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
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.
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.
In a reversal of last year’s visit to A A Milne country, Wanderers were comfortably defeated by 7 wickets at Hartfield on an equally splendid day for a drive through the Ashdown Forest.
As seems to be the present custom, Wanderers won the toss, choosing to bat first. Reduced to 49-5, they recovered to post and attritional 117-6 from their 35 overs.
A brief summary would be utterly amiss without a mention of a couple of rare and much enjoyed happenings that should be elevated from footnotes. Mr Lincoln appears to have been dusted off from the legends shelf and is making a comeback to lead a batting charge from the front for one. However, if you, dear reader, were asked the name of the couple who decorated the innings with respectability some familiar names might be offered. Today, unless you were at the match, you are wrong with your guesses. A half century stand from our Ant and Gemma led the mini recovery. Ant making 39 and Gemma 15. Such moments in a cricket season bring great joy to a team when they are firsts. Ant is really enjoying his cricket and has been adding steadily stronger contributions over time with bat and ball. Gemma, who apparently enjoys biffing the ball in the Steyning nets, may yet start to convert that form to a Sunday more often. Happy days.
Hartfield’s response caused little alarm for the home gathering. The target took 23 overs to reach with the three wickets being shared. Lord Sponge took a couple of catches in the process.
Wanderers slipped into a marginal results negative this season with a defeat at Awbrook to Scaynes Hill this Sunday.
Awbrook is a pleasant setting just back off the main A272, although not as tranquil as the nature perfectionists would love with the constant noise off one of the busiest country roads in Sussex. The A272 mythically follows the pilgrim journey that was made from Winchester to Canterbury and is 86 miles long. There is much history in its surrounds at different places, so much so that a Dutch writer once wrote a book about it. The book is not as dull as one would imagine, although that this resident Wanderers scribe has a copy in his possession would not be considered by some as confirmation of this. What isn’t dull though is the beautiful quietness that envelopes the cricket ground when there is a break in traffic, like the eerie silence in the surrounding trees here in suburbia that tells one that the resident birds know that a hungry sparrow hawk is in the vicinity. Nature, as beautiful as a straight six from The Big Bear, and as ugly as full toss from one or two of our bowlers today…
Wanderers batted for the entire 40 over period. A fruitful opening stand of 53, the eighth this year, came up in the tenth over. The Big Bear was first to fall for 18 with the score on 53. Gwyllim, possibly conscious of a slight lull in form at present, had played carefully for his runs. Teflon Noakes had continued his autumnal flourish with a plundering 35. It was commented that regular matches with his involvement have been a boon for his form, as is his general presence in the team. It was also the first time that David, Edward and Alice had appeared in the same match together. It may be that a father and two sons have done so on a number of occasions, but a father son and daughter combination is unlikely to have occurred before. What will give most encouragement to folk was Will’s second fifty following on from last week’s form boosting first of the season. The good news is that players who have been finding form may yet have another five or six matches to play. In reality, the season is only in mid-June in playing terms. It’s easy to forget, given the normality of proceedings now, how that is a fact. One suspects that only when stumps are drawn for the last time will the lamentations start on how it all went so quickly. Early October may yet see some cricketing activity as clubs try to squeeze another game or two in. Hurrah if it does.
Wanderers finished the innings on a healthy 187-6 with Mr Lincoln returning after some time away from the playing side of things, announcing his return with a solid boundary. It must have been good to feel the ball on the bat again.
After tea things did not go quite to plan. Not that there needs to be a plan. Sundays always produce a Plan A and nothing else. Plan A is simply to allow everyone to participate in a match- and all are in agreement. Lukey started with himself and the rather speedy Alice. It was a struggle against some hungry openers who were crafting the ball to all parts of the ground in an impressive array of stroke play. The ball travels well here and boundaries can be hard to protect once the incumbent is in full flow. Openers Tingley and Gumm were running at eight an over and the match looked to be finishing in defeat most resounding. To their credit, despite a seemingly resigned feel in the body language that was apparent to the side-lines, Wanderers did make a few inroads that at one stage left us feeling that if the batting to come was not of a standard there could be an interesting turn around. Or perhaps some of us were still drunk on the 20/20 international madness from earlier in the week. The latter proved to be the case.
