An air of excitement and anticipation pervaded Leinster Cricket circles on Saturday last with the return of 50 overs games after the one-year hiatus which was caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Local rivals, The Hills and Malahide met at The Vineyard on a gloriously sunny day in the first series of games in the Buakit Premier League competition. The Hills won the toss, and somewhat surprisingly opted to field first. By the end of the eleventh ball of the second over, this appeared to have been an inspired decision because Malahide had lost 2 wickets with only 2 runs on the board. That was as good as it got for The Hills.
Callum Riches and Matthew Ford set about re-building the Malahide innings, initially with a period of consolidation, and then with a display of attacking shots which resulted in the ball being despatched to all parts of the Vineyard and beyond its confines, into the nearby woods and adjoining fields. It has been said frequently that catches win matches, but the corollary to this axiom is that dropped catches can result in games being lost. Matthew Ford was dropped when he had scored 40 runs, and he proceeded to punish The Hills for this lapse in the field by scoring a superb century. He was caught by Mark Dwyer off the bowling of Tomás Rooney-Murphy when he had scored 109 runs. At the other end, Callum Riches was accumulating runs steadily; he also scored a century, and his wonderful innings was ended by a run out when he had scored 140 runs. Fintan Mc Allister scored 34 runs in his cameo innings, and Malahide ended up on a score of 334 for the loss of 7 wickets.
The Hills’ bowlers toiled manfully, and there were wickets for Dylan Blignaut (3 for 83), Tomás Rooney-Murphy (2 for 60), and Jonathan Tall (1 for 64). Given the number of boundaries which were scored, (7 sixes, 36 fours), Sameer Dutt’s bowling figures of 0 wicket for 41 runs in 10 overs were highly commendable.
As a group, sports supporters are probably the most optimistic people in the world, and during the innings break, some Hills’ supporters were of the opinion that the Malahide score was eminently gettable, given that the pitch was playing perfectly, and the outfield was lightning fast. However, for this prediction to come through, it was vitally important to have a positive start. The first wicket (Athar Farooqi) fell when the score was 11, and although several batsmen got starts, nobody went on to make the substantial score which was essential if the hosts were to make any inroads into achieving the target score. Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin (29), Mark Donegan (28) and Andrew Kavanagh (29) played some beautiful shots, but scoreboard pressure told, and wickets fell at regular intervals. The Hills’ final total was 147, and its innings ended in the 31st over.
On this occasion, Malahide batted, bowled, and fielded better than the Hills. For The Hills, positives are in short supply, but in every walk of life, it is possible to have a bad day at the office. There is now a fortnight for the players to go back to first principles, reflect and return refreshed for the game against Phoenix in the Phoenix Park on 31 July. Until then it is onwards and upwards.
Postscript: Malahide CC has had a difficult time recently with the deaths of its Patron, Mr Norman Adams, his wife, Mrs Patience Adams, and a former President, Ms Evelyn Harmon. Prior to the commencement of the game at the Vineyard, there was a period of silence and reflection as a mark of respect. Ar dheis Dé, go raibh a n-anamacha.