The great game of cricket has reached the aspen-parkland municipality of Red Deer, a 90-minute drive north of Calgary on the QE2 highway. A brand new cricket pitch was constructed there this spring at the Collicutt Centre, a ten-year-old multiple-purpose sports facility.
For the first time in history, a team from Calgary played cricket in the central Alberta city. It was billed as a ‘friendly’ but played rather competitively. Kudos go to Glenmore Cricket Club’s (henceforth called Calgary) skipper Jonathan Bray, originally from the great land Down Under, who, almost single-handedly, organized the match and orchestrated a marvelously commendable job in so doing, culminating in a successful day of cricket.
On the drive to the venue, the weather appeared unsettled, but we kept our fingers crossed that the rains would stay away and not spoil the much anticipated afternoon. For the most part, Mother Nature cooperated.
Jon plugged in 12th-Man (a parody on international cricket) in the car stereo. The language used by the ‘commentators’ Richie Benaud, Tony Greig and Bill Lawry and a few others to describe the on-field ‘action’ is not likely to be repeated on family radio. It is priceless comedy to get anyone ready for a cricket match.
Calgary won the toss and elected to bat. The Red Deer bowling was average and somewhat wayward on the bouncy pitch which did not present any degree of difficulty for the batsmen. However, Calgary lost a number of early wickets through poor shot selections; not a bad strip. A few had trouble getting behind the ball whilst protection their wickets, yours truly included, attributable mainly (one would have to say) to not getting enough practice or playing time this spring due to the wet weather.
The bowlers from both teams found it challenging keeping the ball between the wickets which resulted in a combined aggregate of 100 wides. In contrast, an international cricket match may contain, on average, about 10/12 wides.
Alex Storey was the star of the Calgary batters. He played a sensible innings with a straight bat, defending the good ones and dispatching anything loose all around the wicket until he misjudged one that took out his leg stump behind his back for a splendid 33. Parbinder Singh also played a patient innings for a ‘consolidatory’ 21.
But it was Bobby Gagendra who held the innings together, at a crucial stage of the match, for a thoughtful unbeaten 13. Whilst at the crease, he saw the wides pile up to a ridiculous level.
Calgary ended the afternoon with a manageable 147 all out. Fawad was the pick of the Red Deer bowlers with 5/28. Hussein chipped in with a handy 3/11.
The home team innings started shakily, losing two wickets before 20 runs were on the board. MVP Gagendra was the main destroyer of their chase with figures of 6/18. Their top-scorer was Aziz with 31, followed by Ismail and Richard with 14, respectively.
It is said that catches win matches. Calgary made that obvious, holding on to five offerings: Parminder took 2 whilst Jonathan Bray, Ron Saywack and Neil Honess held one each. Ben Treloar, Jonathan Smith and Kamaal Zaidi were enthusiastic in the field, saving many valuable runs. Over all, the players lent invualble moral support to one another as Calgary charged to the finish line.
Suddenly dark, ominous clouds settled overhead as Red Deer neared victory, needing only 11 more runs to win with the last pair at the crease. The hail and rain left everyone scurrying for covers. After an hour’s delay, play resumed on a wet outfield to see young Ruwan Thushantha clean-bowled the stubborn Aziz by one that kept low. Calgary edged out their nascent opponents by 9 runs.
Jon Smith’s lovely wife Heather provided the scoring for us. She promises to bring her girlfriends to help out next time Calgary ventures up north.