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Queensbury Rules In 20/20 Cricket Sparring Match

Well, with a team from that part of London, anyone searching for a corny headline whilst filing a match report has no excuse…

So it’s Plumpton again, and it’s not Sunday. Now while I would in no way suggest that moving a match to another day would be the best option to avoid the inclement weather that our summer has joyed in providing, this evening it seemed to reap reward. Although batting in the enveloping gloom near nine’ o’clock was small consolation for those who boldly chased the opposition’s total.

Different day, different format. I’m no fan of twenty over cricket, but as it’s Southwick Wanderers I’ll give it a go. The thought of a Dave Field ‘dab and run’ on the final ball, claiming a miraculous win, is inspiration to make the journey to the hinterlands of the Brighton & Hove Republic. And we weren’t far off it either.

An amiable crowd, cosmopolitan in appearance and flush of bounty (the average, and willingly paid tour fine for tonight’s misdemeanours was about £12) Queensbury appeared to be on a short tour of the local Sussex area. And they certainly appeared to be enjoying the experience thus far.

Being of a disposition that honours the Ian McLeod tradition, Wanderers were short of players as the match commenced. Thus the opposition were sent in to bat. Well, that’s what I was told when one of the men of the smoke said that there was ‘no toss as such’ after I enquired.

Lord Sponge honoured us with the first over. As he bounded in for the first ball, with his customary and still unfathomable leap, the first ball was sent down with swiftness of hand and accuracy of projection. One was most impressed by the long awaited recovery from the troublesome back that has so marred his recent prowess. The rather dangerous looking Tilak took a single off his second ball, only for his fellow playmate to have his bails disturbed by a pacey Sponge swinger for the third. “Luke’s on form”, my sub-conscience yelled. But the familiar clutching of the back, and the frustrated grimace returned. Sponge had once again gone crook, and we couldn’t even jest that it was the flatness of the wicket that had conveniently led to this latest setback. So on came young Wadey to complete the over, and as Kansen took a comfortable single and Tilak cleared the ropes with the next delivery, it became apparent that consolidating early losses was a dated concept of old. This was especially true where the next wicket was concerned straight afterwards, Kanson swatting the evergreen Bill Stapleton to deep cover, Mark Johnson taking the catch. When danger man Talak skied a dolly to our Dave at first slip, and the score became 14-3, the prospect of attacking the pasties much earlier came a step closer for many a grumbling stomach.

Bowling the only maiden over, Wanderers certainly had a tight Field

Bowling the only maiden over, Wanderers clearly had a tight Field….

So there were three wickets down already, and the match has barely released its waking yawn. A boring middle period of consolidation and a final total of 80 that leans on a solid attack? nah, this isn’t how the game is played these days, even on a Plumpton outfield that makes a crisply struck off-drive wilt like a micro waved broadsheet.

So on their way to adding another 116 runs, Queensbury threw caution to what little wind there was on a balmy July evening. Dave Field, who else, bowled the only maiden over, Rob Black threw up some teasing, slightly enigmatic spinning all sorts for the best of the bowling award (2-18), and after Wanderers had used seven bowlers in this evening effort Queensbury finished on 130-8. That’s 6.5 an over. What ever happened to playing yourself in? Captain ‘Jono’, batting at number 9, swatted a lusty 35 not out, a telling contribution in the final mix.

So, as if responding to a fireman’s bell, a swift turn around ensued, and off trotted Rob and Wil to the epicentre of the hallowed turf. In a carbon copy of the opening salvo an hour or so previously a wicket soon fell- Rob falling to a catch behind for as many runs as he had taken wickets. Such an early blow could once again call for consolation, but a certain Master Wilson was due at the wicket next.

In a pulsating (I love that word) innings that contained three sixes and seven fours, Jordan delighted the mass ranks of five spectators, two scorers and a dog- if slightly miffing the non-playing opponents. His fifty came up in the eighth over of an innings that included two occurrences that may have been a first sight for many- seven run balls. No, Jordan didn’t put his ample frame through the pain barrier in running them; two of the sixes came off no-balls. Yet despite the 80 run partnership with Wil, well in advance of the required run rate, wickets started to fall at an alarming rate. When Jordan himself became the fifth wicket down on 104, the 27 runs needed for victory began to look a little distant.

Jordan reaches his 50.

Master Wilson reaches his 50

A stand of 20 between the attacking Mark Johnson and the watchful Kim Aspindale brought Wanderers close to a single clearance of the ropes and victory. Yet, despite an untaxing requirement of less than four an over, the tail end failed to play the field. Three wickets fell for three runs, and with two required for victory off the last delivery, Brunswick Bill became the third run out in less than three overs, Queensbury claiming victory by a single run.

So the match report is as swift as the match itself. And after the shaking of hands and exchange of warm platitudes the teams gathered for pasties, doughnuts and other fattening fare-with one or two stubbies thrown in. The opposition captain proceeded to garner over £100 in tour fines (including some from those who weren’t even playing) and everyone went their merry way.

So as ageing and tired as Plumpton now looks, many a memory of this venue of nearly twenty years constantly draws me back to the place. Despite a narrow defeat, there was no meaningful bitterness or soul searching, and there is no need either. Despite the ever-changing personnel, Wanderers know how to enjoy a good game-and they needed to after last weeks ten week crushing at Ditchling. Once a Wanderer always a Wanderer.


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