Over the last few years, cricket has cost me a lot of money in therapy (I was especially pissed when my therapist refused to at least comp me the session where I painstakingly explained the rules of the game to him. WTF Doc?). And it’s really games like this one that are the reason why I need therapy. We nearly did it. Despite an insane 18 ball 50, we nearly did it. Despite the hot weather, we nearly did it. Despite the fact that they were the undefeated team in the tournament and we were missing many key players, we nearly did it. 

On a hundred degree day, we won the toss and chose to bat. Good call! Sherry and Harshan started well. They survived 8 overs of some ferocious in-swinging fast bowling from Rahul and some miserly seam up from the experienced John Moore (we usually lose 3-4 wickets to him). Harshan got out in the second over to a searing Yorker that took out his stump. Sherry tried to give his wicket to John returning a dolly that was dropped. He then held strong to the 14th over while Satvik showed us the confidence of a 20 year old, batting fluently almost from ball one. He hit a boundary off his second delivery and some of his clean hits were so gorgeous that he was unlucky to only get 1s or 2s for them as the ball stopped on the outfield. He held on until over 33 when he was finally run out for 52. Farzan on the other end was similarly fluent, hitting 4 sixes and a boundary for a well crafted 41. They both made 71 for the 3rd wicket that lasted until over 28. And then Mark came in and smoked a few more boundaries. He has become a reliable force in the middle order. Ending at 160 was an incredibly competitive total but the steady confidence with which we got there was a revelation. Partnerships. Discipline. Back in the dugout, it was so calm, we had enough time to debate important topics like track and field, Formula 1 and whether people would turn up to a social event at a vegan restaurant (I think it was a pretty unanimous NO on that one).

I had mixed feelings going into this game. It’s a short boundary and I keep losing precious practice balls here. I, like many others in our team, have some history with playing with the Dogs and have since moved on to represent Wanderers. But I was excited nonetheless, just to turn out and perform against them – particularly with opposition support calling out from the boundary providing regular and revelatory tips such as the revolutionary, “try and not bowl wides” and “too short, too short”!

Back to the game. We started poorly. Laya, who is normally on the money every time, tried sunscreen and couldn’t control the ball. He has now decided that in the battle between potential UV exposure and extras, he hates extras more. He did manage to bowl a perfect straight delivery to Pradeep to get an LBW. That brought in Rahul, their gun batsman who made ours and Sonny’s life miserable. Good balls were ruthlessly dispatched. Harsh came on. 3 sixes in the second over. He made his 50 in 18 balls. I came on. 2 more sixes. I tossed one more up in the air and fortunately he missed and Satvik completed a clean stumping. 60 runs more to get and we were back in the game. Our secret weapon Satya came on and got Anil caught, courtesy of a fantastic catch by Ian, who was playing his first ever game of cricket!! Ian went on to take another incredible catch off Abhishek (who bowled really well) to dismiss their captain Praveen. Sherry bowled perfect lines but got the wicket of Tiger to a rank bad delivery that nearly pitched twice. Harsh came back and got Sanjay caught and bowled (blinder of a return catch) and then bowled Harshad who put up a strong fight. Jaga got caught out at square leg, deceived by Satya. That brought in their number 11 – John Moore with 11 runs to get. Now, people underestimate John and he is definitely a number 11 bat but he knows how to win. Satvik tried sledging him saying “be a man and hit a 6” to which John replied “I’ve scored 11,000 runs. I don’t need 6 more”. Oh, to have the confidence of a twenty year old (or for that matter a sixty five year old). John knew all he needed was a few wides. With plenty of overs, they bided their time and made no more mistakes. It was pretty devastating to be honest, but a great game of cricket all around.

It’s easy to look at this result and think it’s like our many close losses from last year. But this one was different. We played an away game against an accomplished team and played disciplined cricket to narrow the odds. At the end, in a game that could have gone either way, it just happened to go their way. 

45 minutes and a $60 copay later, my therapist thinks cricket is just my post-colonial trauma manifesting itself and that I should “diversify my hobbies”. Pfft. What does he know?

P.S: For all the bowlers who feel bad – on Sunday, Rahul scored 92 runs in 60 balls on a much bigger ground.