24th June 2018 v Rifles by Ed Steel

On a spectacular midsummer day, Ramblers won the toss at St Cross and elected to bat on a good-looking pitch. In spite of this, it initially looked a repeat of the previous year as Jamie Roy and Ed Oram (subscription still awaited!!) fell early, but Charlie Steel and Fraser McGuinness (guest starring for the day) steadied the ship, McGuinness being quick to pounce on anything short, and boundaries flowed across a lightning outfield. As ever, a drinks break produced the breakthrough and a steady stream of wickets fell thereafter with Cowen, the 2013 centurion, falling cheaply much to the disappointment of the assembled Hampshire faithful. With three Eds in the side, at least one had to produce something of note and it fell to Ed Rawlinson to play the innings of the day with a fine 62. He timed the ball beautifully, punishing anything loose, and set the Ramblers up for a challenging total, adding 98 with captain Ed Steel. James Brown smashed a quickfire 31 and Richard Heywood, on debut, produced a couple of classy cover drives that suggested he should play some more cricket (match managers take note), before Ramblers were all out for 255.

James Brown and Freddie Russell-Pavier both struck in their opening spells before tea, but the Rifles opener rattled along at quite a rate and the game was evenly poised at tea. Some high quality cake and the introduction of spin tipped the game in the Ramblers’ favour though: James Brown nonchalantly pouched a well-struck blow at long on off Charlie Steel’s off-spin, and Ed Oram swooped to take a superb low catch inches off the turf at cow corner off the same bowler a few overs later. Charlie Yerburgh then picked up the reins at the Abbey end and his sharp spin proved too much for the Rifles’ batsmen. He ended with 4-35, eschewing the need for fielders as all were bowled or LBW, and looked a class apart. There was a brief flicker as Rifles captain Theo Bossom (Rambler pedigree…) shared a useful last wicket stand of 24, but just as the Rambler captain was wondering if he would be left to rue dropping a simple chance from the Rifles no 8, Russell-Pavier speared one through his defence and give Ramblers victory by 48 runs, the first Rambler win of the season in a proper (non limited overs) game of cricket.