A Draw !- Remember Those ?- SWCC v Brighton & Hove Crescent 02.08.2020

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The Wanderers tour of the local grounds continued with a trip to the outskirts of town and the Horsdean pitch at Patcham. Horsdean is a quite a pleasant place for a match, possibly the best of the circuit Brighton venues. Ample in size and set to the north of the suburb, just below the by-pass, it could easily be missed for someone not local and non-cricketing. It has been home to the established Brighton & Hove Crescent for some time. For Brighton, the wicket always seems relatively well kept too.

A very regular Wanderers side won the toss (Lloyd takes a bow) and decided to bat first on a breezy and pleasant August afternoon. Openers Wilson and Barber resuming their partnership, or rivalry, and adding 42 for the process. Much of their conflabs in the middle of wicket doubtless discussing the fine delineation of descriptions for bowler speeds. Was he quick or rapid ?  One wonders if the budget will extend to a speed gun this winter.

Lloyd and Teflon Noakes did little to trouble the scorers once the openers had gone and the partnership of the innings was left to the Big Bear and slasher Styles. 64 was added to steer away from potential batting calamity and the total looked like it might be heading for safety as it reached 136. Once Peter had departed, Gwyllim continued to anchor the innings, the last four wickets yielded 52, and Wanderers finished their innings on 188-8. Gwyllim finished on 68 not out, Wanderers first fifty of the season. The highlights section of the averages finally has an entrant.

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B

Who needs the old teas back ?

Historically, Brighton & Hove Crescent traditionally bring the curtain down on the season and, these days, in unusual fashion- better put, some traditionalists would describe ‘proper’ fashion. Although 80 overs were the limit, all three results were allowable. For those who don’t remember, a draw can be a result in a cricketing match if a target is not reached and ten wickets were not taken. A prospect of much bewilderment to most folk under 30 or foreign visitors who have been introduced to Test match cricket. It may be that Mr Noakes had some explaining to do in the car on the way home.

Talking of the Noakes cricketing academy, young Alice opened the bowling with the Oldest Swinger in Town. This provoked online discussion about the biggest age gap running between a pair of bowlers in SWCC history. At 59 years, an uneducated statistical neck can safely be stuck out when assuming that this is highly likely to be the winner. And accounts talk of a splendid showing from the Noakes stable, including a wicket and the second tidiest economy of the afternoon. A Wanderers ladies’ team ? The Sunday side might wish to keep things as they are if this continues. ‘Alice in Wanderers Land’ has gone into the corny cricketing library to be headlined at a later date…

The BHCC line up nearly all had starts, and given the nature of the match the breaks could be applied at any time. 188 never looked in any danger as a reachable target but Wanderers had to work for their wickets. Lloyd picked up most of the top order with 3-35, but it was tough to build up a head of steam. The fifth wicket fell in the 23rd over which meant, with 15 left, an outright win was always going to be a tough ask.

The under-rated Gwyllim turned his arm, Ant had a bowl, and Will found his way back to the oche. Eventually sharing four wickets between them in the process, there had been hope on Wanderers side as two wickets were needed for victory when the last five overs arrived. But like the days of 70s, when matches of huge deficits resulted in draws, there was to be no last hurrah as the tenth wicket fell. The Crescent held on and hands were shaken, or rather acknowledging nods exchanged, and the match was agreed upon as a draw…

…. or a winning draw, as we used to say to our colleagues on a Monday morning.

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Once We’ve Found It.. SWCC v Poynings 29.07.2020

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A nice evening sojourn to Poynings then. A pleasant ground that, surprisingly, some haven’t played on and others even less known of. Some might not have even got there as the seductive lady on Google Maps sent them down the lane opposite into the deepest countryside. There is a horror film in there somewhere- although some might argue that Wanderers calamities provide quite enough gore. ‘’I might be gone some time’’, says the confident Wanderers batting saviour. You know what happens next….

