Midleton’s Cork T20 Cup run came to a controversial end on a “make up your own rules” sort of an evening.
Midleton won the toss and elected to bat, with Ciaran McGregor and Kuros Mohammadi starting brightly and building up a strong head of steam. Kuros finally fell in the 10th over with the score at 68, and he was replaced by Levis, who continued the good work with McGregor at the crease. With Midleton hitting the boundary, Crusaders’ fielders dropped back one by one, until a total of seven men were outside the ring, two more than permitted by MCU rules. An objection was raised but was overruled as “there had been some rule changes in the competition”, and Crusader’s tactic of loading the edge of the field started to pay dividends as first McGregor departed for 45, followed by mid-order big hitters Manan Gujjar and AtifJameel, both caught by men deep in the field. As always, Majid Sharif offered stiff resistance, even managing to find the cluttered boundary twice, but the catches kept coming, and despite a late drive by Magsi, Midleton’s innings was closed at 128/8.
At the break, the new rules were explained by the umpire, with no apparent field restrictions after six overs. If Midleton were confused by the sudden rule changes, they did not show it, Gujjar catching Kellegher in the second over from Fayez Kahn’s bowling. In the third over, though, things took a decidedly bizarre turn. When a devilish delivery by Majid Sharif carried from Scot Jeffers’ bat to Mohammadi, the Midleton veteran rolled back the years with an incredible catch. Speaking on the day after the game, Midleton’s T20 captain Adrian Stack takes up the story;
“We all started to run in to celebrate what was a fantastic catch and an important wicket when suddenly we noticed the umpire calling a “no ball”. I asked my players to step back and queried the umpire’s call. He started ranting on to me about some guy called Chris who is on some committee and that the rules were changed and if I didn’t like it I should talk to him. I still had no idea what the no-ball was for though! Then their captain starts off about powerplays, which obviously don’t exist in T20 Cup cricket, and the other batsman in a pique of irony starts telling me that as captain I should know all about these new rules. It was a confusing situation to say the least! Finally we found out he’d called it for having more than five fielders on the leg side which was a surprise to myself, Atif, Magsi, and Danish who were offside. I approached the umpire after the game, and he said it was me who had crossed over from my position of long-off. I was relieved he said it was me, to be honest. It’s hard keeping an eye on everyone’s position, and people can wander at times, but at least I knew where I was standing during the run-up and delivery, so I knew the guy had just embarrassed himself. It would have been laughable, to be honest, such gross incompetence backed up by charmless preening from their batsmen, but, well, put it this way; I’ve played cricket for Midleton for two years now, and everyone I talk to goes on about what County is, but anytime I’ve played them at Minor or T20 I’ve found them to be a sound bunch of lads. I guess last night was my ‘induction’ to the Cork County way!”
Midleton was clearly rattled, and the bowling started to suffer as the Crusaders started to increase their run rate. One more wicket was to fall, as Stack took a catch from Manan’s bowling, but in the 18th over the game was put to bed, County Crusaders winning by 8 wickets.
“I really don’t hope people remember this game,” added Stack. “We’ve had a brilliant T20 Cup season, we love the competition and leave with great memories of the tournament. Personally, it’s been an honor captaining the side, and a pleasure playing with the 30 odd players we’ve fielded in this competition over the summer. This has been the only sour note of the our whole Cork T20 Cup season. Maybe we were a bit too nice this season, so who knows, maybe next year we can cheat our way to victory – it seems to be the way things are done these days. It’s a sad state of affairs, but we will certainly have to bring a copy of the rule book and our own umpires to Crusaders anyway next year.”