12th May 2018 v I Zingari by Ed Maidment

On arrival at the ground rain was forecast and appearing, all eyes were on the myriad of apps second and third guessing the dampness of the day. Strangely, Monty, the IZ skipper, decided to have a bowl first. Makeshift skipper, Maiders, thanked the cricket gods for being inserted on what turned out to be a wet fielding session before lunch. Ed Steel and Ed Oram opened up the batting, the latter namesake wishing his balls were made of the former’s surname when clunked early on in the nether regions. This injected a fight or flight response, fight meant that Oram managed to land a ball, of the cricket type now, halfway up an innocent bystander of an Horse Chestnut tree, having got to 32 without any scoring shot but a boundary the innings went off at a decent canter. Mr Steel fell early to Charlie Griffin, still able to run in under the guise of an IZ cap and jumper, knowing full well he was likely to dampen Eton Rambler prospects with a solid display of seam bowling. Griffin ending up taking 4 of the five Rambler wickets. The fifth being taken by the makeshift skipper! After Oram fell in the tenth over the score was 50 and the outgoing batsmen had 41 of those, no instruction of pinch hitting was given, the pinch had come in a different form apparently.

With this great early platform Barnaby Harrison and Ainsley Barker propelled the innings to lunch at 170 for 2, some very wristy strokes through the onside from Barker and some measured offside stroke play from Harrison, the joint wagon wheel had some real distinction. Barker’s 50 coming in 43 balls with Harrison’s 59, both could indulge in an excellent lunch before pushing on to greater things, perhaps! Those more experienced Ramblers knew full well that a collapse after lunch was as likely as the rain to stop, the apps confirmed this. It was therefore strange that the scoreboard ticked past 200 still for the loss of two wickets, with the rain abated. Barker got a good one from Griffin to break the 154 run partnership for the third wicket, leaving the crease after a lovely brisk 89. Nick von Christierson under orders to move the score along fell again to the metronomic Griffin. Now 218 for 4, Griffin 4 for, his opening partner 0-80 looked unenthused. Harrison now was closing in on what Des Hartley Russell was hoping against, the potential hundred. Maiders rotated the strike or hit a boundary knowing that declaration was to be at 40 overs. Harrison hit a new bowler through the ring and both set off for two, the rain however hindered the turning of the tanker, Maiders was down, unbelievably Harrison was a third of the way into his second run, seeing the ship aground he turned for safety, another slip, two down! A brief hesitation from the fielder was a good mark of the spirit of the game, though the bails were duly removed. Run out on 95, the score 266 for 5, it was time to have a bowl.

Forbes and Richards took the new ball, Forbes managing to take a wicket before tea, a steepling catch by Hartley Russell, who was given an over before tea as reward. After tea a change of tack, move towards spin with Gyles Scott-Hayward taking over from Richards, striking quickly to remove the second opener with the score on 50, the weather had relented somewhat by this time and fielding was not the problem it had been for the opposition. The pitch had almost no life in it by now, a slight kick from short of a length bowling but nothing more, full pitched medium pace was treated with mild disrespect by the IZ number 4, an Aussie who could clearly play. On around 20 there was a catch at mid-off that unfortunately went down, Des Hartley Russell the bowler. Wickets continued to come from other batsmen, a full toss and a useful cutter to get rid of George Maltby, another Rambler playing for the opposition, for a couple of ball duck. The IZ number six came in and had limited shot making from full balls straight and on the on-side, a deft open face run down through third man making most of his runs, the classic effective but uninteresting batsman. The score lurched to 179 when finally Barker, fielding at a saving one third man took aim for an extra second and threw down the stumps to get rid of the number 4 bat. After this breakthrough the Ramblers felt the IZ struggle was over, unfortunately the number 7 bat had ideas of continuing to try and win the game and a run a ball 20 odd ensued. Things were getting tense so after two good spells from Pickthorn and von Christierson the Ramblers reverted back to Forbes and Hartley Russell to tighten up in the last ten overs, 90 needed from those overs. Four overs from the end we had five wickets to take. Hartley Russell took the first and Forbes took two more in the next over, one a great catch from the evergreen Steel, the wicket of the tedious number 6 for 49. Griffin joined the party and Forbes took to his last over taking the 9th wicket, another great catch from Steel making 20 yards, with the sky darkening it was even more impressive. Three balls at the unlucky Thomson, earlier going for 104 from the 12 overs he bowled without a wicket, could his day get worse in these last three balls – with the field in close as 18 needed from 3 balls, intimidation might be the way to go, dot first ball, everyone in, 2 more past the attacking field. Last ball, a slice past the outstretched hand of short cover. 259 for 9, an honourable draw given the circumstances.