Wanderers lost the toss, which is less of a hammer horror and more of a pantomime these days. Poynings chose to bat and a steady stream of contributions down the order led to a healthy total on a bouncy, and perhaps a tad dangerous in the wrong light, artificial wicket. The Wanderers bowling was shared around. The Big Bear, upon The Author’s appearance, spoke gleefully of his 3 wickets for 15 runs. Gwyllim has always been a capable bowler when he has the opportunity- although one would consider he doesn’t see it as a serious part of his game.

In clear weather and a cooling evening breeze Poynings found their way to 147.

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The light remained good for the second innings. Playing 10 overs from one end then the other is a clever way of keeping things ticking over. At Poynings they have another rule, as arbitrary as they often are, that a wide results in two runs and no extra ball. On the face of it, this seems like another sensible plan. Not perhaps, though, when a team’s run rate needs to eclipse 12 an over- as Wanderers were at when a young lad was struggling to keep things in the tramlines.

It wouldn’t have mattered though. Against some very pacey, occasionally erratic and, given the amplified bounce of the wicket, rather testing early bowling, it never looked like Wanderers would meet the demands of over 7 an over. There were a few batting highlights. Some lovely biffs from top scorer Teflon Noakes who copped a nasty one on his, thankfully, helmeted bonce and a lovely drive into the cow field at a low full toss from Will.

Poynings were strong in the field and knew the terrain. The final response of 103-7 fell well short but again folk had enjoyed the evening, chalked off a new ground, and found pleasant company. The last of the 20 over matches have been played and thus we return to the Lord’s Day. And we’ll all be praying before the toss…

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Wanderers Win In The Weald… SWCC v Mayfield 26.07.2020

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Wanderers journeyed north today to the resplendent High Weald and its splendiferous Mayfield cricket ground, Wish Park and Hove Rec looking from behind with forlorn resignation.

A 30 over bash starting early at 12.30 suggested that some may have hoped to catch the action of the Premier League’s conclusion, or at least the events unfolding in the Test match. The Author, thinking to make the journey, decided against arriving mid-afternoon due to the potential for a short match and nearly an hour’s travel time (certainly at his speed). Such a decision proved wise as the match failed to go a full distance, even with a few ‘beer’ overs added once the victory total had been passed.

And victory fell to Wanderers.

Mayfield won the toss and batted. In customary fashion the overs were shared among the Wanderers numbers. From 58-2, and after Lloyd’s opening brace, Mayfield struggled to make fluent progress. Young Edward took his first club wicket, Noodle added a couple of his own, and Master Hyde finished off the tail end in Bothamesque fashion. The home team’s total of 104 was looking doubtful against what was a strong batting line up today.

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Thus it proved, and the victory margin may have been wider and the much shorter had Lord Sponge not determined, as usual, to give everyone an opportunity to enjoy the play.

Noakes snr and Noakes jnr opened the batting. The first time a father/son combination have opened the batting since- perhaps someone can answer that ?

Teflon Noakes swotted 24, although at one stage Wanderers found themselves tottering at 33-4. No need for concern however. Cometh the hour, cometh a new player for this term. Chris Barrett made 41 even outstripping the flashing blade of Mr Styles who contributed 11 to a 46 run partnership. With Jamie joining him for final knockings, Wanderers arrived home in 20th over with five wickets in hand.

A pleasant victory and another fine example of involving everyone in the match. On to Poynings mid-week and more lovely Sussex scenery. Is there anything better ?

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Few Alternatives…. SWCC v Alternatives 22.07.2020

Feature image: Catherine Noakes

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Wanderers continued their 20 over schedule at Wish Park last night with a defeat to the Alternatives on a splendid July evening.

Wish Park is another one of those grounds of convenience that has been so warmly thought of over the years that it has earned that affectionate name ‘dog turd alley’. Over those years, however, some may be inclined to reconcile the crudeness of the descriptive with the performances of the team rather than the state of the ground…..

