There Is Nothing Either Good Or Bad But Thinking Makes It So v Walberton 20.06.2021

Picture: G.Manvell

Oh, well. The swings of a season. The madness of the weather. Nothing changes. And after a comprehensive win last week, and a decent first innings shows today, Wanderers took a tonking from a rampant Walberton top order this afternoon in the very west of Sussex.

With fifties from Lloyd and the returning Mr Waymark, as well as an encouraging 40 from Butcher jr in the opening slot, Wanderers posted a reasonable looking 197 in this 35 over affair. Reasonable was the ponderance in the WhatsApp group as the second innings got under way. But the score turned out to be anything but as the opposition rattled along at over six an over to bring the match home.

Still, no need to dwell. The most encouraging feature of the afternoon was a full match as the elements held back for it to be so. Victories come, victories go, and so do tonkings. The season is now seven matches old and in full swing. Good times.

Better Three Hours Too Soon Than A Minute Too Late- v Southwater 13.06.2021

Picture: A Higgs

In an afternoon that seemed to go on forever, so much so that a late call up for Luke to bat for the opposition in a nostalgic return to number 11 when it was presumed that it may have been past the bedtime of a younger player, Wanderers won an enjoyable fest of run scoring at the splendid Southwater abode.

Set on the edge of Horsham, the ground is a well kept affair with a modern pavilion more in keeping with Hove seafront than rural West Sussex. The square is well maintained and Wanderers won the toss, which on this occasion consisted of the spinning of a debit card, Lord Sponge calling the pin correctly. Wanderers withdrew to bat and certainly made Southwater’s attack pay for it with many a run piling up in the credit column.

In an opening stand of 159, The Big Bear reached his credit limit and retired on 100. Lloyd banked a fifty and Mr Styles had a healthy income at number three with one of his own, a huge total of 267 finally being achieved in the 40th over.

Southwater had spread the bowling around giving an opportunity to young and old alike and enjoyed a full batting session seeing the game out at 171-7 after a wobble to 71-5. The OSIT took three wickets opening the bowling with Lord Sponge in a nod to the early Plumpton days of the late 90s.

The sun shone bright and warm with good companionship and hearty conversation after the match. Certainly a fixture to look out for next season.

Picture: M.Johnson

Oh, Call Back Yesterday, Bid Time Return ! – v Angmering 06.06.2021

For the second week in a row, Wanderers slipped to another defeat just when it appeared that, in this case, an unlikely victory was in the offing.

Losing the toss and batting first, a solid opening stand of 32 between Butcher jnr and Will laid but a foundation of sand for the remaining order. Calamity cricket from the middle, albeit on an archaeological wicket, meant the lowest innings total since April 2019.

A spirited effort by the Wanderers bowlers, with Luke, Master Ed and Butcher jnr taking two wickets apiece, reduced Angmering to 34-6 with a surprise looking on the cards. The Worthing team made it home, however, with two wickets to spare. Wanderers were left licking their wounds as extras topped scored for the opposition, and the day, with 28.

The day was warm and bright, the smell of summer in the country air, and with the season returned to its traditional highs and lows we move onto Southwater next week.

Shine Out Fair Sun… v Roffey 30.05.2021

Pictures: Catherine Noakes & Gemma Manvell

May Bank holiday weekends are always wet. Or at least that is how we are taught to assume them, or the Daily Express would like them forecast. The fault for this could be laid at many a door. It could be Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, Dominic Cummings or gay marriage. It may be that Mercury is in Scorpio, or Jupiter is throwing a wobbly. The problem occurs when one such weekend goes rogue and affords wall to wall sunshine as well as splendid occasion. Unfortunately, that has happened these past days. Bereft of anything to have a good old moan about we even found ourselves in a cricket fest of abundant company, sporting attitudes and a quality match as tight as tight can be. Oh well. Had there been any Manchester City supporters present they could have found English solace in some form of misery but even they were absent. So everyone had no choice but to enjoy themselves. And they did. Even the losers- which we were.

