3rd June 2018 v Culham Court by Clifton Wrottesley

The Ramblers won the toss and after some gentle suggestion and bearing in mind the strength of CCCC’s (the Cubs) batting line up last year, Edward Maidment decided that it would judicious to bowl.  Given the ensuing result, in the future less influence will be brought to bear as the Ramblers certainly stepped up to the challenge this time around.

 CCCC Captain Clifton Wrottesley and CCCC Groundsman Mike Vickers watchfully opened the innings, although they were happy to tuck away the odd bad ball.  Mike was caught driving to mid off after 5 overs and Clifton followed a couple of overs later wafting to one outside off from left arm over, something he will no doubt be working on in the nets for his next outing, or should that be ‘ining’?  Ben Watson tried to add a bit of stability but never really had a chance to get going and was caught and bowled in the 9th.  George Loup played with this usual style and started to get the scoreboard ticking over again.  Young (15 year old) Johnny Connell came in and showed his class despite his relative youth, hitting a couple of sweetly timed boundaries, but was caught behind before he could really get going.  Sean Taylor (more on him later!) tried to hold an end down to support George who was dishing out a few lusty blows, but soon departed.

Lunch was taken and all retired to the marquee ‘Pavilion’ for a veritable feast prepared by Culham Court chef, Alan and served by Steven and his team.  It was remarked at the time and again several times afterwards that the lunch was by far and away the finest fare that itinerant teams are blessed with, in particular the delicious and perfectly balanced CCCC signature dish created by Alan, appropriately named Madras vs. Calcutta (in honour of the first First-Class match played in India back in 1864) of Hot Kathi Roll with Mild Chicken Madras, Culcutta Rice on a Grated Vegetable Salad, delicious!

 It was very reluctantly that play resumed after such a sumptuous break.  In strode Will Middleton who always lives (and sometimes dies) by the swashbuckling reputation of his regular outfit, the Flashmen, he and George set about trying to dismantle the Ramblers’ attack, quickly amassing a partnership of 27 off 3 overs.  George then departed after being trapped LBW having scored a quick fire 33 off 28, but up stepped Tom de Boinville, another player not afraid to throw the bat, he and Will continued apace hitting another 29 off 3 overs.

 The total was heading in the right direction at least, but then sadly Will was caught behind flashing (as is his wont) at one that cramped him from the barrel chested, charging bull that is the Ramblers Captain, Ed Maidment.  Harry Sheppard, aka the President of the Wobblys took guard for the first time this season, looking to support his Cresta riding compatriot Tom, but Tom became the bull’s second victim, clean bowled for 30 off 23.  Cometh the hour, cometh the men.  Titus Badawi-Crook and Harry then dug in, realising that with only a couple of wickets left but plenty of time potentially remaining in the innings they could take their time, still scoring at a decent rate.  A fabulous partnership of 55 in 8 overs ensued until Titus was caught.  Victor Wrottesley look solid in the nets warming up but got a good one 4th up which clipped the top of his off stump.  CCCC were a side that potentially had real depth in their batting line up, but unfortunately after getting a start no one really went on.  Some very useful partnerships, particularly in the middle and lower order meant the Cubs ended up 175 all out (in 33 overs), putting what looked like a defendable total on the board.

 The Cubs took to the field with around half an hour to go before tea.  Harry Sheppard and Titus Badawi-Crook led the charge.  Harry was a little rusty to start but soon found his stride, while Titus found his rhythm from the off and was raining down bombs on the Ramblers openers, who credit where credit is due were clinical in putting away the odd bad ball and then started to step up the rate.

Thankfully (for CCCC) Time was called for Tea.  Another wonderful rendition of traditional English fare, the scones, clotted cream and jam proving to be the pick of the bunch.  Much debate ensued as to whether to put the jam or the cream on first, in the end it was decided it didn’t matter as it all went down the same way anyway…!

