“The Zoo,The Zoo,The Zoo,The Zoo,The Zoo,
The Monkey’s Cage is nearly full, but there’s still room for You
So,take a trip to Victoria Park, before the gates are shut.
And I’ll be there with a bloody big bag of nuts, you bastard,
Nuts, you bastard, bloody big bag of nuts……….”
The Yarrawonga-Mulwala Lakers usually belt out their theme song when they have a big win. They may have given it a run late on Saturday night after they had digested their ‘get out of jail ‘ victory against Rovers-United in one of the games of the season ,at Stan Hargreaves Oval.
The Hawks were rank outsiders when play began . Chasing a formidable total of 189, in sweltering conditions and opposed to a multi-pronged attack, they plunged into diabolical trouble ,to be 3/10.
Accurate Matt Knight and the lively Paul Marshall looked irresistible. With the Weather Committee decreeing that games would finish once a first innings decision had been reached, it appeared that we may be back in Wangaratta by mid-afternoon.
The first signs of resistance came from Josh Schonafinger and Ryan Nankervis. Nankervis, with aggressive stroke-play , regained the initiative and found the boundary with three pull shots. The pair had added 33 before Ryan was stumped off the first delivery from off-spinner Marcus Hargreaves.
The ‘Shona’ brothers combined to add another 43 runs ,to bring the Hawks back into the game. Jacob, never frightened to loft the ball scored runs at a decent tempo and his 21 was another typical ‘captain’s’ knock. But there were ominous signs that he was fatigued and it was no surprise when Hargreaves caught him in front.
Josh ‘s application was commendable and he was rarely troubled by the bowlers. He certainly wasn’t tempted by the Hargreaves tactic of ‘drying’ him up by bowling wide of the off-stump. He had been at the crease for 137 minutes when umpire Alan Haddrill swiftly elevated the digit to give the third of his four LBW decisions. Schonafinger was on his way for 33 – a cruel blow on the verge of the tea interval.
The Hawks were 6/99 at the break – the Lakers were 5/99 at the same stage last week, but the odds favoured the competition leaders.
Particularly when Paul Marshall, re-introduced after tea, grabbed another wicket . Seamus Phillips and the pugnacious left-hander Adrian Squires embarked on a rescue mission. It wasn’t pretty stuff , with the scoring rate crawling along at 2 runs per over. But the Yarra-Mul bowlers appeared spellbound by the conditions and the game seemed to be heading nowhere.
Phillips’ departure looked to signal the end for the Hawks. They needed 54 runs with just two wickets in hand.
Enter Simon Godfrey, the ‘pinch-hitter’ who has produced a few cameos in recent times. His inventive stroke-play seemed to inspire the burly Squires. The match grew legs and the contingent of Lakers supporters who had assumed the result was a foregone conclusion, began to pay a bit more attention to proceedings. The run-rate accelerated abruptly. Squires on-drove two sixes, Godfrey was playing shots from the copy-book.
The pair’s willingness to take risks threw the Lakers bowlers off-kilter. Suddenly the target was 30, down to 20, then 10. With the Hawks well in command and seemingly set to pinch the game, Lakers captain Lee Fraser threw the ball to his two ‘trouble-shooters’ , Matt Knight and Paul Marshall.
Godfrey escaped when Josh Robilliard dropped a ‘sitter’ at mid-wicket. The tension was palpable and the Hawk batsmen appeared to abandon the fluent stroke-play which had produced a stand of 48 and recede into their shells.
Godfrey was bowled by Knight for a well-made 21 and with 4 runs required for victory Squires fell for 37. It was a sad end for Squires, who had played his best knock for Rovers-United and, as much as anyone, had given them a sniff of victory, when defeat was almost certain.
Matt Knight took the bowling honours for Yarra-Mul with 5/27 ,with Marcus Hargreaves (3/40) and Paul Marshall (2/28) also chipping in.
Five Rovers-United players scored over 20, in an even batting performance and it was the Club’s highest score for the season. It again proved that if you are determined to occupy the crease, results will come.
Bad luck for the good guys.