Match Report

2 Dec 2017 & 03 Dec 2017 - First XI (1A) vs Claremont

On: 5 Dec 2017

The Cape Town Cricket Club First XI’s first match at the Burt Oval in Constantia in over ten years (disregarding a T20 match played on the B field last season) produced a classic contest that ultimately went the home team’s way, giving Claremont only their second Two-Day victory over Cape Town since March 1997 (an occasion on which they had bundled out the visitors for just 20).  The result this time cost Cape Town the two positions on the Premier League points table that they had just gained from their victory in the previous round, slipping the Plumstead-based outfit back down to eighth on the twelve-team log.

Electing to bat first on a pitch that offered more pace and bounce than they have become accustomed to from their own home ground of late, Cape Town quickly found themselves firmly on the back foot as Claremont’s new-ball pairing of Marvin Williams and Richard Slatem wasted little time in reducing them to 19-4 within the first 45 minutes.  The dominance of the seamers was a sign of things to come too, as the weather quickly clouded over to produce conditions that relegated the spinners to just a supporting role for the bulk of Day One.  The visitors attempted to stem the tide for a while thereafter, but benefitting from Cape Town's general inability to curb their natural aggressive instincts for too long, the home team’s spinners did play a role in subsequently further reducing Cape Town to 53-6 by half an hour prior to Lunch.

Salvation of sorts was to be had, however, as the visitors’ skipper Geoff Dods, returning after having missed their previous match, knuckled down at this most opportune of times to play probably the finest of his 182 innings to date for the side.  Content to occupy the crease and turn over the strike with singles for the most part, his subsequent alliance with relative newcomer to the side Bradley Petersen, formed the perfect combination of parry and thrust.  Petersen scored freely at a-run-a-ball from the outset, but both stepped up their pace noticeably after the Lunch interval as the 60-over cut-off point loomed.  The first six overs after the resumption thus cost 42, as the fifty partnership was raised in twelve overs together (Petersen contributing 72% thereof).  The latter then reached his maiden half-century for the Cape Town First XI, from just 44 balls faced (including eight fours).  Dods followed with his own fifty three overs later (from a determined 122 balls, with six fours), in the process passing 2 500 career runs for the side.  Four overs after that, the pair took their stand to the three-figure mark – only the second hundred partnership for the seventh wicket that the Cape Town First XI has managed in the last 21 seasons, behind the 123 added by Kyle Coetzer and Mark Ritchie against UCT back in October 2004.

Eventually it took a run out to break the stand, with just 7½ overs left to bat - Petersen being sent back too late to end a 61-ball innings that included nine fours.  Capitalising on that fortuitous breakthrough, the pairing of leg-spinner Kyle Williamson and the left-arm orthodox spin of his captain James Cameron-Dow then quickly wrapped up the remaining batting, claiming both Dods (65 from 154 balls) and the last two wickets within the space of seven balls, without conceding a run.

Having allowed their guests to recover from 53-6 to a relatively decent total, Claremont remained firmly under that pressure as Brendan Young – making his 100th appearance for the Cape Town First XI in a career stretching back to the penultimate day of the 2008/09 season – then ripped through their top order with the new ball.  In another incisive opening burst, it took the paceman just 15 deliveries to have the home side wobbling at 31-3 in reply, leaving control of the match up for grabs to whoever chose to seize it.

Claremont had batting depth to call on though, and the experienced James Crowson and Zeke Snyman set about repairing the early damage in a 19-over stand of 58 that lasted until 40 minutes after Tea.  Once that breakthrough was finally achieved when Crowson edged to slip seven short of his fifty though, Young used the opportunity to make further inroads into the home team’s line-up – and notwithstanding a bright knock of 31 from 29 balls from Quintin Dreyer that included six fours, matters were left evenly poised going into the final hour of Day One at 142-7.

Any hopes that Cape Town had of grabbing the useful first-innings points were thwarted by a patient innings from home team keeper Nick Russell though, who entrenched himself at the crease to counteract a regular turnover of partners at the other end.  Still, visiting off-spinner Matthew Olsen brought Claremont’s last man to the crease with the first-innings scores tied.  However, Russell survived a chance offered to deep square leg to usher the home side into the lead, and then - following a confusing break in play for bad light that seemed to have spelled the end of the day’s play – controlled a brisk 20-minute session following the resumption to boost Claremont’s lead to a useful 24 runs before he was run out.

When play continued the next morning, that modest lead assumed greater proportions as Cape Town’s struggling top order this season once again crumbled.  Under immediate pressure by losing a wicket to just the second ball of Day Two, the visitors seemed to be stabilising matters again - only to then fall apart against Williamson’s leg-breaks on a hot and sunny second morning.  Striking twice in his first ten deliveries, he went on to dominate the Cape Town batting completely, and with assistance from paceman Williams, by ten minutes prior to Lunch had reduced the visitors to 81-7.

This time there was to be no rescue effort, and though Dods once more tried hard in another marathon effort of dedication that showed up his top order badly, his two-hour vigil for an undefeated 46 went largely unfulfilled due to a lack of support.  Williamson thus duly completed his five-for by 15 minutes after Lunch, after which he again joined forces with Cameron-Dow to roll up the remaining batting and set the home side just 114 to win with half the day still remaining.

Whatever their batting frailties though, Cape Town are traditionally a side that will keep the contest alive until the bitter end – and once more they didn’t disappoint in that.  Any complacency that Claremont might have been feeling would have quickly evaporated in the face of another clinical new-ball assault.  This time it was Darren Rolfe who led the charge, striking three times in his first two overs to again leave the home side reeling at 20-3.  Not to be outdone, Young then chipped in with two scalps of his own before the Tea interval, and it appeared to be anyone’s game at the break with Claremont in severe strife at 35-5.

Cometh the hour cometh the man though, and Cameron-Dow stepped up to lead from the front in a classic demonstration of how to knuckle down, do the hard work and fight for what you want.  Beaten with almost metronomic regularity outside the off stump, he remained unfazed - and happy to leave anything that he didn’t need to play.  Fully aware that time was not an issue, he eked out just six singles and a two from his first 103 balls faced, becoming an immovable presence that gradually absorbed Cape Town’s energy and turned the tide for the home side.  Cape Town had their chances though, dropping him twice off sharp chances when on 1*, but having survived that - and especially once he joined forces with Dreyer – the match slid ever more irretrievably from the visitors’ grasp.

It was Dreyer that landed the death blows though, striking six fours in an aggressive 42 from 58 balls while sharing a 57-run stand with Cameron-Dow that effectively put the match to bed.  Though Dreyer was eventually lured into attempting one shot too many, falling just 24 short of victory, Cameron-Dow remained to the end to guide his side home – finally coming out of his shell to strike two fours and then the winning run in the space of four balls.