As much as the weather today was in denial, and is presently succumbing to habitual addiction as I write, such suppression of its summer Sunday character was most welcome for the last match of the season at good old Plumpton.
It’s not that the effects of its enslavement to soaking deluge weren’t on show today, however. The wicket was clearly holding much water underneath, and a first prod of the shoe suggested that it would be more at home as the primary tool of a trampoline competition than the locale of our most courageous sporting efforts. Nonetheless, the match was played with no nasty surprises, although such was its lack of pace that at times the ball walked its way to the bat, and any confused and premature stoke could have been followed up with a second attempt..
It was to be a 35 overs a side match. Chailey batted first in humid conditions with little sweet breeze attached, and Taylor Salerno, fresh from goading much of Suffolk with his naughty capers after the Albion’s fine victory yesterday afternoon, opened from the Pavilion end. The Oldest Swinger In Town, the older Mr F, took the Racecourse End in tandem. I always delight to see that grey afro running in, well, gently trotting in these days, and turning the legendry arm over for another chapter of length and line. It’s like a link to the distant past, and not much has changed. Yes, medium has become medium slowish, but the elder statesman is still a wily performer and a proof that age is no barrier to enjoying Sunday Cricket for what it is. He may not thank me for words 17-23 of that sentence.
As many platitudes we can give to a Wanderers attack with at least a century of wickets, and years, between them, the father and son combination from the Denbury family gave Chailey a solid base to progress their innings. The difficult batting conditions led to a tentative start, concealing the experience of Dad and the slick stroke play of son. As confidence grew, so did the run rate. A long 35-overs in the field looked in prospect. Few opportunities were offered, and catches weren’t going to hand. The run rate crept up to four an over. This is beginning to sound ominous, so let’s change the tone. How about a modern 20/20 techno interlude, and a rappers introduction with the repetitive chirps of DDD-Dani-eellll Wwwadey…
Yes, young Wadey entered the fray, and the crowd went bonkers. Granted, this is a gross exaggeration, as not even Darwin was present to woof his unbridled joy, but the ever less erratic Daniel bowled an energetic spell of all-sorts that took the top off the can and exposed a much less refined product than the opening stand suggested would continue to be served up.
With the score approaching 50, in flew our Dan- rapping the pads of old man Denbury, and up went the finger. The first wicket had fallen. The crowd went bananas, all none of them, and as he again began his little sprint to the wicket the ‘Whooaaaaaa’ of the gathered throngs was ringing in our imagination. What hope did that give the poor shaking number three, whose stumps were rattled shortly afterwards ? I’m sure Ricky Ponting, still traumatised by that Flintoff over at Edgbaston in 2005, will have sent a text of consolation later.
The Wadey rap was in over drive shortly afterwards, with another wicket and a stunningly held catch at mid-on off the bowling of the big Saffer bear. Wanderers were back in the game, and the fragilities of the Chailey middle order were exposed.
There is perhaps a belief that Daniel is, with suitable coaching, a genuine prospect in Wanderers future bowling plans, although a reputation for bending the adjudicators ears raw is some way off at this stage. One of his LBW’s had come about as a result of a request from behind. On enquiry it appeared that our Dan was not totally familiar with how this form of dismissal works…..
Nine man Chailey were clearly in a bit of a spot here, and Wanderers were not wanting to let this slip. The prospect of an ample and inviting Manvell tea drove them on. Yet the number 5, Sollis, provided little of that to our attempts to dismiss our Mid-Sussex friends cheaply. Despite the stumbling efforts of his colleagues he swiftly clubbed his way to fifty in an almost anonymous way. Picking off the shorter deliveries, and being watchful of the wicket’s mischief making, his innings provided a backbone of recovery in the knowledge that, having safely passed the 100 mark, a competitive total was already on the board.
Mr Higgs entered the attack. And proved effective, if not too cheap. Today his all-sorts, delivered with customary flaying arms, introduced a new delivery- ‘The Boson’. A flighted particle of atomic proportion. Nobody knows how it is bowled, or what effect it will ultimately have. Granted, that would account for most of his bowling repertoire, but today he took away Mr Sollis’s faithful attendants. With the re-introduction of Mr Salerno accounting for the inexperience of numbers 8 & 9, Chailey finished their innings on 147-8 after 32.5 overs. Off we trudged.
