Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 17 September

Musings from beyond the boundary – cricketing thoughts through the eyes of Trevor Auger, an Auckland Cricket Society and Supporters Club Member.

The social media sites are abuzz with talk and with pictures of the Aces and the Hearts preparing for the season ahead and this time next week New Zealand A will be in action in the first of their two first class matches in India. The English season is nearing its close and the CPL stormed to a rousing finale last weekend. The summer of cricket is almost upon us!

That CPL Final was an absorbing encounter. With the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots batting first against the Trinidad and Tobago Knight Riders, a big chase looked to be in the offing for the home team, playing at the impressive looking Brian Lara Stadium, outside Port of Spain.

The early demise of Chris Gayle, and a score line of 45/4 at the start of the 11th over changed the complexion of the game though, and the visitors did well to scramble their way to 135/6, thanks in large part to a 5-ball unbeaten 18 at the end from Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi, batting with Carlos Brathwaite.

The Knight Riders, with their strong batting line-up, would have been confident as they started the chase, but their innings suffered the same fate as the Patriots’ as they struggled through a sluggish start. After five overs 29/2 wasn’t where they would have planned to be.

Colin Munro had opened with Sunil Narine and seen him and then Dwayne Bravo depart with only three runs and four balls between them – as Mohammad Nabi took the ball, the Aucklander decided it was time for time get the innings on a firmer footing – three sixes in five balls, 19 from the over, and 48/2 off six told a rather more cheerful story.

Except that three balls later Munro holed out to long on, and then Darren Bravo quickly followed him back, a second victim of Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez. At 90/7 in the fifteenth over the pendulum was swinging back the way of the Patriots, but former West Indian captain Denesh Ramdin was steady at one end, and at the other was the aggressive Kevon Cooper.

With 13 balls to go, 28 were needed, and Cooper eased the pressure a little with a six from the last ball of Sheldon Cottrell’s over. Enter Ben Hilfenhaus, and a demonstration that at times like this in Finals cricket, the pressure can get to the most experienced of cricketers. His first two balls were wides, his first legal delivery cost him two, the next ball was a high full toss, called a no ball, and that was thrashed over cover-point for six. The following free hit went for four more, and the ball after followed it to the boundary. A single and then Ramdin scored the winning run from the last ball of the over.

The Knight Riders had won with an over to spare, and Ben Hilfenhaus will want to forget he was ever thrown the ball, as his two overs for eight became three overs for 30.

Munro had finished with 29, equal top score with Cooper, and while he won’t have been happy to be dismissed when he was, his innings was a very important contribution to the Knight Riders’ victory. He gave the stuttering innings some momentum, and in a low-scoring match his assault on Nabi really put his side into a position where the final assault by Cooper became possible.

Having finished as the top scorer in the competition for the Knight Riders. Munro now joins the New Zealand A tourists in India, in what will be a very important few weeks in the context of his international career.

Meanwhile a number of the home CPL stars crossed the Atlantic to pull on the West Indian colours for a convincing T20 victory over England. For a number of the team it was an overdue return to representative duties and it was fitting that the platform for the West Indian dominance was laid by the veteran Chris Gayle and the exciting Evin Lewis, with their 77 run opening partnership in just six and a half overs. Then it was Carlos Brathwaite and Kesrick Williams who ripped the heart out of the England reply and ensured another T20I win for the team from the Caribbean.

Finally this week, some sad news from England with the passing at the age of just 58 of Jan Brittin, former English opening batsman. Brittin, who played international cricket for 19 years from 1979, averaged 49.6 in her 27 test matches and she remains both the record run-scorer and top century maker in women’s Test Cricket. She also averaged 42.4 in 63 ODIs and in the 1993 World Cup Final her top score of 48 was instrumental in England defeating New Zealand.