A particularly strong and spritely IZA XI arrived perfectly on time (5 minutes before) to a picturesque setting at Weigall oval to view an incredibly eager Sydney Grammar First XI finalising a rigorous warm-up.
The annual fixture serves as a tune-up for the SGXI ahead of their season and a wake-up for the IZA XI still feeling heavy (especially myself) after the Christmas break blowout. The IZA skipper true to form lost another toss and we were sent into the field in almost sub-continental conditions with heavy smog.
A solid start from the SGXI and quality bowling from our star studded opening bowling partnership of Taylor and Burgo (Michael Burgess) produced a holding pattern for the first 5 overs with a couple of early wickets for good measure. Whatever backyard cricket game / drills the Hodge family were doing over the Christmas break certainly paid dividends for the IZA XI with the two combining for 3 incredible run-outs, 2 of them direct hits. Within 3 overs of spectacular fielding SGXI were reeling.
Of particular highlight was Mark (Factor) Hodge hitting one stump from point with a side-arm rocket, and just like that there were flashes of the Australian ODI invincibles, rather than a team who may have overindulged one Christmas too many. If you thought the highlights were over, you were wrong.
Craig “Wiz” Hambleton (Craig Hambleton) capped an incredible day in the field with his 600th IZA wicket, a hooping outswinger that stuck in the keeper’s glove out of some miracle. An incredible achievement from the club stalwart and was fantastic to witness both the 500th and 600th.
The innings had a slight rear-guard ended by Chris Payne actually catching one once and we bowled them out for 115 which look about par considering the slow outfield. A couple of lusty blows and excellent batting from Kish, Andy Burgess and Taylor ensured a strong victory from the IZ XI in what was a highly enjoyable fixture at a picturesque location. Sandwiches at the ground after the game were top notch with the double chicken schnitzel number a particular highlight.