16 August 2020 v Marlborough Blues

Match report – Marlborough Blues Vs Eton Ramblers

Nothing tickles the willow quite like the sight of a perfectly prepared track after months of lockdown. Sunday was no exception, with the Blues taking on the Eton Ramblers on a wicket that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a televised day 1 Ashes pitch inspection down under.

Due to an ominous late afternoon weather forecast the two captains decided on a 35 over match. Rather light on bowling, Blues skipper Stuart Swift won the toss and elected to bowl, backing his batting line-up to chase down anything Eton set.

George Strang and Joe Lloyd opened the bowling and right from the first over posed a constant threat, beating the outside edge regularly and moving the ball a considerable way. As pressure built, and an increasingly large chunk of the available overs started to disappear for little return, the batsmen were in trouble. Then, in a moment that would make any bowler’s summer, Ramblers opener Hallas left the ball and then the crease in short order, as Joe Lloyd got a nip-backer to clip the very top of off. Lloyd would pick up the wickets of Brooks and Hanna in his opening spell, leaving Ramblers tottering at 29/3. Strang’s accurate opening spell provided the pressure from the other end.

Justin Langen, Eton’s skipper, formed a solid mid order partnership with Chambers, allowing the Ramblers to reach drinks at 98/3 from 20 overs. However, the drinks break seemed to destroy their concentration, and towering spinner Dom Brown (2/43) accounted for them both. Langen (31) hacked a sweep straight to Joe Lloyd at square leg, and then Chambers (27) holed out to Alex Combe on the midwicket boundary. The removal of George Loup for a duck by Will Davies’ huge turning leg breaks left the Ramblers in the mire at 100/6.

This opened the door for the return of Magnus McGriggor (bowling with surprising speed and vitality for a man who used to bowl spin!), who picked up the key wicket of Ramblers’ big hitter Jackson for a boundary laden 29. When questioned why he never bowled like this at school he put it down to his then infamous smoking habit.

The tail was then mopped up by the opening bowlers, leaving Sale stranded on 29*. Joe Lloyd was the stand-out performer in the field, with 3/20, a fine catch, and a calm run-out to close the innings. However, Ramblers’ 171 all out looked very gettable on a good wicket with a shortish boundary one side.

Vic Kandampully and Alex Combe confidently strode out after a shortened tea break, with clouds threatening rain. And despite the parsimonious inswing of Broare, and the pacy efforts of Russell-Paviour, they set the Blues off to a solid start, showing that, despite the pandemic, they had already chalked up some serious time at the crease this year.

Combe started slowly before unleashing a blizzard of fours and sixes. Ramblers were, therefore, glad to see the back of him for an explosive 57, courtesy of a fine catch by Brooks off the bowling of Joy. Ramblers immediately got ‘two for the price of one’, as Will Fremlin-Key was adjudged LBW off Chambers.

However, Sam Christie joined Vic at the crease, and started to display a fine turn of pace between the wickets, and some increasingly clean hitting off the Eton change bowlers once he had his eye in. Thankfully, the clouds held off, and Kandampully carried his bat right through to the end, finishing unbeaten on 70 not out, while Christie accompanied him with 34 not out at better than a run-a-ball.

(Match report by kind courtesy of the Marlborough Blues)