Match Report

7 Oct 2017 - First XI (1A) vs Bellville

On: 9 Oct 2017

The Cape Town First XI began their 2017/18 season on a very satisfactory note, prevailing over reigning League champions and competition-format runners-up Bellville in a tight AMA20/20 contest played at the YMCA Field in Rondebosch as their opening Group A round robin match.

Having been sent in to bat in damp, overcast conditions on a pitch of unknown quality (being the "C" Field in the Western Province CC complex that played host to Group A for the season’s opening weekend, the YMCA Field is probably more familiar to Cape Town Cricket Club’s lower teams – the First XI has not played there in at least the past two decades), Cape Town nevertheless began well enough by taking 15 from the opening two overs.  However, once the breakthrough came, left-arm seamer Dirkco Wethmar exploited the opportunity by beginning with a double-wicket maiden immediately thereafter – and matters unravelled quickly from there.  Indeed, by the halfway mark of their innings some 20-odd minutes later, the Plumstead-based outfit were in dire straits at 45 for five.

With little option but to keep attacking though, Clinton Botha led an unexpected counter-attack that produced spectacular results in the 13th over.  Sharing four cleanly-struck straight-drives for six evenly between them, he and his skipper Geoff Dods plundered 28 runs from that over – during the course of which there was also time for Botha to be dropped on 21*.  A third six off Botha’s bat two overs later registered the fifty partnership with Dods from just 30 balls together, and though Wethmar broke the stand in that same over, Cape Town had established a sense of purpose.

Botha continued on for a while longer, striking his fourth six and third four from consecutive overs to reach a 41-ball fifty – a timely provision of his first half-century in 114 innings for the side, over a period stretching back to January 2012.  The final hurrah belonged to Bellville though, as first-change seamer Simphiwe Yiba returned to bowl the final over and, bowling full and straight, ended the Cape Town innings with the first hat-trick between these two sides in 21+ seasons.

With light rain haven fallen during the second half of Cape Town’s innings to further freshen things up somewhat, the victory target of 139 facing Bellville was not insubstantial – and was certainly more than they were expecting to have to chase at the halfway mark of Cape Town’s innings.  That task quickly became even more daunting when Brendan Young knocked over their biggest hitter with the first ball of the Bellville reply.  Darren Rolfe then cleaned up the remainder of Bellville’s top three with his first three deliveries of the match, and at 19-3 they were now the ones at full stretch.

Taking a leaf out of Botha’s book though, Schaughn van Greunen took the fight back to the bowlers, knocking Rolfe out of the attack with a six and two fours off successive balls, and then striking two sixes and a four in a over from his replacement.  That charge took van Greunen from 4* to 42* in the space of just 13 balls faced, playing by far the dominant role in a fourth-wicket 50 partnership that came in only 29 deliveries as Bellville raced to 70 from their first nine overs.

Cape Town held their nerve though, off-spinner Matthew Olsen breaking that stand in the next over as they squeezed the scoring rate over the next few overs to boost the required rate back beyond seven to the over.  A fourth six (to go with four earlier fours) took van Greunen to a 26-ball fifty as the initiative wavered between the two sides, before Olsen snatched it away for Cape Town by dismissing van Greunen in a crucial maiden wicket over.  With a run out following in the over after that too, Bellville had stumbled terminally by losing two for just seven runs over the course of three overs.

Consequently left needing 39 from four overs with just the lower middle-order remaining, the result had effectively slipped irretrievably from Bellville’s grasp.  Young then popped up again with a third scalp to complete his best figures for Cape Town in the format, and though twelve runs came from the final over to reduce the final winning margin to single-digit territory, Cape Town had matters well in hand in the end.