” ‘SLIMMA’ TO THE RESCUE…………”

I didn’t get around to asking Justin Solimo whether he was playing his swansong Wangaratta & District Cricket Association game yesterday.

But I’m inclined to bet that the portly, loveable City Colts veteran might be prepared to eke one more season out of a senior career which began 30 years ago.

‘Slimma’ was surrounded by youngsters as his side, still retaining a slim chance of reaching the finals, was decimated by illness and unavailability. Their opponents were also light-on, but were keen to fine-tune their game ahead of a looming semi-final clash with the formidable Yarrawonga-Mulwala next week.

Not surprisingly, Rovers-United-Bruck went hell-for-leather, and posted a total of 7/237 in their 40 overs at W.J.O’Callaghan Oval.

Jeremy Wilson, a key component of their side, belted his way to a classy 79, whilst Jacob Beattie ( 38 ), Matt Whitten ( 37 ) and his brother Luke ( 31) were all in fine form……..

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

You could hardly visualise, in an A-Grade game between two finals aspirants, what happened next……….

After an uneventful opening over and a bit, which saw the ball in command over some tentative batting, City Colts skipper Mitch Giggins was caught short in attempting a second run…….1/2.

The Hawks’ captain – and left-arm quick – Paddy McNamara struck another blow when he trapped the normally swashbuckling Josh Nanson in front………………2/2.

The other Nanson brother – Tyler – was bowled neck and crop three balls later by an irresistible McNamara yorker……….3/3.

This was developing into a nightmare for the already shell-shocked Colts camp, as Matty Lister – promoted up the list – had his cage rattled by another pearler from Paddy…….4/3.

I’ve felt for quite a while that McNamara is one of those fellahs who rarely seems to get reward for his toil……..This might be the day, I surmised, when he finally breaks through for a decent ‘bag’. He already had 3/1 and looked liked dynamite.

But Brady Bartlett, operating with genuine pace, from the other end, joined the party and broke through the defence of Noah Crispin………5/3.

Two balls later, he claimed the scalp of young Tommy Stewart. The situation now had the statisticians reaching for the record-books for the lowest-ever WDCA total. In just 21 minutes Colts had crumbled to 6/3.

I can remember Moyhu being dismissed for 8 and 9 in one afternoon back in the late-fifties……..At this stage double-figures looked to be a long way in the distance………..

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Enter Justin Solimo. The super-veteran waddled, seemingly unperturbed, to the wicket. He’d been required to pull Colts out of many a crisis in the 350-odd games he’d played since he debuted in 1992……But scarcely anything as dire as this……

Like a down- and-out boxer hemmed in on the ropes, his opening retort was a slashing square-cut, which raced, like a tracer-bullet, to the backward-point boundary…….Undoubtedly the shot of the day.

The Colts supporters acknowledged this return-fire with mumbled excitement……. similar to the embattled Ukrainians applauding one of their under-attack soldiers for seeking out and destroying a Russian war-plane.

With a mixture of aggression, tempered by the occasional defensive prod, ‘Slimma’ took charge of the situation. He played bold shots all around the field, and put everything into several hefty lofted on-drives. Unfortunately, his physical fitness, which had deserted him a few years ago, probably cost him 25-30 runs between the wickets.

Nevertheless, he added 39 with stoic youngster Archie Crispin, 41 with Hayden Johnstone and 11 runs with first-gamer Will Petersen, before a combination of tiredness and lethargy saw him dismissed with the total on 94.

His knock of 57 was right out of the Solimo text-book of defiance, and was also a lesson to his team-mates to stand up and fight when the odds are against you………

Rovers-United-Bruck 7/237 defeated City Colts 109 ( Bartlett 3/9, McNamara 3/15 )

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