Another Sunday, another losing run fest at the hallowed field of cricketing dreams.
Wanderers, who specialise in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, would have come close to the best stage performance award in this category with Sunday’s unfurling events. One might wish that such awards be placed on hold for an even longer and a more wistful list of play nominees come the season’s end. Now how many stage idioms can one write in a single report ?
Well the losing of the toss, the longest running Wanderers show of this particular season, took its regular matinee slot this Sunday afternoon. Will Barber taking over the role of lead actor. Hove Unicorns, evergreen opposition on the Sunday circuit, decided to bat.
Evenly and consistently plundering five an over for the first quarter of this forty over game, Unicorns found themselves at 58-2 after 11 overs. Wickets following to DJ Dave and Plumpton debutant, Anand. Once the top had come off the Unicorns batting though, one might have thought the slow but well prepared pitch had rendered them stage fright. Four further wickets fell for 26 runs, Anand being the chief protagonist with three in total as well as a run out and a wicket for Raunak. We had set the scene and a total of barely three figures seemed in the offing. Then Wanderers seemed to forget their lines.
Batsman Pollock and Batsman Eyles (initial ‘R’- there were three of those) seemed to comfortably, yet without grandiose expression, set about the Wanderers bowling over a fifteen over period. No one was really spared, although, unexpectedly, Max Wheatley seemed to find the blade of the unforgiving sword the most- although he was later to take a redeeming centre stage with much aplomb. The stand was worth 112 and was ended, encompassing two further wickets on top, at 196. With nine wickets down, Unicorns looked like falling shy of 200. As much as Wanderers had made a comeback, it was a halcyon period of much shortness. Batsman Ritchie at number nine added 33 runs of his own and one sensed, as the 40 overs ended with Unicorns on 240-9, Wanderers had let themselves down a little. Was that some muffled boos that I heard groaning off the rolling rafters of the South Downs hills ?
The Wanderers reply began with hope on our side. Master Wilson and our Will B plundered 35 runs off the first six overs. Every effort was made to meet the run rate at an early juncture. Calamity struck, however, in the sixth over with Will being run out by a false call from the stationary Jordan. Now one would suggest that seeing an angry Mr Barber is as rare as a live stage appearance by Alan Bennett these days, but the thunderous look on our man’s face as he made his way back to the pavilion brought a safe silence from those nearby. This was his second consecutive run out. To quote Bennett himself: ‘History…is just one damn thing after another’.
Enter stage left- Max Wheatley…
What ensued, after the hapless Will had been replaced, was a display of explosive batting that matched any seen during the Plumpton years. A radiant display of huge hits, the next over seeming to out do the previous, cumulated in one that found its way to the tree tops on the east side of the pitch. Such was the eminence of Max’s conquering club, Jordan found himself reduced to a painful role of by-stander. Max’s innings of six 4’s and six 6’s came to a close just eight overs, and 67 personal runs later, with a catch in the deep. Spectators to this mythical display gazed in wonder, but with a little discomfort in some quarters. Sunday sees these displays quite rarely- and with good reason.
At 122-2 after 14 overs Wanderers were very well placed but with a long way to go. The Unicorns last wicket stand had meant that the final total was still distant and relentless concentration was needed. Unfortunately, the very able Anand fell quickly, but the tidy Raunak came to the crease, and the orchestra became more allegretto than allegro- with a plethora of singles and the odd boundary thrown in. Jordan fell, 57 runs later, to bowler Eyles ‘R’ (who shared six wickets with his brother ‘A’) and The Author followed shortly after with a duck making cameo performance. 188-5. Still hope.
Raunak and the swashbuckling Johnno steered the ship on. Johno, who had performed tidily with the gloves, was most unforgiving with an array of all-sorted boundaries. This also inspired Raunak to briefly depart from his well honed and finely paced display to clear the ropes for himself a couple of times. At 224-5 come the end of the 32nd over, Wanderers were easing home.
Sadly this critic’s review reveals that the drama indeed had a tragic ending. So with plot already most spoilt, and your handkerchief at the ready, I can reveal the agony of so near but yet so far. The returning Eyles ‘A’ dismissed both Raunak and Johno in his comeback over. And with Master Wadey quickly being added to his list during this evening performance, Gemma’s brave attempt to save the day was not enough. DJ Dave’s leg side scoops failed to make an impact and Wanderers closed the show chewing the scenery at seven runs short of victory.
So we muffled our lines at the last, but much credit was due to some stunning individual efforts, and we shall return for the afternoon matinee next Sunday. But, given as an its open air performance at the height of summer, bring your umbrellas.
|Result||Lost by 6 runs|
|1||Eyles (L)||c||Naieu (R)||b||Field (D)||11|
|2||Jones (S)||lbw||b||Sawant (A)||15|
|3||Hutt (P)||Run Out||28|
|4||Haslam (S)||b||Naieu (R)||17|
|5||Holmes (C)||b||Sawant (A)||7|
|6||Confrey (S)||b||Sawant (A)||1|
|7||Pollock (M)||b||Wilson (J)||53|
|8||Eyles (R)||c||Wilson (J)||b||Wadey (D)||56|
|9||Ritchie (R)||Not Out||33|
|10||Eyles (A)||c||Naieu (R)||b||Wadey (D)||0|
|11||Moss (P)||Not Out||8|
|Fall Of Wickets||28,58,72,76,83,84,196,196,196|
|1||Wilson (J)||b||Eyles (A)||65|
|3||Wheatley (M)||c||Eyles (R)||b||Pollock (M)||67|
|4||Sawant (A)||b||Eyles (R)||0|
|5||Naieu (R)||b||Eyles (A)||48|
|6||Fennell (I)||b||Eyles (R)||0|
|7||Johnson (M)||c||b||Eyles (A)||28|
|8||Wadey (D)||c||Eyles (R)||b||Eyles (A)||0|
|9||Manvell (G)||b||Moss (P)||1|
|10||Field (D)||Not Out||0|
|Fall Of Wickets||35, 122,123,180,188,225,225,233|