A (mainly) youthful third XI ventured to leafy Glen Iris in the hope of keeping their unbeaten record intact against Hartwell, who were also undefeated aside from some forfeits. We won the toss and batted, but with David Tantsis-Hall running later than a Connex train, the top order was forced to shuffle up one position.
Cam Amos began brightly with 2,4 but was then caught off the shoulder of the bat, bringing Michael Gough to the crease in the first over of the match in his first game of senior cricket. Michael was out playing the wrong line in the fifth over, while reluctant opener David Bennett, also making his senior debut, did a reasonable job and lasted until the eleventh (3/33). Batting at #4, Ben Eva was showing plenty of poise at the other end; Hartwell’s Elliott displayed pace and ability many grades above this one and served up a stern test, but our boys managed to keep him wicketless in his first spell.
Hugh Harkin (15) reached double figures quickly before taking up the anchor role, and Ben assumed control before holing out shortly before drinks. Surviving successive dropped catches on the way to 32, his innings was far more valuable than it appears on paper, and the partnership of 48 revived Marcellin’s fortunes. Drinks were taken at the halfway with Marcellin 4/88 and the match on an even keel.
Hugh steered one to gully and Ryan Keys was caught off an edge, but Tim Rush and David Tantsis-Hall batted assuredly for the next 45 minutes, running well between wickets and compiling a crucial 59-run partnership. Dave top-scored with 34 before a miraculous catch ended his stay at 7/149; this proved to be a turning point which kept the match alive deep into the afternoon. Tim was caught for a timely 28 and the Eagles’ innings finished a little short of its potential at 9/177; while the middle 30 overs had yielded a healthy 5/153, we scored 4/24 from the other 10.
Two outstanding catches – Ryan Keys running backwards with the flight of the ball at point and Ben Eva’s diving effort behind the stumps – marked our first five overs in the field. Ron Murray and Rushy then successively rattled the woodwork to reduce the home side to 4/26, and the young Eagles were brimming with confidence despite the opener Atkinson emerging as a threat with his fine leg-side play. David Bennett gave his left-arm off-breaks plenty of air and was rewarded with a wicket off his fifth ball in senior cricket, thanks to Rushy’s good hands at square leg. He struck again with an edge to Cam Amos at slip, but with Atkinson now displaying a full repertoire of impressive strokes, the decision was taken to rest him with runs becoming important. The over before drinks realised a further 20, and our boys went to the break slightly chastened at 6/99 (Atkinson 65*).
David Tantsis-Hall was introduced and immediately began landing his flat leggies, and a titanic battle ensued between he and Atkinson upon which the fate of the match ultimately hinged. At the other end, Ronny found an edge to give Ben his second catch, but Hartwell’s growing momentum was typified by the five runs conceded when the ball struck Ben Eva’s discarded helmet. Atkinson was now receiving support from the #9 and the score rapidly progressed to 150 with plenty of overs remaining, and the home side became vocal from the sidelines; when Dave finally got a quicker one past Atkinson’s blazing bat after a brilliant 89, the relief amongst our boys was palpable. Five balls later, Ryan Keys again displayed good judgement in the deep to close out the game. Our side’s fielding was excellent throughout on a surface that was occasionally treacherous, and gave us a significant edge in a close game. Apologies to Chris Bloink and Ged Logan who were intended to be staples of the bowling attack but received limited opportunities; both were fine contributors in the field.
The game was played in good weather and good spirit, and the right result capped an enjoyable day’s cricket. Despite missing the talent and experience of team leaders such as skipper Phil Spinella and Jeff Crimmins, our boys displayed talent and maturity beyond their years and can be proud of their efforts. Particular mention goes to Tim Rush who turned in an accomplished all-round performance, while Ben Eva is promising as a ‘keeper-batsman; both have a bright future in higher grades.
Marcellin 9/177 (D.S.K.Tantsis-Hall 34, B.Eva 32, T.Rush 28)
Hartwell O.C.G. 153 (R.Murray 3/44, T.Rush 2/15, D.Bennett 2/22, D.S.K.Tantsis-Hall 2/24)