Of the wicket, there should be no complaints. Being in the clay belt, a decent groundsman should have no trouble in the Roffey bar after any given match. Batsman should be plying him with drinks a plenty. The wicket had been used the previous day and it was not until later on that sign of wear began to cause one or two deliveries to misbehave. The small grass covering added a bit of spice although, excepting a few of Tyler’s deliveries, there was little in the pace department to take advantage. What ensued was a match of over 500 runs at a fair lick of a rate. Hands red with perpetual clapping, bowlers thankful for any dots in Anthony’s exemplary scorecard.

Having endured a selection process that had player numbers moving up and down like the share price of a junior mining company that hadn’t filed an RNS for six months, Wanderers eventually settled on ten after Lady Noakes had made a dash to nearby Crawley to pick up the eventual man of the Wanderers match. Or should it be ‘Person of the Match’ ? That said, non-binary attributes will never serve Wanderers well given the regular accumulations of noughts and ones over the course of the usual season. Today, with an unfortunate duck, only Master Ed was in the Binary Club having bravely opened with the Big Bear after Wanderers were inserted on this hard and even wicket. He shouldn’t be too disappointed given the frequency of matches he plays. Some of us wait ten years for another bat.

Whilst going with all things Noakes, Teflon himself strode to the wicket in his usual number four slot. Catherine had missed the early part of his innings. This helped calm the mythical superstition that her presence only causes a fatal calamity to his batting prospects. David cut, pulled and generally pummelled the ball to all parts of the ground from his famous low centre of gravity poise. On occasions a batsman needed a little luck and the Roffey fielders were obliging. Having been downed on a number of occasions, David was eventually bowled on 81 with a century in his sights. Gwyllim had earlier departed for 44 in the tenth over, a customary innings of pinch hitting in the Jason Roy mould. The Big Bear is one of the few players who could despatch a match winning innings that would be unnoticed by anyone who misses the first half an hour of a game. By the time the late spectator turns up he’s out there umpiring and looking as though he’s not even on the team sheet.

Wanderers’ latest family grouping, the Herberts, were on three quarter show and filling the mid order. Tim, Joe and Harry seemed to enjoy their day with Wanderers. Sam played last week, so the scorecards and averages will take careful crafting given the Baker brothers cause confusion enough. Joe and Harry already have extra entries, featuring in two fifty middle order stands today which brings us on to another half of a sibling grouping whose innings was of mesmerising quality.

Tyler was a late recruit thus late to the ground and late to the wicket at number 8. It could perhaps be a trifle unfair, or just an assumptious sense of security by the opposition, when a scramble of outfield adjustments are called for as a slight and unlikely looking tailender starts to put the next village in structural danger when arriving at the crease. Tyler seemed to bat in a hurry, as if there was a match on later or a hot date in the offing. Line and length became pies and Roffey just wanted it to be over. It was eventually, but only after 77 runs had been plundered in six overs, Tyler’s fifty coming up after Alice had deftly glanced a single to hand him back the strike. Wanderers had posted 257, a total that should be enough to see that lot off. And with Roffey 91-4 after 15 overs of their reply nothing suggested otherwise. A good run rate, indeed, but it was unlikely that quality would abound down the order enough to keep personnel in hand. That was not the point, it was what remained at the crease that was the problem….

Wanderers’ bowling had struggled to maintain a consistent line with some still learning their trade. That’s okay, as Sunday is about opportunity. Like Roffey, there was a mix of players all at different stages of cricketing lifespan. And this is what Sunday is about. Learning and just…enjoying. A place for everyone. And the twists and turns of this match combined with experience and inexperience is what made the day. Edward opened up and his figures off 1-66 of 8 were perhaps a tad harsh. His improvement in the last year is conspicuous and the ball that removed the bails of a number four David Bairstow doppelganger was one to take confidence to guide from. Alice struggled with a little rhythm carrying a slight injury, but not to be outdone by little bro picked one up for herself. Her pace can be quite exciting at times and her control is improving. It has been mooted that taking the step down in the event of a future England call up is something that needs proper thought. Lords is not a touch on Berrylands.

At 142-6, it was still Wanderer’s match to lose. But opener Harris was beginning to dominate proceedings. Surprisingly, there seemed to be no harvesting of the strike, the opener showing faith in his late order. And like Wanderers, the late order obliging with some nice thumps and a fair bit of good fortune. This was Sunday at its best.

