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Wednesday morning beckoned bright, with intermittent sunshine to greet the players for the 50 over fixture at the idyllic Oak hill Cricket Club in Wicklow. Warriors Captain Andy McBrine won the toss, and duly opted to bat without hesitation. The Warriors openers Roulston and Doheny made their way to the middle, and the match began, Munster Reds Captain Josh Manley taking the new ball. Manley bowled tight lines from the outset, asking questions of the batters repeatedly. His opening bowling partner Liam McCarthy was uncharacteristically off colour in the opening stanza, with good balls interspersed with a number of wides and loose deliveries. The Warriors batters were circumspect and cautious, so it was little surprise that the first wicket fell in quick time, with Manley dismissing the dangerous Ralston for just 6. 29/1.

McCarthy also struck in his very next over, with Doheny falling for 25 to a good catch by Mike Frost. 42/2 after 7 overs. Nikolaj Damgaard was the next to claim his first scalp, trapping Hilton plumb in front without bothering the scorers. 44/3 off 9. Inspired spells from Damgaard, Mike Frost and Kruger reduced the Warriors run rate to a trickle, and by the end of the 19th, the score had crawled to 80- and Kruger struck with his last ball of the over to castle MacBeth with an excellent delivery that reduced the Warriors to 80/4. Mike Frost struck in the 24th over to send Captain McBrine back to the pavilion, the pressure building relentlessly – 96/5 and in danger of being bundled out for a below-par score. Frost struck again in the 28th, Doherty being caught by the bowler’s brother Ali. 104/6, and teetering on the edge.

The excellent Damgaard breached the Warriors defences again, dismissing Melly for single figures. 123/7 after 24 overs.

Enter Wilson and Piedt. In an inspired sequence of attacking shots, the pair accelerated the run rate considerably, and when the former was caught in the 42nd over for an impressive 48, the scoreboard had leapt to 187/8, with an unlikely 200+ firmly in sight.

Marcello Piedt then cut loose, flaying the ball to all parts of the boundary and beyond. No less then 4 maximums littered his innings of 59 from 44 balls, and three boundaries to boot. When the Warriors innings came to a close in the 49th, the scoreboard registered a total of 231, remarkable when we consider the slow initial rate and the loss of wickets at regular intervals. At the innings break, it was certainly a case of ‘game on!’

Oak Hill Cricket Club

So came the turn of the Munster Reds to reply. The first powerplay saw the Munster team tot up 63 for the loss of one wicket- Joran Neill, and well ahead of the required rate. A patient 16 by Ali Frost came to an end in the 11th, with Kruger and Metcalfe steering the Reds innings along nicely, until Metcalfe fell in the 18th- an excellent 53 from 52 balls.

Debutante Mark Andrianatos strode to the crease to join Brandon Kruger, and the pair continued the march towards the target score. Alas, Kruger was beaten neck and crop by a McKeegan delivery that ended his knock on 23, and looking like adding a good deal more to his score. Suddenly the Munster Reds looked in trouble, with a score of 105/4 after 23 overs. And when Nikolaj Damgaard was dismissed for just 3, the Reds were struggling at 133/5, and 29 overs gone.

Liam McCarthy’s brief stay at the crease came to a close on 7, when Warriors Captain Andy McBrine was rewarded with an excellent spell of accurate bowling courtesy of a caught and bowled capture. The run rate was dropping, and the pressure building. 143/6 after 31. McCullough joined Andrianatos in the middle, and together they started to rebuild momentum until McCullough also fell for 23 in the 39th over- 181/7. A grandstand finish was in the offing- which team would blink first?

Some very tight and disciplined bowling from McBrine and Piedt seemed to suggest the game could be slipping away from the Reds. Dot balls were growing in number and regularity- typified by a maiden in the 43rd, McBrine holding the batting side scoreless. The pressure was building at 198/7. And when Mike Frost was toppled by the excellent Piedt with the score reading 213/8 after 47 overs, nerves were jangling.

But no-one stood taller for the Reds than Andrianatos, who seemed to have ice water in his veins as the pressure continued to grow. He had quietly amassed an ever-increasing tally of runs, prompting one commentator to intone “How’s he reached that score?” Little fanfare, but mighty in effect. It all came down to the last two overs. In the 49th, Captain Manley had strike. Dot-dot-dot. 1. Wide. Single. FOUR to Manley. Last over- 6 required. Would there be a winner? A Super Over?

49.1: DOT BALL. Fielders swarming in, everyone both on and off the field on the edge of their seats.

49.2: MacBeth steams in. Andrianatos stands tall at the crease…… and launches the ball high into the Wicklow sky. Commentary: “Oh, he’s hit that one- it’s in the air. Will it carry? Will it carry….. yes it has! It’s a six. it goes all the way! That’s the winning stroke with 4 balls remaining!”

The Reds win by 2 wickets. My heart! What a match. Pure theatre of the highest order, and you couldn’t look away. The Reds head home with the points secured, and buzzing.

  • Umpires: JM Kennedy & A Seaver
  • Scorers: S Downes & AJ Mooney
  • Match Referee: G McCrea
  • Toss Won By: North West Warriors, who elected to bat
Debutante Mark Andrianatos seals the Reds win with a maximum!

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