It’s Getting Brighter Over There… v East Dean 16.08.2020

The view from the captain’s car on arrival (photo: Luke Smith)

Back in the early 90s, Wanderers played a match at Steyning Grammar School. The weather was not quite so keen. It had been raining for some time and when the teams arrived at the ground showed no signs of relenting. During the long period of waiting a member of the Wanderers team looked hopefully to the west and suggested that it was getting brighter in that direction. This was certainly desperate hope at best, but one should commend him for his optimism. Inevitably the brightness was a figment of a deluded eye and the match was cancelled. Some may argue that, upon arrival at East Dean yesterday, a similar scenario was in play, although common sense prevailed.

The Met Office, and others, were pretty adamant that the weather would relent around 3pm, and from 4pm bright sunshine and more sufferable than of late warmth was expected. The ground at East Dean is situated in a pleasant chalky grassland area between hills and drains well. Birling Gap is within the parish and the ground is perfect for the coastal village cricket experience. Once the rain stops cricket will never be far away although the wicket itself will turn quite flaky meaning studs are a must. It will also keep a bit low with a few benign lifters. In short, a tricky track to bat on, but nonetheless playable. This isn’t a Test match, which is a good thing because given the events in Hampshire one would assume a single sun covering cloud would have had the players off for the light.

The toss was uncontested with Luke deciding the opening lines. Whether the East Dean captain has read these reports and was suffering compassion overload I don’t know, but that one still doesn’t go down in Lukey’s favour. The match was reduced to a 25 over hit with East Dean batting first, naturally getting the worst of the rub.

As usual the bowling was shared around. There had been some discussion during the week about a match played 30 years ago. Looking at some of the old scorecards it is clear that the matches were orientated in a way to match skill sets with players who weren’t so strong in either discipline missing out. In hindsight, one may inclined to feel that some of this is a little lamentable meaning some folk who wanted to engage in social cricket were left on the fringes. This kind of approach was not unique and was certainly of its time. But given that many who play Saturdays are less inclined to do so Sundays, and the desire to make Sunday itself the social occasion it is as Wanderers, this approach has created a superior mouse trap for some clubs. Certainly, Wanderers are not unique in this approach (a total of 14 bowlers were used across the sides yesterday) and if Sunday cricket is to keep itself off the life support machine it is on in some areas then it is the way forward. We can only be thankful to those responsible for identifying this early. It’s the reason some clubs still exist.

East Dean crafted their way through the overs and Wanderers kept things pretty tight. Such is the rapid nature of the game these days that a run rate of under six an over in such a match is considered as ‘tight’. It was good to see Jeff playing again and he opened the bowling with Luke. A little-known factoid: Luke topped the bowling averages in his first full season at the club, taking 25 in the process. More on this in future reports.

Wickets were short in number yesterday though as East Dean made their way to a respectable total of 142-4. The Oldest Swinger in Town bowling the most overs with five. Dave has commented about his concerns over his lack of wickets at present, but he is still enjoying his cricket and the club are enjoying him. One feels that a corner can be turned at any stage of life’s cricket outing and the swing is still there. I predict a five-for will happen again in the not too distant future. That or allegations of jug avoidance. The age range of the Wanderers bowlers once again spanned sixty odds years

Tea- well the only drawback of such a beautiful location is the lack of a nearby Burger King. First world problems, eh ?

After eight overs, Wanderers reached 46-2. A steady run rate but the Big Bear, unable to find much fluency with the variable bounce, seemed a shadow of his best. Lloyd, a bit out of sorts by his own admission, made only 2. This would have been worse had a splendidly directed delivery from opener Shouksmith not deviated off a cutting at full length and missed off stump by a whisker. The fall of the second wicket brought Chris and Teflon together and a partnerships bond of contrasts was formed.

The deft and finely coached footwork of Chris is conspicuous even before he reaches his full flow of stroke play and his ability to alter a shot mid-flow is sublime. Conversely, Teflon is less inclined to alter what he knows best, and has served him so well over the years. So yesterday we saw a fascinating combo and a rare tactical move. Naturally unaware of Dave’s ability to ensure a thumping biff remains that, the field was brought up on occasions to stop him from getting the single. A sight probably never witnessed before and a reflection of the way in which Chris can easily dictate the flow of a game. Certainly, there were signs that Dave had struggled to manage the variable bounce so such an approach is understandable. Dave’s response was to go over the top to one delivery with a lofted drive that could be described as the most defiant shot of the innings. But runs flowed from both bats and Wanderers first, and hopefully not last, century stand of the season ensued. Given the perfect screenplay, If Gywllim and Lloyd can also fire in the same game then a huge total could ensue with such quadrivial means available.

Wanderers arrived home with five overs remaing and all were thankful to get an enjoyable afternoon’s play under their belt once again. East Dean had hosted well, and news has been shared that the wicket is soon to be moved and relayed and what will doubtless be a large undertaking. The club appears to be doing well at a most perfect setting and made even more so with the popular Tiger Inn nearby.  The sheep on the incline behind are wont to do their best to replicate the Sydney hill as they taunt the opposition bowlers on their run ups…

The pub was open and match analysis was conducted. Back to Berrylands next week for another, if not quite so aesthetically superior country experience. Still, a whopper and fries will be back on the tea menu.

Photos: Jeff Hemmings

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