Return To The Hundred Acre Wood…

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So that watery yellow circle of summer’s faded dreams lowered west, and another day of September’s teasing warmth ebbed away, as if conducted to a close by an invisible orchestra, a silent symphony of colour, the conductor slowing the baton as night crept in. The ever decreasing heathland sat calmly in the distance as Pooh and Piglet made a sauntering path home.

Who was Man of the Match ?’ asked Piglet

I don’t know, they always forget to award it’ replied a frustrated Pooh.

Shall we just say it was Gwyllim ?- he always seems to win it’ Piglet replied

Let’s just give it to Cricket’ Pooh offered ..’There is precious little of it left this year’.

And indeed there is. One alien to these shores might query as to why- for as Wanderers made the journey to the north of the shire, and Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood, September had began a beautiful delusion of climatic wonder.

Hartfield is the main village in the parish of the same name. Set in a backdrop of rolling forest and protected heathland the area offers revolving and varied countryside aesthetics. One can’t help thinking the South Downs, and the coastal resorts of Sussex, stay smug that few seem to evangelise upon its beauty. Perhaps, in some ways, the local residents are thankful for this- except, naturally, the local pub which was not as full as one might expect for summer’s dying fling.

The cricket ground is in the centre of this linear village. It trebles function as the football ground and recreation park. If Wanderers have played here before then it must have been some time ago. In the north of the county there are still some hidden gems of cricketing paradise to discover. Another one was chalked off today.

Lord Sponge has been a veritable Eeyore where the toss is concerned. Perhaps with a little justification. To win the toss on a day as clear and warm as this is to bat. But Wanderers bowled. No, a Paine like lunacy did not afflict our much loved captain- he simply called it wrong again. I’m sure if Lukey was asked when he last won two tosses in a row his reply would be same as a quote from the hapless Eeyore- ‘Days, weeks, months…who knows ?’

The pitch at times was slow and low. At times it also had more bounce than Tigger. Being situated on the sandstone and clays of the High Weald often affords the opportunity to forge a batsman’s paradise. But, like many wickets, time and investment is needed. It’s also late summer so the square was clearly lacking freshness. Wanderer’s bowling attack would not traditionally be regarded as quick so vagaries in the track would not normally be seen as a major concern. Nonetheless, the advantage of batting first is somewhat neutered by them.

So Hartfield opened up a 35 over bash.

The Author was unfortunate to miss the opening hour or so of this event. For there was a little drama to speak of. Not much, but a little.

They’re funny things, accidents. You never have them till you’re having them.’ said Eeyore

It is certain that Lloyd would subscribe to this theory for it was reported, with much mirth, that despite a dry outfield there is a stream running beneath the barren grass on the south side of the pitch. And, being prone to such miss-haps, the effervescent Crathern managed to familiarise himself with this during an courageous fielding exploit. Yet there was nothing wet about him otherwise as two catches and three wickets were testament to. Perhaps Piglet was wrong about the Man of the Match award.

With an even spread of contributions, Hartfield foraged and blustered, swung and swotted their way to 184, Brunsdon and Gazina both falling short of fifties. This may have been because our Joe had given them complementary copies of his new book- ‘Jug Avoidance’.

Hartfield SWCC
Simpson Run Out (Waymark) 8 Waymark 7 0 21 0
Turner c Crathern b Smith (L) 21 Smith (L) 7 0 20 1
Brunsdon c Crathern b Field 46 Field 7 0 42 2
Saunders Run Out (Baker J) 6 Baker (J) 7 1 33 0
Brown b Crathern 28 Crathern 4 0 21 3
Marjorman c Jones b Field 0 Walker 3 0 28 0
Gazina c Noakes (w/k) b Crathern 42
Akhtar Not Out 8
Horner c Noakes (w/k) b Crathern 0
Exhal Not Out 5
Fulham DNB
Extras 21
Total 8 Wickets 184

After tea aplenty, and with the sunshine still warm, Wanderers began their reply. Our dear crock Styles had knackered many anatomical parts during the preceding couple of hours. So there was a changing of guard. Christopher Robin had to go to Buckingham Palace on his own as Alice had been roped in to bat if needed.

Now, it’s not apparent if Gman, The Big Bear, had been told that Heffalumps had been seen near the village, but he was certainly a bit hasty in wanting to get things done.

A thumping seventy one runs were hoisted from the first ten overs. And, as much as the running between the wickets was more Eeyore than Rabbit, there was an element of redundancy in the need for singles. On a ground with the boundaries such as Hartfield one senses that the public liability insurance may not be cheap. An opening stand of 100 came to end only when, as fluent and notable as the crashing arm of the Big Bear would allow, Will Barber’s innings ended when stumped for an anchorman’s 22.

One might forgive the opposition for thinking that, when dismissing Gman for 82 (4×6, 7×4) with the score at 125, the carnage might just stop there. But Teflon Noakes and Lloyd continued to trouble the scorers pencils.

It must be said that run rate slowed down with the introduction of bowlers Simpson and Sanders. Certainly Simpson’s return at two and over, and the wicket of Will, made the match seem closer. But Lloyd and Teflon Noakes both struck handsome thirties and never looked unduly troubled. Noaksey, not inclined to sprint as much these days, thumped seven fours in the process.

Having been set a target at five runs an over plus Wanderers came home to Pooh Corner with four of them to spare. Wickets had been as rare as Woozles and a comfortable victory had resulted.

A word for our hosts. Their welcome was as warm and appealing as the ground. Hartfield no longer play Saturday cricket and it is no surprise to see so many home matches in their Sunday fixture list. Wanderers would certainly like to return next season if the opportunity affords itself- and if Gman could stop putting the entire structure of the village at risk with his mammoth hitting.

The team retired to the splendid Anchor Inn for much jollity and lamenting of the season’s pending climax. And what a splendid summer it has been.

SWCC Hartfield
Jones b Exall 82 Exall 7 0 41 1
Barber St w/k b Simpson 22 Horner 5 0 52 0
Crathern Not Out 36 Simpson 7 1 15 1
Noakes Not Out 35 Sanders 7 1 32 0
Waymark Gazina 5 0 36 0
Manvell
Baker
Walker
Smith (L)
Styles
Field
Extras 11
Total 185
FOW 100, 125