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Israel Night League review: December 5

Frost bite is an occupational hazard of the Israel Night League, where crazy olim (joined by a few even crazier Israelis) play cricket outdoors during the winter in Modiin on floodlit basketball courts.

    Earmuffs are a standard umpiring equipment, and rambunctious sight of Israeli teenagers invading pitches are a continual challenge. Welcome to a world of brutish Aussie fast bowlers, wristy Sri Lankan batsmen, crazy Kiwi fielders, obnoxious Afrikaans sledgers, and immaculate English wicketkeepers (which is a lot more than England can boast right now). And so, onto what has unquestionably been the match of the season.

    Gold A, after narrowly missing out on the Division One finals last season, had the best transfer window of the summer in the shape of the three 'legendary' Olwyn all-rounders. Rael, Dovi and Avron Olwyn hail from Johannesburg and regularly manufacture runs from out of the air.

    Gold’s captain, Ilan Peretz, also from Jo’burg, was inspired by the fielding feats of Jimmy Cook, and apparently unable to distinguish between the green grass of South African fields, and the green paint of Israeli concrete courts, continues to throw himself after the ball with such abandon that he now sports bionic joints. He continues to pull off spectacular catches, leaving team doctor Leon to scrape what remains of him off the court after matches. Like Mike Hussey, with Ilan, offering 1000 per cent is only an opening gambit.

    YMCA, a Modiin based franchise and last year’s silver medalists in both league and cup, are yet to win a match this season. Captain Clint Rubin, a former Capetonian known for his Churchillian motivation speeches, has an unblemished record at the toss, having lost his last 14. He duly lost his 15th to Ilan, and taking his lead from Adelaide that morning, Ilan promptly invited YMCA to bat on a distinctly greenish looking wicket.

    Your humble correspondent opened the batting with the squad’s token Aussie, Ian Glass (11) (who currently spends his time updating the squad with ashes scores), facing fellow ex-Capetonian Marc Codron (1-15). Four overs later, with 31 runs on the board, YMCA had started well. Gold struck back hard though, with Rael Olwyn (1-8) and Marc each taking wickets to restrict the second pair to only 13.

    The A’s sent in their powerplay pair and with Srinat (from Sri Lanka, 18) and Warren Lewis (ex-Bafana Bafana, 14), scoring 22, YMCA looked back on track for the 100 they were targeting. However, the 'Bionic Man' was bowling the last over, and with three wickets falling in the last seven balls to his furious pace and deadly fielding, YMCA ended well short of par, with a total of only 84.

    Enter Clint, with a “we shall catch them on the landings and run them out on the beaches” speech, which so fires up the team that new recruit Ramesh (1-7) promptly rips out Dovi Olwyn’s leg-stump with his first delivery, Warren Lewis takes 1-6 switching between fast off cutters and gentle offspin, and it’s game on. In comes the second pair, and on comes Ian, whose full-flighted deliveries tempt the new batsmen. Their eyes light up, their heads lift up, and before you can say KP, Ian has figures of 3-2 and Gold’s total is down to 14 after eight overs.

    Avron (19) and Rael (9) pull Gold back with the best partnership of the match, scoring a fine 28 including the powerplay, and Gold are left needing 27 off the final four with Ilan and Ron at the crease.

    But the pressure begins to tell, and with Ian swooping in from short leg, one run-out follows another and by the end of the over, Gold needs 30 off three overs. Dameeth (1-12) with some cunning legspin, and Srinath (0-16) bowling pace like fire, keep things tight, leaving Ilan (15) needing 16 off the final over to be bowled by Clint. First ball is quick and short - dot. A quick two. A fine drive gets Ilan three. Not enough this. Then the breaking moment. Clint slightly overpitches, Ilan is onto it like a flash, and with a drive out of the AB De Villiers school of controlled brutality, smashes a straight drive through the field for a four plus one. Six needed off the last ball. It's 'money time'. Clint has been here before. Last season, facing the old enemy in the opening match of the season, he needed six off the last ball to win. And did it. He is the man for the big occasion. He has a puff on his cigar, tosses it to vice-captain extraordinaire, Brett the Mountain Hickson, and bowls a massive inswinger and… it’s a wide…NOOO Ilan has hit it, and it’s going for four, no its been stopped, and YMCA have won by four runs!

    The Richard Abelson man-of-the-match is Ramesh, the Hillel Awasker bowler-of-the-match goes to Ian Glass, while your humble correspondent won the Benjy Hockley batsman-of-the-match for his 20. The match was umpired by the Israel national captain, Eshkol Solomon.

    Elsewhere in Division One, Redwood thrashed Kiddush Club Jerusalem, 124/69, with Redwood captain 'Wiggi' taking four wickets.

    Modshem Super Sixes continued their fine run in their debut season by beating YMCA  118/97, with Modshem's Saul Weitzman top-scoring with 30 and Daniel Lange and Garth Kauffman taking two wickets apiece.

    Modshem Super Strikers beat GOLD B 134 – 82 in Division Two.

    This week in Division Two, YMCC play two matches, the first against the winless Israel Academy and then against Modshem Super Strikers, while YMCB play GOLD B.

    In Division One, the high-flying and current champions Modi’in Young Lions with six straight wins come up against a rejuvenated YMCA for whom a win will move them into second on the season before the break for Chanukah.

    By Warren Wienburg

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