Mr Styles chirped in with a three-wicket hall and the OSIT saw batsman Bacon, advancing down the wicket, stumped by the still pretty sharp Teflon. Despite a huge opening stand, Scaynes Hill were still 30 plus runs short of their target. But runs continued to flow despite the fall of wickets.
The middle order Vaughan family saw Scaynes Hill to safety after 25 overs that had ran at a rate of seven and a half. Having written a report of a famous draw earlier in the week where 83 overs had produced 203 runs, one wonders how all this comes about. Is bowling less capable these days ? Or a batsman more able ? Perhaps it’s all down to coaching methods. Another pub discussion after another good afternoon may produce the answers.
As the sun shone brightly over the Mid-Sussex countryside, and the nearby (and rather inviting) Farmers Inn was frequented, the Wanderers clan gathered to bring the evening in with a pint and a bite. Next week we return to Hundred Acre Wood and an encounter with Hartfield. Hopefully the weather will be as kind as last year with Teflon and The Big Bear in a fine fettle again. It’s still hard to contemplate the flickering embers of the season being upon us so soon. Let’s enjoy it while it’s still burning bright.
Back in 1992, the kiss-me-quick nature of limited overs cricket, certainly on a Sunday, was a very future concept. Matches began at 2 or 2.30pm, the first side had until tea at 5pm to bat, and after that it was twenty overs plus an hour. Thus, some matches would finish beyond half past seven. It could be quite a long day out as the local pub was nearly always frequented afterwards. It would be considered anti-social to have done otherwise. Sometimes one wonders whether that, across the nation, a more informed local constabulary would have had a field day with the less socially conscious driver on their way home. Different times.
Certainly, there was an aversion to the limited overs game and plenty of Sunday clubs around that supported this view. Wanderers were certainly not in favour and resisted, and perhaps avoided, some teams who might insist on such a format. This despite the format being established in county cricket- albeit at a minimum of 40 overs. There were the odd evening bashes of 20 overs, but you could count on one hand the amount of such matches Wanderers would have played during this period.
So, on a day when Wanderers journeyed to Mid-Sussex to meet Scaynes Hill a full Sunday would have been anticipated with a dry and cloudy day in prospect.
Scaynes Hill was, and probably still is, a small ground set just off the A272. This wasn’t Wanderers first visit. There is an historical connection to Scaynes Hill who took part in the 1997 70th anniversary celebration week at Plumpton sending a very good side as well.
Wanderers won the toss and put the home side in. Tea was had after 41 overs and a score of 122-6. Slow by today’s standards, but probably a little under par for the period. The bowling attack was relatively strong, but the pick of the bowlers was Mick Thompson who would not normally have been expected to claim the title being more renowned as an opening batsman than a first change bowler. Mike bowled medium pace with a rotating and whippy action. His three wickets came economically and at low cost. Wanderers would have been fairly happy in the hutch at tea.
Thommo and Brokesy batted eight overs for an opening stand of 17. Alan was a free scoring, chancing opener. A cross between Taylor Salerno and Peter Styles but with a more solid defence. He appears to have played second fiddle that day as the bowling was tight. Ulsterman Mike was more textbook and steadier. Once the stand had been broken Mike followed a couple of overs later- and there started a capitulation. It’s not as if the mid-order was bereft of ability. Teflon, Jacko and Nick Clarke were capable performers, but the Binary Club that day became the Primary Club with all three falling without troubling the scorers. The carnage continued and with plenty of overs to spare Wanderers were 50-9.
Despite a probable twenty overs plus remaining, the anchor was dropped. With Mark Scholfield and Dave Field at the crease, aside of perhaps Nick Clarke in form, there were no two better than to frustrate the bowling.
And thus, it happened. For the next 23 overs the Scaynes Hill bowlers were met with the Scholfield straight bat and Dave Field dab. 31 runs were scored, a fair number of which look to have been extras. It was the perfect afternoon of attrition. Cardiff 2009 takes a poor runner up slot.
Such matches are almost a by-gone memory. And some may morn their passing, others not. The scorecard of the match has been reproduced here for Wanderers Greatest Escape. Whether or not such an event occurs again, whether or not folk would wish to see such a happening, is up for discussion. But for those who were there, as those who were at Cardiff in 2009 would confirm, it very much felt like a victory- and a worthy Wanderers memory.
