So August is upon us, for many the last throw of summer. ‘Summer’, of course, is a mythological dream invented to anaesthetise the mundane months of winter when we only have the inevitable disappointment that the various football teams we support visit upon us. Certainly in England. But then again some of us define our summer by the amount of disruption our planned activities have to endure. As inconsistent as the weather has been, Wanderers have little to moan about this year. So if we then define our summer by our own cricketing performances- well, there is often less joy there.
Any poor performances on the last day of July were eclipsed by a splendid afternoon’s cricket from both sides that attended the hallowed field of home. Heathfield Park came along with a mix of seasoned old hands and aspiring youngsters, and Wanderers had the usual regulars and most welcome recent acquisitions. A day of warm July sunshine was the climatic offering and the cricket did its best to last long enough to enjoy it. It did rather well too, and a splendid day was had by players and spectators alike. If one swallow maketh not a summer, then there must have been plenty in the trees this Sunday.
The Author went out for the middle, not as captain but as the next sacrificial offering to the murderous toss, for very few Wanderers seem to negotiate the spinning the coin and come out victorious. However, the god of heads and tails was watching the Grand Prix and the visitors called wrong. With no waste in breath the chance to bat was taken, and a mutually agreed timed game arranged. Happy days.
Wanderers new opening pairing of Jordan and Gywllim opened the batting- and most fruitful it proved. Heathfield Park, a most amiable and inclusive bunch, gave the younger players a chance to have first pop. With The Big Bear in a run of great form it was always going to be a tough call, but the lads never lost their enthusiasm. The Pratt brothers opened the bowling with the eldest equipping himself well from the Downs End. The younger struggled, but showed enough promise to suggest there will be more to come. From my early days I remember encouragement being the key to development, there was much of that on show. Gywillim continued his hay making however, his first four scoring shots being boundaries. The opening partnership yielded 57 runs-mostly to The Big Bear.
The ninth over was to produce the first wicket, Jordan being the victim to a ‘caught and bowled’. The big man had looked in all sorts from the start struggling to execute the customary thump to leg. One suspected a big night on the wazz hadn’t helped- a perfect Sunday excuse anyway. With Max Wheatley joining Gywllim at the crease the two tree clearing Wanderers were in tandem and the potential for carnage was realised. Gwyllim continued to reach the ropes with much abandon. Fifty runs came in the next five overs until Max, uncharacteristically, chipped one to the keeper’s gloves. After thirteen overs Wanderers were 116-2- and it wasn’t 20/20.
Next up Mr Barber, by his own admission struggling in recent times, the free flowing clips, nudges, and flowing drives that accompanied his century at the cycle track seemingly a distant memory. Here he could comfortably support Gwyllim in an anchor role-perhaps more suited this time- and ably he did so. With The Big Bear’s bat looming ever larger the third fifty partnership of the innings came together and with this one taking seven overs things were slowing down…. As Gwyllim reached 98, The Author took out his camera to capture the moving pictures of a Wanderers century made. It didn’t go well. Young Frost, unfazed by the big man’s hitting, bowled a straight, if slightly short delivery, from the Racecourse End. Gywillim went to pull, missed, and was bowled. A wonderful display of resplendent fours and sixes had come to an end. All that was caught on camera, however, was a soft dismissal. Later on Gwyllim took a picture of the scorebook, his wistful reminder of a so nearly innings. Still, an innings of 98 is often more spoken of than a century-ask Will Barber who has a 99 to his name…..
At 179-3, and only 20 overs bowled, there was still plenty of time for others to get in on the action. The wily medium pace of old hand bowler Brown began to steady the run flow from the Downs End. Not only that, two wickets fell in the same over to his tidy line, Butcher snr and Johno both having their stumps disturbed. At 179-5, the Wanderers innings onslaught had stalled and attritional cricket was called for.
Will continued to work his way back to form with anchoring support from The Author, eventually falling to the steady arm of Simmonds snr, caught behind just shy of his fifty. Simmonds The Younger took two wickets for himself as the innings approached its close. The returning Tim Warren had equipped himself promisingly well with an innings of 29 not out and Lukey had clubbed a quick 14. Taylor Salerno, finally playing a game this season (and belatedly receiving his bowler of the season trophy from last year) made a brief appearance at the end. The innings closed on 261-8 after 39 overs.
