Match Report

21 Jan 2017 & 28 Jan 2017 - First XI (1A) vs Claremont

On: 23 Jan 2017

In surprisingly the first encounter between the two sides in a Two-Day match since November 2007, Cape Town kicked off their 2017 leg of the competition with a comfortable win over Claremont at the Boon Wallace Oval.  The home side’s third outright win of the season, allied with other simultaneous results, closed up the race for League honours from what had been shaping into something of a two-horse race at the end of the 2016 leg, into more of a five-horse affair now - with Cape Town still in the mix, some 13 points off the lead with four matches remaining.

The home side’s dominance had been more-or-less unchallenged throughout the game.  It began almost immediately too, with Claremont slipping to 14-3 within the first half-hour after electing to bat first on a pitch offering some life and assistance to the seamers.  Opening bowler Brendan Young gained his side that initial advantage, and though veteran campaigner Zeke Snyman seemed to be repairing some of that early damage, his dismissal by home team captain Geoff Dods immediately after a breakthrough by medium-pacer Marc de Beer on the brink of the mid-session drinks break, triggered a stunning collapse to a disastrous 60-8, barely 1½ hours into the match.

It was a match-defining calamity that they couldn’t really hope to recover from, though they fought back bravely through an 80-run ninth-wicket stand between Kyle Williamson and Keenan Topley.  Helped by some spurned chances in the field, by the time that their gallant 30-over fightback was finally broken some 50 minutes after Lunch, only the stand of 84 between United’s Anees Davids and Abdul-Aziz Temoor in February 2014 had been higher for the ninth wicket in matches involving Cape Town over the past 20 seasons.  Still, with both partners then falling in successive overs, the visitors’ final total of just 144 still represented a substandard tally that put Claremont under pressure for the remainder of the game.

Indeed, Cape Town only further extended their advantage over the next hour, as Clinton Botha survived a life of his own in striking a flurry of early boundaries to guide Cape Town to 48 without loss in reply.  Even though Topley then engineered a mini-breakthrough that dismissed both opening batsmen in successive overs, William Hantam kept the home side moving steadily forward to close to within 50 runs of their guests’ total with eight wickets still in hand.

That was the cue for Topley to get involved once again though.  Striking twice in successive overs, he dismissed both well-set batsmen at the crease, before finishing his spell a little later with a second double-strike to snuff out another developing partnership and complete his five-for.  That left Cape Town six down and still trailing Claremont’s total, but Young then took up the cudgels to subsequently arrest the falter.  Escaping a bungled early stumping chance, he continued his run of good form with the bat since the start of December with another solid knock, giving the home side possession of the always-important first-innings points.

Still, Cape Town led by just 15 runs when their eighth wicket fell, giving the visitors a golden opportunity to get themselves squarely back into the contest despite all of their earlier travails.  However, Dods remained ever competitive, and when now joined by Darren Rolfe, the home side had their own chance to display the value to the final total of having a level-headed tail-end bat with a solid technique.  With Topley resting, the pair took advantage by adding a crucial 42 for the ninth wicket over the next nine overs, putting Cape Town firmly back in command.  As testimony to his value, Rolfe in the process became just the second Cape Town First XI player in the last 20 seasons (after current teammate Matthew Olsen) to reach 500 career runs scored from the numbers ten and eleven batting positions.  Topley duly returned to break the stand and finish with a six-for, but by then the home side had already passed the 200-run mark, Rolfe finishing strongly in the final over to boost Cape Town’s first-innings lead to an imposing 66 runs.

Continuing to turn the knife, the home side then grabbed a second-innings wicket before the close, and then swept aside Claremont’s top-order on the second morning as they once more collapsed dramatically to seven for four within the first 15 minutes of Day Two.  Once again though, Snyman was on hand to prevent a complete disintegration.  With the support of Nicholas Welch in shoring up one end – he went through a patch of scoring just two singles in the course of 44 balls faced – Snyman gradually established himself at the crease and the fifty partnership was posted after some 24 overs of careful rehabilitation.  However, with the first-innings deficit just cleared and Lunch some 15 minutes distant, another sharp piece of work in the field by De Beer brought him his second run out of the morning as Welch was unable to respond quickly enough, and the breakthrough had been achieved.

Still, it took almost another 40 minutes after Lunch before Cape Town could finally crack the visitors’ middle-order resistance, by which time Snyman had fought his way to a 112-ball fifty that included five fours.  Supported now by Leon Botha – who out of respect of the match situation waived his usual forceful batting style and played out 24 consecutive dot balls at one point – Snyman added to further fours in working his way to 63 from 135 balls before eventually succumbing to the temptation to sweep.  Left-arm spinner Tommy Jansen immediately had him lbw, and once spin partner Olsen persuaded Botha too to dance down the pitch soon afterwards, the home side were through and into the clear.  The last five wickets thus could contribute but a mere 45 further runs, most of which resulted from a bright do-or-die final effort of 25 from 21 balls from Nicholas Liedke, and Cape Town were left to get just 94 for victory with more than 60 overs still remaining in the match.

A strike in the very first over of their hosts’ pursuit gave Claremont just an inkling of hope, but that was quickly put paid to by a fluent innings from debutant Jersey teenager Jonty Jenner.  With Mark Ritchie holding up the other end to prevent any further breakthroughs, Jenner cut loose with an array of whips off the pads and carves through the covers, striking three fours in an over and then adding a slog-swept six in the next to take complete control of proceedings.  Their fifty partnership was thus raised in 16 overs, and that stand had grown to 71 from 21 overs by the time that Jenner finally dragged his back foot to be stumped off Williamson just two runs short of his fifty.  His 62-ball knock with two sixes and five fours had left Cape Town needing the formality of just a further 22 for victory though, and despite Williamson striking once more before then, two late legside fours by Ritchie sealed the win - and an impressive haul of 28 points from the match - by some 50 minutes after Tea.