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Pitcher: normally I’m making up the numbers

Party time: Rudell Pitcher, centre, hugs team-mate Chris Douglas as St David’s fans mob him after his match-winning innings at Sea Breeze Oval (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Rudell Pitcher was a picture of calm as he guided St David’s to an unlikely Eastern Counties victory on Saturday at Sea Breeze Oval.

However, deep down the veteran all-rounder admitted his emotions spilt over a couple of times, more so because of the significance of the victory than the pressure itself.

At 61 for eight chasing 146 for victory, Pitcher was probably the only member of the St David’s team who seriously still believed they could still pull off victory against the champions Cleveland.

Luckily for them he was still at the crease when Cejay Outerbridge, the last-man, came in with 31 runs still needed for victory.

Pitcher and Outerbridge set about chasing down the runs, taking 58 minutes to put their side over the line, making sure the challengers got to honour Fiqre Crockwell, their former team-mate, in the manner they wanted.

“He [Crockwell] was always on my mind, as a grown man I’m not afraid to say I cried at least three times today thinking of him,” Pitcher said. “Just seeing his family crying made me cry again.

“I can remember the last training session that he was at, he was wicketkeeping and I was batting and he goes ‘you’ve got to take your cricket seriously, you’re around here joking’. That played a lot in my mind today.

“Fiqre’s my boy and I really miss him, but we’re going to fight on, fight next year and the year after and keep going as long as we can.”

The last time St David’s played at Sea Breeze Oval a month ago, the 39-year-old Pitcher was relegated to reserve against Bailey’s Bay. This time he turned out to be the hero, coming good with the bat just when his side needed him more.

No doubt his spot is now secure for the final against Bay in two weeks’ time.

“I always had confidence we were going to win because we were playing for a cause,” Pitcher said as he mingled with fans afterwards.

“I knew if I got a hit that I was going to do my best and play each ball on its merit.

“When I went out there Justin Pitcher gave me some good advice, I took what he was saying and just hung around. It was definitely my best score this season.”

After Justin Pitcher departed, Rudell took up the mantle of senior partner, knowing the weight he was carrying on his shoulders.

“Cejay wanted it as much as me, I told him to hold his end and I’ll hold my end,” Pitcher said.

“We didn’t have to push it, force any singles and we were well ahead as far as the overs left. Cejay came good today, I’m really proud of him.

“This year St David’s have a really strong batting lineup and I didn’t really feel I needed to focus on batting.

“I feel I’m just making up the numbers, to a degree. I was very surprised I even got a hit today, to be honest, considering the batsmen we had before me. Two years ago I scored 49 but I got out in a losing cause.”

Outerbridge was mobbed at the end, too, after the St David’s fans invaded the pitch. It was a special moment for the youngster.

“All season this is what I’ve been looking forward to,” he said. “I knew my role, just stay there and defend my wicket and let “Moto” do his thing,” he said. “I did my part, stayed solid and let him get his fifty and win the game.

“I wasn’t nervous, I was seeing the ball big.”

Dennis Musson, the losing captain, acknowledged at the presentation that it was one of the most exciting games of cricket he has played in.

“It was a nail-biter right to the end,” he said. “They say low totals are the hardest to get and it really showed today. This was the closest game ever, what a game!”

Musson, who took three wickets himself, does not regret giving the ball to Clay Darrell and Mackih McGowan late in the game in a bid to get that final wicket. They bowled the last five overs before Pitcher hit the winning boundary.

“Sometimes one ball can change everything,” the captain said. “We tried everything to get the last wicket and that’s how it went in the end. What a great game, hats off to the Eastern Counties. It shows that it is not just one or two teams in the competition.”