Alternatives won the toss and batted first, a must for these matches. Three players reached double figures with a half century for one. Wanderers, ever to the credit of inclusiveness, used ten bowlers. The ever-returning Nathan Smith picking up two wickets along with Kieran Nevill, whose clan of siblings numbered three in last night’s match. An elevated from footnotes mention to young Edward Noakes who joined in the fun and was not at all embarrassed in his own two over spell at adult level, unlike some of the adults were at theirs. The Alternatives total of 160 was always going to be a hard ask.

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Generally, Wanderers struggled in their response with new batsman Jethro top scoring with 35. Jamie Hyde and Kieran contributed a few lusty blows but the Binary Club donation buckets were out in force again with another five contributions taking the seasonal tally to 19 in just four matches. Lord Sponge managed to avoid his donation with a five not out but did manage to run out Edward which has not failed to make dispatches.

Still, these evening matches are there to be enjoyed and it would seem that this goal is being achieved. A contrary venue awaits at Mayfield awaits on Sunday. Hopefully the weather will hold.

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Back To Berrylands.. SWCC v Yellow Stumps 19.07.2020

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As much as cricketers are trying to make up for lost time so is the English summer. Thus, it was inevitable that the third fixture in was threatened by a day of bad weather sandwiched in between two of sunshine and July warmth. I had to get the word ‘sandwich’ in, for it is unlikely that there will be much mention of that this summer. At least Jordy will be safe from tea rush jestering.

For a while it looked like there may be no cricket at all. The A23 gave the wipers a good outing and The Author arrived at Berrylands with Johno heading in the opposite direction. Thankfully, his outing was merely for supplies and most of the crew were in place, if looking resigned and a little reluctant.

There was a desire to play among some but not so much among others. One of the issues that the Berrylands has, unlike Plumpton which is just inside the chalk layers, is that wicket is built on clay. A properly prepared clay wicket is a batsman’s paradise. A poorly prepared wicket can produce an uneven and, if wet especially, dangerous bounce. Berrylands falls into the latter category. A wicket which has been neglected beyond basic preparation for some time. The water here does drain east across the field (there is a fertile area near the changing rooms) but playing in wet conditions can do immense damage for a wicket that is under-resourced to recover, which may cause problems down the line. Thus, a decision to play is at your own risk if there are pacey bowlers about. A decision to play a junior match yesterday would have been a safeguarding fail.

Wanderers lost the toss (I think we’ve ran out of jokes here….) and were put into bat and, with said pitch irregularities, found the going tough. Lloyd fell early and The Big Bear struggled to maintain any fluency. Yet, despite another interruption and a few soil explosions, he and Will constructed one of the most commendable stands in recent times, a relatively easy chance offered by Will being spilled during this period potentially proving costly. With 50 runs coming between overs 10 and 20 there laid the foundations of a match winning total. Wanderers are now used to such top order showings, but this Sunday was especially conspicuous. But when both players fell with the score in nineties an 180+ total immediately looked beyond likely and it was always going to revert to a rear-guard action as early as middle order.

Thus, it proved, Mr Styles, unnerved by the prospect of having just avoided a salvo from the mouth of the diseased sphere’s cannon, cut and scythed his way to 22. Numbers six to eleven, in new Wanderers tradition, had clearly heard of The Authors newly formed Binary Club and set out to make donations. Four ducks and two singles bringing the total contributions to 14 already this July. ‘I’m wondering if there might be 50 of them this season’, said The Author, ‘Can’t you settle for 20 ?’ replied Gwyllim. I might if the club stopped donations at the end of July….

The Yellow Stumps bowling was, at times, deceptively quick. Ben Gardener, who wasn’t brought on until the 31st over with the score on 118, took 5 wickets for 4 runs without being the most proficient of the pick. But at that stage Wanderers were in the lower order and the fragilities had re-surfaced. Nonetheless, 128 all out is always something to work with.

