Phoenix v Sharks

Sharks, home, lost by nine runs
Sharks 130-6 off 20 overs
Phoenix 121-4 off 20 overs

Finally, after almost two years, we were able to ignore the artificial strip at the Rec.
A maiden wicket lovingly prepared by Graham B and his north-eastern mower turned out to be demon free and the setting for yet another entertainingly tight tussle with the Sharks that featured high-quality play from both camps.
We shared the spoils on the plastic last year, chasing down 120-odd to win the first but ending up strangled in the second with only 91 to aim for. This contest undulated constantly; it was not clear until right at the end which of those previous encounters would be replicated.
It turned out to be the latter: even though we had Ralph at the crease their death bowling was just too tight for the big hits we craved.
Earlier, the Sharks’ stand-in skipper had got them off to a flier, retiring in double quick time, but his absence allowed Faz to swing the pendulum back our way by bowling the other opener.
A double wicket maiden from the Fixtures Secretary further slowed that initial rapid run rate but a stand between two hard hitters put the visitors back on course for 150-plus.
We needed something exceptional to break the spell and Tim provided it with his first ball – an offering so temptingly airy and wide that the gun bat just couldn’t resist striding towards Haverhill Road and somehow slicing into Niall’s grateful hands.
The other bat retired not out though and another would have too had Aidan not run him out going for run number 26. Niall’s arm accounted for a tailender and we were faced with 130 – a decent score in the circumstances but none too scary.
Jeff and Niall began our reply positively against some pinpoint opening bowling and we were able to press the accelerator thanks to a glut of wides and some ruthless legside clubbing from Aidan, who rejoined his team-mates with a four and a six.
Gareth took over and added 15 with another dose of the high-risk hoicking Phoenix fans have come to know and love.
Like the Labour Party, we found the 80s particularly hard going however and only a few balls were left by the time we reached three figures.
Strangely, Ralph had hardly faced any of them – although one was dumped over the pavilion into the horse field for the shot of the match. If anyone could pull it off it was him but the Sharks’ best bats turned out to be their best bowlers and we fell tantalisingly short.

Jeeva retired not out 26
Rammen b Lee 6
Paul b J West 0
Adam c Barber b Harrison 17
Pat c Rolls b J West 0
Ammad retired not out 25
Adeel not out 14
Zak run out 25
Sumit run out 2
Mani not out 2
Extras: 13
Total: 130-6 off 20 overs

F Lee 4-0-34-1
J West 4-1-16-2
S Rushby 2-0-25-0
G Rolls 4-0-15-0
T Harrison 4-0-23-1
R Minter 2-0-10-0

J Wilson b Mani 13
N Barber b Matt 5
A Swain retired not out 26
R Minter not out 20
G Everson b Adam 15
V Biswas b Adam 8
G Rolls not out 0
Extras: 34
Total: 121-4 off 20 overs