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Wanderers Crumble As Apple Day Approaches…

A fruity fixture at Rudgwick today, arranged by our Gemma, the apple of many an eye, went the way of our hosts as Wanderers were comfortably boxed up with the home side rapidly peeling away their bowling attack.
Another journey to the clay soils of north Sussex found the happy travelers arrive at one of the furthest outposts as the area prepared for Apple day, an annual event, to be held on September 27 this year, which has raised more than £6,000 for children’s clubs and five defibrillators for the village.
As the teams prepared for the match, a huge crater of the forbidden fruit sat near the changing rooms of the parish recreation ground. It was most symbolic in that no-one dared go scrumping, and Rudgwick batsman were almost treated with the same reticence as they comfortably overcame a fighting first innings total.
Gemma won the toss, putting nine man (well, eight man, one woman) Wanderers in to bat. A bouncy and worn wicket was always going to take some initial negotiating, particularly when James D’Orsaneo, a 15-year-old quickie, soon fell into his stride. His pace and swing proved somewhat problematic during early exchanges. Yet the advantage here, of course, is the over restrictions on the younger bowlers. Duly noted Wanderers proceeded with caution, but not before both Gemma and Butcher Jnr had been removed early doors to smart catches in the gully.
The early dismissals had Wanderers in a far worse position than the scoreboard revealed. Two wickets down for three runs were really four, given that one player had failed to show and another had not been sourced. As much as the bar next door to the changing rooms held inviting refreshment on a warm late summer afternoon, a collapse was no Liverpool Pathway to craving taste buds, even if the Cider might prove locally sourced.
Such concerns were somewhat premature, as the bowling became tamer and the batsman more determined. As Dave ‘Teflon’ Noakes joined the Big Saffer Bear at the wicket, and young D’Orsaneo was seen off, the wicket became docile to the slower and more predictable attack.
Our Gwyllim may well have read last week’s premature post mortem on his unfortunate ending to the season as he set about to remedy his recent downturn in form, and our Dave played with typical attacking prowess. 29 runs were added for the third wicket before Gwyllim, having shown promise for a hefty total, fell to a hard held catch at wide mid-wicket.
As much as total capitulation and the sweat of the tea-maker had been averted, 34-3 was still effectively 34-5. Much responsibility lay on the shoulders of Mark Johnson as he strode to the hallowed yardage to become the Teflon support act. Of course, Mark rarely does support acting, as his blade is not intended for a gentle caress of willow on leather. Today, however, his batting was more subdued, his 21 containing only two boundary blows. This was to prove crucial, as a measured Noaksey was steadily accumulating, and 56 was added for the fourth wicket. But with both Dave, and Mark, his mourning crease partner, falling within 6 runs of each other, at 96-5 Wanderers looked in a small spot of bother again. David’s innings of 53 may seem to have had had an air of caution about it, having been at the crease for 20 overs- although his running between the wicket was as demanding and fleeting as ever.
Far from finished, the default promoted tail began to wag, young Wadey’s premature loss did not cause either Butcher Snr, or Mr F Jnr, to flinch from the task of using up the minutes. Adrian made a watchful 17 before falling LBW across the line, and Ian, 18. The stands for the last two wickets were worth 28 and 11 respectively. Wanderers made tea without embarrassment. Dave Field was, yes you know it, the not out batsman…
Tea: Southwick Wanderers 144-8 (Noakes 53 Johnson 21, D’Orsaneo 2-12)
As splendid and filling as the tea was, and as palpable ensuing excuses may seem, Wanderers fielding practise had an air of resignation about it. It was as if some prophesising local squire had warned of hapless effort to come. The openers, Page and Day made their way to the crease with young Wadey and The Oldest Swinger In Town providing the first offerings.
The hoarded Apples behind the ropes were no excuse for the fruitless first twenty five overs. Dave Field bowled especially well, without reward. His testing lines brought praise from both umpires, also members of the Village Cricketers Pensioners Resistance. The conversation between Mr F Jnr and the square leg umpire only fuelling his admiration for the Wanderers most faithful servant:
Ian: This is Dave’s 46th season
Umpire: How old was he when he started.
Ian: About 21, I guess
Umpire: It’s not for the same club though.
Ian: Yes, he’s been with us all that time; I played my first match with him 26 years ago.
Umpire: (Jaw dropped) Blimey !
As little reward such steady bowling warranted, it went without success. Dan struggled at the lower end with his teasing line being dampened by a stock delivery that was three or four yards too short. The runs were steadily leaking. The opening bowlers were seen off by the 17th over with 80 on the board.
Apart from a comical misunderstanding between Gwyllim and Mr F Snr that let a simple catch fall in no man’s land, little happened to cause the Wanderers much soul searching and calculated ‘what if’s’ before the stand had reached its century.
Butcher Jnr took over from Mr Field and bowled a line that often probed, although sometimes his length was found wanting. Page was a deserved wicket however, falling to a catch to Mark Johnson, but as much as a ten-wicket defeat had been averted, prospects were still poor. Gwyllim removed the other opener, Day, but with 122 coming from the fist two wickets, the match was all bar over.
Although the two batsmen under the lid, Page (J) and Faithfull, saw Rudgwick home, there was a feel that a closer match may have been in order had the openers been dismissed much earlier. The fluency and stroke play had disappeared and a more even Sunday challenge surfaced. It is often a Sunday anomaly that teams have inadequate resources following the opening- unfortunately Wanderers having  little opportunity to take a peak in the apple bag to see if there was much of the rotten kind to follow.
With a few hilarious allsorts from Mr Johnson the match found its way to conclusion. A defeat again today, yes, but resilient promise from a vulnerable batting line up.
Close: Rudgwick 145-2 (Day 55 Page (D) 50) .
Rudgwick win by 8 wickets
So to the final match on the final Sunday. A short trot to the Preston Park cycle track and an encounter with St Peter’s. For some teams the season ends in October. As with ever earlier starts they cling on to the dwindling warmth of its embers. The number of washouts has been a disappointment this season, and hopefully next year will be brighter, if not meaning a profusion of elongated match reports.

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