THE Gippsland Goanna’s Over 50s cricket team faced off against the highly-credentialled Geelong Over 50s at Sale Oval last Sunday.
Geelong won the toss and had little hesitation batting first on what was a well-prepared hard and flat wicket that looked like it would be a road for the batsmen.
Stand-in skipper Brad McDonald had a pre-match speech prepared, that in his words, would have seen his team run through a brick wall for him, however, Geoff Wells took it upon himself to give the opening address, slightly taking the wind out McDonald’s sails.
The Gippsland boys chose to open from the pavilion end, using the confusing three-way rotation of bowlers that had worked a treat in the team’s previous adventure.
The Geelong openers pounced on anything that wasn’t hitting middle stump, giving several of the local bowlers a bit of tap along the way.
By the time the first retirement for the day occurred in the seventh over, the visitors were already on 77, and a score of more than 300 looked on the cards.
The Gippsland bowlers toiled hard during the middle overs, and managed to bring the scoring rate back to a respectable level, although a couple of dropped doozies of catches by Chris Anders behind the stumps and another to McDonald who would have swallowed it had it been a cheeseburger, gave the visitors an easier run than they really should have had.
McDonald was having a tough day out in the field with the responsibility of looking after his team and on focusing on his own performance. At one point he resembled a drunk octopus when he tripped over his own feet while trying to field a relatively simple ground ball near the boundary.
That said, he did recover well to hold onto a couple of catches towards the back end of the innings.
Sale-Maffra veteran Geoff Wells was having his own battles in the field, nominating himself to ride the boundary as he is apparently a good catcher.
The first one that went to the boundary he tried fielding with his foot, and subsequently produced a sore quad so he was moved back to the inner ring to try and find a fielding position where the ball wouldn’t go.
In the end, Geelong made their way to a respectable score of 218.
The pick of the bowlers for Gippsland was Steven Rogers, who finished with 2/9 from five overs.
Collegians great Stuart Anderson completed his six overs and finished with 2/32, while fellow locals Chris Malone and Rod Jones each got their name in the book with a wicket apiece.
The Gippsland boys were quietly confident that they would punish the undermanned Geelong attack, considering the strength of the batting line-up.
Needing to win to secure a finals berth, things started poorly for Gippsland as they fell below the required run rate early in the piece as the Dukes ball that was being used hooped around a little more than the conventional Kookaburra used by the Gippsland team.
Wickets fell in quick succession, with Geoffrey Kinnish forgetting he was playing senior cricket, taking off for a suicidal single only to be run out by the length of Sale Greyhound Racing Club straight.
Anderson was all at sea and didn’t look like troubling the scorers in the single ball that he faced after battling COVID during the week.
There was a bit to be done when usual skipper Graeme Rankin finally joined his team to combine with Wells at the wicket.
These two took the Goannas to the drinks break and were about to really step up to the plate.
Rankin was concerned about his bat getting some sun during the drinks break, so placed it into the shade so it could cool down. He then decided to return to the wicket without a bat, which was always going to make scoring difficult.
Rankin fell for 10 and Wells was joined by the relegated stand-in skipper in McDonald, before falling for a determined 23.
Things were getting dire at this stage, and the Gippsland team needed McDonald and the remaining batsmen in Malone, Jones and Rogers to all make their way to the retirement score of 40 in order to secure the win.
In the end, Gippsland fell well short, being bowled out for a poor 93 in the 28th over.