Second Test, Day 2 – A change of fortune for West Indies and Clifton Hill

by Andrew Gigacz

From the outside, the parallels between the current West Indies team and the Clifton Hill 5th XI may not appear obvious. Actually, even from the inside, they probably aren’t apparent to anyone but me. And in truth, they did not even manifest themselves in my mind until I woke up on Day 3 of the Second Test and realised that the Almanac did not have a report for Day 2.

But those parallels are there, dear reader. Allow me to explain.

The West Indies team has not exactly been a model of stability in recent times. Bickering between players and administration has led to wholesale changes to the Test team and the make up of the side from week to week can be vastly different. Not unlike the Clifton Hill 5ths. Though internal grumblings are not the cause in the case of Clifton Hill.

Well, at least not in the same sense. The Clifton Hill 5ths team, of which I am a proud recent inductee, comprises a delicate balance of youngies and oldies. Inevitably each week, one of us oldies will suffer from an internal grumbling: a pinged hammy, a pulled groin, a dodgy knee. And when you’re an oldie, the chances of overcoming these niggles in time for next week’s game are not quite as high as the were when you were twenty years younger.

And for many of the Clifton Hill 5ths, cricket is not necessarily a top priority. (One could argue that this is another parallel with the Windies.) Work and holiday commitments mean that where Chook and Rocket played a vital role in last week’s game, this week sees no sign of them and it’ll be Bunter and Macca to fill their spot.

Thus the nature of team is somewhat fluid. And it follows that the fortunes of the team are in a state of flux more often than not.

But, like the West Indies, there have been recent encouraging signs of improvement in the Clifton Hill 5ths. Winless for the season, the last few games have seen us narrow the losing margin steadily, with improved batting a vital factor. Just as it was for the Windies on Day 2 in Adelaide. Though Barath could not reprise his Gabba century, and Gayle and Sarwan fell short of expectations, Brendan Nash and Dwayne Bravo took up the slack, with 92 and 104. Ably backed up by a wagging tail (with Sammy and Rampaul both making 40s), the brittle Brisbane batting brigade showed a far greater resolve in the City of Churches, posting a imposing total of 451.

Back at Fairlea Park, while the Windies were forging this score, the Clifton Hill 5ths were doing a fine job of limiting Richmond City to a 40-over total of 9-123. This was a far cry from several weeks earlier, when the same team chased down our 40-over total of 180 in just 23 overs. Good bowling all round, and I managed to pitch in with 2/24 off my 8 overs.

But the job was only half done, as it was for the West Indies. 451 is a very good score but it needed to be backed up by a strong fielding and bowling performance.

For Clifton Hill, keeping the opposition to 123 was fantastic. But it would mean nothing if our batsmen didn’t finish the job off. Only last week we had fallen agonisingly short of knocking off the top team when, chasing 144, we collapsed from 5/130 to 140 all out.

An early wicket in the chase left us at 1/9, with me in next. As I put my gloves on I overheard that Australia had moved swiftly to 0/78 in reply to the Windies. “Doesn’t sound like they’re finishing the job off”, I thought, as I walked to the crease. I was determined that the parallel paths of the Windies and the “Hillers” would diverge from this point.

With Rocket at the other end, I settled in to pushing a few singles around. The scoreboard ticked over nicely and soon we were 20, then 3o, then 40. I was picking off singles and Rocket was picking off fours. We made a good combination. I urged Rocket to break our targets down to 10 runs at a time. 50 soon came up, then 60. As we took drinks, I was told the Windies had still not broken through. Drinks over, I told Rocket that we WOULD break through today. Winless for the season, we would not let this one slip.

Just after we ticked off our next target of 70, I went to hook a wayward legside delivery and got nowhere near it. Or so I thought. Everyone else heard a noise, including the only person who counts, and I was on my way.

I was fuming, and as I walked off Fairlea oval, which is situated just behind the Thomas Embling mental health hospital, I had brief thoughts of another murder being committed within, or at least near, its confines.

But I recovered my composure and the team did not lose theirs. A breakthrough win for the Clifton Hill 5ths. Whether the West Indies can return to a parallel path remains to be seen. But with Australia at 0/174, they’ll have their work cut out.

For the moment, though, Clifton Hill’s work is done and the Saturday night beers taste a little better this week.

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Gigs

    You’ve hit upon the problem with the current review system, how many batsmen ever think they’re out?

    Leave it to batsmen, you’ll need 9 appeals per innings (allowing for at least one bowled).

    Nice save by the way. :)

  2. Peter Flynn says:

    Stiff dismissal Gigs.

    Was it an official umpire or a fellow Clifton Hiller?

  3. That’s what made it even worse, Flynny. It was one of our own!

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