At 11/3 matters looked bleak for Selkirk and they looked grim again a couple of hours later when Gala motored to 43/2 off just four overs. 2nd XI cricket, however, is a game of undulating fortunes and it’s to Selkirk’s credit that they kept their nerve and held the line to record a thrilling 13 run victory over a youthful, but spirited, Gala side at Philiphaugh on Sunday.
That triumph had looked most unlikely after Darren Fenton tested the wisdom of the ancient warning not to run on a misfield and was found seriously wanting. Neither John Graham nor Jordan Reid lasted long and at 11/3 there was every chance the Selkirk innings could have become embarrassing.
That it did not owed much to Greg Fenton and Gordon Branston who produced the vital partnership that refloated the innings. Fenton was especially severe on anything on his legs and, one dropped chance aside, seemed untroubled until he casually wafter at a straight ball from Moir and was LBW.
Branston, meanwhile, had already departed the scene but not before he’d stabilised the ship. His dismissal brought Massie to the crease and the skipper nudged and scratched his way to a useful but hardly fluent 20.
Fairbairn and Amos contributed useful lower-order runs as Selkirk sought to bat the full 40 overs. That proved too optimistic a goal though there was much to be said for the Beauty and the Beast last-wicket partnership between Erin Highton and Ian Banks. The former, just 13, was making her debut for the town; the latter, aged 49, is also owed a vote of thanks for volunteering to play when it became apparent that Selkirk would otherwise struggle to raise 11 players.
122, then, was a Goldilocks target: neither too large nor small but just about right and the sort of total likely to produce a close finish. So it proved and did so in dramatic style too.
Gala’s innings was a rum affair from first ball to last. Both, actually, were first-ballers: Jack Halls losing his off-stump to Blair Amos off the first ball of the innings and then, later, Bruce Henry was bowled first-ball by John Graham to seal a memorable, if bizarre, triumph.
The scorecard confirms that no fewer than eight Gala batsmen were bowled. Given the gale-force wind howling down the valleys catches in the outfield became even more of a lottery than is usually the case so it was just as well Selkirk’s bowlers took their cue from the great Lancashire and England bowler Brian Statham’s motto: You miss and I’ll hit.
This took courage too, not least since Mein and Cox had murder on their minds and launched an all-out assault on Selkirk’s bowlers. It was daring stuff and the kind of storm you hope just passes through quickly. Mein was bowled by Graham for 19 but Cox continued on his axe-wielding way. The burly Kiwi had survived one early dropped catch and always, one felt, offered the bowler a chance. Even so, some of his hitting was as vicious as it was annoying. Reid’s first over, for instance, was hammered for 17, Graham was hit out of the attack after just three overs and Amos was twice thumped for six over long-on.
Cox’s 50 cannot have taken more than 30 deliveries. So in the circumstances it was brave – if also necessary – of Amos to keep pitching the ball up. Virtue was finally rewarded when Cox, at last and just in the nick of time, missed one and was bowled for a seal-clubbing 61. A couple more overs of this and the game would surely have been Gala’s.
Thereafter, however, Selkirk bowled full and straight and Gala men obligingly kept missing the ball. Rutherford proved an exception to this general rule when he prodded Graham to short extra-cover and Stuart Scott was reminded that in the Border Reserve League hitting the ball is no defence against being given out LBW. (In this instance, it should be noted, the Umpire was Mr Gregor Mein.)
After 10 overs Gala were 90/5 but with Cox now back in the Pavilion Selkirk sensed that victory was still possible provided their courage held. It duly did as the bowlers recovered from their early battering to bowl full and straight. Credit to them for doing so and to a youthful Meigle Park outfit who contributed mightily to a fine day’s cricket before, obligingly, falling a little bit short of victory.
Next challenge: an away fixture at Kelso on Sunday June 5th.
Selkirk vs Gala, Border Reserve League. Philiphaugh, Sunday May 29th. Selkirk won the toss and elected to bat first. Selkirk won by 13 runs.
Darren Fenton Run Out 5
John Graham b Moir 4
Jordan Reid b Thomson 0
Greg Fenton+ LBW b Moir 40
Gordon Branston ct Cox b Moir 20
Alex Massie* b Pringle 20
Chris Fairbairn ct Cox b Rutherford 10
Mitchell Branston ct Scott b Rutherford 1
Blair Amos b Thomson 8
Ian Banks b Thomson 2
Erin Highton Not Out 1
Total 122 All Out (34.3 overs)
Bowling: Thomson 7.3-0-24-3, Moir 8-0-17-3, Pringle 5-0-32-1, Anthony 5-0-17-0, Rutherford 5-0-12-2, Halls 4-0-13-0
Jack Halls b Amos 0
Gregor Mein+ b Graham 19
Willie Cox b Amos 61
Robbie Pringle b Amos 3
Craig Thomson b Reid 4
Jason Anthony b Reid 4
Stuart Scott* LBW b Amos 1
Dean Moir b Reid 0
Allan Henry Not Out 7
Liam Rutherford ct Reid b Graham 2
Bruce Henry b Graham
Total: 109 All Out (16.2 overs)
Bowling: Amos 7-1-44-4, Graham 4.2-0-43-3, Reid 4-1-17-3, M Branston 1-0-6-0