#10: PAUL CUTAJAR – 124 & 3/27 vs PEGS.

VTCA 2nds. Rnd 11, 2012/13.

We enter round 11, the final H&A game of the season. Anything short of a win & either team’s season is over. It’s an elimination final.

PEGS wins the toss and bats. That is their strength. They are patient & they are waiting for the quality of bowling to drop off. But it doesn’t. We bowl 76 overs to them but restrict them to just 135. The wickets are shared around and Tuddy takes 3/27 off 15.

On the next Thursday night at training, we decide not to cover the pitch as Ray & Ian were planning to work on it the next day. I’m at a course in the city & it’s raining. I’m stressing out ringing Ian, trying to make sure the pitch is being looked after. If we don’t get on, both teams will miss finals. Ian assures me everything is fine. As we arrive at Lionheart on gameday, the pitch is as good a batting strip as I’ve seen. Its rock hard, flat & glistening in the sunshine. Ian & Ray have produced an absolute belter.

We get off to a reasonable start with the bat with Frankie & Tyno, but slump to 4/66. This game, and the season, is in the balance. Right here. Right now. Tuddy is batting at 6. Not his favoured position but he is coming off scores of 7, 1, 9 & 14. I explain to him that he is the best punisher of bad balls I’ve seen & that could be of more value to us down the order. He sees where I’m coming from.

The first few balls he faces aren’t pretty. We can hear the PEGS boys chuckling. “Come on Tud”, I’m thinking. “Pull a rabbit out of the hat.”

After a few overs of poking around, Tuddy scorches a cover drive for 4. I look at Budge and smile. “He’s on”.

The runs now pile on as Tuddy torches the PEGS attack, and the PEGS boys now realise they are on the edge of extinction. We fly past their total & now we need bonus points to sure up our chances of a finals berth.

4/66 has become 4/219 when Rash departs on 54. A ripping partnership of 153 at a hectic pace. Rash is having a terrific season with bat & ball – he has been the premier all-rounder of the comp this season. Tuddy finally departs on 124 with the score on 245. He has launched us into the finals. We have scraped into 4thand go on to win the flag!

As we walk off the ground, the PEGS boys are obviously disappointed. I hear someone say, “You gave us no chance. The two pitches you prepared were completely different. You guys were still swinging the ball in the 70th over last week.” Disco turns and says, “The ball doesn’t swing off the pitch mate.” And that was that.



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