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Historic Tie In Soggy White Stick Trophy

Michael Foster

Anyone venturing from the warmth of their sofa on one of the most miserable September Saturday afternoon's imaginable would probably have been absolutely dumbstruck to find that at a sports club in Ring Commons, close to Balbriggan, history was being made in a cricket match in which the participants could well be found to be certifiable!

Yes folks, despite the persistent heavy, at times verging on torrential, precipitation, the men and woman of NIACUS and LCUSA crossed swords in what turned out to be a nerve jangling conclusion to the cricket season, a match that concluded in dramatic fashion with the first tie in White Stick Trophy history.

The day had started off with a series of communications between the teams, with reports of dryness in Fingal that belied both the evidence further North and the various meteorological forecasting models available on numerous Apps. However, it was agreed that the travelling NIACUS side would delay their departure and a wait and see approach was adopted. Late morning a call was placed and it was agreed, the elements would not win. We umpires are a hardy bunch, and if there was a wee drop of rain around, so what?

On arrival at Ring Commons CC, having aqua-planed down the motorway and come through some conditions you would more commonly expect to find in the sub-continent during the monsoon season, we were informed by our hosts that it had just started to rain about half an hour earlier – though the puddles formed in the car park would suggest that it must have been heavy enough stuff. It was agreed to see how it went over the next hour, and most of the participants repaired to the bar for a little medicinal assistance and the warm fire.

Eventually, at around 330pm the rain relented a little so that it could reasonably described as light, though that was very much a comparative approach. A general "ah sod it" attitude prevailed and we agreed a 15 over slap. Sure it was only "light" rain. And it was, right up until around the call of play by the very brave umpires Bala and Martin. Then it started chucking it down again. But we were out there, and it was unlikely to dramatically improve, we were on a mat, the outfield wasn't too bad (at that stage) so play we did. And we got off to a damn fine start. Openers Ronnie Balfour and Alan Neill put on close to 50 inside the first 5 overs, Neiller cutting his first ball to the fence for 4, and Ronnie smashing it to all parts, and observers who hadn't seen the rest of our line-up were talking about 130 or 140 as the probable tally.

Of course, in these affairs, with some of the participants having a limited exposure to regular cricket (or not having touched a bat or ball for a decade) things settled down. Neiller fell for a useful 13, but Ronnie went on to trouser 39 off 30 balls before he too was sent packing. With the Chairman and the skipper not looking at their most fluent, the run rate settled down. Simon Burrowes at 5 confirmed the early betting exchanges activity that he would pull a fetlock, by doing just that trying to run a quick 2, but a few good blows at the end from Adam Gardner and Billy Adams got us up to a reasonable total of 88/6.

A quick turnaround was called for as the rain had eased slightly at this point, but that proved to be a false dawn. The Leinster innings got off to a quick enough start too with skipper John Andrews flailing it. When he managed to hold on to his bat in the conditions, he was dangerous (he even hit a six over long off where the bat nearly decapitated his non striking partner). Billy removed the other opener with  a helping hand from his own skipper, and a couple of run outs also helped the NIACUS cause before the rain became so ridiculously heavy that there was a consensus to have a break (all bar wicket keeper, Desmond Milne, who refused to leave despite him being almost waterboarded behind the sticks). By this stage the outfield was saturated to the extent that Simon wasn't allowed to field in certain places where he might have been out of his depth, and fielding was treacherous if chasing a ball was involved. Thankfully not many of us employ those tactics so no further injuries were reported.

Anyway, the Leinster boys (and girl – they'd engaged the services of current Irish international, Mary Waldron) were always just that bit ahead of the clock, particularly after a fine stand between John Andrews and Niall Walsh, and come the last over, only 4 runs were required for victory. The ball was handed to the Chairman, Jonathan Kennedy, and an in/out field employed. 4 balls later, the pendulum had swung as 4 dot balls to John Andrews meant his side still needed 3 to tie/4 still to win. The penultimate ball was swung for a couple, making it 2 to win off the last ball. And we all know what happened next.

So the first tie in White Stick trophy history was declared. There was some chat about a super over to determine the winners but by that stage we were like drowned rats, the bar and the fire were calling, so we shook hands and left it as an honourable draw. Leinster decreed that this meant they retained the trophy, we didn't complain – it's a bugger to store and my Mrs had told me under no circumstances was it spending a year at ours!

A tie also meant that a little known rule of the White Stick trophy was invoked, that which states "in the event of a tie, the teams shall swap wicket keepers for the next fixture". One side was happier with that arrangement than the other.

A good shower, a few Guinness, a decent meal, and some good craic later, our gallant side left Ring Commons and headed back up the road. Thanks to all who made the effort to organise, travel and play in the match, and to our colleagues in Leinster for hosting it. We will no doubt see you all again in 2017 for the next instalment.