Heathcote records unlikely win
SATURDAY’S cricket match saw Heathcote host Elmore and it was always going to be a challenge.
Heathcote was missing key playmakers Corey Gilmore (injured wrist from signing so many copies of last week’s McIvor Times), Brendon Conforti (appearing this week on the TV program What happens in Bali), Darcy McLean (at a One Direction concert — his favourite is Harry) and Jake Flaherty (preparing for Valentine’s Day and also at a One Direction concert — Flopper prefers Zayn).
Returning to the side was Ben ‘It’s right boys, I’m back’ Harris.
Technically, Harris had never left the side but had been a late withdrawal, recently offering up Alex Williamson in his place so the side would not be short. Admittedly Williamson was quicker between the wickets and around the field despite a broken foot.
Still short of players, the club introduced a policy of two games to qualify for the end of season trip and at the toss of the coin had 12 players available.
The unavailability of Gilmore had your correspondent particularly concerned as he would be struggling for material.
It was the words of Harris ‘It’s right boys, I’m back’ that provided a warm inner glow.
Captain Joel Condon did his job early in winning the toss and electing to bat on another Grant Baker ‘‘belter’’.
Recent best-on-ground performances on and off the field meant Pat Ring was promoted to open the batting with Condon.
Ring is leading the tally as player of the year and throwing him to wolves by opening the batting was Condon’s best opportunity to prosecute his own chance for the award.
This was done with the full support of club president Ben Harris as he is also in the hunt for the prize.
Hesitant early, Ring’s thoughts were focused on the out-swinging hoop he would achieve in the heavy air of the overcast day when he opened the bowling. Once he realised he was out there to bat, not bowl, Ring began to dominate.
Batting at the other end, Condon continued his recent run as the form batsman this year for Heathcote.
Elmore danger bowler James Harney, when measuring out his long run, ended up lost behind Mt Ida, reducing his initial spell to two overs and this really allowed Heathcote to take the initiative.
Both openers batted brilliantly before Condon was out for 40, bowled by Harney once he had found his way back to the ground.
The score was 1/80 with many observers in the crowd noting a score of 200 was achievable. These observers were obviously unfamiliar with the form of the Heathcote cricket side this year.
Ring followed soon after having contributed an excellent 37.
Tim Gleeson and Ben Harris were now in the centre and looked to continue the good work.
Gleeson, with patient elegance, and Harris, with his impeccable timing, were in a position to grasp the initiative, but it was not to be as wickets fell and continued to fall.
Both Matthew Cruise and Jake Condon offered some resistance as Heathcote collapsed.
Tom Tobin with his laconic candour and an enthusiastic Liam Jacques added some valuable runs towards the end before Heathcote was all out for 140 in the 28th over.
Xavier Kellow for Elmore was the main protagonist with five wickets.
Runs on the board and a bowling line up that last week showed it could get the job done meant Heathcote, despite ruing a missed opportunity with the bat — knew it was a chance (a bowling line-up that only has one good back between them being just a mere inconvenience).
Ring and Jake Condon opened the bowling and were effective with Ring’s maiden overs and Condon bowling Jauvane Bannon in his first over.
Elmore’s Harney was looking to take control until he was dismissed by a freakish onehanded grab by Ring off his own bowling.
At 2/28, Elmore consolidated and worked hard to see off the Heathcote opening bowlers.
Gleeson focused on bowling line and length, the club’s number one supporter, Eamon Gleeson, having recently met Glenn McGrath, had instilled the bowling great’s mantra into the Heathcote team.
A lofted drive off Gleeson’s bowling had Simon Osicka making a possible catch look impossible, before performing a mid-rolling dive to take it and the impossible was seemingly possible.
An LBW next ball and Gleeson was on a hat-trick, with the momentum swinging against Elmore.
Osicka took a break from writing about himself in the third person to deliver up some slow medium full tosses and an outfield catch from Jarryd Ayres meant Elmore were 6/69.
With a sniff of victory, Harris suddenly showed some interest in what was happening and began to inject his technical nous into the game.
Between him and Condon they had players shuffling left and right as if they were the prospective dates on the screen of a hyperactive Tinder user.
Harris was like a latter-day Napoleon (albeit a surly version) as he rocked forward on to the balls of his feet to give himself some extra inches to survey the field of endeavour that is Heathcote’s Barrack Reserve and began shouting orders to the fielders.
Harris soon had his way so that the entire field was irrelevant apart from the bowler (Gleeson) and himself, which is just how he likes it. Gleeson bowled to his field, in this case Harris. As if straight from the classic of strategy, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, there was another wicket caught Harris and bowled Gleeson.
The team charged in to embrace Harris and soak in his brilliance, Harris allowed himself a smile as he realised what he had been missing in recent weeks.
Heathcote was alive in the field with Connelly taking a catch, the younger legs of Wells and Liam Jacques restricting Elmore further.
Harris took a couple of wickets towards the end though in the score book this is incorrectly attributed to Joel Condon.
In fairness, to all but the most observant it is very difficult to distinguish between the leg spinner and the off spinner and as such an easy error to make.
Cruise also chipped in for a wicket and in the end Heathcote had Elmore all out for 105, a good result that was well appreciated by those who came to support the team — despite Corey Gilmore and Dave Farley not clapping once for their team-mates.
At this stage it is unknown if Heathcote is still a chance to play finals, once Stu and Corka sort out what happened with the score sheets they will work out if finals are still a possibility.
After what was the last home game this season, thanks to Grant Baker for the tireless efforts he puts into the ground.
Thanks also to those who helped make up the team this week when we were desperately short, likewise also to those who come along and support the team.
The McGrath-like Tim Gleeson was this week’s Mitchelton Wines player of the day with his four wickets at a critical time in the Elmore innings. Nagambie 73 M Fairweather 5/7, S Delaney 3/19 defeated by Pyalong 9/143(cc) PJ Campbell 42, MJ Wilkins 29, T Muir 4/14, W Baker 2/17. Tallarook 4/41 d Seymour Heaysman 5/2. Yea Tigers 147 M Beattie 32, B Kibble 6/39, A Dowling 2/35 defeated by Avenel 7/149 C Leighton 59*, A McSpeerin 2/39. Puckapunyal 7/145 J McCabe 64, J Vilinskis 5/34, AJ Arora 2/20 d Kilmore 143 BJ Dennehy 30*, J Frankel 4/18, B Duncanson 3/24. Royals 112 B Speechley 3/27, T Peacock 2/19 defeated by Eastern Hill 131 C Kirby 48, R Flint 34.