Chiddingfold CC v Southwell Ramblers CC – Sunday 10th July 2016
Result: SRCC lost by 3 wickets
At the height of the space race NASA spent millions of dollars developing a biro that could write in zero gravity. The Russians gave their cosmonauts a pencil. That’s the thing about common sense, it’s not that common. Nor are Ramblers wins at Chiddingfold, a once happy hunting ground is now a graveyard of shattered dreams. Yet following the rain-off at Hyde Heath, and the cancellation from Burpham, just taking the field on Sunday field like a victory.
Chidd, returning the compliment from last season, kindly agreed to an 11 a-side format with 3 of our 8 allowed to bat twice, but our host’s were more hardnosed at the toss and had no hesitation in asking the Ramblers to bat first on a bone dry pitch and a deceptively damp outfield.
On a bumper Sunday for British sport, Lane and Hutchinson set an early tempo more Centre Court than Silverstone. After back to back maidens, Leggy broke the shackles with a towering six over midwicket, the elegant left-hander wisely recognising that the aerial route offered better value than trying to force the ball through the treacle like turf. With Finlay finding his range at the other end, building on the fine impression he’d made at Madehurst, the scoreboard ticked over and the Ramblers enjoyed that rarest of things: an opening partnership of permanence. Aided and abetted, it should be said, with that commonest of sights in Sunday cricket: dropped catches.
Eventually one stuck and Finlay was on his way back to the sheds for an enterprising 20, that with a faster outfield would have been a lot more. A lot more was certainly what Tom Handley had in mind, but the Butcher of Wellington was quick to uphold Chiddingfold’s first meaningful appeal. By now the sun was blazing, the field was drying and Tim Powell had no problem in finding the fence with one of his trandmarked sweeps, but when he and Leggy fell in quick succession, we'd collapsed from 44 without loss to 55 for 4, and our rock solid start was fast eroding into a scree slope of panic. Batting out the 30 overs and posting something defendable suddenly seemed a long way off.
Adversity, however, doesn’t build character, it reveals it, and trust me when I say that being born ginger is a privilege that tests your mettle from cradle to grave. And let’s be clear about one thing, we’re not talking auburn, strawberry blonde or a vibrant chestnut – we’re talking proper copper topped, flame haired, 24 carat Carrotters. And so Gus and Russ came together and wrestled back the initiative for the Ramblers. With a flurry of crisp boundaries and some aggressive running, the ginger ninjas took the score comfortably past three figures and swung momentum back the visitors' way.
With overs running out and 150 the aim, Russ perished forcing the pace. Gus passed 50 and handed the baton to Jim Owen and Dom Waugh, who ran the oppo ragged and pushed us past the holy grail of 150. Dom’s demise from the last ball of the innings, stumped off a seamer, a fitting end to an innings that was tortoise, hare, and hare-brained in equal measure.
Tea coincided with Andy Murray doing the business in SW19, and back in South West Surrey the Ramblers re-took the field feeling good about life. Chiddingfold, far from daunted, came out swinging and with the outfield now dry the scoreboard rattled along at an alarming rate.
Chiddingfold raced past 50 inside the 7th over and the Ramblers needed to make a change.
Little Jim replaced Big Jim, and the St Albans based tweaker delivered the breakthrough, beating their danger man all ends up with a teasing leg-break. When Skip struck twice in the following over, the Ramblers had a foothold and it was Chiddingfold’s turn to sweat. Pace off the ball was clearly working but the oppo dug in and rode their luck to get to reach drinks 3 down with another 73 needed.
As the Ramblers juggled their attack, Chiddingfold countered and the tall number 5 showed his class with a burst of boundaries. A pair of monstrous maximums took them to the brink before the returning Jimmy Owen outfoxed their beared and bespectacled number 4. With 6 wickets left, 7 overs to go and just 25 needed, the odds were with Chiddingfold but the force was with the Ramblers.
Tenacious Tommy Handley, full and straight, struck in the next over, and then from the other end it was the skipper’s turn to rattle the timbers. When Russ held onto a thin edge a ball later, Gus was on a hat-trick and Chidd were imploding.
7 down, 20 still needed, anyone’s game – but Chidd’s nerveless number 5 refused to buckle, a boundary brought up his half century, and the winning runs followed soon after. Beaten but unbowed, this was a contest to savour and a performance to be proud of.
Toss: Won by Chiddingfold
Yellow: Gus Williamson
Top 3 Batsmen: Gus Williamson 56*, Russ Jones 23, Finlay Hutchinson 20
Top 3 Bowlers: Gus Williamson 4-9 (6 overs), Jim Owen 2-26 (6 overs), Tom Handley 1-33 (5 overs)
Team in batting Order:
Jim Lane, Finlay Hutchinson, Tom Handley, Tim Powell, Gus Williamson, Russ Jones, Jim Owen, Dom Waugh