 

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The weather dried up and the match continued. For Yellow Stumps this worked in their favour. The Wanderers attack, although focused, is lacking pace these days. The track was much easier to bat on and the bowlers had to work hard. The opening stand between batsman Gardener (F) and Richardson was fluent and able. Broken first on 48, the Yellows reached 65, and halfway, with just two wickets down. Luke had taken his first of two with another wicket to The Oldest Swinger in Town. The comfortable response continued though, with the third wicket partnership adding another 47 and the run rate increasing. Despite being comfortable placed to trounce Wanderers at 112-2, Yellow Stumps lost three wickets in the final push. One of these, to the delight of the Wanderers ensemble, to Noodle who having celebrated his catch behind was promptly dispatched for a huge six to finish the game in Yellow Stumps favour.

Much talk of further availabilities ensued and it seems that many are keen to get as much bat’n’ball in as they can. The social fun continues, the game remains splendid, and the Binary Club needs new staff to receive the plethora of donations. On to Wednesday.

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The Binary Party Continues- SWCC v Zambuca Tigers 15.07.2020

Off to another venue of dreams for the first twenty over game of this brief summer. The Author played one of his first matches in 1989 at this venue and no-one lost serotonin at its prospect.

This, however, is a ‘needs must’ summer and twenty over bashes are best when local. With the light drawing in during the second innings it became clear that, outside of a 15-day window either side of solstice, these matches can struggle with 6pm starts in anything other than clear conditions- especially when the sight screen is a large oak tree. The use of the pink ball brought a smug look to The Author’s face having suffered ridicule at such a suggestion many years back. Now I know how Jimmy Hill must have felt at times.

We see a lot of the Tigers each summer and the reasons are clear. They’re a friendly bunch. All ages, all talents and a nice warmth about the way they play the game. The match kicked off with Wanderers winning the toss (Draft note- May need confirmation on that) and unsurprisingly batting.

The runs flowed steadily throughout the innings with three 25 retirements. Good stuff for the averages but not for the scorer. Tyler Nevill, The Big Bear and Mr Styles being the asterisked personnel. Will elegantly stroked a fluent 24 and Johno went scything wheat in his usual way.

There were four further additions to the Wanderers binary club of 2020 bringing the total to nine in the first two matches.  A plump score of 165 looked good for prospects.

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Thus, it proved. The usual merry-go-round of bowlers in place made the game entertaining as ever and a few unlikely wicket takers meant the bowling list looks as fun as the batting at present. Mr Styles pooped the binary party with two, Mr Noakes taking a single to have more wickets than runs at present. His earlier duck being conveniently blamed on the arrival of the missus although the family being within a 25-mile radius of the ground is certainly a handicap for superstitious miss-fortune.

Tigers made a game of it and, although not looking to threaten Wanderers healthy total, fell only 14 short at the end.

Once again cricket was the winner and the plethora of availabilities suggests that Wanderers have an unusual problem at present with players having to stand down. A problem that, perhaps, is a fortunate one at present.

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Old Habits, New Normal- SWCC v Worthing 12.07.2020

‘Social distancing’ is a horrible concept, even more a very odd phrase, and when the 2019 season closed such a happening would have never been considered a norm. Yet throughout this year we have rather got used it, and on Sunday Wanderers took to taking things a little further when distancing their bats from straight deliveries and their fielding hands from the ball.

The opening match of this season was to be had in balmy July weather at the Preston Park cycle track, a convenient venue rather than a plumb choice for the lover of cricketing aesthetics. But needs must, and folk were desperate to play, even if their keenness had caused a mild amnesia where the tactical complexities of one’s game are concerned.

Of course, the viewing of this match was more of a chore for The Author, not because of the need for a scorer (the shiny new scorebook had proved the perfect bait) but because of his own senior moment in forgetting to bring his tea. The diet may have received a boost but the culinary memory of a cricketing event is worth a paragraph alone. Even the match reports have only returned in a half-hearted way as a result.

But some things will always stay with us. Like Luke losing the toss. Once the coin had been tossed with gay abandon and the wrong call made everybody knew that cricket was back. Wanderers were sent into bat, it was a 35 over bash, and we back on track. Well, kind of.

