Cricket is notorious for play stopping for all sorts of reasons, often to do with the weather, and birds – normally pigeons – are frequently mentioned in the radio commentary.
However, Sunday’s match featuring Manderston playing away at Tillside, included an unusual combination of the two.
The scene of this avian interruption was a lovely sunny, if windy, day. Tillside chose to bat first and made steady progress against opening bowlers Dave Ebner and George Farr.
The pitch was hard and the outfield very dry, and on a small ground many shots went to the boundary.
However, skipper Farr struck twice in succession, the first a good catch by his opening partner, the second a superb stumping by kiwi keeper Shaun Walsh.
However, that was the last success for some time as the next wicket didn’t fall for nearly 100 runs as father and son Hector and Ross Hindmarsh piled on the pressure. The latter batting aggressively with numerous boundaries including some huge sixes, though he was lucky to get away with some aerial shots that fell near to fielders.
However, Mark Conington’s looping legspin eventually bamboozled Hector into hitting close enough to square leg for Steven Scott to pull of a blinding catch, leaping high to his right. With second wicket falling in the same over to another great catch, this by Duncan Sim, hopes were high that the visitors could be restricted.
At this point an extra fielder was noticed, determinedly making his (or possibly her) way across the square. Nature lovers to a man, and probably wanting a break from chasing leather, the fielding side ushered this pheasant chick into the long grass near a hedge. Not one to be easily thwarted, the chick found its way back to the centre of the action five minutes later, after which it was formally adopted as 12th bird, given a drink and asked to assist with the scorebook.
After this drama the Tillside innings failed to subside, Ross continuing to bat well until he reached his century, after which he retired to great applause. Atkinson (55) and youngster Joe Bickerton (23) kept the innings going, though the last few overs saw the scoring rate drop as Richard Thomson took two good wickets, including another stumping. However, the total of 212 for 7 off 35 overs looked formidable, even on this ground.
The Manderston reply started brightly with openers Scott (27) and Conington (36) hitting regular fours.
The Tillside fielding was excellent and kept the runs to a minimum. Eventually both openers got out attempting to force the pace. This brought in debutante Lucas Weaver – a visiting Texan who had never played cricket before, but did well to hit eight runs, including a four before being caught.
At the other end, Walsh was batting confidently against some accurate bowling, with some fierce hits particularly behind square. His new partner Sim (28 not out) showcased his test batting skills, demonstrating how to play five perfect defensive strokes and then scoring a single off the last ball of the over to take the strike and repeat the exercise.
With the required run rate climbing, Walsh, having reached his 50, tried to hit Hector Hindmarsh out of the park but missed and was bowled.
Jamie Lindsay came in and struck some powerful blows, including an enormous six, but with risks needing to be taken, more wickets fell.
In the end, Manderston managed a creditable, but ultimately insufficient, 186 for 6, leaving Tillside the victors by 26 runs.