18 July 2020 v The Flashmen
The Flashmen v the Eton Ramblers
July 18 2020 at Culham Court
The Flashmen, founded in 2004, are a delightful collection of what an older generation of Ramblers would describe as colonial gentlemen, and very useful cricketers; normally the Ramblers would have approached the first fixture of the 2020 season with some trepidation. The Flashmen have a win rate of 92% since formation; however against the Ramblers – invariably previously reinforced by one or more ringers – of the nine matches played the Ramblers have won three, lost four and drawn two.
The last option was ruled out by the decision to play an overs match, and much optimism was raised by the presence of eight Ramblers and three candidates, all under the age of thirty, including a handful of the best players of their generation. At Culham Court on a lovely Saturday morning it was clearly a good toss to win.
Tom Shaw and Jack Rogers are probably the best opening pair the Ramblers can put in the field at the moment (Ed Farley might contest!) and on looking at the excellent wicket both decided to make up for lost batting time this summer. 50 came in the 8th over, Shaw got to 50 first, and the 100 partnership was raised in the 16th. Rogers followed Shaw to 50, and both accelerated in the rush to get to a hundred. 150 took 22 overs and the 200 was raised in the 27th over, giving Rogers the chance to reach his hundred first. He declined, hitting a full toss to deep midwicket, having hit 96 including three sixes (two of them into the River Thames) eleven fours and that Culham Court eccentricity, a five for hitting the tree at deep square leg.
Al Russell, having sat watching the openers with his pads on, was in no mood to hang around and carnage followed. Russell and Shaw added 85 in 39 balls, before Declan Aherne removed Al and skipper James Gnodde in consecutive balls to leave the Ramblers reeling (?) at 296 for 3. There was time for a brisk 14 from Tom Gnodde and for Shaw to reach 150; even by Culham Court standards 345 for 6 looked formidable, the last 250 having come off 25 overs.
The total looked even more formidable when Gammell took two wickets in his second over, and thereafter a collection of batsmen got in but did not stay in – Gabriel French (31), Tawanda Pari (34), Ollie Wrighton (26), Declan Ahern (40) – and five Rambler bowlers had taken wickets when Chris Olds was left stranded on 31 not out with the total on 184.
The Flashmen were generous in defeat, and, as always, produced a delightful day; special thanks are due to their ladies for food and drink, particularly in the manner in which the scorers were kept supplied with gin and tonic. Two elderly Ramblers in Adrian Hall and Angus Graham-Campbell attended later on and like your correspondent were most impressed with what they saw.
Let us hope that the 2020s mark a new opening for the Ramblers – that there will never again be a season like 2019 – and that James Gnodde will never have another match in which he takes more wickets than he makes runs.