It turned out to be a lot closer in the end, and losing the toss and fielding on what was likely to be the hottest outing of the year was taken in good spirits, as Wanderers returned to Berrylands this Sunday with Yellow Stumps piling on the runs in a 40 over jaunt.
Sun cream and hydration was the biggest order of the day as the exposed realms of Mid-Sussex offered up a different climatic setting to the one encountered in last year’s wet affair. Smith was bowled Smith early on, but from there the third wicket chugged away as the bowling rotated in search of solutions. The outfield had the proud appearance of a new haircut and a crisply timed drive found the boundary a lot easier. That said, the inevitable drive of beauty still found it’s way to stop short on occasion, as well as a few strokes that took the aerial route, so the Berrylands outfield is still as intent on having the last laugh at a stroke admiring batsman. This may have saved both sides from further punishment.
One of the biggest frustrations at the departure of two free scoring batsman can often be that their end leads to thoughts of what might have been. Batsman Richardson fell at 65, and centurion Reynolds retired after passing three figures. But the score by then had reached 170. The latter efforts in the last 9 overs yielded thirty odd runs and three wickets, all to Butcher jnr. Where is that early pea roller when you need it ? Berrylands is such a petulant child.
Wanderers reply had a degree of fragmentation. At the 10 over break (wise intervals on such a day) the score stood at 58-2. But in the 23rd over it was 94-6. The pace had slowed down and the afternoon had a feel of a pleasant affair of batting time and match enjoyment. However, at the end, Budgie Crathern was still there, with Lord Sponge and The Slaymaker playing Robin to Lloyd’s Batman, so the gathered crowd began to wonder. Sadly, both Lukey and Peter fell after some good partnership co-ordination and some nice biffs themselves. DJ Dave came to the crease, the DAB was back on menu and inevitably it was Lloyd who was eventually dismissed for a sweaty and focussed 48. The OSIT continues to harass the ‘Not Out’ column.
Berrylands at its best on another pleasant Sunday afternoon. Off to the picturesque Buxted Park next week as the season continues to race by.
One of Great Yarmouth’s most famous sons is James Paget, who had a disease named after him. Given that the town sits on the north eastern edge of Anglia, like a boil on England’s bum, this may seem quite fitting. Although the place, unlike many old seaside towns in England, seems far from decayed and decrepit. It could be the 1970s, for sure, but it doesn’t feel the need to overly update itself with twenty first century efficiency or showy modern art. It just is. The donkeys wait patiently on the seafront, parents also queue patiently in the hope of ten minutes calm once the ice cream has been promised for a behavioural barter, and a local fish has the most briefest of lifespans given the plethora of outlets advertising the national dish. The one man show advertisements at the piers entrance for Jim Davidson and Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown are the only eyesores that might reveal any challenges to a progressive agenda.
So the Southwick schooner sailed into port on Friday evening with the odd man overboard. A prolonged burst of heavy rain, with summer wishing to maintain its inconsistencies, had rendered the twenty over affair at Bungay impossible before the weekend had barely started. This may have been a blessing. The traffic going east had been more akin to an exodus than a desire to get away for the weekend. Some had foolishly broken the trip at Bishop Stortford services, the only facility on the M11. In The Author’s case this had turned a 20 minute stop into a 90 minute hellish experience such was the clamour for McDonalds. England shirts abounded, if football had come home it was going nowhere from here, and the prospect of reaching Bungay in time to pick up the scorer’s pencil was about the same as the Three Lions winning a penalty shoot out in an international tournament. Thus it was proved.
With news filtering through of the cancellation journeys continued to the coast. Well, for most. Folk gathered at The Prom Hotel bar and began to saturate their kidneys as much as the Anglian hinterlands had quenched their pastures. Will was absent having continued to Bungay to visit Mum. Scyther Styles had also gone to Bungay with a view to continuing to Great Yarmouth. A plausible plan excepting that there was no facility to do so and no accommodation on offer. Thus, a few drinks in a local pub was followed by an attempt to set up a hammock and rest for the night. Given that Peter didn’t even have a lift at midday this could have been billed as progress. When the weekend was announced it was left, in a fair modern arrangement, for folk to make their own plans. Who needs plans when you have a hammock ?
