticing a healthy crowd, who gathered expectantly in the gathering dusk and avoided a stinker of an afternoon.
One must admit that the support was heavily weighted towards the home team, and they were on extremely good terms with themselves, as young openers Jack Davies and Rhett Mitchell strolled to the wicket. Music blared, the chatter was endless, and the ground looked in pristine condition. The stage was set.
Rovers-United, sitting ninth, were rated as outsiders for this contest, as the ‘Pies’ form had been good and a win could possibly propel them to the verge of the four – a handy springboard for the post-Christmas campaign.
But the Hawk bowlers, who have performed capably this season, were on song and four quick wickets for a handful of runs, brought a hush to the crowd. The urge by young batsmen to take risks ‘because it’s a 20/20’, helped to bring about their demise. Whether it was good bowling, impatience, or the ‘occasion’, the ‘Pies were in a desperate plight. It was again the super-veteran Barry Grant, their saviour for nearly three decades, who brought some sanity back into the situation. The old trademark ‘Baz’ shots were on show. If nothing else, he provides an example to his team-mates on how to go about constructing an innings.
But a lot of the damage had been done before his arrival and in the end he ran out of partners – unbeaten on 20 in a paltry total of 63. If he could find a new pair of legs he could surely go on for years to come.
The bowling honours were shared by the Hawk pacemen. Their accuracy was illustrated by the fact that 5 victims were bowled.
Rovers-United fans know only too well this season that any target is a challenge. But surely, 63 should be a ‘steal’, shouldn’t it?
Well, after a spectacular start we seemed to be as good as home. Callum Nankervis played two of the shots of the night – one a lofted on-drive and the other a slashing cover-drive. Josh Schonafinger was also in rare touch, hitting a series of impressive shots, again showing that he is at his best when in attacking mode.
At 1/42 in just seven overs it was great to watch. Then things tightened up. The ‘Pies got back into the game in dramatic fashion through skipper Simon Patterson, who captured 4 wickets in two overs. There were still 11 runs needed with five wickets to spare. Could the impossible happen?
It was the cagey veteran Simon Godfrey and a restrained Ryan Nankervis who guided the Hawks past their target and onto a deserved victory – their third in four games.
Simon Patterson, with 5 wickets for Wang-Magpies, Josh Schonafinger (an impressive 25), Simon Godfrey (19 runs and a wicket) and Callum Nankervis (a scene-setting 14 and two wickets) vied for man-of-the match honours.