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.
Wanderers slipped to a one-wicket defeat on a slightly more placid Berrylands track this Sunday against a splendid Hindu Unity crowd.
With the vitriolic rain showers doing their best to disrupt this curtailed season of cricketing famine, a match was still possible in the full. In smirking defiance, a ‘beer match’ was also had after the main game. A slightly discrepant term, perhaps, but it meant that the day saw over 70 overs of bat’n’ball feast, with the cheapskate spectators who turned up after tea getting more value for their free entry.
Wanderers won the toss and elected to bat with The Big Bear and Will opening up. Reports came through via the technology grapevine of Wanderers reaching 61-2 after just eleven overs. Those who had been concerned of the skies before their mid-afternoon excursions took great pleasure and made a beeline to their cars. A good thing too. For as the spectatorship swelled to five so wickets had fallen in double the number. The middle order cement of recent times turning into more a squidgy sand. With Teflon having an Indian summer, others were having a day of much batting discontent. 61-2 became an all-out total of 113. Serviceable, maybe, but could Wanderers make early enough in-roads to give that arriving army of five supporters, with their loud cacophony, a proud triumph ?
At 39-2, despite a positive result being possible, and Lukey having hutched the opening batsmen, the odds were still in Unity’s favour. However, Wanderers were holding their catches and Ant and the ever-returning Smith the elder caused the middle order much mayhem.
Excitable times on the side-line with tension palpable for every run. These close affairs are great value. At 54-6, Wanderers were in the driving seat. The problem was the variance of Unity’s batting order. Like Wanderers, they like to give everyone an opportunity. Admirable, naturally, but difficult for us to see the wood from the trees. Given the frequent excursions into the bushes at Sayers Common you would expect us to be able to do so. The next quiz held at a jolly get together will be on Sussex species with a chitinous exoskeleton. I’m sure we’ve learnt them all from collecting errant sixes at many a country host.
Alas, collecting the ball from the bushes was exactly what Wanderers found themselves doing as the opposition got closer to victory. For despite Unity being reduced to 71-8, they continued to thrash for the unlikely 43 runs needed for victory. Batsmen Sagar and Amar didn’t so much dig in as play with gay abandon. The pairing had a top order feel to them as they smote the ball to all parts. Batsman Amar departed with the score in the late nineties and many a nail was bitten on the side-lines.
With a couple of lusty blows, the scores were level.. field up.. an unexpected drop and run and anything was possible. Unfortunately for the home side the pick up and throw was not forthcoming in a timely enough fashion and the batter crossed the line to much joy for the travelling side. Unity had found their way to victory in a match played in great spirit and kindred warmth. There were few whatifs, more ‘when is’ ? namely the return match. Not for revenge, but for an equally enjoyable occasion played with the right attitude. A match one has no beef in losing.
A fifteen over bash followed. Bizarrely producing as many runs than the first one. The highlights being the brotherly confrontation between Nathan and Luke as well as Teflon holding a catch of all catches, one handed, but having just stepped over the boundaries edge.
A lovely afternoon outing for all, and a forlorn reminder of how there is already little to come. Still, memories are memories, and today provided some pretty fine ones.
Wonderful news has reached the Wanderers’ increasing family of a new addition at 07:25 on Sunday morning when Baker Joe’s partner gave birth to a baby daughter. Much joy in the ranks today. The 2040 line-up is taking shape with another opener who makes plenty of 40s and 90s being a fine addition. Congratulations Joe, we wish you and your family health and happiness in your future together.
The 1994 Bath outing was held over the August bank holiday weekend with the team staying at a guest house in Pulteney Gardens which was to be used again for the May excursion the following year. The squad was plenty in number, with about 14 players available on this occasion. Thus, some chose to sit out matches with the Oldest Swinger in Town, who was not so old then, missing out on the Trowbridge game possibly to travel back earlier. Indeed, the match had been set up on the route back as players were returning to Sussex at the close.
I had arranged the tour fixtures and remember the call for this particular gig. To play at a ground that the West Indies had met the Minor Counties on in 1988 would be a great honour for the club. Assurances were given when discussing the strength of the sides and it was said that the opposition would feature a mixture of players, the impression being that considerations had been taken on board. Trowbridge were happy to play.
