September, your beauty is the last meal, and, like condemned prisoners, we partake wistfully in its morsels, sorrowful for summer’s pending doom. Wishing away your beautiful delusion.
It’s nearly over. This oddest of summers. This summer that kind of was but wasn’t. And despite having played about two thirds of our usual games, folk seem to be dialling down. As if the onset of autumn is an automatic affair of resignation. Yet still it’s difficult to feel hard done by, cheated or short changed. The cricket was ultimately plentiful. No-one seemed to miss the teas, least of all those responsible for them. Bless-ed are the club caterers- for they shall one day get rest. And one feels this could now become a permanent thing.
What also remains is the strength and will for Sunday cricket amongst the clubs who can still be bothered. The institution is alive and well. Even if the cucumber sandwiches died a soggy death decades ago. They were always the ones that remained. Has anyone ever seen a salmon sandwich when they went back for seconds ? The boast of empty tea tables always came at a price.
The boast of a Wanderers victory has been missing for a couple of weeks too. Yesterday, in the warm open fields of mid-Sussex, we took another tonking. But the team seemed quite happy, even if a little lethargic in the field.
The sun shone brightly and short sleeves were the order of the day. Chailey’s pitch is situated on a large multi-purpose green that serves the village well. The very English church and burial ground is set to the east of the pavilion, a perfect final resting ground for lovers of the great game. The pitch itself is a little slow and unpredictable, but calm enough for a Sunday jaunt. Chailey won the toss and put Wanderers in. Unlike the bish bosh of recent times, slow progress was made. Perhaps the timed format, rare in its application, had led to a Test match frame of mind. And it certainly was a test.
Lord Sponge opened, fairly affording himself a chance to feel ball on bat. A chance he took well, making 46 before being caught outfield. His stand of 56 with Lloyd gave Wanderers a base to build a useful total, but the rest of the order, aside of 25 from slasher Styles, found the terrain difficult and Wanderers didn’t so much plummet as meander to a total of 144 in 38.4 overs. It was pleasing to see that the overs had been used and folk had enjoyed being in the middle. The run rate of 3.72 harking back to a bygone age of teas and Plumpton.
Chailey started on the front foot and continued that way. Wanderers, rotating the bowlers, struggled to hit the deck hard enough and looked a little tired in the field. To be fair though, the air did feel particularly warm and a little stifling at times in a very exposed location. And, as should be mentioned, Chailey’s top order were no mugs with the blade. The second wicket produced a century stand with some very correct and elegant stroke play ensuring the result was never really in doubt.
Two wickets fell across the innings, one to Jeff and the other to Lord Sponge. The Big Bear and Ant threw in the odd testing delivery, but Chailey made it home with plenty to spare in the 27th over.
New COVID restrictions made the pub gathering, as has been, an impossibility. This was a shame as these jollies are the lifeblood of the day. Defeats are dismissed with a shrug as the pint appears before the punter. It is in these moments that the backbone of the day is rooted upon, the social outing made complete. One can only hope for better prospects as the darker months set in.
Wanderers take a long trip to Walberton next week for the final, as presently scheduled, game. Long excepting for the splendid Ant who would win any mileage award this year. The last hurrah of 2020 maybe, but just another step in the long and interesting history of the team. There won’t be another year like this. Or perhaps there will.