The 4s arrived at Raphaels knowing only a crushing victory over their 2nd placed opponents would give them any hope of getting back in to the promotion chase, a tall order after being heavily beaten in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season. A dry looking wicket meant that when Shaz won the toss there was no hesitation in batting first with the intention of getting big runs on the board to exert scoreboard pressure on the opposition.
A perfect start followed as the opening partnership raced to 123 by drinks with Shaz moving through the gears effortlessly as if he was 21 again including an all run 4 which could have been 5 if his partner Duke had managed to keep up. The plan at the resumption was to accelerate hard and put an insurmountable score on the board. However, we know nothing is ever easy as within two overs 123-0 became 123-3! Shaz was the first to go as he cut a ball like a tracer bullet that was somehow held onto at point, Pontin came and went as he looked to bully the bowling and only succeeded in top edging a catch to the keeper without scoring and then Duke went for a suicidal run and was left just short of his ground. A rebuilding job was now needed and fortunately for Athletic there was still a lot of quality to come. Cheeseman and Rowe set about the task, carefully at first but always keeping the scoreboard ticking with cleverly run singles until they got heir eye in. They then put their foot on the pedal, regularly finding the fence with precision shots threaded through a tight field, they were both batting with touch and timing although Cheeseman did split his bat in two with a couple of lusty boundaries. They forged an impressive 94 run partnership and when Cheeseman departed for a well made 58 it was down to Hash and Little to join Rowe and try to end the innings with a flourish. Hash fell quickly playing a selfless big shot for the team and Little hit a huge six off the penultimate ball of the innings. With Rowe unbeaten on 38 we had racked up an impressive 240 to claim maximum batting points and leave our opponents with it all to do but we knew with a fast scoring Raphaels outfield anything could be chased down, little did we know what was to follow.
Young B Duke opened the bowling and almost immediately 0-0 became 0-1 as the opening batsman edged an out swinging delivery to give the bowlers wicket keeping dad a catch behind. The score had only progressed to 19 when Duke struck again, this time hitting middle stump as the batsman tried to take the attack back to the bowler and played across the line. Only two runs later Duke struck again with another one that swung away, once more taking the edge resulting in a reflex catch by Little at slip, 21-3. Gt Waltham were not about to surrender their promotion chances easily and went on the counter attack moving the score to 60. Their joy was short lived as Duke worked his way through again, this time the dangerous Harman being well held by the skipper a mid off. Duke was now in the middle of a magical spell and before another 10 runs could be added he had two more wickets to his name. The first an unbelievable ball that pitched outside leg, swung and hit off, leaving the batsman mesmerised and then the plumbest LBW you are likely to see with the ball hitting the batsman low down and in front of middle, the third and fourth batsman respectively that Duke had removed for a duck. With the score at 69-6 things were looking good but K Webb was batting through the carnage looking assured and now farming the strike, while he was there it was still game on. He looked comfortable against spin as Hash, Jones and Hunt all toiled away, unusually without reward. The skipper thought a change of pace may do the trick and gambled by bringing himself on and what a master stroke it proved to be as he got one to jag back hitting the pad. It was probably out, most likely would have been umpires call but the vociferous appeal of all eleven fielders convinced the umpire and to huge delight the finger was raised. We knew at 101-7 and the dangerous Webb gone that should be the game but we could take nothing for granted. The target now was not only to win the game but to get maximum points and to deny the opposition as many points as we could. They inched their way to 130 when the exuberant Omar removed numbers 8 and 9 who could not pick his clever leg spinning deliveries resulting in two catches. Our target was now to deny the extra batting point at 150 and with the score on 145, Duke re-entered the fray. It wasn't for long though as with the first ball of his second spell he hit the middle stump to end the game and finish with the impressive figures of 7 for 37 in 7.1 overs a truly remarkable performance and an outstanding team effort. Maximum points for us and also denying Waltham additional points meant some how if we could win at Oaklands next time out we will be right up there with todays opposition as they have no fixture. Come on lads, same again next week and who knows what might happen.