We all had tea. And a nice spread did our Johno put on too.
The weather stayed warm and pleasantly breezy after the break as openers Loveday and Pratt (J) took to the crease. As ever, DJ Dave was to open the bowling from Racecourse End. Unlike Gwyllim, the opening pairing, Taylor coming in from the Downs end, did reach a century. But only in age….
The Heathfield Park openers looked pretty comfortable, accumulating runs at steady pace- although slightly behind the run rate. Taylor looked comfortable on his return with the ball and The Oldest Swinger In Town was himself- although the ‘no-ball’ he bowled was the first of his I can remember. There was talk of one in 1972. As the new ball pairing departed the opening partnership had found itself around the fifty mark. Wanderers were having to work for their wickets.
The breakthrough came with 63 runs the board, Tim Warren spilling the stumps of opening youngster Pratt (J). The stand had thwarted Wanderers hopes of quick inroads and subsequently a second wicket stand of 41 continued to do so. Jordan dropped an uncharacteristic howler off Lukey’s bowling during this period- naturally, this has to be included in any match report of acceptable standard. The fall of the second wicket was the subject of much amusement. Batsman Samuel, at three, sprayed a stroke straight towards Max at square. Clearly Max had been pondering Socrates as he seemed unaware that the ball was flying his way. At the last possible moment he held up his hands to nonchalantly take the catch. If only it was as easy as that for many of us others.
With twenty overs arriving the well-rotated Wanderers bowling was still proving ineffective. Batsman Cornwall, at number four, added a steady flow of runs as opener Loveday continued to anchor. Then came a splendid, if slightly Keystone Cops, run out. A single had been parked into the offside for the taking, only for a sharp overthrow to evade the bowler and, expectedly, The Author’s hand. Like a galloping Impala, The Big Bear at square swooped on the ball and threw down a single stump as opener Loveday tried to make his ground at the Racecourse End. A truly wonderful piece of fielding recovery. Simmonds snr then fell, bowled for a duck by Jordan, and a fleeting glimpse of hope was given to Wanderers prospects. 129-4.
With the overs running down, however, the match was heading towards a draw. And thus it was. Jordan picked up Batsman Cornwall, and young Frost fell lbw to Gwyllim- who completed his hand in every part of the match. The remainder of the overs were seen out by the pairing of young Wickenden and Setters, with some mature stroke play, and a draw was finally settled upon after 39 enjoyable overs.
So, as August arrives, another jovial and entertaining Sunday afternoon at Plumpton. As Wanderers folk retired to the pub the usual talk of the heroics of yesteryear and thoughts of the day governed the dialogue. Conversation turned to the 90th anniversary of the club that is arriving fast in 2017. Sunday cricket may be struggling in Sussex but good folk and company keep it alive. Today was another fine example of that.
|1||Wilson (J)||c||Pratt (J)||b||Pratt (J)||14|
|2||Jones (G)||b||Wickenden (T)||98|
|3||Wheatley (M)||c||Samuel (A)||b||Frost (T)||15|
|4||Barber||c||Samuel (A)||b||Simmonds (D)||48|
|5||Butcher (A)||b||Brown (M)||0|
|6||Johnson (M)||b||Brown (M)||0|
|7||Fennell (I)||c||Samuel (A)||b||Simmonds (M)||9|
|8||Warren (T)||Not Out||29|
|9||Smith (L)||st||Samuel (A)||b||Simmonds (M)||14|
|10||Salerno (T)||Not Out||6|
|Fall Of Wickets||57 112 170 179 179 199 219 244|
|1||Loveday (M)||(G Jones)||Run Out||49|
|2||Pratt (J)||b||Warren (T)||37|
|3||Samuel (A)||c||Wheatley (M)||b||Warren (T)||19|
|4||Cornwall (T)||b||Wilson (J)||37|
|5||Simmonds (D)||b||Wilson (J)||0|
|6||Frost (T)||lbw||b||Jones (G)||6|
|7||Wickenden (T)||Not Out||17|
|8||Setters (S)||Not Out||14|
|Fall Of Wickets||63 104 129 129 159 169|