Brrrr- SWCC v Jevington- 27.09.2020

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.

Images owner: Gemma Manvell

September Splutters Continue, But The Sun Still Shines- SWCC v Chailey 20.09.2020

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.

Wanderers More Eeyore Than Tigger In Return To Hundred Acre Wood- SWCC v Hartfield 13.09.2020.

Image owner: Catherine Noakes

 

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.

Lazy Sunday afternoon

Image owner: Gemma Manvell

Will And Teflon In Fine Fettle, But Wanderers Defeated- SWCC v Scaynes Hill 06.09.2020

Image Owner: Catherine Noakes

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.

Image Owner: Catherine Noakes

The Cat In The Covers- SWCC v Alternatives 30.08.2020

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…

The Cat In The Covers
The Cat In the Covers

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

As Close As It Gets- SWCC v Hindu Unity 23.08.2020

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.

POSTSCRIPT 25.08.2020:

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.

It’s Getting Brighter Over There… v East Dean 16.08.2020

The view from the captain’s car on arrival (photo: Luke Smith)

Back in the early 90s, Wanderers played a match at Steyning Grammar School. The weather was not quite so keen. It had been raining for some time and when the teams arrived at the ground showed no signs of relenting. During the long period of waiting a member of the Wanderers team looked hopefully to the west and suggested that it was getting brighter in that direction. This was certainly desperate hope at best, but one should commend him for his optimism. Inevitably the brightness was a figment of a deluded eye and the match was cancelled. Some may argue that, upon arrival at East Dean yesterday, a similar scenario was in play, although common sense prevailed.

The Met Office, and others, were pretty adamant that the weather would relent around 3pm, and from 4pm bright sunshine and more sufferable than of late warmth was expected. The ground at East Dean is situated in a pleasant chalky grassland area between hills and drains well. Birling Gap is within the parish and the ground is perfect for the coastal village cricket experience. Once the rain stops cricket will never be far away although the wicket itself will turn quite flaky meaning studs are a must. It will also keep a bit low with a few benign lifters. In short, a tricky track to bat on, but nonetheless playable. This isn’t a Test match, which is a good thing because given the events in Hampshire one would assume a single sun covering cloud would have had the players off for the light.

The toss was uncontested with Luke deciding the opening lines. Whether the East Dean captain has read these reports and was suffering compassion overload I don’t know, but that one still doesn’t go down in Lukey’s favour. The match was reduced to a 25 over hit with East Dean batting first, naturally getting the worst of the rub.

As usual the bowling was shared around. There had been some discussion during the week about a match played 30 years ago. Looking at some of the old scorecards it is clear that the matches were orientated in a way to match skill sets with players who weren’t so strong in either discipline missing out. In hindsight, one may inclined to feel that some of this is a little lamentable meaning some folk who wanted to engage in social cricket were left on the fringes. This kind of approach was not unique and was certainly of its time. But given that many who play Saturdays are less inclined to do so Sundays, and the desire to make Sunday itself the social occasion it is as Wanderers, this approach has created a superior mouse trap for some clubs. Certainly, Wanderers are not unique in this approach (a total of 14 bowlers were used across the sides yesterday) and if Sunday cricket is to keep itself off the life support machine it is on in some areas then it is the way forward. We can only be thankful to those responsible for identifying this early. It’s the reason some clubs still exist.

East Dean crafted their way through the overs and Wanderers kept things pretty tight. Such is the rapid nature of the game these days that a run rate of under six an over in such a match is considered as ‘tight’. It was good to see Jeff playing again and he opened the bowling with Luke. A little-known factoid: Luke topped the bowling averages in his first full season at the club, taking 25 in the process. More on this in future reports.

