Most of us will have seen the movie ‘Grease’ at some stage in our lives, whether willingly or not. It’s a far-fetched tale of high-school love where a boy meets a girl on vacation who suddenly turns up at his school, having moved into the area after her parents decide at the last minute not to return to Australia. Today teenage romance was substituted by the slavish love of village cricket, and Warninglid Cricket Ground became Rydell High…
Turning up at Findon sharpish for a one ‘o’ clock start, Wanderers hung around somewhat confused by the emptiness of the area. No cars, a cone at the entrance, and a forlorn and empty pavilion that look resigned to its lot. The weather looked as though it couldn’t make up its mind too. As the clock drew close to the designated moment of starting it became apparent that there was to be no opposition to play, and due to confusion in the scheduling of fixtures another Sunday would go by without the hallowed yardage being stepped upon. Doubtless the sun would now come out to really piss us all off.
So that’s it then. Is there to be a final twist ? Do the opposition suddenly turn up in belated convoy ? No, the match had already been cancelled. We just weren’t informed. End of match report. Well not quite…………
But firstly, for those who are pedantic enough to demand scores in their usual form, here is the match summary.
Southwick Wanderers- 0-0
Where shall we go now then ? Let’s write our own day out. I’ll get Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey to write the script of this one too. Boy meets girl (Lloyd Crathern & Gemma Manvell)- both fall madly in love with the idea of playing Cricket. Lloyd goes away and comes back as a last minute guest in a Cricket match. In a role reversal it is the boy who was meant to be elsewhere, although the plans weren’t changed at the last minute, he just forgot about them (he had organised for his team to play at Warninglid). On Gemma’s recommendation he turns up to play with the desperately disappointed Wanderers crew at Findon. Boy receives phone call as team prepare to leave with their sadness at the loss of another Sunday’s play. “Where are you and your team ?” says the frosty Warninglid organiser. “You are supposed to be here, we have a home venue and no opposition to play….” What follows is a classic case of Blue Peter convenience and ‘Here’s one I made earlier…’ Of-course, Lloyd has a team prepared for Warninglid, it just wasn’t the one that he had told them was coming…. Both Lloyd and Gemma get to play Cricket again, but only through the fortune of their reunion.
A bit far-fetched, I know. But this one’s true.
And so, half an hour odd later, today’s second match report begins 18.5 miles and 25 minutes driving from its original venue…….
Wanderers second fixture of the day was always going to prove more taxing than the first. Namely because we had to take to the pitch. The rolling hills north of Worthing had been substituted for a typical North Sussex village setting. Warninglid Cricket Ground is set behind the Half Moon pub, just off the main road that runs through the area. The wicket has all the appearance of the usual clay based tracks of the region, although it had some late season unreliability about it today. The outfield was heavily mowed with collections of earthy tufts laying just off the square. The setting had a feel of the autumnal months to come.
Lord Sponge won the toss and put the Wanderers straight to the field. A 30 over match had been decided upon (or 30/30 as the scorer put it) with a six over limitation upon each bowler.
Dave Field opened the bowling from the west side of the green. It was recently discovered that ‘Dave’ appears to be the most common name in the Wanderers player list of the last thirty years, the only one from which a whole team could be formed. Every team seems to have at least one. Although the oldest swinger in town was the only Wanderer to carry the tag today. From the east side we had young Wadey running in with much enthusiasm and hope.
The innings rolled along, basing itself upon the lynchpin of an opener with the surname of ‘Nastys’. The term is perhaps appropriate for some of the vagaries of the pitch. The odd ball suddenly kept low, accounting for Dan’s first wicket in the fourth over of the game, and the odd ball rose sharply off a length. It’s late summer mind, and this is to be expected. Some of the tracks further south in the county are guilty of far worse than any of the excesses we saw today. Plumpton being one.
In a throwback to the old days of steady accumulation, Warninglid were 89-5 come the 22nd over. Nathan Smith, yes Nathan Smith, no, really, Nathan Smith was turning his arm over for the first time in a couple of years. His searching leggies brought about the most respectable economy rate of the innings, the years not eroding his accuracy- if increasing his midriff.
The last eight overs, however, produced a run flush through a stand of 71 between Nastys and Nesbitt. 27 runs came off Lloyd’s last two overs, and even steady Dave took a punishment. By tea a respectable score had unfolded.
Tea: Warninglid 160-5 (Nasty’s 87* Nesbitt 31*, Smith (N) 2-21)
Jordan seemed a little subdued at tea, the evidence being that some sandwiches were left over. Perhaps he was in contemplation of the innings ahead. If he was, his plans came to fruition. He and Lloyd made there way to the crease in the gathering gloom of late summer, and we all wondered what to expect.
Master Wilson chanced his arm, and could have been caught first ball on another day. A lofted drive just missing the clutches of wide-cover. Lloyd Crathern, on the other hand, played with a repertoire of stroke play that befitted a higher level. Despite this, the bowling of Warninglid was not wanting. The match had just elevated itself to an impressive level of competitive Cricket.
When Lloyd fell LBW, pulling across the line to a ball that kept low for an anchoring 24, Wanderers were already in victory’s reach- the openings stand having yielded 114. However, Jordan fell 11 runs later for 88, and as usual the wheels began to buckle. Well, you weren’t expecting to have it easy were you ?
The out of form Gwyllim failed to trouble the scorers, scooping a leg side catch. Normally an influential presence at the crease, one senses time is running out for the Big Bear to turn it round this season, but he will doubtless be back and firing next. The issue for Wanderers was an increasing run rate with 29 required off six, a tentative Wil Barber at the crease, and the big hitters safely tucked back in the hutch. We needn’t have worried.
Wil went on the attack, and was successful with it. His 39 not out steering Wanderers home. 30 of these runs coming in boundaries. As September’s watery evening sun began to bathe the pitch, Mr Barber saw us through with six wickets and nearly three overs to spare. Luke, accompanying the dashing tyke to the end, finally had a win as captain. Even if we did have to arrange a second game on the same day to facilitate it.
Close: Wanderers 163-4 (Wilson 88, Barber 39*, Nesbitt 3-19) win by 6 wickets.
So an afternoon that began with little hope and gathering gloom in the south of county ended in a pleasant affair further north. A match report as swift as our competent reply. But when one has to fit two of them in one day, it can be a bit tiring….
They call us the Wanderers….