Tea: Chailey 147-8 (Sollis 51* P Dembury 37, Wadey 3-29 Salerno 2-17)
There was a stomach-comforting interlude of twenty minutes or so. And what a sensational spread. Everyone ate and had their fill. Even after this frenzied fest of culinary delight, there was much left over. This was put down to over expenditure, although some might suggest that Jordan being unavailable was the critical error in the budget planning…..
And so the reply began.
Messrs Barber and Higgs were selected to open the bidding, two chaps able and seasoned in the late summer variants of the Plumpton pitch. The run rate was taller than it would naturally seem, as the ball was keeping lower. Arnold, the opening bowler began to map out his run up, and began to walk and walk until he looked as though he was on his way to Plumpton station. Flying in with youthful vigour and fearlessness he delivered a swift pitch that stilled into slow motion as it rose off the protesting pitch. The second ball was enough for our dashing Tyke, Wil, who, forgetting that he could have popped off for a cup of tea and returned before the bounce reached him, scooped up a catch to the mid-on region. 0-1.
Before the score reached ten, the top of the order was completely removed. The man Higgs having his stumps ruffled by a delivery by Hurkett at the Pavilion End. At 9-2, prospects were as dim as the gathering clouds. Hurkett continued to make inroads with his pinpoint medium pace. The Big Saffer Bear falling after a couple of promising boundaries, and young Wadey also falling without troubling the scorers as he appeared to be swotting a fly. 21-4.
As Mr F Jnr approached the wicket, The Sponge suggested that trying to make the score look respectable was the goal, but a promising 16 run stand merely resulted in the Wanderers reporter’s usual LBW demise. A career as newly bleached blonde Shane Watson impersonator beckons. If only we had the DRS system. At 37-5, for those watching a familiar pattern of demise on the sidelines, the prospect of an early visit to The Bull issued comforting reassurance that it’s not all about winning….
Ten overs is a long time in Cricket though. Well, certainly in the smash’n’grab era of the modern game. As Johno and Lord Sponge acclimatised themselves to the gathering gloom, and the bowling continued with a friendly theme, muscles were flexed for one final hurrah at a three-figure total. Whether this was due to Mark’s view of the Cricket bat as a weapon of mass, if not brief, destruction, or Luke’s desire to score in boundaries rather than risk turning his back for some sneaky second runs, we know not. But 54 runs were added before a stop to the nonsense with a catch at mid-on that sent Lord Sponge back to the wooden shed, despite a wailing cry from the batsman as the ball headed downwards to its catching lair. Sam, the latest addition from the Preston Production Line, fell next delivery, and Wanderers were 91-7.
No respite ensued as Mr Johnson fell to Sollis at the start of the following over for the second highest score of 18, that actually felt like more. The Agricultural Raver, Taylor Salerno, sent a few balls pinging into the leg-side to try and make hay, (One might be surprised he never has a 1-9 field set for him), but it was all to no avail. Princess Gemma batted bravely and unflinching as ever, and there was little time for the customary appearance of the Dave Field Dab. Wanderers were all out 46 runs short.
Close: Chailey 147-8 (Sollis 51* P Dembury 37, Wadey 3-29 Salerno 2-17)
Southwick Wanderers 101 (L.Smith 43 Johnson 18, Hurkett 5-27)
Chailey won by 46 runs
So last rites and fond farewells to another Plumpton season. A couple of away matches to play, then Cricketers hibernation for the winter. The old place was cleared up and our way was made to The Bull for tall tails and much merriment.
So to speak of the century that never was……
Well, due to the pace of modern technology, news reached Wilson Towers of Wanderers defeat. A request was then duly issued for a summary of the score (as opposed to a report). The feeling in the beer garden was that the brow of the pretender to all Wanderers silver would be covered in beads of sweat at the prospect of a major knock from the man Higgs. Thus news was issued of a century of awesome proportion, a valiant 119 not out on the stickiest of wickets. Begrudging congratulations were issued from the Wilson keyboard, whilst the pub gathering benignly mocked such gratitude. The Annual Dinner should be fun….