IT was the cloudiest and windiest day of the week but that could not explain a remarkable game on the bottom pitch at La Manga between Israel and the Isle of Man.
The teams went into the match with the only 100% records after two games but could hardly hit the ball off the square in the slowest of low-scoring games. Isle of Man chose to bat first and were bowled out for 80 in an innings which lasted 43 overs. In reply, Israel used up 47.2 overs reaching their target while losing seven wickets.
There was enough incidents in the match, however, to ensure the umpires were not bored. In the first 18 overs alone they had three run-out decisions to make, although in fairness only the first, against Max Stokoe, could be judged harsh. With the batsmen unable to knock the bowlers out of their stride - Eliezar Samson and David Massil conceded just 17 runs in their 20 overs, eight of them maidens - there was some risky running from the Isle of Man batsmen, just trying to get a single to keep the scoreboard moving. It proved fatal for Oliver Webster and Daniel Kniveton and the third run out of the innings left the Islanders 24 for five.
Another four runs were added to take the total to 28 off 20 overs when the umpires asked for the ball to be changed, after suspicion that it had been tampered with.
Mark Williams and captain Richard Kniveton led the recovery, of sorts. The run-rate barely increased and by the start of the 35th over, Isle of Man had scored only 59 runs. The umpires were then called on to make another decision when Williams pulled the ball to the square leg boundary, Massil claimed the catch with the Isle of Man players in the adjacent tent saying his foot was on the rope. ‘Out’ was the verdict and the Isle of Man skipper was then involved in a long discussion with the officials.
Kniveton was eighth out for 14, having faced 59 balls and it was no surprise there was still time for another run out before the end of the innings. The only Israel bowler to take more than one wicket was Steven Shein who finished with three for 13.
The Israel innings made the first look like an express as they crept along with the runs not passing the overs until the 25th over, which coincided with the first boundary, from captain Herschel Gutman. By that stage Israel had lost six wickets so Isle of Man thought they had done the hard bit, but then it all went wrong. First 16 year old opening bowler Daniel Hawke was taken out of the attack by the umpires, just two legitimate balls into his last over after bowling two full tosses above waist height, both of which went for four to compound the youngsters’ agony.
That was in the 34th over and nine overs later Gregory Hawke’s first two balls were also beamers so he had to leave the attack. By this stage, Israel were within sight of victory and Messil, with an unbeaten 12 from 69 balls, saw his side home. His patience summed up the match but it was enough to put Isle of Man clear at the top of the table going into Thursday’s rest day.