16th June 2018 v The XXII by Fergus Boyd

The Ramblers took the field on the Fourth of June, this year celebrated on June 16, with a strong side to face the XXII. There was a slightly greater variation in ages than in 2017, with the youth of Leng, Rogers, Harrison and Harrington complemented by a more senior cohort from the 2000/01 era of Maidment, Williams, and Boyd. The Ramblers lost the toss and were asked to bowl first which was fortuitous as it is what we would have chosen to do anyway.

Harry Leng, making his Rambler debut, purred in from the far end like one of the classic cars behind the sightscreen. He bowled tidily and was unfortunate not to pick up a wicket in his early spell. Griffin extracted the sort of significant bounce that you might expect from a man of his height but unseen on Agar’s for several years. This caused problems for the openers given his pace and the opener Henderson was well caught behind by Harrison while the left handed Hobbs, promoted from the XXXIII, batted very well and used Griffin’s pace to his advantage. Both bowled very tightly, aided by some excellent fielding (Williams even taking a ball in the chops, such was his commitment at point).

A double change in bowling made good inroads into the XXII middle order. Boyd had skipper Pein caught by Eckersley at slip and then Hobbs played on. Rogers bowled his legspin with remarkable control, with both Thain and Metherell falling to catches by Eckersley, one juggled in an impressively theatrical manner.

The XXII stabilised after this period as Duncan and Wallis formed a solid partnership. As the denouement of the innings approached the run rate began to increase with some sharp running between the wickets and intelligent batting. However, both batsmen fell in successive balls to Rogers as a more substantial score beckoned as the batsmen holed out to Halstead and Leng.

Boyd and Leng returned to close out the innings and the Ramblers restricted the XXII to a creditable 155-8 in their 45 overs. This would have been a challenging total in previous years but there was considerably more pace in the Agar’s pitch than has been the case for several years thanks to some terrific work by the groundstaff at Eton.

In response, the Ramblers didn’t get off to a marvellous start. With Takavarasha, Christian and then Thain bowling well Loup fell early, followed by Eckersley for 13 and then Halstead for 4. However, the class of 2016 proved to be in excellent touch as Harrington scored a classy 38 and Rogers, cementing his place as MVP for the day, putting the result beyond doubt with a chanceless 61. There was still a moment for mild panic after a mix up between Williams and Maidment led to the former being run out, but Harrison (batting much too low at number 8) entered the fray to hit the winning runs back over the bowler’s head to see the Ramblers prevail by 4 wickets.

All in all a very satisfactory display by the Ramblers in all facets of the game. Tight bowling and fielding backed up by a very solid batting display. It was almost as improbable as the dry, warm day we enjoyed on the 16th of June for the second year running.