Mitch Swain cut a relieved and drained, but proud figure after a cobbled together Old Boys scraped home for a five run over City United in their Tamworth first grade clash on Saturday.
It was a nail-biter, the skipper stepping up to the plate and snaring two wickets in two balls to dismiss City for 185 in reply to their 9-190 with seven balls remaining.
"It's been a long week," Swain remarked post-match, with COVID giving them "a real shake-up".
They had three players pull out that morning, the list of those unavailable [through COVID and other reasons] including Central North colts duo Zac Craig and Tom Noble, Hayden Baker, Troy Sands, Adam McGuirk and Corey Summers.
City weren't immune to COVID's clutches either and were missing some of their best young players.
"It was a massive effort," Swain said, adding that he was "super proud of the boys".
They probably did, he felt, let it "get a bit closer than it should have", bowling a "few too many loose balls".
"We'd bowl three balls that were really good in an over and three balls that weren't," he said.
Swain's late wickets gave him three for the game while Dylan Smith and Jack Hatton, who was stepping up from second grade and opened the bowling with Smith, both picked up two.
City were looking in a bit of trouble at 3-14, but Dan Whale (22), Liam Rodgers (48) and skipper Tait Jordan (57) kept them in the game, the latter putting on 109 for the seventh wicket.
Swain eventually broke the partnership, Old Boys' confidence notably lifting when Jaryd Stevens had Jordan caught seven runs later.
It capped off a great game for Stevens.
"He had probably as good a game as cricket as I think I've seen him play," Swain said.
"As far as effort, he's probably putting in the most of anyone this year. He's been training well."
Recovering from a "hamstring issue", it wasn't the plan to bowl him.
"But I just said 'look bud I need you' and he put his hand up and bowled really really well," he said.
He had earlier helped get them "off to the start we wanted", chipping in with 26 in a 66-run opening stand with Simon Norvill (41).
Usama Khalid kept things ticking along nicely in the middle top-scoring with 49, some late hitting from Matt Bryant (27 off 20) then pushing them beyond 180.
It was the first time Swain had seen Khalid bat.
"He was outstanding," he said.
"He's been playing second grade but I think he's a better cricketer than that."
Anoop Gopalakrishnan took the first three wickets and finished with 3-37, with Jordan picking up two.
West Tamworth and South Tamworth also defended for wins.
Harrison Kelly claimed 5-13 as Wests ripped through North Tamworth for 89 chasing their 7-194, which had been set up by an unbeaten 84 from opener Dave Mudaliar.
Dan Lawrence meanwhile came to South Tamworth's rescue after they were looking a bit shaky early, his 61 lifting them to 154.
In reply the Bulls were bowled out for 97, BJ Cameron, Jelany Chilia and James Hammond sharing the wickets.
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