4th August 2018 v Old Hurst Johnians by Toby Joy
With clear blue skies, and a forecast that the temperature would nudge into the early thirties, the skipper, delayed by diversion schemes on the A3, asked de facto vice captain Freddie Fox to win the toss and bat (without conducting any form of pitch analysis / use of keys etc).
Freddie Fox called correctly and the Ramblers chose to bat. The skipper finally arrived, flustered by the traffic, and instructed opening pair of Fox and Pete Eckersley to make 300. The pair set about their task in diligent fashion, the former taking the shine off the new ball, the latter powering his way with clean hitting, quickly reaching 50. With drinks taken at 76-0, the Ramblers looked comfortable.
Fox eventually fell LBW to Semmence for a carefully crafted 21, full of nurdle with the odd heave thrown in. Fox came off bemoaning the lack of DRS – something for the Rambler committee to look into for next year perhaps?
Armaan Treon came to the crease, sporting a Flashmen helmet (kindly provided by Tawanda Pari), and quickly found his eye, speeding to 32 before falling to Hall. William Poole-Wilson (an Old Wykehamist guest) came in but fell LBW for a duck after a watchful start. Meanwhile, Eckersley continued in serene fashion, reaching his century before lunch. The Ramblers took lunch at 161-3 with Eckersley still at the crease.
After shepherds pie and profiteroles, Ed Steel and Eckersley continued to accumulate, Eckersley eventually falling for a magnificent 120. Rob Stephen provided powerful support before driving the ball down long-off’s throat for an excellent catch. Steel, meanwhile, continued to show all his experience, quickly passing 50, including one of the shots of the season, a beautiful on drive past the bowler for four.
With Maidment falling for a two ball duck, Ed Williams steadied the ship and saw off any hint of a Ramblers collapse., with a swashbuckling 16, whilst Steel ended on 75*. When Williams and Pari had both fallen, the Ramblers declared (after much debate in the pavilion, with Fox favouring an earlier sporting declaration to give him time to get back for a date) on 305 off 52 overs.
Freddie Russell-Pavier opened up down the hill, with Pari (after much negotiation) agreeing to trundle up the hill. The Hurstjohnian openers started to see the ball well, and set off on the run-rate, before Welch skied Russell-Pavier to Fox at cover. Old Hurstjonians continued to press, so the skipper unleashed Freddie Fox, sporting Ashley Giles style sun-glasses. At the other end, Ed Williams was coaxed / bullied into bowling some tight medium pace, regularly beating the outside edge. With the pitch turning, this was a day for Fox. Unable to keep Gilo out of the action, Fox snuffled 3 wickets and three catches (including one off his own bowling). Meanwhile, Poole-Wilson rolled back the years, taking one wicket with his wily off-cutters.
With Old Hurstjohnians deciding to shut up shop, the Ramblers were gifted a wicket by a run-out (the batsman falling for the chat that Ed Williams could only throw underarm). An aggressive over from Pari then elicited a sharp catch by Maidment at slip.
With ten overs to go, 3 wickets were needed, so Joy threw the ball to himself, deciding his wheels necessitated bowling down the hill. After an innocuous start (a wide), Joy found his range, slamming one into the batsman’s pads and appealing like a man possessed. Up went the finger, off trooped Hall. DRS would have shown the ball was definitely hitting leg – umpire’s call perhaps.
With 2 wickets needed, and Gilo tiring after 16 overs on the trott, Russell-Pavier was summoned, alongside an over of Ed Maidment (bowling leggies). With two wickets needed off the final over, Joy took the responsibility and beat the outside surprisingly consistently, but no nicks behind.
A draw was perhaps a fair result on what was a super day for batting. Perhaps the skipper should have listened to Fox?