Jordan and The Big Bear strode to the wicket like a pair of boxing heavyweights ready to do some serious damage. A confident swagger and a look of preparation for a run fest. It may be best left at that point as it was downhill from thereon in. The first over began, the familiar chatter gently swirling at the boundaries edge, and Jordan looked in turmoil from the opening ball. Nature decided to throw the towel in early as the fifth delivery of the first bout rumbled his wickets. There was a run on the board, the saving grace of a wide, and no first ball dismissal. Small crumbs. Lloyd barely had his pads on so The Author told him not to worry. Perhaps timing out may have been a saving grace, although Lloyd did his best to shake off the cobwebs with a combative approach.

Thankfully, the famous opening disaster at Littleworth in 2016 was surpassed with ease though. The second wicket stand producing almost as many runs as the entire innings of that mad afternoon in West Sussex. With the score looking like a shaping 34 Lloyd has a rush of blood and chases bowler Rusbridge down the wicket. He’s sharply stumped and the second wicket falls. No problem, he’s shown some promise, it’s the first match, and proud father Will Barber is making his way to the wicket to show his new born the field that may become his own in years to come. The Big Bear is digging in and, although not as fluent as usual, is building an innings. It could be a long introductory afternoon for the scorers’ pencil. Or not. 22 runs are added, Will with a lone boundary but seemingly out of sorts, then another wicket falls. Uncomfortable from the off, Will becomes bowler Wood’s first victim. There envelopes a feeling in The Author’s senses that a sharpener may be needed. I’m not wrong. It may be 56-2, but an uncomfortable feeling of short proceedings is in the air. And thus, it was.

The Wanderers tail is long, and given the rustiness that the delayed season has crusted upon the group, it’s giraffe long, and the time it takes to scythe through is shorter than the appendage of a Manx cat…. Anxious bats are left flailing at the high summer air, padded legs greet the straight delivery forgetting their wooden advance party, catches are gratefully and comfortably held. As the vector of disease becomes the sphere of calamity, It’s a rout.  Seven wickets fall for 18 runs with five batsmen making 0 or 1. The score book looks like an old programmer’s log with its binary sequences.

Fixturev Worthing 
Date12.07.2020
VenuePreston Park, Brighton
Type35 Overs
TossWorthing 
ResultWorthing  won by 5 Wickets

 

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So, Wanderers take to the field for the first time this season. Happy steps. Whatever happens it isn’t likely to be a long stint. There was, however, early promise. Lukey opened the bowling from the north end and Lloyd from the south. A competent looking two who didn’t appear much shackled by the long layoff. Apart from a couple of boundaries the openers begin in tentative fashion. With the score on 12 the first wicket in 10 months falls, and it’s the man Crathern who bowls batsman Rusbridge. How delightful to see the bails spilled and the celebratory grunts of the fielders. Jordan provides ample coverage behind the stumps and stands up to Luke. At 21 this is rewarded with a sharp stumping of the other tottering opener. When a third wicket falls on 26 in the first over of the 50th season from the oldest swinger in town, there is hope on our side. After all, would not one expect the opposition to have the same rustiness ? We’ve done this before. There is a game a brewing here.

Yet Unlike Wanderers on this occasion, the Worthing have a primed middle order. A steady stand develops between the two young incumbents. The oldest swinger gets swung by this embryonic pairing although debutante Hemmings stays steady at the south end. With little runs to play with the stand proves costly and when Geoff takes his first wicket with the score on 62, a catch at the wicket by safe hands Jordan, Wanderers have all been a bit dilatory. Ant and Phil are given a chance to turn their arms over, Ant joining the four bowlers already on most wickets taken for the season- one- with the first outfield catch of the season going to Will Barber. The Gents ease home with half their line up intact.

The playing season hasn’t so much started with a bang as a squeaky fart.  There is little fanfare but more a sense of contentment that finally our favourite summer pastime is a part of our lives again. The new normal is now the normal. Some things remain though. Unfounded hope, middle order collapses, missed opportunities and comedic calamity. What also remains is a good bunch of folks enjoying themselves on a Sunday and making each other’s lives much richer for the experience. Bugger the result, it’s good to have that back.

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