It was the big one. The heathen against the heavenly, the saintly against the sweaty and the prayerful against the players. Sure the cricketers could win but is eternal damnation a worthwhile price to pay for a humble victory?
In true Richie Benaud style (Good morning everyone) we join the Fleckney CC innings at 29 for 2 when Sam Hill (27) joined Dom Daw with the innings circling the plug hole, an ungodly distance from the score they would have wanted to defend.
With credit to both players who would be considered more choirboys than seasoned cricketers they added 54 in a partnership of some patience and commendable promise. Dom had his helmet rattled by Ben O'Reilly who was bowling off a shorter run but with no drop in fervour, however Dom (18) elected to carry on. He should be commended for his attitude but he was only half way to his richly earned man of the match award.
When both departed Bobby Upple found time to swot a few, obstruct the field and still run his own son out. However all this was simply the hors d'ourve to the champagne moment of the day, season or perhaps any point in history.
As poor Rohan Upple departed he crossed over with Scooter Roberts, nursing a depleted batting average from a first ball dismissal the day before. The church XI smelt blood, or perhaps a healthy dose of communion wine.
Brother Yakesh marked out his run up and the fielders moved in close enough to pass the Sunday Skipper his own personal prayer book. He needed it.
The edge was authentic but nobody who doesn't believe in miracles could have foretold Walshy grabbing it one handed at full stretch. We are not sure the phrase 'King Pair' appears in the Bible but it sure exists in Fleckney Cricket Folklore now.
Even though the headline event had passed the contest continued to be even. The actual Father O'Reilly scored 6 more than Scooter (did we mentioned he got a duck???) Tom Leonard swiftly hit 35 and had to retire and the spiritual XI were one run ahead of the rate at the halfway mark.
It would continue to be nip and tuck down the straight. Dom took a wicket to go with his batting heroics, Lachlan again impressed, Nigel's slow bowling deserved better reward than one wicket but catching technique elsewhere was found wanting. In a blinking of an eye it was the final over and five was wanted to win.
Rohan was the bowler chosen and when Knighty ran past a beautifully flighted legbreak to ( unbelievably) give the former Sunday school teacher behind the stumps his third victim of the innings the outcome was a toss up. However that man Yakesh who only felt the need to wear one pad saw the Church XI home. Whether the actual one pad would file a copyright lawsuit is not yet known.
All bad religious jokes aside this was a genuinely lovely afternoon and we hope it continues to be a fixture in years to come. However if Scooter feels the same is unclear.....