The runs continued to flow. A seventh wicket stand of 39, in which the number eight contributed none, took the score to 181-7. But the very presence of batsman Channer had been the complication. Wanderers need wickets. A further 32 was added until Roffey fell behind. First batsman Purchase fell to the The Big Bear, and then batsman Embling was lbw first ball. Roffey now 213-9 had no chances remaining if they were to find their way home.

Out came number eleven. G Jones. Who was to face G.Jones. Back in 1996 The Author faced another Ian Fennell in a match at Preston Park. In fact, the same Ian Fennell had been bowling for Wanderers up until I joined in 1989. On that day in 1996 he bowled me out. We needed a similar surname outcome here. G Jones the number eleven looked uncomfortable in defence, one sensing the dullest of straight deliveries would do. But his attacking prowess was proving costly and opener Harris was happy to trust his instincts, luck, or both. The runs continued to flow.

Both sides of the contest stood to applaud batsman Harris as he crossed the line to his worthy ton. Roffey were a few runs away from a monumental Sunday victory. Wanderers still clinging on to the hope of one final wicket. G Jones had been watching G Jones and was biffing to all parts, opener Harris as watchful as ever.

The dangerous Tyler returned, but to no avail. As the final runs were made, even then there was nearly a mix up in the running. A second, and seemingly needless single taken to ensure the win. There were plenty of deliveries left and as the bails came off gasping crowds on the line were unsure as to whether the frenzied Wanderers shouts were to be met with the raised finger from square leg. They weren’t. Roffey had defied a mid-order struggle to come home by 1 wicket. Yet this was to be a match in which the winner was to be forgotten, peripheral to the event itself.

As I write this, looking out the window of this leafy enclave on a beautiful late spring morning, my mind wanders back to many decades ago when the result of a Sunday match such as yesterday would have prompted a mini inquest. The feeling of disappointment being met with much soul searching. Yet at the end of the match any such questioning was notable in its absence. For Sunday cricket to survive, and for folk of differing talents to be encouraged into the game, the faltering friendly version needs to live up to its name. In recent years at Wanderers (among many other clubs) we have seen players who, in the fading decades of the long distant past, would have only lasted a few games before being sent to the 11am Sunday morning reserve list, given a late call when a mainstay had drunk too much the night before. In more recent times many players have arrived, been respected for their social characters, and have blossomed as cricketers too. And that has all the time in the seasons to continue to flourish because they have bought into the Wanderers way.

So, a defeat from the jaws of the victory. But there will be no inquest. Just admiration for another team who play the right way and appreciation that Sunday cricket is about lifelong fun and friendship. I’ve almost forgotten who won already. Oh yes, the day itself.

Over Whose Acres Walked Those Blessed Feet v Hindu Unity 23.05.2021

Image: Catherine Noakes

Back to Berrylands, the field of fantasy, the meadows of squidgy mediocrity, the pretty pastures of  pleasant pastime. Or just a council pitch in Sayers Common. Take yer pick.

However, back Wanderers were. And having won the toss, and also won the first two outings of the season, one might feel that a summer to remember is in the offing. The last report of the season will confirm or deny.

That said, the most important thing is that there is availability, ability, inability, and nothing seems to have changed much in the last year. That’s the way we like it.

Wanderers batted first and showed much aggression, carving the vector of disease to all parts of the park. Hindu Unity appeared to abstain from such practice and the 150 run winning margin was in direct contrast to last year’s close affair.

The match just about survived the weather and we look forward to the sunny uplands this coming weekend if the Met Office are reading the runes correctly.

What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks.. v East Dean 09.05.2021

Images: L.Smith- Not to be reproduced without permission

Wanderers finally got the season under way at East Dean. Finally, of course, sounds a bit entitled these days given that last season did not start until July.

And with a win it was. Although a low scoring affair led to a ‘beer match’ after which no one bought any beer. Such refreshment tends to come during the match these days. Not necessarily a change in culture, just the Wanderers way.

A few folk among the wickets in a slow scoring affair, not so much the runs. Onward to hopefully happy days and a splendid English summer.

