Cricket Results

Groot Drak vs Ulster Grasshoppers – 06 January 2024

One could hardly pick a more predictable time of year to have bright sunshine and perfect cricket weather than January in the Boland, but the dreaded rain cloud icon was all over the various weather apps for Saturday the 7th. Covers were deployed on Friday evening in anticipation of rain overnight… which, naturally, didn’t materialize.

Our stand-in groundsman, Salmo Cilliers, prepared a beautiful green-top pitch, which promised some spice for the seam bowlers. When our Irish visitors arrived, they inspected the surface and were more than happy to honour the tradition of batting first.

The Ulster Grasshoppers got off to a sedate start, going at around 3 an over for the first 10. This was largely thanks to some super tidy bowling from the pacey openers, Liam Carruthers and Nick van Woerkom, who each picked up a wicket in their first spells.

Taking a chunk of pace off the ball, Craig McNaught and Ian Nel took the first-and-second change duties and both bowled a reasonable line and length to keep the run rate respectable during their seven over spells. Craig (3/28 from 7) managed three wickets, including a diving caught-and-bowled, while Ian (1/38 from 7) trapped Aaron Wright in front as he was looking to kick on.

At the second drinks break, the boys from Ulster were struggling along at 117/6 from 28 overs.

Zak Barnard (2/28 from 5) managed to grab two wickets with his seam-up deliveries, which included a first class leg-side stumping from Jono Boulton behind the sticks.

Towards the end of the innings, the ball was tossed to Mike Devine in an attempt to entice some risks from the batters. Suffice it to say that it was not Mike’s day with the leather, as his array of beamers and double-bouncers got dispatched at 9.5 per over in his 4 over spell. Fortunately, Nick van Woerkom was able to relieve Mike of his bowling woes to pick up the last two wickets of the innings, ending with highly respectable figures of 3/33 from 7.5. Liam Carruthers pitched in with one more over to be Groot Drak’s most economical bowler of the day with returns of 1/27 from 7.

The Irish had been skittled out for 198. With 40 overs to chase it down, most felt the score was about 50 runs light. With a formidable top 7, the Groot Drak lower order settled in to the bar to watch what would surely be stroll in the park. This, dear reader, is where it all went wrong.

Wessel Lourens (2), Conrad Schultz (1), Nick van Woerkom (6), Ian Nel (3 in two innings), Craig McNaught (0), Jono Boulton (1) and Mike Devine (1) could only manage 14 runs between them, which put enormous pressure on Mark Nel who was forced to watch despairingly as wickets were gifted to the opposition, while he stood man alone. Mention should be made of the contributions from Claude Chantler (18), Liam Carruthers (17) and Zak Barnard (14), but the only player to score meaningful runs was Mark Nel, who put on a classy 54 not out to save at least some blushes for Groot Drak.

As it was, the home side ended up being bowled out for just 139 in the 33rd over.

With the result out of the way, the almost 40 strong touring party from Ulster were treated to Richard von Hoesslin’s recollection of the club’s rich history before being ushered towards the clubhouse for a fines meeting. This was a highlight for many as the ladies and gents from Ulster showed their prowess across multiple alcohol groups before settling in for the spit braai and some red wine.

Despite the completely lopsided result, everyone had a blast before we were able to wish the Grasshoppers all the best with the rest of their tour.

Man of the match: Mark Nel & A. Shields

Match report by Craig McNaught

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