Cricket … it’s a funny old game. One day you chase down 270-plus with five wickets and eight balls to spare, the next you implode spectacularly and score a whole 200 runs less on flattish track and lighting quick outfield.
And that, in a nutshell, is what the Rollers’ batting has been all about in the last few months … a bit of shit or champagne, if you like.
It was definitely the latter on Sunday at the picturesque Claremont Cricket Club, where we arrived in high spirits following an exciting last-over victory against Scorpions last week.
Our spirits were further lifted when captain Neville Cooper won the toss and elected to bowl on a wicket that was under the covers for a day-and-a-bit following some rare and much-needed rain in the Western Cape over the weekend.
And it was all going according to plan early on when the hosts were reeling at 16/2 following early strikes from Andrew Young and Cornell Keulder, who produced a peach of a delivery to get rid of number three batsman Paul Verney.
At the other end, Bruce Sharp was flourishing with his gung-ho approach, smashing his way to 43 before nicking off a perfect away swinger from ‘Bruce Banner’.
Three more quick wickets fell to leave the Gents struggling at 84/6, before Richard Gill and the ever-enthusiastic Kyle put on 30 for the seventh wicket. And with the rest of the tail also wagging, the home side crept their way to 154 – better than expected at one stage, but well below par on that wicket and with that outfield.
And the Rollers, cocksure after their heroics in the field, started the chase in fine style as Jacques Laubscher and Nev made their way to 29 before the latter played around a Yorker and was castled.
Ryan Cooper came in at three and together with Scooter took the score to 38, just needing another 117 with nine wickets in hand … easy as you like.
What happened after that is exactly where our name comes from, though this ‘roll’ was as spectacular as this writer has seen in his more than a decade’s association with the team.
Scooter departed for 12, Ryan (5) played what is best described as an ‘utter kak shot’, Hannes Carlson was given LBW by Gunsmoke Hillman, and Tim tried his best to beat Ryan in the kak shot stakes – and ultimately succeeded. The Arjuna Ranatunga-style departure from the field summed it up really.
So 56/5, but there was still hope as Hannes ‘Kepler’ Moore strode to the wicket for his first game in almost a year. But hope soon turned to despair as Bruce Sharp bowled him neck and crop for a single, before Ross Kennedy was run out without scoring and Hannes Engelbrecht (one of only three players to reach double-figures) was caught at slip.
Cornell was our last hope but was also castled for 1, followed soon after by Andrew as the Rollers were dismissed for a paltry 72 – potentially the Rollers’ lowest ever total, although no-one can be arsed to go dig and investigate.
Still, all was not lost as the Rollers regrouped an enjoyed a good few drinks afterwards with the Gents, who were excellent hosts as always.
So we have two weeks to lick our wounds and reflect on the loss before coming back strongly and moering Gardens on February 24.
Jacques Laubscher 12
Neville Cooper 21 (3×4)
Ryan Cooper 5 (1×4)
Tim Sant 6
Hannes Carlson 4 (1×4)
Hannes Engelbrecht 15
Hannes Moore 1
Ross Kennedy 0
Cornell Keulder 1
Michael van Dewenter 5*
Andrew Young 2
Cornell Keulder 6-0-25-1
Andrew Young 7-0-34-