#5: PAUL CUTAJAR – 37 & 6/40 vs St Albans. Semi Final.

VTCA 2nds. 2010/11.

As I’ve already mentioned, this season involved playing every game
AWAY on a SUNDAY. We have finished 2nd and now face St Albans in a Semi Final at East Keilor.

We bat first but after losing a few early wickets we are 3/22. Tuddy and Amma are now at the crease. St Albans know if they can crack this partnership early, they’ll have one foot in the GF. But Amma & Tuddy knuckle down. They are not batting with their usual fluency, but they are weathering the storm. The longer they are at the crease, the more the pendulum will swing our way. The partnership begins to flourish until Tuddy is dismissed for 37 with the score on 87. Amma finally departs for 62 but the score is now 6/128. Respectable. The tail wags a little & we scrounge out a total of 177 off our 80 overs. We can defend that. And I can’t recall too many games where a team bats 80 overs and loses.

We turn up the next day quietly confident but St Albans launch an all-out blitz on our attack and before we’ve had a chance to settle, they are 1/80 at drinks. We are shell-shocked and we are getting nothing out of the pitch. We need to stop the hemorrhaging. I turn to Tuddy, not for the first time this season. Always up for the challenge, Tuddy knows the importance of his upcoming spell. He has an immediate effect taking a wicket but the runs keep leaking. 2/110. I am starting to think today is not our day.

Tuddy is still bowling – he is keeping things tight. Out of nowhere he bowls a ball that JUMPS off a good length and surprises the batsman. It’s the first ball that has troubled a St Albans batsman all day. Tuddy wants another slip, “Boony. I’ve found a spot. Give me another slip.” I dar not refuse. Within a few balls, Tuddy has hit that same spot, the ball jumps again but this time wraps the batsman on the gloves – caught in slips. 3/110. We are still in a precarious position, but there’s a pulse.

Tuddy is now full of confidence. He has the St Albans batsmen pinned in the corner. The runs have dried up & the wickets are starting to fall. 3/125 quickly becomes 6/127. Now we are in the drivers seat, but Tuddy has now bowled 10-15 overs on the trot. I ask him, “Tud, can you keep going?” He responds, “I’m gonna have to.” I can sense he is loving the occasion. My plan was to replace Tuddy with Binga, but I decide to bring Binga on from the other end to partner Tuddy. Together they attack the stumps with gusto. 8/163. This is now a flip of the coin. BANG! BANG! All out for 163. Adrian & Tuddy have obliterated the St Albans tail. Adrian has figures of 3/55 but Tuddy has stolen the show with 6/40 off 20 overs. Again, it’s another one of those moments that reminds me why I play cricket. The buzz in the changerooms afterwards is enormous.

I drive home thinking, “Without Tuddy, we’re not playing in a Grand Final next week.”



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