3rd June 2018 v Old Wykehamists by Ned Fox

A beautifully sunny day and a very flat wicket met the Ramblers at Winchester on 3rd June, and not even Nasser Hussain would have chosen to bowl. Alas Eton lost the toss and were invited to field. Russell-Pavier opened up and was very unlucky not to make an early inroad. Waddington channeled Mohammed Amir at his unplayable best mixed with Harmison of Brisbane 2006 in a varied opening spell of left arm round. Bradley was rushed into a Ramblers bowling debut, and quickly removed Winchester’s opener with a yorker. Russell-Pavier then quickly followed up to remove the other opener Irvine-Fortescue, who was looking increasingly well set, to an edge behind, very well caught low down by Elston. 70/2 was a decent start for the Ramblers given the conditions. However, Winchester’s 3 and 4, when they weren’t moving/splitting/moving back/doing anything else imaginable with the sight screen, got stuck in on a good wicket, despite some steady bowling from James and Taylor, to take the Wykehamists to 170/2 at lunch from 32 overs.

Whatever was in the chicken schnitzel at lunch gave the Ramblers a second wind, and Taylor removed the no.3’s off stump with a off-cutting jaffer, before three balls later offering up one of his trademark long hops to the new batsman who couldn’t help but mistime a pull straight into the grateful arms of Williams at square leg. Russell-Pavier and Bradley came back to put further pressure on, with the former removing no.4 Craig on 80 to a brilliant catch in the deep from Mould. The Ramblers were delighted to restrict Winchester to 236-7 when they sportingly declared after 45 overs.

Williams and James went out to start the chase, and looked very solid until Williams chased a wide one and edged behind. Lees-Millais took the Wykehamists first change bowling to task, with 7 boundaries in his 29, leaving James clearly wondering at the non-strikers end what he had done wrong not to get to face the selection of full tosses and long-hops. Mould replaced Lees-Millais after he was trapped in front, and started well before a mistiming a pull, and with no. 5 Elston edging behind shortly after, the Ramblers were in trouble at 99-4 with just over 22 overs to come.

Bradley and James set about repairing the damage and steadily accelerated to a classy fifty partnership. James looked to up the ante but fell to a good catch at long on, and with Lee following him back to the pavilion soon after, a draw looked the best possible Rambler result at 158-6. Waddington thought differently, and some unconventional but effective striking, alongside the more elegant Bradley, took Eton to 200-6 with 4 overs to go, and all three results still possible. Waddington tried one slog to cow corner too many and departed for an enterprising 22, before Russell-Pavier did similarly shortly after and Eton were 210-8. The Captain walked out telling Bradley that he was still determined to try to win the game from the 11 balls left. Some more lusty hitting from Bradley got us within 20, before the only person in Hampshire not to spot or hear the massive inside edge onto Bradley’s pad sadly was the umpire, and he had to depart LBW for an excellent 69 off the last ball of the penultimate 44th over. That left nos 10 and 11 Fox and Taylor to negotiate a tense final 6 balls, with Taylor notably articulate in his loud calls of No so as to remain at the non-strikers end. Eton survived, and it was another great advert for declaration cricket!