The dawn of a beautiful day after some summer rainfall set the scene for the last fixture of the year against our long-standing friends at their home ground in Stellenbosch.
The stand-in skipper, Jono Boulton, made his most important contribution up front by winning the toss and opting to bat on a wicket that looked like it may get tougher as the day progressed.
The Groot Drak openers started well despite a few early lofted shots from Claude Chantler giving the Scorpions some early hope. Conrad Schultz (11 from 9) – fresh off a recent 150 – had only just started firing when he was trapped dead in front for LBW bringing Mark Nel to the middle. Mark (12 from 30) managed to nudge the ball around before himself being trapped in front. Claude continued to battle through some tight bowling and challenging pitch conditions before being bowled for a gritty 36 from 52 balls. Enter Nick van Woerkom who looked dangerous from the start and quickly got to 31 from 33 balls before also being sacrificed to the dreaded LBW gods. The only other Drakie to add any decent runs was Wessel (25 from 37) who kept the scoreboard ticking along with the likes of Kudu, Alan, Matt and Ian adding some boundaries here and there but not staying at the crease long enough to do any real damage. 165 was the target set by Groot Drak which seemed about 20-30 runs short.
After a quick lunch in the shade – the Scorpions opening pair came in to face Matt Hughes and Nick – both reasonably new, but vital members to the Groot Drak family. Matt bowled beautifully and managed to complete his 7 overs for just 19 runs whilst getting a well deserved wicket. Nick was firing properly from the other end and managed to up-end 3 of the Scorpions batsmen whilst only conceding 8 runs in his 4 overs. Unfortunately Nick tweaked a well worked muscle during his last over but the hard work had been done up front and the Scorpions top 5 had all returned to the hut for just 23 runs. This included a run out from Alan that was said to be reminiscent of Jonty Rhodes’ famous diving run from backward point, with neither the dive nor the electric speed.
There was still a heap of work to do with with the likes of Haydn, Gavin, Hennie and Coachie still to bat and both Kudu (0/28 from 6) and Ian (0/7 from 2) needed to make sure they kept it tidy – a job they did very well. The spinning combination of Alan and Bruce was introduced just after lunch, much to the applause of Bruce’s daughters on the sidelines, which helped Bruce to claim 3 vital wickets. Both spinners kept the pressure on and the batsmen guessing due to the track offering plenty of turn. With just 3 overs to go and a run rate of about 10 an over needed – Claude (0/6 from 2) came on and bowled seam up to hold the Scorpions side to 136 after their allotted overs.
A few cold beers and a boerie roll were enjoyed amongst friends after the game and many memory shared of the 12 odd years of these fixtures being played. Thanks to all involved and we will see the Scorpions again next year!
Match report by Alan Sherratt