Wickets were short in number yesterday though as East Dean made their way to a respectable total of 142-4. The Oldest Swinger in Town bowling the most overs with five. Dave has commented about his concerns over his lack of wickets at present, but he is still enjoying his cricket and the club are enjoying him. One feels that a corner can be turned at any stage of life’s cricket outing and the swing is still there. I predict a five-for will happen again in the not too distant future. That or allegations of jug avoidance. The age range of the Wanderers bowlers once again spanned sixty odds years

Tea- well the only drawback of such a beautiful location is the lack of a nearby Burger King. First world problems, eh ?

After eight overs, Wanderers reached 46-2. A steady run rate but the Big Bear, unable to find much fluency with the variable bounce, seemed a shadow of his best. Lloyd, a bit out of sorts by his own admission, made only 2. This would have been worse had a splendidly directed delivery from opener Shouksmith not deviated off a cutting at full length and missed off stump by a whisker. The fall of the second wicket brought Chris and Teflon together and a partnerships bond of contrasts was formed.

The deft and finely coached footwork of Chris is conspicuous even before he reaches his full flow of stroke play and his ability to alter a shot mid-flow is sublime. Conversely, Teflon is less inclined to alter what he knows best, and has served him so well over the years. So yesterday we saw a fascinating combo and a rare tactical move. Naturally unaware of Dave’s ability to ensure a thumping biff remains that, the field was brought up on occasions to stop him from getting the single. A sight probably never witnessed before and a reflection of the way in which Chris can easily dictate the flow of a game. Certainly, there were signs that Dave had struggled to manage the variable bounce so such an approach is understandable. Dave’s response was to go over the top to one delivery with a lofted drive that could be described as the most defiant shot of the innings. But runs flowed from both bats and Wanderers first, and hopefully not last, century stand of the season ensued. Given the perfect screenplay, If Gywllim and Lloyd can also fire in the same game then a huge total could ensue with such quadrivial means available.

Wanderers arrived home with five overs remaing and all were thankful to get an enjoyable afternoon’s play under their belt once again. East Dean had hosted well, and news has been shared that the wicket is soon to be moved and relayed and what will doubtless be a large undertaking. The club appears to be doing well at a most perfect setting and made even more so with the popular Tiger Inn nearby.  The sheep on the incline behind are wont to do their best to replicate the Sydney hill as they taunt the opposition bowlers on their run ups…

The pub was open and match analysis was conducted. Back to Berrylands next week for another, if not quite so aesthetically superior country experience. Still, a whopper and fries will be back on the tea menu.

Photos: Jeff Hemmings

Greys Day As Wanderers Wilt.. SWCC v Greys 10.08.2020

 

Annotation 2020-08-11 025004

As much as an eager village cricketer will turn their eyes to the pending weather forecast as early as the Monday preceding, sunny weather doesn’t always bring a whoop of inner joy. Well, seemingly not in the last few decades. Seasoned turf treaders will know that looking at the forecast too early is a sign for false hope, a bit like the fixture announcements of a pending football season. Looking too late can simply be a recipe of depressive resignation. This is made more obsessive by 24-hour weather stations and phone apps. When I was young we just used the window.

The weather of the last few days has been rather oppressive, with nights uncomfortable- especially in a country most unprepared for such climatic madness. Although perhaps 95-degree heat is very ‘meh’ these days. Even some of the media seem a little lethargic about it all. Yesterday, if anyone noticed, would have been among the hottest days Wanderers have played in during a match in England and at least on a par with many abroad. The trains might get stopped if the lines buckled, but yesterday’s match saw the wrong type of something else as Wanderers took the field after a strong first innings showing. Chasing a ball around an open country green is no fun in these conditions, so Wanderers seem little uninclined to do that after a while. There’s no blame there. Especially from those in the relative shade who even themselves must have wondered if it was all worth it.

Gemma went for the toss at the start, Luke seemingly manacled during this ceremony like Cacofonix at another of Asterix victory feasts. The result was a correct call and Wanderers went into bat. Gwyllim, the Obelix of the gaggle, strode to the wicket with Will and by the time a duodenary of runs had been passed both were back in the shade. Oft in the past, and perhaps a few times in the present, such consecutive losses would normally spell a hellish doom. Not so yesterday. In fact, the first knockings of the afternoon saw three fifty partnerships. As much as the sand timer seems to quicken at the swift opening of Wanderers lid there are a few times when a solid clump can clog the filter. Yesterday this came in different styles and aesthetics. If Wanderers batting is to be compared to a sand timer then Alum Bay must surely be its origin.

