22nd July 2018 v Gloucestershire Gipsies by Will Whipple

The Ramblers welcomed the Gloucester Gipsies to Eton with the weather pushing the wrong side of 30. Fortunately, the Ramblers had a youthful team out, very much the right side of 25, to battle with the heat. Having lost the toss, the Gipsies were sent to get their bowling boots on. Opening up were Freddie Ayliffe and Hector Hardman who went to work on a pitch that offered rather little assistance to the bowlers. Hardman was destructive at the top, caressing the ball to the fence with ease. Ayliffe fell at the other end from a rising delivery that caught the outside edge and found the hands of gully. Maybe this pitch wasn’t that flat after all? Finn O’Brien walked in and reassured the balcony that it was. O’Brien and Hardman piled into the Gypsies attack who did their best to keep things tight. Hardman brought up his century within 15 overs in an innings that seemed destined to define the day. O’Brien was stubborn at the other end, rotating nicely and allowing Hardman the freedom to race onto 147. In an act of altruism, Hardman departed on 147 caught behind advancing down the track. This thoughtful act allowed Freddie Wooding some time at the crease before lunch. A curry and a glass of wine was well received. Wooding applied himself diligently after lunch with O’Brien sitting comfortably not out on 50. O’Brien batted on to reach a nonchalant 74 before he was caught in the outfield. Dundas came and went for 1 with Wooding now chasing his half century. He fell caught at long off for a thoroughly impressive 47. Arthur Wellesley and Will Whipple saw the innings out with some unconvincing blows and sketchy running. Wellesley rotated strike well for his 19* with Whipple finishing on 35. (The latter score was a reminder of just how flat the wicket was). The Gipsies bowlers had toiled, but not to no avail. Edgeworth finished with 5-0-37-3, with Devinson, Williams mi and Sharp chipping in with wickets as well. The Ramblers had declared on 336, a serious chase would be needed to win.

The second innings began with Olly Bradley and Jack Spurrier, the pair bowled tight lines and drew enough shots from the batsman to offer hope. However, many of these shots ended with the ball sailing to the fence. The pitch had not deteriorated as some had speculated it might. Cooper was eventually removed by Spurrier, caught at backward point by an athletic Wellesley, diving full length to his left over the practice pitches. The new ball didn’t produce the wickets the Ramblers had hoped for, so spin was introduced early. This did stem the flow of runs a little but did not bother the wickets column. With another 200 still needed though there was little worry. O’Brien bowled well, finding turn and bounce. He removed Matthews for a well-earned 90. Dundas was persistent from the Slough Road end, beating the bat on multiple occasions and picking up two wickets. Hiram was caught out in the deep, once again by Wellesley, who had to sprint in 10 yards from the boundary to pouch a tricky chance that looked to swing momentum back to the ramblers. The scoreboard kept ticking over however. Both sides were most definitely in the game. 5.30 ticked over and the final 20 overs began. Nico MacDonagh came on to try to induce a wicket ( has a more unlikely bowler ever bowled for the Ramblers…..) but even his cunning trickery with the ball was to no avail. His choice of hat whilst bowling did raise a few questions from the umpires who had had little to do all day though. George Whipple came back on for a second and third spell but was luckless. Bradley and Spurrier took the ball for the last 8 overs of the match. The rate was manageable, but wickets kept falling. Bradley removed Sharp and Williams, Spurrier bowled a nagging line which the batsman were unable to get after. It came down the final two overs. Spurrier bowled a fine penultimate, but the Gypsies needed just 2 from the last over. Alas, with 5 balls to spare in the day, Smith, only the second former England Test Player to play at Eton against the Ramblers this century, cut one through point to seal the game. An excellent day was topped off with an excellent chase; a thoroughly enjoyable day’s cricket.