Two matches had gone prior over the weekend. A narrow 13 run defeat on the Saturday and a Sunday tie in which a Wanderers score of just over 100 had proved more than enough for the Coombe Down side up on the windy hill.
There is a legend told of a visit to the Footlights restaurant in the centre of the city on the Sunday night, a meal that would be memorable if anyone could really have the faculties to do so. A story is told of the ordering of a bottle of Frascati which has never seemed to have a proper punch line, although Jacko eating two huge T-bone steaks was worthy of a footnote. It’s fair to say that much wine was consumed and sore heads were the order of the day the following morning.
Having checked out of the guest house Wanderers arrived at Trowbridge on a pleasant and calmer day and immediately wowed at the splendid pavilion. A picture cannot be re-produced here for copyright reasons but take a look online and you will see its current features. The dressing room, which the West Indies may well have used six years earlier, was more hutch than Headingley. One wonders how Ambrose and Walsh would have fitted in before the great Sir Viv even contemplated his pew.
Trowbridge won the toss and sent Wanderers into bat on a wicket of even bounce and tender loving care.
The bowling attack was very capable. Tony and Brokesey opened and made an accomplished opening stand of 48. I distinctly recall the arm of the mid-wicket fielder being the best I had seen at this level and the expression of Nathan when he first saw it. After both Tony and Alan had fallen in quick succession things got troublesome for the remaining group. Nick Clarke dug in at six for a dogged 15 but the attack, and the accomplished fielding, had proved too much. Wanderers had fought their way admirably to 97 all out but it was clearly, given what we had seen, going to be short of the mark.
Resuming the BBOBS partnership of those summers, Paul and I opened the bowling with Paul taking the cherry first and me, as ever, preferring the most easterly end.
The first over yielded a run taken to Nathan in the gully. I remember the shock at such haughtiness, and given that Nathan was no mug in the field it became clear that Trowbridge had already reached a disdainful conclusion on our fielding acumen. That over produced six further runs with a four off the final ball. Any lingering hangover was soon driven out the system as I marked out my longest run up of 16 paces and began to limber up knowing that, to avoid embarrassment, it would require everything to fall into place. Certainly, with the wicket as it was, a decent length was required. The overwhelming drive was to see one of the opening duo hit the pavilion early.
The first wicket fell in the fifth ball of the spell. Opener Wilson being castled by a straight delivery. At least it wasn’t going to be a ten wicket affair. But the second wicket partnership began to build until Paul had the other opener, Gingell, caught by the safe hands of Iain Jackson. Jacko was the best fielder in the club throughout those years and you always had money on the hands even when the sharpest of chances went in his direction.
Maplesden, at four, was a class above. And on this occasion Paul, unusually, was struggling with a boundary an over. I had contained at my end but gained no further breakthrough. Nick Clarke replaced Paul but continued to leak. At 49-2 in the tenth over we were looking at being home for the nine ‘o’ clock news.
In the tenth over another player was castled in a similar way as before. Evans, who had been blocking in support, was on his way. But Maplesden needed to fall if a rout wasn’t to ensue. With the score at 58 and 59, in the twelfth over, the legend reaches its zenith.
First Oatley, wandering across his stumps to a ball speared across him, steals too much territory and is bowled behind his legs. A single is taken by the new batsman, and Maplesden goes back on strike. The ball which sent waves of worry to the balcony was the next one. Maplesden is met with a full length delivery on or just outside leg stump, goes to flick, gets a thin edge and appeals are heard in Bristol. Teflon has taken the catch and Wanderers are into the lower order. It’s 59-5 and a shock could be in the offing.
The coach was then parked against me as runs were flowing from the west end. Trowbridge clearly batted down the order and, despite another wicket falling to a lofty full toss (perhaps we had got our strategy wrong !), came home by 4 wickets after 22 overs.
I’ve often wondered why this match has been so enshrined in folklore, and perhaps the story has grown taller with the telling, but certainly it was an absorbing clash. Perhaps, if the location had not been as it was, it would have sailed into a sub-note in despatches. Nonetheless, the tour itself was a success and a return made for the following year. It would be nice to think that, given 1997 was our last visit, we may return again. Hopefully I’ll get to score an equally remarkable affair.