On Saturday the 14th of September, a team representing the LCUSA headed north to defend the White Stick Trophy. Led by Super Skipper (and defending captain) Martin Block, the team was as follows:
Martin Block (Captain)
Having all arrived safe and sound at the Downpatrick Cricket Club, the first piece of serious business had to be attended to i.e. the pre match tea and coffee!
With the pitch and outfield looking splendid in the Down sunshine, the two captains headed off to the middle to conduct the toss. NIACUS won the toss and had no hesitation in asking the LCUSA to bat first.
The Wexford pair of Steve and Aidan opened the batting. It soon became apparent that the pitch, while hard, was on the slow side. Kennedy, opening the bowling for NIACUS, made full use of the this. His spell accounted for all five of the batsmen dismissed (Steve, Tariq, Alex, Aidan and Bala). With the LCUSA reduced to 50 for 5 off 15 overs, the captain was hoping for a big partnership to try get the team up to 150. That partnership arrived in the form of Sameer and Paul. Over the remaining overs, they complied a wonderful partnership of 120 with Sameer unbeaten on 70 and Paul going second last ball for a well made 36.
Following the tea and sandwiches, the LCUSA took to the field in defense of their 172. With Tariq charging in from one end and Willie bowling a nagging line and length from the other, the NIACUS batsmen found it hard to get off to the start they really needed. Tariq bowled fast and was unlucky not to pick up a few wickets. Willie took 2 wickets in his six over spell.
Having replaced Tariq, Varun then changed ends to replace Willie who had finished his spell. An inspired move by the captain as Varun took a wicket with his first ball from the other end.
Alex replaced Varun so he could change ends. Alex bowled with superb control and finished up with 4 wickets to his name, including a spectacular diving catch at mid-wicket by Varun.
The skipper bought himself on to bowl after Varun. It seemed he was setting the batsmen up by bowling the odd long-hop and full toss to lull them into a false sense of security. And his master plan worked when the NIACUS holed out to a very casual catch at deep mid-wicket by Sameer.
With a wicket in his wicket and NIACUS well behind on the scoreboard, Martin turned to Bala 'I haven't bowled in 4 years' Kailash. Another stroke of genius as Bala took 2 wickets to end the game with NIACUS falling 50 runs short of the total.
So the LCUSA retained the White Stick Trophy for another year. The Man of the Match was Sameer Dutt for his 70*.
Afterwards, both teams adjourned to the dining room in Downpatrick CC for a beautiful three course meal.
A big thank you must go to Downpatrick CC for allowing both teams the full use of their ground and facilities. Thank you to the two standing umpires. A difficult job with 22 other umpires 'reviewing' your every decision and move! Thank you to the NIACUS for their hospitality and the spirit in which the game was played.
Finally, well done to Martin and his team. I have no doubt they would give many a team in the LCU a run for their money.
Until, next year ...............
(Scorecard and photos to follow as soon as we have them!)