The Village Greenies have recorded a historic double after returning from the annual Sarasota Six-A-Side International Cricket Festival with both the social league shield and for the first time the festival league trophy.
Fielding their strongest team for some years, the Greenies 1st team made their way unbeaten through the group stages to set up an all green semi-final against the Greenies 2nd team.
In the semis the Toos put up a spirited effort with the bat, posting 120 off their 10 overs, with Ryan ‘Hammer’ Eisenhammer and Ian Rotsey putting up a strong argument for being selected in the first team, both scoring the maximum 35 runs before having to retire.
At the halfway stage, Greenies 1 were looking slightly concerned, however solid performances from their guest professional, former Surrey captain, Rory Hamilton-Brown (who was assisted by some extremely benevolent fielding), captain Chris ‘Crush’ Palmer and Ryan Bovell put the match out of the reach of Greenies Too.
The game was wrapped up with an over and a half to spare, bringing about the prospect of a final with their nemesis Huston Memorial.
Houston took a batting line up unchanged for several years, opening up with Jimbo ‘Son of Mike’ Gatting and USA international Ryan Corns, who was in sublime form throughout the tournament.
Corns in particular got off to a flyer and was forced to retire with his 35 runs fairly early. Palmer then took a good stumping off Hamilton-Brown to account for the number 3 who was also scoring freely.
A combination of good bowling and attacking fielding starved Gatting of the strike and staunched the flow of runs, and Houston finished up their 10 overs for 118, a moderate score.
Opening up with Bovell and Hamilton Brown, Greenies knew that a fast start was essential. After a couple of sighters, Bovell unleashed a flurry of savage shots.
Hamilton-Brown played around a straight one to be removed for 20, making way for captain Palmer. The brutality of Bovell merged with the elegant stoke play and relentless running of the skipper, turning 2 runs into 3 on numerous occasions.
With Bovell scoring his 35 (16 balls) the Greenies were up with the run rate but only just.
A first ball duck by a disconsolate Reggie Barker trying to smash an inviting, floated offering, however, put the pressure back on the Greenies.
Left with 22 to win off 12 balls, Alessandro Morris looked to put it out of doubt with a towering 6 over square leg, followed by 4 more behind square.
A few crucial dot balls however left a very nervous Greenies team, none more so than next man in Neil Sellars, requiring 7 off the last over.
More sharp running by Palmer made it 2 runs off 3 balls. A nervous dot ball followed, and memories of previous failures flooded back into the collective and cavernous consciousness of the Greenies.
Morris however cleverly used the outside edge of his bat to usher the next ball to the boundary, sparking huge celebrations amongst the Green throng. Palmer was hailed the hero with a quick fire unbeaten 32.
Earlier in the day, the Ever Greenies got the ball rolling with an imperious win over the other Houston side, The Nomads, in the social division.
Having been beaten earlier in the tournament by the same team, The Ever Greenies knew that this was not going to be a walk over.
Ever Greenies elected to field first after winning the toss and skipper Dave McGrath called for much tighter bowling than the previous effort.
Having dropped himself for the previous match following indifferent form, McGrath was feeling more pressure than most.
He need not have worried however as brother Pete McGrath, Ian ‘Beefy’ Goodall and Dickie Sawle Thomas all went for parsimonious figures.
Even skipper McGrath went for less than 10, leaving Marc ‘Sparky’ Randall, fresh from therapist Steve Smith’s chair to recover from the bowling yips to round things off with a respectable 12 run over.
The total of 44 from their allotted 5 overs was always short and despite a first ball golden duck from birthday boy Charlie Adams and the best efforts of Pete McGrath and Sparky Randall, the total was reached with well over an over to spare, with wides being comfortably the top scorer.
With the first trophy of the day won, all eyes were on the firsts to repeat the show against the senior Houston side. Thankfully for their legions of supporters, the Green Machine did not disappoint.