The SCC has been making regular yearly tours to Phuket since 2009, and indeed consider it to be one of the highlights of their cricketing year. Following a huge victory last year, SCC were undoubtedly hungry to turn the tables, while the PCG were hoping to finish the tour season on a winning note.
Going into the match, PCG had split the first two games of the season in very edgy encounters that were decided very late in proceedings, having grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory thanks largely in part to a bizarre blunder in the final over of the match against British Club Bangkok, in which a delivery escaped the clutches of keeper Anthony van Blerk to collide with a stationery helmet behind Van Blerk, costing five penalty runs – and had then edged the ANZA Champs from Singapore by 2 wickets with 6 balls to spare the following week.
After SCC’s 2nd team bus arrived almost an hour late, SCC Captain Ajay Aggarwal won the toss and elected to bat sending the PCG Members into the hot midday heat to field. PCG Captain Jason Robertson stated that his intentions were to bowl first as the captains shook hands before joining their players.
PCG opening bowler Anthony Dupont kept it tight from one end but the usually dangerous and economical Robertson struggled with his run up and released the pressure at the other end.
The classy SCC opener, Andy Beer and his partner David Wright made a solid opening stand of 57 before Johan de Swardt had Wright caught behind by Van Blerk for 25(34) in the 10th over. In the very next over, Van Blerk took his second catch off the bowling of Sameer Kahn, this time Sarat was the victim for 1(2), with SCC slumping to 60 for 2.
Simon Bird then joined Beer in the middle and the two put on an excellent partnership with Bird looking for boundaries while Beer rotated the strike. The partnership was eventually ended with the score on 129 as Bird 39(24) was caught by Kahn off the bowling of Raju Seemant.
Hugh Darwell joined Beer in the middle and kept things going nicely for SCC before falling for 14(12) to a third Van Blerk catch behind the stumps, a second bowling wicket for de Swardt and in the same fashion. SCC however still remained in a strong position at 152/4 after 20 overs.
Beer 53*(53) was forced to retire (half-century) in the following over, but SCC Captain Aggarwal kept the scoreboard ticking over in the later stages of the innings with assistance from Srikanth K 8(16) and Ben Farquharson 15(17) before finally being run out by Jeremy Bootsy (assisted by Robertson) in the final over for 25(22). SCC finished with a competitive total of 221/7 off the allotted 30 overs.
Robertson (6 overs, 45/2) who picked up a couple of late wickets and de Swardt (6 overs, 46/2) were the pick of the PCG bowlers. There was certainly room for improvement however after several catches were put down and extras accounted for an overly high 39 runs.
After the lunch break, PCG Openers Seemant and Paul Evans took the field chasing 222 to win. After a solid start and a couple of nice shots into the outfield Evans 2(4) was caught by Aggarwal off the bowling of Farquharson with the score on 8 in the 3rd over.
That brought de Swardt to the crease and with his girlfriends parents in town and in attendance, he did not disappoint, entertaining them and the rest of the people in the clubhouse by smashing the ball around the ground. One of de Swardt’s shots, a towering flick for six off his legs, put a hole in the back half of the roof of the abandoned building in the snake pit area adjacent to the clubhouse.
Unfortunately on the final ball of the 6th over, bowled by Krishna Kumar, de Swardt slipped as he hit a pull shot. The ball flew over the ropes for 6 runs but he fell onto his back. Requiring assistance to leave the field and go to hospital he retired hurt for 35 off just 14 balls with two 4s and four 6s leaving his team well above the required run rate at 50/1.
The new batsman Bootsy batting at #4 looked sharp and confident from the start of his innings and steadied the ship at one end. The problem was at the other end as the PCG members began to lose wickets in quick succession. Opener Seemant fell for 9(24), caught behind by Sarat off the bowling of Farquharson in the 7th over with the score on 54.
Then the floodgates really opened as Kahn was caught behind by Sarat for 3(8) in the 11th over, Ike Bekker was caught by Bird from the bowling of Bala Narayanan for 4(5) in the 12th over, and Tyler Whateley 1(3) was bowled by Bird in the 13th over.
The PCG score had only progressed to 84 and they were effectively 6 wickets down, de Swardt now no chance of a return to the crease after arriving at hospital and going in for scans.
Captain Robertson who had dropped down the order as wickets tumbled came in at number eight looking to get things back on track with Bootsy and looked good early on. With just 2 balls remaining until the 15-over drinks break Robertson lost focus and tried to heave a straight ball over mid-wicket after planning to defend and was clean bowled for 8(7) by Bird.
Van Blerk who had guided the PCG to victory two weeks earlier against ANZA, walked towards the middle as a heated Robertson ruing his missed opportunity tossed him a helmet. It was a false start as the umpires and fielders returned to the clubhouse for the drinks break a ball early.
With the score at 101-6 at the break and de Swardt in hospital, things were not looking good but Bootsy, batting well took a needed break while the reliable Van Blerk (who had also slid down the order behind Robertson) was set to join him giving the PCG supporters in the clubhouse some hope. Shortly after the break, that hope quickly faded as Van Blerk was caught behind for a 0(4) duck with just one run added to the total.
After a partnership with Dupont of 20, a tiring Bootsy looking to respond to scoreboard pressure fell caught Aggarwal off the bowling of Robert Carnel for 34(41).
With the score on 127, Delano Buchner joined Anthony Dupont for a final wicket stand. The pair fought hard putting on a highly commendable 41 run partnership, the highlight of which was a huge 6 by Buchner (his first ever) off a waist high no ball which sailed over the scoreboard and across the driveway to keep a glimmer of hope for the home side.
The innings and the match were concluded when opening bowler Farquharson came back for a second spell and had Dupont 23(35) caught behind by Sarat (his fourth catch of the game) with four overs remaining, a convincing 53-run victory for the touring Singapore side.
All-round performers, Farquharson (5 overs, 16/3) and Bird (5 overs, 3/27) were the pick of the SCC bowlers.
Following the match, Captain Ajay Aggarwal and his team announced the injured Johan de Swardt as the deserving ‘best on field player’ for the PCG and presented his girlfriends father Tubby with their playing shirt as the good news came in that x-rays had cleared de Swardt of a broken tailbone.
PCG Captain Jason Robertson who along with Ajay organised the tour thanked PCG umpire John King, the SCC umpires Mike Byfield and Peter Salt, scorers Michael Flowers and Craig Morgan plus the clubhouse staff before announcing Singapore’s Simon Bird as the player of the game and presented one of the new PCG shirts to the understated Singapore all-rounder.
Opening batsman Andy Beer and wicketkeeper Sarat received honorable mention. Robertson who also received a shirt also pledged to display the SCC touring shirt along with shirts of the other 2018 incoming tour teams.
Everyone seemed to have a good time and Beer who came well prepared handed out some highly amusing fines to SCC players for various indiscretions during their trip. Discussion was also had between the clubs about a Phuket team touring to play at the highly rated Padang cricket ground in Singapore, stay tuned for further news regarding a possible 2020 return tour to Singapore.
The PCG is hoping to expand the tour schedule in 2019 and encourage competitive and social teams from around the region to tour and enjoy the wonderful game in beautiful Phuket.
– By Michael Flowers