The MNC 50s squad had their last regional outing as veterans' cricket came to Gloucester. With the help of local James Laurie, a long term MNC rep, the Gloucester locals have been gathering enthusiastically to join the burgeoning numbers in the coastal areas.
Merewether 50s came up from the big smoke after a washout down there earlier in the season and after the overnight storm, it was a credit to legendary local curator Ken 'Swampy' Garland and his helpers, that the wicket was in good shape and covered. It came up beautifully and provided a good cricket wicket for the match.
Laurie had a number of Gloucester locals join with other seasoned MNC reps from Port, Wauchope, Taree and Forster. It was wonderful to have Graham Westley, Rob Lamb, Brian Holstein, and Darren Yates debut for MNC 50s, while Tony Kingston stepped up to help out the 10 man Merewether squad and did a super job for them with the ball and in the field.
Batting first, the MNC side encountered a very good bowling unit who made scoring difficult throughout the innings. At 2/28 off 10 overs, it was a bit of a grind as the middle order struggled against a quality attack and in oppressive conditions. However at 2/69 at the halfway mark of 20 overs, there was something to launch from.
Unfortunately, it ended up more like a Cape Canaveral calamity as the runs became drought-like and the next 10 overs saw only 23 scored for the loss of two more wickets. The last 10 overs saw a reasonable 67 scored for the loss of 5 wickets to see the total end at 9/159. Westley showed his class with 32 off 39, Rob Lamb kept the innings together with a solid 25 off 43 and Darren Yates ramped up things with an excellent 34no off 27. In addition to that, local ring in for Merewether, Kingston took 1/13 in a tight spell and was squirting all over the place in the field. He must have fielded more balls than any other in his side. Andrew Emery, heading to Brisbane in a week with the NSW 50s for matches against Queensland was excellent with 1/27 off 7, while Andrew Daly likewise showed his class with 3/26 off 7.
When Merewether was 1 for 6 it was a positive start for the locals but then the Merewether number 3, Keith Lang, who had played for the Division 1 MNC Marlins at the State Titles in Orange, took to all the bowlers in a whirlwind 30 retired. At the 20 over mark, the visitors had momentum on their side and at 4/96 they were well placed.
The home side fought back and with a wicket here and there and some tight spells among sensible batting by the visitors, the game was on a knife-edge at 7/139. Merewether's ability to hit the loose balls for four was the difference and they secured the win with 8 /164 in a good battle. Holstein took 1/32, Westley 1/14, and Lamb 0/12 in good contributions with the ball. Wauchope's Mick Thomas bowled hand grenades of above the eyeline bombs to grab key wickets and 2/35, whilst Forster's Alan May, also making his MNC debut, snagged 2/28 in a good spell. Port Macquarie's Glen O'Brien fielded superbly and took 1/12 off five quality overs to earn the team's match ball whilst Darren Yates was judged Man of the Match for the home side for his excellent batting and fielding. Merewether's batsmen all did well with Lang returning to finish off the game with 38 no, skipper Stephen Leathley hit a stylish 27, Andrew Emery a fine 30 retired, along with Andrew Daly 27 no who held the chase together to back up his excellent bowling. He was awarded MOM by the Coasties.