Season report BCCC 2015-16 B3s

SENIOR B3 season wrap-up: the debut season of the Apricots

Birkenhead City Cricket Club entered a new team into the men’s senior B3 two-day grade this year. There are myths and legends behind how the team got their rather bizarre name, some say Ali (Javeed Boomaye Ali) just didn’t know how to use the auto correct on his phone, others say the name came from when Jezza (Jeremy Holford) got caught stealing apricots from the local Fruit World.

The club welcomed two new players, Josh Reid (Dugong) and Dylan Collins (Goose). Team management consisted of Ali, Nak City (Ronak Mahant), Kaps (Kapil Lad) and MSD (Matthew Kingsford). The team was coached by Ali.

The strong squad at the start of the season consisted of Kaps, Dugong, Dave the pom (David Clarkson), Monkey (Hamesh Prajapati), Pre (Pretesh Jeram), MSD, Paddy (Paul Rainey, pictured above receiving his award from Javeed Ali), Goose, Ali, Nak city, Lawn Mower (Dexter Henderson) and Jezza (Jeremy Holford). Due to work commitments, injuries and lawn-mowing duties the Apricots struggled weekly to get a full 11 on the field.  However club captain Andrew Gale always managed to lend a couple of players to fill those voids. Chur Gumby.

There were many notable performances; the new imports proved their weight in gold as Dugong was the top run scorer and a vital part of the bowling attack. Goose opened the bowling and with his many variations picked up plenty of scalps. The imports brought a positive attitude towards the fielding side of things; at times the fielding could be described as “ordinary” not to mention any names (butterfingers Ali). However the team was drilled hard by Paul Rainey, aka Paddy, every Monday at training to improve fielding. The drills were so intense it almost led to Pre losing his apricots, but ultimately bruising his apricots at training from a couple of skiers from Paddy. Fielding then became a strength of our team and we started restricting teams and becoming increasingly confident in the field.

The most lion-hearted performance came from Kaps as he took an absolute screamer during the two-dayer against Eden Roskill. After splitting his webbing at yet another intense fielding warm-up, he returned to the field to take a skier with a one-hand reverse cup. It was so remarkable it even brought a tear to the mighty Dugong. There was healthy competition in the squad over the most catches taken, but in the end MSD was a shoo-in with his tidy and consistent work with the gloves.

The Apricots’ strength was its bowling, led by Nak City. His control of the new ball along with impeccable line and length always got the team off to a great start because he was so difficult to get away. The opening bowling combination with Goose was most likely the best in the competition.

The opening pair were then followed by furious pace and aggression from Dugong who at times was very unlucky with many plumb LBW decisions not given out. He Partnered up with that man Paddy again and teams found this second-change pair no let-up from the openers.

Paddy, with his express pace and ability to swing the ball both ways in any conditions along with his experience (old age), proved to be one of the best bowlers in the competition.

The spin department consisted of two wizards Ali and Jezza. Jezza trained hard in the off season with guidance from Master Ali and was the season’s most-improved player. He had the knack of snagging the big wickets at crucial times, his bowling action a skinny Caucasian replica of Master Ali. Ali, also mistaken for Solomona Kata, from the Warriors had also improved from the previous seasons showing what an experienced campaigner he is. He reduced his number of bad deliveries – was it the hard work off-season? Or was it that mesmerising top-knot hairstyle?

Working in tandem with Jezza, the pair strangled batting line-ups leading to false shots. Ali was the leading wicket taker for the Apricots with an amazing 25 victims for the season. The bowling was such a strength for the ‘Cots that Pre, who would feature in any other team’s bowling attack, would only come as a cameo when some hard yards where needed to be put in under the harsh heat of the Auckland sun.

The Achilles heel of the Apricots was their batting. Dugong was a strong starter at the top but the ‘Cots struggled with a lack of experience and application. The batting line-up consisted of some pretty big names including Dugong, Kaps, Monkey, Dave the Pom and Pre. Most of the time, the Cots batsmen got themselves out. Notable performances were Pre’s 60 that came against Suburbs New Lynn in the two-day match, MSD’s 87 against Eden Roskill in the two-dayer, MSD and fill-in Jamie Taylor’s partnership that turned the tide against Eden Roskill. Dugong had many half centuries during the season – the one that stood out was the one against the Sri-Lankan Lions from Suburbs. Dugong battled hard in the heat in chasing a small total and showed the way with excellent application. At times it was painful and frustrating watching Pre bat. He would almost every time get a start and get out, to the disgust of Paddy. He is full of potential and with some work in his offseason on his mental game, watch this space for next season.

One partnership that stood out was the first innings in the two-dayer against Papatoetoe at the back end of the season. Needing only 120 to secure first innings, the Cots crumbled to 90 odd for eight. Enter the cool, calm head of Goose and the young Jezza. The pair battled hard against a Papatoetoe bowling attack that had their tails up, and they looked way beyond their age as they taught some of the more experienced batsmen the importance of application and patience. This lead to securing the first innings and later on that day a maiden outright win for the ‘Cots.

Overall the team culture is strong and the boys seemed to have gelled well with each other even with Paddy’s angry sense of humour and encouragement. The Cots finished their season strongly with an outright win against Papatoetoe and a big one-day win over Eden Roskill.

The story of our season could be described as what if? We came close on numerous occasions to winning games and could have easily taken out the comp but little lack of attention to detail, luck and concentration denied us at crucial times. We already have the best bowling attack and fielding outfit in the competition. With some hard work off-season and guidance from senior members of the squad, the potential-filled batting line-up will round out the unit. Hopefully this time next year, we could be the No 1 team in the competition. For now, Apricots are out of season and will be ripe for picking (off other teams) in about 6-7 months. Till then au revoir and as Paddy would say “F8ck sake’s maan”.

Pretesh Jeram

Most Runs 356 – Josh Reid Most wickets 25 – Javeed Ali
Most 50s 3 – Josh Reid Most Maidens 11 – Ronak Mahant
Highest Score 87 – Matthew Kingsford Best Figures 5/23 – Ronak Mahant
Best Average 42.67 – Josh Reid Best Economy 3.66 – Ronak Mahant
Highest Strike Rate 117.1 – Paul Rainey Best Strike Rate 24.10 – Paul Rainey
Best Average 16.62 – Paul Rainey
Most Catches 12 – Matthew Kingsford
Most Run Outs 2 – Paul Rainey
A.Gale/J.Reid 102 (1st wicket) K.Lad/H.Prajapati 58 (1st wicket)
M.Kingsford/J.Taylor 98 (5th wicket) K.Lad/D.Clarkson 55 (2nd wicket)
M.Kingsford/P.Jeram 74 (5th wicket) J.Reid/P.Jeram 52 (3rd wicket)
D.Collins/P.Rainey 61* (8th wicket)