There haven’t been many celebrated SWCC pets over the years. Certainly, none that would have achieved official mascot status and had homage paid to them as poster pets in the clubs’ online page. Darwin the dog, who’s owner is the splendid if slightly overshadowed Rob Black, achieved cult status a while back. Interestingly, his image had been removed from the site banner only recently such was the torrent of lament at his absence in faraway East Midlands pastures. But yesterday, as Wanderers took to Berylands for the last time this season, Darwin felt the call and returned to much pampering and adulation. Sheepishly, his picture has now been placed back in its rightful place.
Yet sometimes these parades of pomp and celebration are rained upon. And as much as the weather bowed its respect and kept the clouds parted, a scornful local feline had plans to spoil the re-coronation. Wanderers had been one short in number at the start of the game, thus, halfway through the second knockings, a ginger feline came wandering onto the field and took up residence at square leg. Not content to be a spectator, it took to fielding as well- except that being for the opposition. Tales emerged of a noble chase to the boundary and boundless energy that many Wanderers could only dream of. It seems that the local wildlife is hoping to play a part in this summer’s outings. A fielding cat, a dog of regal esteem, a hill of cows doing their uddermost to put our bowlers off, and a woolly ovium hill barracking our batsmen. One suspects that Eeyore the donkey may be doing the scoring when Wanderers go to Hartfield. Others might suggest that he already does…
Wanderers boringly winning the toss is becoming as dated a mention as to suggest its rare feature has faded. Thankfully, or not depending if you are Noodle, the Binary Club is still as strong as was. Wanderers elected to bowl to the cheerful and warm Alternatives crowd in a full 40 over bash. Reports down the furry cables began to emerge of a wholesome performance as the bowlers attached their claws to the opposition batting line up. Lord Sponge appeared to have a better outing with the ball with an accomplished display of out-swingers, picking up a couple of wickets in the process. Returning Rob, who was in the region and kindly took time out to visit and play in the match, was the pick of the bowlers with his spin. Perhaps another cricketer who doesn’t quite realise how capable he is with the ball as well as the bat, he took four wickets and ripped the heart out of the top order. It was a delight to see him again and we hope that another visit next season will be on the cards all being well.
With a couple of wickets for Ant, and one for the OSIT, Alternatives made slow progress to a total of 130-9 in their 40 overs. At tea Wanderers must have had a degree of confidence in matching up their win to lose ratio with focus and batting poise.
The first few overs produced two wickets for the loss of twenty-two runs. The Big Bear and Noodle falling for 16 and a duck respectively. Alas Noodle reported not being quite ready to face his delivery and offered an open gate for another binary entry. Not that Wanderers were in as much danger of making a dog’s dinner of things as the middle order came into play this time. Catastrophe was not in the offing today.
Will and Rob came together and steadily began to tuck into the bowling. What was apparent was the accomplished defensive play mixed in with the patience for the regular boundary ball. For Will, who has not been at his most fluent this year, this was a breaking innings. His 72 contained 6×4 and 3×6. Much relief and pleasure in the side-lines. Rob, elegant and textbook in his strokeplay to the point that perhaps only Barry Hawkins of old would compare, took an anchor role and continued to rotate the strike. Wanderers second century stand of the season was in the offing.
And thus it proved, despite the malkin ringer’s arrival. The second wicket produced 102 runs and, despite Will finally being sent back to the kennel, no further wickets fell. Chris finished off the match with a thumping four to notch up an emphatic victory.
So, it’s goodbye to Berrylands, which reverts to football as the new season is soon to commence. The wicket has not been commendable this year but perhaps this is excusable. Resources and time in preparation have not been as they would normally and for good reason. The patch has lost a few months and, given the work clearly needed prior to this year, one wonders if this may be true of many a local square. A single match played on a damaged wicket in the wet can set things back a long way. However, it is a pleasant place to play. There would be little appetite to return to the days of the local town pitch in the Brighton & Hove conurbation- especially given the Wanderers diaspora. Sayers Common is very equidistant, although perhaps not so much for the ever-committed Ant.
Next Sunday’s match is not yet in place. But it seems no-one cares much for where it is. As the team retired to the local pub the talk of future games and past glories was as lively as ever.
Pictures: Gemma Manvell