The Pakistani Drill Press, alternative uses for olive oil … if the Rollers were half as creative on the pitch as they were off it, the pre-season tour to Robertson would have ended in a resounding victory rather than a five-wicket defeat.
The good news, however, was that this time we avoided the police, and we also managed to keep our clothes on for the entire trip.
Nonetheless, it was a disappointing start to the season – one in which we hope to go unbeaten and return to the glory days when the Rollers went almost four years without defeat.
It all started well enough though – losing the toss, the Rollers were asked to take first strike on a wicket that offered very little in terms of movement and which sported a lightning quick outfield.
However, the rust soon started showing as both openers, Ryan Cooper (6) and Nicky Rheeder (2), were back in hut inside five overs, with Rollers old-boy Gerald Jooste picking up both wickets.
Hannes Moore and Cornell Keulder came in to stabilize the ship, but Kepler (9) was soon cleaned up by a beaut of an inswinger, followed by Hannes Carlson, who lofted a drive to cover to head back for a duck – still in search of his first tour run in four attempts.
Abrie Esterhuizen, coming in as a late replacement for Wayne Moore, joined Cornell and looked solid in the middle overs. He made it to 16 before skying one, but not before he had helped set up an excellent platform for the closing overs.
Neville Cooper took advantage of said platform, coming in and looking classy as ever from the word go. He and Cornell flayed the bowling to all parts at a rapid pace before both fell in the 40s – Cornell stumped for a patient 46, while Neville was bowled around his legs for a quickfire 44.
Louis Pretorius (8), Ross Kennedy (9) and Nico Rheeder (0) fell in quick succession thereafter, but a target of 182 at just over six per over still seemed a very unlikely prospect, especially with the bowlers at the Rollers’ disposal.
After a very ‘educational’ teamtalk by Cornell, that target looked even more unlikely when Kepler – returning from the backwaters of Nature’s Valley – bowled a maiden in his first over, while Ryan cleaned up the one opener with a slower ball. Then came Schalk …
This man-mountain Schalk Burger lookalike strode in and cover drove his first delivery for four, then smashed a backfoot drive, two-bounce boundary off the second. His intention were crystal clear by the third ball when he almost swung himself off his feet. Had he connected, the ball would have had to be collected in Ashton.
Worse was to follow… Kepler, after two good overs, got smashed for 23 in his third – with only a molehill standing between him and six successive boundaries in the over.
It was time to play the trumpcard, and Cornell duly delivered by cleaning up Schalk with his third delivery – but not after he had scored 38 to see Robertson going at nine runs to the over.
Gerald joined the other opener and continued to chip away at the target, capitalizing on a number of dropped catches (most of them very hard, it must be said), before being bowled for a very good 22 by Louis, who looked spent after four overs – no doubt the result of tongue-wrestling some local the night before.
Drinks proved a welcome partnership breaker for the Rollers, with Casper (2/26 in five) picking up two quick wickets after the resumption to give the visitors a glimmer of hope, but their captain and another prop forward named Kobus had other ideas, taking them home with some lusty blows – and five overs to spare.
The win was tainted slightly by their reluctance to have a drink with us, but the Rollers managed to get by just fine – enjoying a proper fine session late on, with the new ‘chair’ of Casper and Haas leading the way in fine style.
Once again a massive thanks to Gerald for his hospitality (disappearing act notwithstanding), and to Angela and the other WAGs for looking after the boys.
The season proper starts on October 24 at Bellville, so let’s get our shit together and start with a resounding win.