17th June 2018 v Old Brightonians

The Ramblers, for various reasons, changed more than half the side beaten at Clifton last year. Jack Rogers, Des Hartley-Russell, Jack Halstead, and Jack Warburton, all of whom were to play their part, made their debuts, and Ed Bruce returned for the first time in three years, replacing Abbott, Russell, Hobson, O’Brien Fox and Fenwick.

The surroundings at the delightful Preston Nomads ground at Fulking brought back memories of Clifton last year – an excellent wicket and – due to rain – a lush outfield – mercifully as far as Eton was concerned that was where the similarity stopped. Will Vanderspar won the toss and senior professional Ed Farley and mercurial talent Jack Rogers proceeded to show what should be done when batting first against a more than competent opening attack. The very rare bad ball was hit for four, and the scoreboard kept ticking over by a succession of singles. The 50 was raised in the 18th over, and then the Brighton change bowling was savaged. Farley went past 500 runs in the Cricketer Cup at a far better average (bar one) of the small handful of Rambler batsmen to have reached the target, until his head went up – almost for the first time – and he departed for 73. Nico MacDonagh came and went but very different cameos by Vanderspar (48) and Felix Hartley Russell (39) supported Rogers, the youngest Rambler Cricketer Cup centurion, who fell finally for 111, the highest score made by a Rambler on debut. There was time for Ed Bruce (18) to make his highest score in the competition for seven years, and at 320 for 7 the Ramblers had passed, narrowly, their previous highest against Brighton, which included Rory Macleay’s solitary Cricket Cup century, in 1992.

Brighton needed a good start, and after 8 balls were 5 for 2. After 12 overs the difference between the two sides became clear when the debutant change bowlers Hartley-Russell and Warburton both took wickets, combining for the second when the Brighton captain was caught on the third man boundary. From 69 for 5, however, Davies and Prideaux de Lacy added 50 taking Brighton to 122 for 5 when the rain came.

Then the fun started. There was no doubt that under the old rules (score after the first 20 overs) that Brighton had won, but equally that that rule had been scrapped. Unbelievably the new Cricketer Cup Regulations did not cover the position at all. The Rambler secretary went round saying “net run rate”, as if it mattered, until the umpires quite rightly declined to declare a winner.

Brighton, again rightly, saw no reason to concede, and after lengthy discussions the Rambler team departed, none of them remaining to sample the final act of the quite magnificent hospitality provided by the hosts. Had there been a man (or woman) of the match award your correspondent would have given it to the leader of the Preston Nomads catering team, and apologised to Jack Rogers for so doing.,

In the cold light of day both sides were asked for their views; both agreed that the regulations did not cover the circumstances, despite the Rambler Secretary continuing to claim that a Rambler victory had been confirmed the night before. Brighton, to their huge credit, considered that justice would be seen to be done, if the match was declared no result, and that Eton should go through to the next round.

So it was decreed and Tonbridge will be coming to Upper Club in a fortnight.