First XI vs Green Point at Green Point, 26 Nov 2022

Although they showed massive improvement from their previous visit to the Stephan Oval in Green Point the season before, on which occasion the home side had romped home before the lunch break after rolling the visitors for a paltry 56, Cape Town were nevertheless overpowered by Green Point once more – although they did prolong the contest into the final over at least.  However, a lack of bowling firepower on the day meant that the home side were always in prime position with ample wickets in hand, such that the visitors remained rooted firmly in a mid-table position on the Premier League log as the 2022/23 season’s second month ended.

Again choosing to bat first, it didn’t take Cape Town long to realise that they were in for a tough battle on a slowish pitch surrounded by an even slower outfield.  Attacking strokes thus had to be executed with precision, but when left-arm seamer Gerry van Vuuren thus struck with his first delivery to complete the cheap removal of the visitors’ opening pair, matters had not started ideally for the Plumstead-based outfit.

However, the visitors’ former SA U19 opening bat Ethan Cunningham received a full toss with which to get off the mark with the first of four fours, and he thereafter was alone in keeping the scoreboard ticking over as he reached the 30s for the first time in his short Cape Town First XI career to date.  The equally youthful Hampshire recruit Fletcha Middleton helped him stabilise the middle order for a while with a workmanlike innings of his own, but when van Vuuren struck twice more in his second spell to reduce Cape Town to 131-6 with just 15 overs remaining, matters were again drifting away from them.

It was a moment for someone to step up, and having already been missed at slip on 4*, Craig Jeffery assumed that mantle.  Despite this being only the seventh knock of his own fledgling Cape Town First XI career, he had been showing some promising signs in the games leading up to this one.  Missed again at slip, he then struck van Vuuren for four and six off his final two overs to take a little of the gloss off the latter’s figures, in the process himself reaching 30 for the first time for Cape Town.  Consequently, the visitors’ prospects began to look a little better as they entered the final ten-over PowerPlay still hanging in there on 160-6.

Green Point opening bowler Wesley Bedja had other ideas though, and his reintroduction into the attack at this juncture proved decisive.  Striking with his first delivery, he then removed Jeffery as well in his next over to leave any hopes of further progress solely up to the tail.  Brendan Young did strike a defiant six back down the ground, but that was largely the extent of it as Elliott Moses then wrapped up proceedings by bagging the final two wickets in the space of three deliveries with his medium-pacers to leave the visitors just shy of the 200-run mark.

It was not an indefensible total by any teams, and when Cape Town began tidily in the field to restrict their hosts to just 24-1 at the end of the initial ten-over PowerPlay, they were very much still in the hunt with a decent chance of victory.  However, home team opening bat Zak Elkin had correctly assessed the requirements for success in the conditions, digging in firmly as he set out his stall for a long and patient stay at the crease.  He received equally committed support from the other end, and though by the halfway mark Green Point were still only going at three to the over, they had only lost one further wicket and the visitors were already slowly starting to run out of wiggle room.

Gareth Roderick only further cemented that slow downward spiral as he produced an equally determined knock in concert with Elkin, the pair combining in a hardworking stand that only produced its first boundary with the stroke that brought up the fifty partnership.  In the same vein, Elkin had reached his own fifty too in that same over, accumulated from 95 balls faced with just a single four as well.  It thus came as something of a surprise when, having just hit his second four the ball before, Elkin finally succumbed to the temptation of playing a big booming drive and was castled.

His dismissal might have offered an opportunity for Cape Town to take control of proceedings from there, but it was not to be.  Replacing him at the crease, van Vuuren settled in quickly to play a busy innings liberally sprinkled with ones and twos in quick succession.  Still, with 50 needed from the final seven overs, the visitors’ resistance appeared gradually to be tilting the scales in their favour.  Roderick had been there long enough by then though, and he now stepped up his tempo, slog-sweeping a six en route to reaching his own fifty from 68 balls.  Two fours in successive overs from his bat immediately thereafter then raised the fifty partnership between those two, and supported by a host of singles and well-run twos, Green Point suddenly broke free from all of the previous shackles that had seemed might yet get Cape Town home, accelerating to victory as 46 came from six overs.

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