Strong wind had a significant bearing on Round 9 of the Northam Cricket Association 40 Over competition.
For most of Saturday afternoon it blew hats from heads, hair in faces and bails from stumps.
It was challenging conditions for all sides.
Ferals played host to Balladong at Bert Hawke 2 in Northam.
After winning the toss, Balladong quickly decided to take advantage of the nor-westerly that rushed across the ground and bowl first, in case it let up.
The opening bowling combination of Jermaine Davis Sr. and Jr. were not able to have immediate effect in the favourable conditions.
Instead, the opening batting pair of Harrison Sargeant and Callum Norrish survived six overs, a dropped catch, and a close shout for LBW, to reach 19.
Davis Jr. provided the breakthrough when Sargeant flashed at a delivery outside off and Mark Davis Jr. hung on to a sharp chance above his head at first slip.
It was two in two balls when Davis Jr. immediately trapped the new batsman plum in front, just above the ankle.
Once he went back and across, the umpire had no hesitation in firing him, and Davis Jr. had produced a double wicket maiden. Ferals - 2 for 19.
Next batsman in, Caleb Austin, swiped at a few, found the ball and the boundary.
Three times in fact for a useful contribution of 18 before being caught by Davis Sr. from his own bowling.
Meanwhile, Norrish struck a glorious straight drive off Davis Sr. which sped along the green and yellow carpet to the fence.
He also survived a second close call for LBW.
The ball pitched outside leg and the umpire's first instinct was it was missing, despite his itchy trigger finger.
Jack Parmenter came and went for 8, caught by the outstretched hand of Craig Lewis diving full length at short cover to hold on to a gentle offering and gift Davis Sr. his second wicket.
The returning Louis Page joined Norrish to lower the sails and steady the ship.
However, a change in the bowling as the drink interval loomed, saw luck run out for Norrish (28).
His attempted pull shot across the line found the top edge and the ball popped high.
It was well judged and safely held by Cody Gorbig at point. Dylan Lewis claimed his first.
After play resumed, the Page brothers batted together for the first time in years.
Louis found the gaps regularly, although he lived dangerously.
He repeatedly cut deliveries just back of a length, one of which flew waist high but wide of the fieldsman at point.
Fletcher, the younger brother, provided support before an error in judgement.
Page turned to consider a second run and left his crease, unawares that Davis Sr., who had taken the gloves after his spell, had received the throw.
Quick as a flash, he was found out of his ground and on his way.
Troy Sims didn't trouble the scorers, bowled by Dylan Lewis, who soon captured his third, the prize wicket of the Perth player, Louis Page, for a scratchy 28.
The Ferals' tail added little more to the total, all out in the 36th over for a tricky 125.
Dylan Lewis finished with the best figures of 3 wickets for 23 runs from 8 overs.
While Cody Gorbig (2 for 10 from 2), Davis Jr. (2 for 11 from 6), and Davis Sr. (2 for 33 from 10) each claimed a brace.
The wind did not let off at the start of Balladong's innings.
Neither it nor the bowling troubled the young opening batsmen.
Dylan Lewis and Cody Gorbig looked assured as the total climbed at a good clip of 4 runs per over.
The partnership was finally broken when Lewis played, missed, and was bowled by Parmenter for a handy 26.
Ferals dragged themselves back into the contest, tightening up in the field, limiting the runs and building pressure.
It resulted in Gorbig swiping at a ball wide of off stump, only to edge through to the keeper.
Parmenter removed Craig Lewis, gone the same way as his son, to finish his spell with a pair of wicket maidens.
Davis Jr. arrived in the middle to join Glenn Podmore and restore order.
Ferals had reduced the run rate and Balladong went to the drinks break three wickets down for 65.
After the interval, Balladong lost Podmore and two others for little gain.
Davis Sr. remained and loomed as the key wicket, joined by fellow veteran Steve Gorbig, with only a couple to come.
With Balladong nearing the total, it was time for the sliding doors moment in the game.
Louis Page, who had bowled with pace and movement but without reward, sent one short and wide.
Davis Sr. tried to glide it off the face to third man but it went straight to Fletcher Page, head-high, standing at first slip.
It wasn't to be. The ball went in and out and on the deck.
It was reminiscent of Shane Warne dropping Kevin Pietersen and the Ashes, in the fifth Test in 2005 at the Oval.
Davis Sr. survived, much to the chagrin of Ferals.
Page was torn. Never mind. Everyone has dropped a catch and everyone will again.
By now, the wind, unrelenting all afternoon, was a gentle zephyr.
Davis Sr. would not make the same mistake twice.
He led Balladong to the win, reached his half century, and retired unbeaten, seemingly all at once.
Jack Parmenter was the pick of the bowlers, claiming 2 for 10 from 5.
Harrison Sargeant also bowled well and took multiple wickets (2 for 33 from 10).
After a frustrating day, Ferals had drawn near, but yet so far.
The other game on Saturday was an entertaining contest between Bakers Hill and visiting Toodyay at Bakers Hill Oval.
Toodyay won the toss and batted first.
They were off to a difficult start when Andrew Ryall fell cheaply, bowled by Matt Jankauskas, with the score on just 2.
The Toodyay top order refused to allow it to become a trend.
Ryan Reid, the other opener, posted 40.
Steve McCormick added 22, Dylan Borrett 28, and Beau Wagenaar 26.
The top scorer was Aaron Waters, undefeated on 41, and he guided the total to an imposing 191 for 6 wickets from their 40 overs.
Matt Jankauskas was the most successful of the Bakers bowlers with a deserving 3 for 27 from 8 overs, after bowling well without reward for much of the season.
Hayden Bishop picked up 2 for 22 from 6.
Bakers were off to a positive start in reply to the daunting total, reaching 26 before Dylan Borrett broke the opening partnership, bowling Matt Starcevich.
The dominant partner of the opening pair, Brent Williams was removed for 28 with the score on 45.
When Alberto Giorgi followed not long later, the Bakers total was 3 for 61.
The complexion of the game changed as Paul Clune (96) and Jamie McPherson (69 not out) carried Bakers to victory on the back of a fourth wicket partnership worth a mammoth 165.
Bakers eventually reached a total of 5 for 249 from 40 overs.
Dylan Borrett was the best of Toodyay's bowlers (2 for 24 from 5), on what was a tough day for the fielding team.
Next week is the final round of the regular 40 over season.
Grass Valley host Bakers Hill at Bert Hawke 1 in Northam.
Ferals travel to the picturesque Toodyay Town Oval to take on the local side in a game which will see the winner play finals and the loser finish bottom of the table.
Balladong have the bye with their place in the finals secured.