That’s torn it.

Up And Not Quite Running- SWCC v Themselves 25.04.2021

Sunny weather, pleasant country setting, and a plentiful gathering. Sounds familiar ? Does anything sound familiar anymore ?

Wanderers began the season, or pre-season, with a gathering at Steyning CC and an inter-club game in which the result mattered so little that The Author failed to even ask for it. One team won, the team batting second, and then carried on. The rules seemed a little uncertain to this late arrival, so much so that he felt comfortable fielding and umpiring at square leg whilst, deciding on assumption, that someone was run out, having been embroiled in conversation with the splendid Gemma and turning to see the stranded batsman a foot outside his ground- even a few seconds after the appeal.

Still, the match wasn’t really a match anyway. It was a re-introduction, or a new welcome, to players and would be players of this season. Things start in earnest at West Hoathly next Sunday.

Despite yesterday’s beautiful spring warmth, the wind was a little biting. Although far from the squeaky fart of a day that ended last year’s quickfire season at Jevington. Whether Wanderers pack quite so many matches into a short period of time again remains to be seen. But the last weekend in April suggests that every attempt is being made to return to normality. Hope on our side has the traditional pub gatherings returning in late June. Emphasis on hope.

The awards for 2020 were finally made and the recipients are shown below.

Player Of The Season:  G.Jones

Bowling Cup: L.Crathern

Batting Cup: G.Jones

Merit Cup: G.Manvell

Captain’s Award: M.Johnson

Wally The Wanderer’s Champaign Moment: P.Styles

Images: G.Manvell & C.Noakes- Not to be reproduced without permission

Brrrr- SWCC v Jevington- 27.09.2020

For those who subscribe to the theory that fate is a living entity, and that it should not be tempted in any circumstance, today’s short report is all the evidence you need. Having spoken of the, possibly permanent in some quarters, passing of the cricket tea, Wanderers were re-directed to Jevington for their final scheduled match of the season. Many will be aware that Jevington is among the most famous of all Sussex grounds for the match interval tuck in. Very few who have been on the Sunday circuit for any length of time will be unaware. But today, as if the cricket tea was trying a desperate end of season protest before the plethora of AGMs, the tea hut became a forlorn and distant relic of seasons gone by.

This wasn’t where it ended. The weather had been enlisted to help its cause. September this year has once again shown that it can be such a pleasant month for the great game. But, as if toying with folk’s psychology and intent to carry on further into autumn, the agreement with the Tea Troll was that conditions would stay dry enough for a game to take place but with a chill wind and ominous clouds. October has clearly taken its ball home and wants to be left in peace- only to have a jolly good laugh in its second and third week when virtual AGMs are met with warm autumn sunshine, crispy leaves and beautiful colours. I love England.

As for the game itself, Wanderers September finished with another blank. Next week is Harvest Sunday and the Binary Club has certainly been collecting donations. Six of them today. The Big Bear was certainly not making an offering after opening and posting his second fifty of the campaign. Lloyd made 34 at number 3, surprisingly his best contribution to a tough season, and Teflon made 15. But Wanderers, having passed the century mark with three wickets down, failed to trouble the scorers much further. Middle and late order woes led to a collapse that ended the innings on 123. Pencil sharpeners are an essential when logging a Wanderers innings after the fall of the third wicket in the present era. Still, the prospects aren’t as doom and gloom as today’s clouds. Slasher Styles and the great Ant have given encouraging signs this year, Johno is no batting mug, and the OSIT is still the trust worthy Dab. As much as you get days when things come together you get days when they don’t. Or months, such as September has been.

Jevington made relatively short work of the total despite an early wobble to 57-3, all wickets falling to Lloyd in that passage. Lloyd is a very capable bowler who perhaps sub-consciously, like The Big Bear, sees it as a secondary armour string. Jevington have two players with the surname of Fielder, although batsman and bowler they are too. One took five wickets and the other struck a swift 34. Opener Swan made a half century. The target was reached with a run rate of over five an over. Clearly it was better to be busy at the wicket and in the field on a biting afternoon that belonged in the shadow of Christmas trees rather than combine harvesters.

Images owner: Gemma Manvell