When play resumed, the Ramblers managed to notch up 47 runs before the Titus eventually broke through with Jamie Roy LBW.  Next in Joff Evans was a strong contributor to the Cubs’ team last season, however, inexplicably decided to turn out for the Ramblers this time around.  Mongoose bat in hand, his intent was obvious.  Titus and Clifton sized him up and a plan was hatched, bowl fast and full, Joff was contained!  A message was passed to Sean Taylor who had just started his precision guided medium pace from the other end and one ball later Joff was on his way back to the pavilion clean bowled under his bat without having troubled the scorers!  Another quick wicket in Sean’s next over and suddenly the Ramblers apparent lead had been paired back.

The surviving opener, Jack Halstead had been showing his class and was just shy of his half century, however, Sean once again struck when it mattered most and trapped Jack LBW at a crucial point in the game.  There was a definite sense amongst the Cubs that the tide was turning.  A brief cameo from Charles Hobhouse who survived 3 of his team mates heading back to the pavilion in quick succession until he also fell for 25 to Sean, himself racking up his 5th wicket.  There was a flurry of concern as Ed Maidment took to the crease as he had been the stalwart defence that denied the Cubs certain victory last time out.  Unfortunately Ed wasn’t able to hold firm this time around as he fell victim to missiles being rained down on him by the raw pace of Will ‘the Flashman’ Middleton.  Toby Joy rather graciously gave his wicket away to Clifton Wrottesley.  The Cubs sensed that victory was surely theirs.

 They didn’t bank on a certain M Roy, coming at number 10.  The feeling was that Edward Maidment, the Ramblers captain hadn’t got his selection right as Roy had played in the Eton vs. Harrow match at Lords, batting at number 6, so obviously not a shabby batsman, or maybe Ed was just toying with us all?  Anyhow, from certain defeat the Ramblers clawed their way back into the match and slowly approached CCCC’s total, with plenty of overs left in the day.  What could CCCC conjure up?  CCCCs’ captain noticed that Roy was taking a guard out of his crease (he’d done the same to his own bowling and even charged down the wicket a couple of times), so to put him back in his box, so to speak, wicket keeper Johnny Connell was asked to put a lid on and stand up, which he did without hesitation; the batsman retreated after a bit of huffing and puffing, next ball, clean bowled, all over, CCCC win by 4 runs!

 Sean Taylor (also of the Henley Occasionals) was awarded Man of the Match with 6 wickets, averaging 1.57 and bowling the last Rambler with 5 runs to spare.  Young debutantes Johnny Connell (15) who kept wicket for the second half of the CCCC innings and Victor Wrottesley (14) did brilliantly and looked the part.  Frontline bowlers Titus Badawi-Crook and Harry Sheppard opened up with stinging pace although Harry was certainly short of match practice, and it showed in his first couple of overs!  Titus on the other hand was on the money right from the off and finished off a wonderful spell where it was evident that with every ball maximum effort was etched across his face.  Will Middleton’s searing pace was also a key component of keeping the Ramblers under the cosh, along with a fine spell from George Loup and a cameo from CCCC’s captain Clifton Wrottesley bowling alongside his son Victor completed the bowling line up.

 CCCC’s batting was a little mercurial, something that we will hopefully address for our final couple of fixtures in September (2nd against the Flashmen & 9th).  It became very apparent that we need to bat deep and have a long list of bowlers to call on as guys at this level can only handle 4-5 over spells and maybe come back for a second spell of 3 overs.  Having a medium pacer holding down an end and taking wickets was also key.  So ideally 4-5 all-rounders with 1 or 2 specialist bowlers (including 1 spinner and a medium pacer), rest 2-3 batsmen and 1 wicket keeper come batsman.

 An absolute barnstormer, a true red-letter day, a match which ebbed and flowed throughout and then delivered a result that paid due respect to the wonderful efforts of all involved in putting on the day, including Mrs Schwarzenbach and her private office, the Estate staff and particularly Michael Vickers, our Groundsman who sadly leaves us and was presented with a couple of bottles of libations, gin for him (he’s partial to it) and a magnum of rose for his longsuffering wife who has had to put up with early mornings, late nights and interrupted weekends in the run up to this season…