Deron Blackwood bowls the final over, taking the Mavericks’ last two wickets. Photo by Shawn Jones

The Evanston Cricket Club won a low-scoring thriller on Aug. 21 at James Park. The victory against the Mavericks all but assured the team a spot in the playoffs for the first time in several years. The game – the cricket equivalent of a classic baseball pitcher’s duel – ended dramatically in the 40th over with a clutch bowl out of the visiting Mavericks’ last hope. It was a fitting end to a game dominated by bowling and defense.

Evanston batted first under beautiful sunny skies, but their innings started with calamity as their best batsman, Donieke Perrin (currently ranked the best batsmen in the entire Midwest Cricket Conference Division II) went out for a duck, meaning he scored 0 runs.

“He never looked comfortable up there,” said Evanston’s scorekeeper, Cassandra Walters. Trying to do too much with a ball, his ball was caught.

It was a sign of things to come. “They are all trying for sixes [home runs in baseball] all the time,” said former coach Magnus Huggins. Cavin “Starboy” Plummer, new to the side this year but an instant success as the team’s second best batsman and fourth in the Division, managed just 24, 11 below his 35-run average. He too went out on a caught ball.

The wickets continued to fall for Evanston as batsmen showed little patience with the Mavericks bowlers. When the smoke had cleared, seven wickets fell by way of caught balls. Only one wicket was bowled, one stumped and the final wicket came by way of “hit wicket”; that is, the batsman accidentally knocked the pegs off his own wicket. It was an inglorious end to a disappointing batting effort.

Evanston lost all wickets after only 26.2 overs (154 balls bowled), meaning they left 80 balls on the pitch, unbowled. Eighty opportunities to score evaporated. Evanston set a target of only 122. Only Derron Blackwood batted more than 3 runs over his average batting for 37 while averaging 24.

The chase was on. But immediately, the task became tougher for the Mavericks Nondam Umesh, flew out to Kenrick Warburton off a Perrin bowl. Perrin had coaxed a duck out of the Mavericks top batsman.

In addition to being the Division’s best batsman, Mr. Perrin also leads the division in wickets taken. He would pad his lead on Sunday, collecting three more for a total of four and getting another by way of run out – the baseball equivalent of being thrown out at home plate.

The Mavericks could not get anything going. Once they lost their best bat they seemed completely lost. It wasn’t until their fifth batsman that anyone managed more than 6 total runs. Evanston’s fine fielding contributed to the cause as they caught five.

Even so, with such a low target set by the Evanston bats it came down to the final over, with Derron Blackwood bowling and the Mavericks needing only 12 runs and with two wickets in hand.

Blackwood stumped the first batter on the fourth ball of the over. On his very next ball, he bowled out the final batter, collecting his second wicket in as many balls and closing out the Mavericks. The final score: Evanston 122 (10), Mavericks 110 (10).

And the celebration began. It was only Evanston’s third home game this season, but it was also their last. Evanston’s innings went so quickly, however, that the game ended about an hour earlier than expected. The barbeque and full food spread were not quite ready, but even though players had to wait a little while for the feast they could savor victory and a spot in the Midwest Cricket Conference playoffs.