It was with absolute glee that we welcomed the Forty Club back to Groot Drak during their umpteenth tour of South Africa. We have not had international teams visit us in almost three years, so the excitement leading up to the fixture was pulpable… until the rain arrived. It’s not terribly often that we have heavy rains during the summer, but it bucketed down on Tuesday the 24th of January. Fortunately, the skies cleared at around midday and we were able to get underway shortly thereafter.
The visitors, in keeping with tradition, were asked to bat first and got off to a positive start. Bowling down the hill, Colin Myburgh kept things very tidy, leaking just 15 runs from his five overs and picking up the first wicket of the game in the process.
Claude Chantler, from the other end, was in a very generous mood, gifting the Forties 55 runs in his 5 over allotment. Going at better than a run-a-ball, Chris Turner retired on 50 after a proper opener’s knock at the top of the innings.
The medium pacers, Craig McNaught (0/6 from 3) and PC Blom took the first change duties and bowled a pretty neat line and length to keep the batsmen quiet. At drinks, the visitors were 93/1 and looking set to kick on.
Clearly energized by the drinks break, PC (2/30 from 7) came back to knock over Ian Rippengal (11 from 21) and Howard Johnson (20 from 23) as they were getting set.
Spin was reintroduced in the form of Alan Sherratt (2/20 from 6), Quintin van der Westhuizen (3/19 from 5) and Adam Cloete (1/30 from 4). The Forty Club’s middle order struggled against the wily bowlers and had an almighty collapse, with batters 5 to 10 only managing 21 runs between them. Some sharp catches from Quintin and Colin saw the visitors at around 140/8 after 30 overs.
Chris Turner returned to the crease with a few overs to go, adding another 17 runs to his already impressive tally. At the end of the innings, the target set was 180 from 35 overs.
After a quick lunch break and the traditional flag salute, the teams were ready to switch roles and head back out on to the field for the run chase.
Having not had the chance to turn his arm over, Liam Carruthers opened the batting with Jonathan Boulton. The two went about their work in contrasting fashions; Liam with aggression and Jono with prudence. While smashing a straight drive down the ground, Liam forced a premature drinks break by striking the standing umpire in the arm and sending him to the hospital for some much-needed attention. Some very tight bowling saw Groot Drak under immense pressure, around 25 runs behind at the interval.
Jono (15 from 51) was the first wicket to fall, being caught at long off, while Liam marched to a well-deserved half century. The youngster retired on 51 from 51 balls, having bludgeoned half a dozen fours and a six during his innings.
Reveling in the opportunity to have a bat in the top 3, Tim Whitfield wasted no time in getting stuck in to the bowling. Rob Frater joined him at the crease and managed just the 5 runs before holing out at mid-wicket.
Alan Sherratt came to the crease and put on a 76 run partnership with Tim Whitfield, edging Groot Drak ahead for the first time in the match.
Alan was eventually dismissed for a blistering 38 from 22, with Tim hot on his heals, retiring on 50 from 34 deliveries.
Craig McNaught and Adam Cloete were both unceremoniously dismissed for ducks, leaving PC Blom (6* from 9) and Colin Myburgh (8* from 5) to finish off the run chase.
Although Groot Drak secured a 5 wicket victory, the result was never a certainty until right near the end.
After the match, both teams gathered on the pitch to enjoy a refreshment and were regaled by Richard von Hoesslin’s legendary recollections of the incredibly rich and vast history of the club and its members.
After a swift fines meeting, everyone donned their eveningwear to enjoy a fabulous dinner, supported by some delicious local wines from Cilmor and Frater Family Wines – many thanks to Rob and Quintin for their generosity!
We wish the Forty Club all the best for the remainder of their SA tour and we look forward to welcoming them back soon!
Scorecard: Groot Drak vs Forty Club – 24 Jan 2023