The sun rose over the broads, Great Yarmouth awoke and the dumplings made their way to town for their Saturday excursion. It was an early start for a number of the Wanderers faithful, gathering for breakfast at the Dining Room at the bottom of Regents Road. This in itself was a worthy achievement of note given the state in which some had completed the previous evenings frivolities. There were rumours that Noodle had been seen in a kebab shop, still as yet unproven for such a happening would require evidence in triplicate, and other rumours that Scyther Styles was somewhere on the A143 having planned to catch the first bus to the coast- another rumour for the fact checkers given that ‘planned’ was the operative word.
Rather than heading to the beach, a large gathering of Wanderers made their way to the rather stylish crazy golf course further along the prom. Split into small groups, many a local challenge occurred. Lord Sponge was the overall winner, although apparently Noodle ran him close..
Noodle’s Oreo shake was a thing to behold
No weekend away is complete without the obligatory evening meal. The ‘China Diner’ had been booked in another part of town. The schooner shipmates wondered about the standard of fare that may have been on offer and whether or not the pre-booking had been confused in any translation. Had we ordered take aways and the tables been an accidental addition from the owners sideline furniture business ? We needn’t have worried. The venue afforded us a private room and the food was abundant and most scrumptious..
Although the food was reasonably priced, the plethora of fines stacked up. It was understandable that Mr Styles had bought his hammock to freeload around Norfolk as his cost in penalties alone was enough to put any tourist off..
Scyther Styles was eventually taken pity on and offered a sleeping quarter for the night. As some of the team reconvened at The Prom Hotel he stayed a while then made his way to the night’s stop, key in hand, only to return because he couldn’t find it. The Fines Master rubbed his hands in delight.
Oh, on Sunday we played cricket……. At North, sorry, South Walsham. Even the home club wanted to fine The Author for that.
South Walsham went into bat at an uncontested toss. The weather was warm, and the suncream was out. Well, Gemma had the suncream out in her ruthlessly efficient way. Some others failed to observe the ritual perhaps pining for the drab skies of this season’s Berrylands adventures. These hands (and forehead) are suffering as we speak.
Lord Sponge took a wicket early doors thanks to a catch by the splendid man of the match, Sam, one of a number of Wanderers Herberts. The second wicket stand yielded 67 runs, the only fifty partnership of the match, which was followed by a couple of run outs from the hand of keeper Noakes snr and the nimble and dexterous Lloyd. The 40 overs yielded a total of 175-7, Phil and Sam taking a brace each.
Then we had tea.
Then we had TEA. As in, yer know, sandwiches and cake. The Noakes clan had already brought splendiferous cake. It was a culinary heaven. Even crab sandwiches were on the menu. Given that the schooner had sailed all the way to Norfolk for a single match it could be requested of Gemma to book a return fixture for next year. Or maybe they could come to us. Just bring the tea ladies.
After all had eaten, and eaten to the full, it was time to return to the middle. 176 is a total that Wanderers have chased down with ease on a number of occasions, but this was to prove a little much. Unusually, the run makers seemed to labour a little on a slower track and against an attack that offered accuracy but not much peril. Teflon Noakes top scored with 21, the Big Bear making 20. The rest made itself up of odds and sods and a few Binary Club entrants as the order went on. Nonetheless, everyone got a bat and the result seemed to be immaterial to the enjoyment of a dry and pleasant afternoon. The innings finished on 84-11 and we all retired to the pub. The Author had another argument with his sat nav so inevitably turned up last..
A brief spell in the pub was curtailed by the need to attend the viewing of another sporting event in Great Yarmouth at the ‘home pub’ of the weekend. Some made their way there whist others made their way elsewhere. The Euros had, in a sense, become an anti-climax for some. Tired eyes sat as the final wound on and there seemed little sadness at the end. Folk perhaps more thinking about the long drive home and in some cases work the following day.
As tour weekends go, there was little to offer in cricketing terms. And, even then, Wanderers didn’t have their best of days. But the fact that it actually happened at all was a victory in itself. And more memories were created for the online scrapbooks. We certainly seem to be racking up those…
As pleasant a setting Staplefield affords, a person who hasn’t visited for a while may be forgiven for driving up and down the A23 wandering what has happened to the old turn off at Slaugham woods. Had it not been for his recent entry into the digital age such confusion would have engulfed The Author.
