Civil Service 2nds v Merrion 4ths 7 June 2021-06-06

There cannot be many cricket grounds that provide a back ground noise of hungry lions, but Civil Service one of those that do. On a Bank Holiday Monday, The Zoo is busy and the lions are hungry but it is also the day that cricket restarts.

While “Senior” cricket hogs the limelight in terms of coverage and prestige, the reality is that the vast majority of cricket is played below the senior line and this season I hope to travel around many different grounds, sampling cricket where the game is being played for pure enjoyment, where players sign membership forms rather than long term deals.

Minute's silence

When the fixture list came out, a quick perusal made the opening fixture an easy one. There are few nicer spots than the Phoenix Park and few more welcoming clubs than Civil Service. They have received a bounce with 25 new members and a record number of teams, six, in their long history, so I was happy to head on to one of the original homes of park cricket in Dublin.

The sun was shining and when the home side won the toss, unsurprisingly they opted to bat on a good looking wicket with the boundary favouring the clubhouse side. It has been a while since a game has been played at least that is the excuse we offer for opener Joshi only appearing with one pad.

Once suitably attired he smacked his second ball to the boundary to get his side moving. Joshi and his partner Jadhav got Civil Service off to a flyer notching up 31 in their first 3 overs, Joshi with a nice style, Jadhav more muscular.

The first wicket fell in the 5th over when Sean Sandys had Jadhav caught at extra cover. Sandys was bowling very nicely and with the introduction of Grant Glutz and his off spin the run rate slowed a little. Sandys picked up his second and third with well taken catches and while Sabby struggled initially with his timing, Merrion pulled themselves back into the game.

The lovely setting of Phoenix Park

13 year old leg spinner Sebastian Dijkstra bowled a nice spell until Sabby rediscovered his touch and he and Mistry made use of the short straight boundaries. Merrion may feel that they allowed the batting side back into the game at the back end of the innings and certainly a total of 32 extras in the total of 182 gave the home side a boost that they were happy to accept.

The visitors will be happy that they took every catch on offer and fielded well throughout. A good start was needed if Merrion were to successfully chase the total down but excellent bowling in from Binz Thambi and Shah made sure it was steady rather than spectacular.

The change bowlers of Sheddy and Javad continued the excellent work of the openers and at the half way stage Merrion were 70 for 2, still a long way from the goal. Cue a disastrous run out after a slip and the game looked up, but Glutz and Dubey hung in before cutting loose.

Action from the game

Dubey hit Shetty for two magnificent straight sixes before a dodgy call for 2 meant he was on his way back to the pavilion. Glutz kept going passing his 50 in the 13th over and ending on a very well made 86, but in the end it was just too much of an ask.

While Merrion finished on 172 they will rue the extras conceded. They can look forward to better days and their four young bowlers will undoubtedly learn and develop as the season progresses.

Already Civil Service look a formidable outfit with strong batting and tidy bowling. So the season is off and running and while the result had an importance, it was great to be out watching, playing and talking cricket in a convivial atmosphere.