The first fixture of the season saw a road trip to the borders and Shedden Park. With the Met Office playing with the guys’ emotions during the week, the Friday night plans were seesawing between a night at the dancing and a night on sofa watching “Sliding Doors”. However, at 30% chance of precipitation forecast for the game midday Friday, the lads got to experience the breathtaking on-screen chemistry between Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah. The outcome was a fresh-faced team arriving at Grange Loan with even Ben D’Ulisse and Birthday boy Sibley speaking in full sentences.
Spread out across 4 cars, with parents and presidents going out of their way to help take the guys down, Carlton set off with a variety of topics of conservation going on. The two adults along with Ru Main went down with Andy Mac (Designated Scorer) and covered topics such as sports psychology, pension plans, work life balance and teenage pregnancy. The other cars discussing cartoons, favourite toys and pokemon cards (I assume).
Warm up was completed, including one of the greatest finishes in Carlton warm up football history (An excellently timed cross from Ben was gracefully placed top right corner off Nick Martin’s head). Rory lost the toss and the Carlton Young Team (CYT) were bowling.
Joe Flynn opened from the far end and, after finding his rhythm, was causing the batsmen plenty issues with movement in the air and off the seam. His first over culminated in finding Kelso’s captain outside edge which was gobbled up by Nick M at first slip, making him immovable from slips for the rest of the innings (Maybe Season?). Master Sibley had this to say on the matter, “I didn’t realise we had started taking proper cricket wickets”.
Having been heard muttering to himself “Cheeky who?”, Captain Rory opened up from the other end. Rory and Joe both tested the batsmen in their opening spells, however, whilst the pitch was giving plenty movement off the seam it was also punishing a drop in length and Kelso’s no. 1 had his pulling pants on. The short stuff was racing away to the boundary.
Enter Sibley, the contrast in styles between Sibley and Flynn was breathtaking. If they decide to remake the 1988 film “Twins” the casting agent should look no further than Carlton 2s’ opening and first change seam bowlers. Whilst Flynn utilised his height with a high action and upright posture at the crease (Brad MacKayesque) to extract bounce off the pitch; Sibley used his quick delivery stride and low arm to skid off the surface losing little pace and causing plenty backfoot shots to be played to full balls.
Sibley took a wicket in his 2nd over with a faint nick off an attempted pull. He turned to face the spectators, located his mum and dad, and with a tear in his eye mouthed “that one is for you”.
The Kelso opener was now hitting his straps and dealing in boundaries, before Carlton knew what was happening he had reached 50. However, it was a short-lived celebration. Harry Simpson who had been quietly going about his business (Some say still reeling from his brother’s decision to leave the Carlton 2s’ whatsapp chat mid conversation befitting of an alpha male silverback gorilla) pounced on a ball dropped into the midwicket region. The opening batsmen had obviously not heard about the emphasis Pete Steindl has put on fielding at the Carlton Senior Training and had backed up a 3rdof the way down the track. With the agility of a drag queen doing the cha-cha slide in 6-inch heels, Harry had the ball in his right hand and within millisecond had thrown down the stumps. This was cited as a turning point in the clubhouse after the game.
Flynn had finished his spell and then the crowd were bestowed with the sight of Nick White’s mullets. Starting with a couple of full bungers, Nick soon found his rhythm. Being a tall legspinner, Nick was harnessing turn and bounce. Quite rapidly he picked up two LBWs, appealing one knee down and a hand aloft, allowing for little doubt in the umpire’s mind. Nick finished his full complement for very little. Bowling straight through.
Sibley’s last over of his first spell reaped the benefit of the hard work over the winter going into his slower. Deceiving the batsmen into playing a half shot the ball was snaffled by Harry at midwicket. However, there was controversy as to whether Sibley chose to employ the slower of his own volition or not, with Ruairidh Main claiming to be the mastermind. The tension has been palpable ever since.
Next up was Harry himself, he found his rhythm early and bowled the Kelso number 5 in his second over beating the batsmen for pace and turn. He was then unlucky with a couple chances going down and few shots landing just out of reach.
Nick completed his 10 overs and next up was Carlton’s second leg spinner of the day Liam. With a low action the ball skidded and created all sorts of problems for the batsmen. Unfortunately, it also created issues for Ben and with an attacking field set, 1stslip set off to collect the ball from a straight third man position. With the crowd unsure if they were watching a Baywatch slow motion scene or the outcome of a treacle spillage the ball finally made it back to keeper. Only for the process to be repeated.
However, Liam got his man eventually with a leading edge going straight to Simpson. The final two wickets were hoovered by Sibley. The birthday boy then did something unheard of from pace bowler at the end of the innings. Instead of trying get to get a tailender nicked off to first slip he attacked the stumps and cleaned up Kelso’s 8 and 10.
The final score 151 ao in the 45th over.
After an excellent tea, Charlie (unaffected by watching a dog stroll onto the field, a couple metres from his position, do its business and walk off again) and Chris opened up for Carlton. Having watched the difficulty that the Kelso batsmen had in getting in, they started tentatively and built a solid opening partnership of 44. Charlie eventually succumbed to the off spinner getting trapped LBW for a well worked 24, including some dab touches and lusty blows. Chris was joined by Ruairidh Main and they both added some serious impetus.
Ruairidh’s classic technique was admired by Andy Mac and was put to good use, hitting it to the boundary both sides of the wicket. Chris was now opening up as well and Carlton were racing to the target. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Ru danced down the wicket and missed one, out stumped. Chris was then bowled. Both important innings.
Liam and Nick M were in the middle again, looking to repeat last week’s 50 partnership to win the game. Alas, it couldn’t be done. Nick M was given out LBW for 12. Out strode Nick White, bucket hat on. Not a big fan of nurdeling to a low total, he proceeded to cut every ball he could to the boundary. Until the captain brought himself back onto bowl.
Needing 17 runs. The first ball of the over was a single for Liam. Nick slashes the next ball into the outfield for a two. The 3rd ball of the over was in his arc and dispatched over the boundary rope into a tree. 4thwas a dot. Two more in the arc went for 4s and Carlton 2s had their first victory of the season.
More than half the team showered and the most stayed for a pint or soft drink in the Kelso clubhouse. Some even managed to speak to the opposition. Progress.
Big Thanks to Andy Mac for scoring and driving. Sibley’s parents and Charlie’s mum for giving lifts to the game. Also big thanks to Kelso for the game and to people running the clubhouse for the great tea and welcoming atmosphere.