2 August 2020 v Australia House

Eton Ramblers v Australia House  – August 2 2020 on Upper Club, Eton College

 For the third match in a row a most acceptable collection of young Ramblers, with one exception, of which more later, appeared on Upper Club for the second match this year against Colonials, or, in this case, more accurately, citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Ramblers took the field and the brothers MacDonagh took the ball. Upper Club was a perfect cricket pitch, plenty of bounce but batsmen fully able to play their shots. This the Australians did, with remarkable results; by the 17th over seven chances had been offered and caught off the MacDonaghs, Charlie Hobhouse, and Fox; two by Eckersley and one by Shaw in the slips being particularly sharp.

The visitors were 77 for 7. This induced Captain Oram to change tactics, and the second oldest Rambler to play on the ground since Lord Harris in 1929 bowled two overs for three runs. The second rule of captaincy is to take a man off the over before he bowls a load of rubbish, which Oram failed to do.  Fred Butler replaced him – similar rubbish – his second ball was thrashed at Freddie Fox who caught it. Horne was stunned to silence – something many wish would happen more often.

The Australian number five, who had watched six wickets fall for 53 runs, suddenly found support from a number eleven whose beard would have done credit to W G Grace. He struck 26 not out off Fox and Butler, the highest score of the innings. Five bowlers – R MacDonagh (3), Charlie Hobhouse, Freddie Fox and Fred Butler (2 each) and J MacDonagh (1) struck, and eight catches were caught. The target was 128.

None of the Rambler top four have a reputation for hanging around. Ed Farley hit the fourth ball of the innings for 6 and departed in the sixth over for  a cheerful 26. Tom Shaw, walked in, ran himself out and walked out, leaving Hartley-Russell to launch a spectacular attack on the hapless opposition bowling. One six and nine fours off 25 balls took him to 53 not out, and Pete Eckersley (46 not out) marched to the top of the 2020 batting averages – 130 for 2 had taken 87 balls and just over an hour.

Played 3, won 3; even the elderly Rambler Statistician cannot recall that sort of start.