The village pitch, however, remains the same as always. An old fixture, on and off, for Wanderers. And not often a happy hunting ground. However, as the weather teased and threatened the match was played to its conclusion.
Wanderers won the toss, using an old-fashioned coin on this occasion, and Staplefield were asked to bat. Reduced to 25-3 in the earlier stages, Staplefield recovered to a respectable 155-5, a 6th wicket partnership of 64 helping them on their way. There was an even spread of wickets with Butcher jnr picking up a couple and Noakes very jnr picking up a brace after his bad luck in the last outing.
Wanderers reply was swift and threatened to finish the match in quick time, Master Wilson swotting the vector of disease to all parts, with a particular liking for the village High Street, and an even more particular disliking for quick singles, although this is never so apparent on the last ball of the over. His half century came up swiftly after the early loss of The Big Bear who rounded off a miserable afternoon with a rare duck to prove his cricketing mortality. Will fell second after an 81 partnership, Teflon Noakes kept Gwyllim company in the binary club, and Jordan fell shortly afterwards. 85-1 became 99-4 and things were looking interesting.
A composed Vaughanesque 30 from Matt and a few golf swings from Mr Styles steadied the schooner in a 42 partnership that removed any fears of an all too regular mid-order collapse, and Lord Sponge and Master Ed were left to bring us home to a comfortable win.
So on to Great Yarmouth for much fun and frolics and a very long weekend report that will doubtless contain a few redactions, such is the custom….
Well, we got a game in. The stiff upper lip, or perhaps waterproof skin of the English village cricketer seeing us through the afternoon. A fairly local fixture for most, although Noodle and Ant may object.
Warm and dark at the start, it was soon raining heavily. Wanderers had won the toss, apparently using an Iphone on this occasion. Perhaps this should become a new tradition. We could toss Mr Styles bat, knowing that it would likely end up on glued side down.
A couple of early wickets fell before the rain. Will and Matt done for on the infamous low bouncing pitch of the Balsdean’s chalky valley.
The ground has changed very little over the years. The clubhouse is as ever welcoming- especially for those distracted by the football. To the west the windmill sits upon the hill, still observing all the cricketing triumphs and calamities over its 200 year tenure.
After a rain break, Lloyd and Teflon Noakes took to rebuilding, and did so with caution and aggression in equal measure, sometimes both in the same shot given the slowness of a drying pitch. A third wicket stand, albeit at a subdued run rate, saw a response building that would lay the ground for a respectable score mindful of a potentially fragile mid order. The third wicket fell at 89 and the Binary Club joined the fray. Seven wickets fell for twenty five runs and Wanderers entered the hutch having totalled 115 from their 35 overs. Off-spinner Brewer picked up a 5fer with a nagging masterclass of exactitude. A far cry from the explosive occasion of Roffey, but nonetheless an opportunity for a match of intrigue if Wanderers could get amongst the top order.
Openers Betworth and Wadey knew the pitch better. Anything short, or not so short, was punished with great severity. The pull shot being the order of the day. The consistency of Lord Sponge had been tested and The Slaymaker, despite hitting the pitch hard and straight in his usual fashion, couldn’t find a way through. The introduction of Master Ed and the OSIT settled things down a bit. DJ picked a perfect line, Ed bowled with pace and accuracy, the pick of the afternoon, but went wicketless. It wasn’t until opener Betsworth, who could probably play at a much higher level, made the decision to retire and offer his teammates a hit, that an opportunity was afforded to make inroads.
And inroads Wanderers did make. Ant, picking up three wickets, with a slower trajectory and lower bounce that proved troublesome for the mid order. The run rate fell back (Rottingdean had kindly agreed to reduce their batting duration to 32 overs after the rain break) and wickets began to fall. The match approached the final over with runs still to get.
Off the second ball of the last over Rottingdean secured what was, on balance, a fair win. The rain was steadily falling and the 22 had done well to see things through. For the most part, it was just good to see the match completed. It’s hard to know what the weather has in store for the rest of the summer as we enter July. But despite the uncertainty yesterday, a good time was seemingly had by all.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.