From 12-2, the third wicket partnership yielded 59 runs, Chris and Teflon Noakes representing the recovery charge. Obviously, Mr Noakes knew that such a response was needed before the sledge of not even being the best player in his family cloaks him in thoughts of spectatorship with Pimms and a cigar. Although such a thought may well have been yesterday’s preferred option regardless. Before the readers mind moves effortlessly on to thoughts of a gentle stroll to an impressive target, there was a Weeblesque mid-order wobble. Teflon failed to stick around further, and whether Gems and Scyther Styles decided the sun was too strong for hanging out in the open, or their sun cream had been forgotten in the choice of sandwich conundrum, they beelined for the air-conditioned Binary Club and Wanderers were 82-5.

Chris was Joined by Jeff at the dusty crease. Jeff, if reading this, will be pleased to see his name spelt correctly at last and now adjusted in the stats. Not that his cricketing acumen needs such adjustment. A further 64 was added. The WhatsApp reports of 107-5 at one stage gave rise of thoughts to those far from the action that exposure to the August cauldron would not wilt Wanderers for as long as anticipated, but this was, upon the dismissal of Chris, prolonged further as Ant decided to get in on the balmy action once Chris has left the crease for a fine 77. His 20 formed part of another 50 stand with Jeff and Wanderers finished on 207-5. The Burger King nearby was given custom again yesterday and a tea as unorthodox as the mid-order rally was had.

SWCC

Once stomachs were filled, and wilted bodies resurrected, Wanderers took to the field as the day remained sultry, Jeff and Lord Sponge firing the opening salvos with the vector of disease. After an opening partnership of 34, opener Brasker fell to a fine catch from Chris. A stiff target had been set and Greys were keen to build a carefully constructed response with new batsman Meek playing both the anchor and cannon. Thus, it proved.

Wanderers, having carved the blade so well, were never out of the game in the first half of second knockings, but the bowling, again forgivably, lacked any real penetration. Given that the neglected wicket was throwing up its usual incendiaries this would be all the more disappointing. Gwyllim seemed to hit the deck firmly and one wonders, as said before, if he should treat his bowling capabilities as much as his splendid batting is afforded. With 2-19 he was the pick of the Wanderers bunch. At 82-3 Wanderers were still favourites.

Much credit needs to be given here to batsman Meek. Clearly an evergreen cricketing stalwart, his tempered innings provided the backbone of the Greys response. Both a firm striker and accomplished nudger, the total kept ticking over and accelerating. A stand of 76 with batsman Ashton was only broken when Teflon Noakes took a catch standing up to one of Keith’s snow droppers (catch pictured below).

But beyond this there was very little to write home about, unless you are capable of making a thousand words out of ten as indeed these reports are. Chris, a splendid find with ball and bat, looked sharp although a bit baffled about how to bowl with the wicket’s inconsistencies and perhaps within himself due to its volatile nature. Keith’s legendary skyers brought ice down from the melting realms of the atmosphere and, as ever, the sight of The Oldest Swinger in Town further warmed any cricketer hoping for esteemed longevity in their playing days. Dave talks of playing at the centenary in 7 years’ time. One can only feel that this is likely even if others are floundering before. Greys arrived home with six wickets remaining and just over three overs in hand.

As wearing as the day must have proved for some, spirits were still high, and a number ventured off to the pub for the cooling nectar. It was the princess’s birthday weekend so such occasion must be marked. Defeat soon forgotten; social normality was restored. Well, kind of, but the new normal, if you get my drift. But the new normal could become most adaptable if the middle order does it’s thing like today on a regular basis.

Greys

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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