4 June 1953 v The School
Playing for the first time this season on Agar’s, the School lost to the Ramblers by 6 wickets. It must be said at once that this was not the Agar’s wicket of yore; more grass had been left on it, and there were one or two green patches which gave the seam-bowlers some help throughout the day. The result of this policy was admirable. Batsmen really had to work for their runs—one wonders when this phenomenon was last seen on Agar’s—and indeed no one who batted looked completely at his ease.
Bowater and Bevan, however, began well for the School; both made some pleasant strokes, though the former has a tendency to lift his deflections to leg. Forty good runs had been made when Bowater was caught at the wicket, and soon afterwards Bevan was l-b-w. Robins and Eckersley now came together, and they found runs harder to get. Both played sensibly, though, and Eckersley found the occasional opportunity to show some fluent off-side strokes. Then Lomax, who had been bowling with fire and considerable pace, bowled Robins off his pads, and produced a really unpleasant yorker for Rankin, who was consequently out first ball.
The rest of the School innings petered out; Illingworth looked promising and played well for a time, and Hill-Wood made some valuable runs as he saw his partners fading away. Rankin it was who was largely responsible for this collapse. He moved the ball away late, and found a particularly good one for Baring. Indeed, Lomax, Pelham and Rankin had formed a formidable trio, and the School’s total of 135 was not so disappointing as it must have looked.
The Ramblers opening pair was faced with a thickly clustered group of slips and short legs and doubtless had time to reflect on the possible truth of the old tag: ‘possunt quia posse videntur.’ Impey, fresh from his Virgil, was soon out, but Denne and Allen went on comfortably enough until youth called for a rather sharp run, and received a distinctly passive response. This brought in Lomax, and after a hesitant start he proceeded, as always, to make strokes. One off-drive at Maclean’s expense was majestic, and with Allen playing as beautifully as ever off his legs the Ramblers seemed set for a big win.
Tea, however, rejuvenated the School. Lomax was caught at second slip, and had Allen been held there soon afterwards anything might have happened. As it was, a very accurate piece of bowling by Hill-Wood brought him two wickets before Allen saw the Ramblers home with two fine boundaries.
The School’s ground-fielding had been good all through, though some of the throwing was wild. Maclean bowled fast but with poor direction, anyway at the start, James and Hill-Wood steadily and with perseverance. These three must be dangerous—not only physically—to any School side, and at the end of the day Robins himself bowled leg-breaks in a manner reminiscent of his golden days of two and three seasons ago. This attack indeed seems most auspicious, and with more solidity in middle of the order there seems no reason why the School should not do well.
Robins captained the side with authority, though it is to be hoped that Maclean, as the spearhead of the bowling, does not become blunted. His collection of close fielders—there must be a lot of specialists at this, or one hopes so—seemed somewhat irrelevant when Allen and Lomax were set, but no doubt they will take their toll against School sides.