20 July 2016 v Old Cranleighans

A young Ramblers side assembled on a dreary morning in Cranleigh, hoping to end what has been a miserable run against the Old Cranleighans of late. In what must be a first in Rambler history, all eleven players arrived at the ground before 11.00 and were chomping at the bit to get stuck into the opposition. Cranleigh, led by Eds Coppleston, won the toss and, with moisture in the pitch following overnight and early morning rain, elected to field first.

Having been inserted, the Ramblers got off to a flying start in the late morning drizzle, with Justin Langen and Jack Halstead giving the innings early impetus. The duo made light work of the Cranleighan opening pair, reaching 50-0 off just 8 overs. Langen looked to be in imperious form, driving his way to a commanding 28. However, he was undone shortly after a brief rain delay, carving Horsey to point.

At 58-1, Coppleston made his first bowling change, bringing on their left-arm spinner, Harman. The change proved to be an inspired one as he took the key wicket of Halstead (21) who dragged onto his stumps attempting to work the ball square of the wicket. Two quick wickets left Eton at 59-2 and it was down to Henry Hayes and Will Gordon Lennox to steady the ship. The duo did exactly that, Hayes picking up on anything short of a length and Gordon Lennox taking on the medium pace of Harrison to good effect. Hayes. innings came to an untimely end on the cusp on lunch, though, as he shouldered arms to a Harrison delivery that nipped back and removed his off stump. Hayes was adamant that he was unaware of Harrison.s ability to bring the ball back in as well as the fact that a creamy chicken Marsala had just arrived at the Jubilee pavilion.

Both sides tucked into a delightful curry over lunch and, such was the quality of the Marsala, it accounted for Gordon Lennox straight after the interval. Prodding forward to a Harman delivery, the ball rolled backwards and onto his off stump, just dislodging a bail in the process. This was an unlucky dismissal which brought Jamie Roy to the crease. Roy was the next to succumb to Harman.s left-arm spin, bowled by a canny quicker delivery. Not for the first time this season, a Rambler collapse was underway. Could Ramblers debutant Olly Jones stem the steady flow of wickets? Apparently not. Jones announced, shortly before his innings: .If I see the ball I.ll hit it. but failed to do so as he marched past his second delivery and was smartly stumped. This stumping was far less controversial than the one that followed. After a brief rebuild from Olly Richards and Gyles Scott Hayward, the latter found himself given out in the cruellest of circumstances. Having attempted a straight drive to the medium pace of Chetwode, Scott Hayward wandered out of his crease to tend to the pitch, only for the Cranleighan gloveman to whip of the bails and appeal. The wicket brought Freddie Fox, the Rambler skipper, to the crease and he was quick to point out the injustice to OC captain Eds Coppleston.

Fox did his best to give support to Olly Richards who was, quite rightly, starting to lose faith in the batsmen around him. Richards took a particular liking to the bowling of Chetwode, picking up on several short deliveries and launching them for six over the midwicket boundary. With an early evening date and the incentive of a bottle of Prosecco on offer for anyone scoring 60 or taking four wickets in the match, Richards wasted no time in reaching 60. Fox was unable to offer much support, though, and was the next to fall to Harman.s left-arm orthodox. Pushing forward in defence, the ball cannoned into his front pad and the umpire wasted no time in adjudging him to be out LBW. Fox was replaced at the crease by his older brother, Ned, who fell in almost identical fashion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the outgoing batsman.s verdict was that the ball had hit him outside the line of off stump and turned away, but it was good enough for the umpire to raise his finger once more.

A late flurry of Richards boundaries followed, taking the Rambler score up to 187, before he, too, succumbed to Harman who returned impressive figures of 12-0-6-40. Ed Fenwick had looked solid before being left stranded at car park N by his teammates.

Eton got off to the perfect start in their bid to bowl the Old Cranleighans out, with two excellent opening spells from Fenwick and Scott-Hayward. Fenwick roared in down the hill and bowled with great accuracy, often producing balls that were simply too good to nick. When they were nicked, they were also too good for the Rambler cordon to cling on to! Fenwick did make the breakthrough in his second over, though, trapping the Cranleighan opener in front for 3. Scott Hayward had the harder task of running in up the hill, but bowled a very tidy set and was unlucky not to have been rewarded with a wicket or two.

Trower and Kent dug in for Cranleigh as they reached 45-1 off 12 overs. It was time for a bowling change and Fox brought himself and Henry Hayes into the attack. The combination, not seen since Upper Club in 2010, helped the Ramblers to create some pressure, pressure which led to miscommunication between Trower and Kent. Kent cut to point only for Gyles Scott Hayward, who was electric in the field all afternoon, to pick up one handed and throw accurately into Halstead with Kent baely in the frame. Eton were jubilant with the breakthrough and sensed that this was a turning point in the game with Cranleigh now 50-2 off 14.

The off-spin twins continued to make further inroads, with Fox picking up the wickets of the Cranleigh opener as well as their number 5, Fenwick taking a smart catch in the deep. When Hayes accounted for the Cranleigh number four, Gilberg, the Ramblers sensed a rare victory was on the cards.

Coppleston and Chitty were tasked with stemming the flow of wickets and, with Cranleigh in the mire at 54-5, Coppleston did everything in his power to avoid facing two more overs before tea: prodding down grass on the wicket, tying shoe laces and chatting to his partner were just some of the tactics used by the cunning Old Cranleighan captain. The umpires duly obliged and the teams enjoyed tea, with the Ramblers feeling confident of wrapping up the match and heading home to watch the Euro 2016 final.

After tea, though, Coppleston and Chitty offered stubborn resistance and the pairing started to look more comfortable against the Ramblers. off-spin. Justin Langen replaced Henry Hayes as Coppleston began to look more assured, cutting any deliveries that were short of a length. Fox felt it was time to inject some pace into the attack, replacing himself with Olly Richards. Richards who had returned career-best figures the year before, announced that he would have three overs before rushing back to London to repair his relationship with a first year anniversary date. Three overs was all he needed to change the game, turning it back in Eton.s favour once more. First, he removed Chitty.s off-stump, before pinning Coppleston LBW. Cranleigh were now 120-7 and the Ramblers again looked like closing in on an historic victory.

Cranleigh had other ideas, however, and the combination of Harrison and Harman frustrated the Eton old boys as they were dogged in defence whilst also picking up boundaries with regularity. At 160-7, the Ramblers were running out of ideas and Fox tossed the ball to the reliable Fenwick and the left-arm spin of Jamie Roy. Whilst Fenwick.s return was successful, it was Jamie Roy who made the breakthrough – Harrison miscuing a lofted drive which was held by Freddie Fox in the deep. The Ramblers sensed that they were still in the hunt, but some measured batting from Harman and support from Horsey took the Cranleighans to their target with three overs to spare.

Another fantastic day at Cranleigh and a great advert for declaration cricket. We will return stronger next year and desperate to end this run of defeats!