Mount CC: 185/7 (35 overs) – Smith 71, Abel 54*
Southend & EMT CC: 189/5 (34.5 overs) - P McKeon 2/23, Sanz 1/25, Boyce 1/30
Southend win by 5 wickets
With several players unavailable either due to injury or prior engagements, our rematch with Southend always looked like being a tough match and so it proved. Mount won the toss, elected to bat, and got off to a good start with openers Steve Johnson and Ged Williams putting on 46 for the first wicket before “Johnno” became the first batsman to depart. This triggered something of a collapse with no. 3 Waj Ahmad next to go followed by Ged before both Martin Hare and skipper, Ilan Frankel came and went cheaply. 46/0 had quickly become 58/5. While wickets tumbled around him, Noel Smith stood firm and was joined by debutant Andy Abel. These two steadied the ship before gradually taking on the bowling and setting Mount on the way towards a respectable, and hopefully, defendable total. Noel, wisely batting cautiously at first, soon warmed to the task and took the battle to Southend’s attack. At the other end, Andy was a revelation, hitting regular boundaries in a well-paced innings. This partnership put Mount firmly back in the game and was worth 106 when Smith finally fell for 71. Andy, joined by Dan Deadman, carried on the good work and the pair added 21 before Dan fell to the last ball of the innings as Mount closed on 185/7 from their 35 overs. Andy passed 50 without noticing – assuming the applause from the side-lines was for something else and ended his knock on 54 not out. An excellent debut and highly valuable contribution.
The bowling attack was most severely depleted by injury and lack of availability so some creative thinking from the skipper was required. With only two regular bowlers, Paul McKeon and Dan Deadman in the side, it was time to roll up the collective sleeves and muck in to protect that score. McKeon and Ged Williams opened the bowling and our injury curse struck almost immediately – Ged pulling up with a hamstring injury after just 3 balls of his first over! Oscar Sanz, making only his second appearance for Mount stepped in to replace Ged. McKeon and Sanz bowled beautifully – “PMac” building pressure with a miserly opening spell of 5 overs for just 11 runs, and Oscar taking a wicket in his first full over. Mike Boyce replaced PMac and removed “ex-pat” Mountie, Matt Elmer for 10. With the score at 53/2 in the 15th over, Mount sensed an opportunity as Southend approached the half-way point behind the required run rate. However, they did have their best pair, Butler & Sibbons together and were sure to try to go after that weakened attack. Deadman and Smith replaced Boyce and Sanz and an interesting contest ensued – this period likely to be decisive. Both bowled well without reward and with these attack-minded batsmen managing to up the run-rate as expected, the game was still in the balance. After 30 overs the score had moved on to 155/2 with 186 the target - 31 required from 5.
Back came McKeon, and what a return! 2 wickets in his first over saw opener Butler finally go for 61 and a second ball duck for the incoming – and quickly outgoing no. 5. 160/4 now the score – 4 overs to go. “Deadly Dan” finally got a reward for his efforts with the final ball of his final over, trapping their no.6 for another second ball duck. 163/5 - 3 overs to go – 23 required and a good chance for Mount now…. but ominously Sibbons was still there.
PMac bowled his 7th and final over, finishing with an excellent 2/23. Now 2 overs left and 16 required but with the “frontline” bowled out, it was left to Smith and Boyce to see us home. Both did well but Sibbons was not to be denied taking 6 off the penultimate ball of the 35th over to win an enthralling game that went down to the wire.
An excellent team performance once again and one that every member of the team should be proud of. Some excellent individual performances and great team spirit just not quite enough on the day to overcome good opponents and a not inconsiderable slice of bad luck.