‘BILLY…….YOU’RE A HERO……’

A few years back I penned a tribute to WDCA veteran Jonny Hyde after he had extricated Bruck Cricket Club from another on-field crisis:

“If I had my choice of one present-day player to recruit to a struggling side it would be the little fellah. The thing about him is he’s never out of the game and you can rely on him for a consistent effort every week. His ability to produce when it matters is an indication of a top-shelf performer.”

The 39 year-old ‘Pocket-Rocket’ is now one of the competition’s elder statesmen and among its best of the past two decades. He struggles to get to training these days and his senior appearances have been sporadic. But he was slotted back into the Rovers-United-Bruck senior line-up for the clash with Delatite.

It was a crucial game, as the teams, perched Fourth and Third on the ladder respectively, needed the points to shore up their finals prospects.

A steady tumble of wickets last week had seen RUB collapse to 6/53 when ‘Hydey’ strolled onto Lord Oval, Mansfield, to perform yet another rescue mission. The Delatite quicks had their tails up and their leader – Shane Jacobsen look-alike Matt Stevenson – was in full cry.

Hydey was watchful at first, but in the next two and a half hours re-shaped the Hawk innings to score 68 of the next 96 runs. When he lifted the bat to acknowledge his team-mates’ appreciation of his unbeaten knock, he had at least given his side a fighting – if outside – chance of victory……..

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The 67-minute, 102km trip up the Midland Highway today, offers time for silent contemplation. 149 runs is a meagre target, but then again, as they say, they’re ‘On the Board’.

Delatite have been notoriously fragile with the bat in recent seasons, but have been stiffened by a few handy players. The recruitment of the Mahoney brothers – Adam and Brett – the improvement in their cousin Harry, and a couple of others, has revitalised their line-up.

As I wend my way through Swanpool, I’m seriously dubious about our chances. By the time I reach Lima South I’m convinced……… I don’t think we can do it.

Lord Oval is one of the more pleasant places to play and watch cricket. It’s ringed by statuesque Pine trees, the pitch is usually firm and true, which suits ‘Stevo’s’ propensity to drop them short and achieve good bounce.

A fence, adorned by white pickets, kindly donated by the Glue family, whose residence overlooks the ground, adds character. There’s usually a buzz of activity around the pavilion, as locals drift in and out to check the state of the game. You really feel like you’re part of the action here.

One of the fixtures is Naomi, the lady who’s always on duty in the Clubrooms. She’s been on the go since the juniors started this morning, and will probably finish about ninish tonight. The boys always like to hang around for a bit longer, she says, but heck, she can’t stay forever.

Paul Duncan is another popular, familiar character. A life-time cricket ‘nut’ and former star, he’s been in charge of the Delatite score-book for years……..

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Delatite open with two youngsters – Nick Scales and Harry Mahoney – who are in no hurry to force the pace. Why bother, when the run-rate required is just two per-over.

Out of nowhere, there’s a mix-up, and Scales is caught in mid-pitch and run out by quite a way. When things settle down the war of attrition continues. Even the loss of another wicket leaves the home team in control.

They’ve got talented leftie Brett Mahoney at the crease. Brett’s sporting career took him from G.V footy to the West, where he once won a B & F with WAFL club Subiaco. Finally, Delatite have enticed him into lining up with them this season.

He signals his intent with a delightful lofted on-drive which charges into the pickets. Eager to get on with the job, he has smacked four stylish boundaries, and is threatening to take the game away from the visitors.

In the meantime, the long-limbed lad from Zimbabwe, Tafadzwa Tsiga, after deciding to keep up on the stumps, tries to glove one and dislocates his finger. He’s off to hospital and returns with the prognosis that he’s gone for the day.

It is a cruel blow for the Hawks, whose usual tactic is to convince ‘Faz’ to discard the pads, then wheel down several overs of tight off-spin. With their bowling resources already severely-tested, the odds are stacking up against them.

But Jacob Schonafinger manages to ease the pressure by slipping an ‘inny’ through the defences of Brett Mahoney, thereby rattling his stumps. He’s gone for a well-made 22 and the reliable ‘Schona’ has effected a timely break-through for his side.

At the long break, with 3/89 on the board, and just 61 required off 34 overs, there is quiet optimism, as the Delatite camp tuck into Naomi’s afternoon-tea offering……..

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The RUB bowlers toil assiduously. Left-armer Paddy McNamara has torn in with reckless abandon and troubled the batsmen, without being gifted a skerrick of luck.

His opening partner, Paul Szeligiewicz yields just four scoring shots from his first nine-over spell. As the day draws on, the big fellah’s bulky frame appears to be labouring. He’s dragging his feet, but soldiers on.

Enter Jonny Hyde.

The little bloke immediately drops onto the spot, and in his third over, traps Harry Mahoney in front for 30. The opener had done a sterling job for his side and withstood everything that was hurled down at him in his vigilant 147-ball stay.

Without addition, Szeligiewicz removes Joe Cousins; the score is now 5/94 and the door is slightly ajar for the Hawks.

But in a matter of minutes, the burly Chris Anderson, who never mucks around, restores order. His most ominous shot, a straight drive, sails over the boundary. Suddenly, his authoratative stroke-play has taken the home team to within reach -18 to get, with four wickets in hand, and 18 overs still to play.

But then, catastrophe. Anderson rashly lunges at a Hyde delivery and is on his way for 28. Next ball, Mitch Purcell is caught behind.

Collective breaths sigh among the crowd. Is this another capitulation ?

With no further addition, Lochie Scales nicks one to the ‘keeper.

It’s up to the skipper, Stevenson to restore order. He’s no slouch with the willow and would be expected, with nine wickets down, to defend stoutly, farm the strike and maybe find a way through this situation.

Alas, Hyde gets one through his castle, and removes him, with no further addition.

In an amazing transformation, the Hawks have captured the last four wickets for 0 and pulled off the most unlikely, and exciting, victory.

Jon Hyde’s last five overs are maidens, and his match figures, 9.5 overs, 6 maidens 4 wickets for 12, have proved pivotal in his side’s victory.

‘Billy’ Hyde has done it again…….

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