September, that month of beautiful delusion, when a warm and sunny afternoon feels like summer, whatever that is, has taken up a full tenancy. Alternatively, for some, it can feel like summer is merely teasing us to show its potential. Such teasing is often true of some Wanderers when it comes to such potential but all too often we return to type. A Dave Field first ball dab, for a scampered single, may spark thoughts of a quick fifty from the bench. The Author, eagerly bowling to mid air in the outfield, may bring memories of a quick and destructive bowling spell to roll back the years. As sure as winter comes neither is likely, but it could happen one day. It did reach twenty degrees in February 1998…
The sun wasn’t playing fools with us yesterday at the delightful settlement of Jevington, just west of Eastbourne. Cool and cloudy for most of the affair, the rain stayed off for a full afternoon of bat’n’ball. Luke was back as captain, so I need not report on which direction the toss went, and Wanderers found themselves inserted on a sweating and slow strip after the overnight rain. The well-tended Jevington pitch, in the chalky downland of South Sussex, is perhaps slow at the best of times. Even the dry summer of 1976 would have allowed a batsman to take an early swing and miss, have a cup of tea, and then return for another attempt.
The batting reflected the conditions. Unlike the recent fluid affairs, the first 50 runs took 16 overs with two wickets going down in the process. The Big Bear had played late on to a straight delivery, and The Noodle had also had his stumps disturbed when looking comfortable at the crease-as if he would ever look nothing but placid in anything bar a nuclear holocaust. Even then one suspects that nothing but a mild discomfort would be displayed upon his measured countenance.
Once again, whilst other Wanderers seemed to struggle to bed in, Will Barber stood firm at the crease even if he rode his luck a little early on. Mr Barber, despite some decent scores, has much of this in the bank. His elegance and correctness of hand makes admirable watching on many a Sunday. This is a man who could make an industrious heave to cow corner look nothing but textbook. With Mr Noakes and Butcher Snr having returned to the hutch before three figures arrived Wanderers were in the unusual position, certainly of late, of having needed nearly 33 overs to cross the century mark. If the summer weather of 1976 had chosen not to run a CTRL and ‘C’ this year then certainly a fleeting visit by its scoring rates had found its way through four decades of changing cricket.
The final twelve overs proved no more fruitful. Page (S) had been the pick of the Jevington bowlers. Delivering with dangerous late swing from the top end, he had bowled nine overs for just twelve runs for what seemed like more than the one wicket. Fielder (S) had taken the extra wicket for similar figures from the lower end with a quicker but more erratic delivery style. In fact, even with a bit of occasionally poor pie chucking, none of the Jevington bowlers had been embarrassed. Any embarrassment was to be felt by Lukey though, who like The Author a few weeks earlier, had taken to recording moving pictures of Will Baker’s pending 50. You know what happens next- and if you are naive enough not to the first innings scorecard is below…..
|1||Higgs (A)||b||Fielder (R)||10|
|2||Jones (G)||b||Page (L)||5|
|3||Barber||c||Swansborough (A)||b||Scott (I)||49|
|4||Noakes (D)||c||Page (S)||b||Page (L)||9|
|5||Butcher (A)||b||Page (S)||5|
|6||Baker (J)||b||Scott (I)||10|
|7||Johnson (M)||c||Scott ®||b||Fielder (R)||9|
|8||Fennell (I)||b||Fielder (S)||0|
|9||Slaymaker (P)||c||Fielder ®||b||Fielder (S)||0|
|10||Smith (L)||b||Fielder (R)||11|
|11||Field (D)||Not Out||0|
|Fall Of Wickets||10,26,50,67,105,107,121,123,127,134|
Now, do I need to mention the tea ? Possibly not because you know all about it. And there was no let up in the quality or quantity this year. A splendid array of culinary delight awaited us. It dawned all too soon why Jevington had asked us to bat first. As the Wanderers gathered to stall any attempt at formidable reply full stomachs ached with expansion. But we took to the field imploring the push to victory.
Lukey opened the bowling from the top end, The Oldest Swinger In Town, the other. (Note another deliberate reference to DJ Dave for the Google spiders). Apart from the odd loose delivery both bowled well. It was clear that Jevington were going to have to work for the runs as much as Wanderers did. The first wicket fell to Lukey with, who else, Baker Joe, the single representative of the brotherly duo, taking the catch. The run rate at this stage was calm but wickets were the issue. Once Lukey had succumbed in his usual mid over to the crooked back The Slaymaker took over. Opportunities were soon to knock.
It was clear that Jevington had some heavy hitters in the mid order with the steadying influence of one of the Scott brothers at the top. But the carves and crashes all seemed a little out of sorts and the scoring rate struggled to run above four an over. The usual deck hitting and reliable donkey Slaymaker always looked a threat. A run out from cover and a return catch to Peter had Jevington at 68-3. When the spin of Baker Joe deceived young Scott at number 5, Jevington found themselves at 79-4 in the 27th over. Only twelve remained on this pedestrian of afternoons. All results were possible.
Now, a little mention, before the gripping finale, for Wanderers old crocks. The Author, despite contributing nothing more than a stuck out boot to the afternoon, had wondered if all this cricket thing had now become too much. The Big Bear had also trodden on a boundary-celebrating ball and injured his thigh in the process. Mr Slaymaker, once again, had ordered his finger tips to give his hands a rest when taking a catch and Lukey, despite sending himself delirious with a pain killing concoction prior to the innings, had once again gone crook in the middle of an over. Mr Lincoln, umpiring the day with much appreciation from all, had suggested that any return in another capacity was past its welcome. All these ageing and weary limbs are a testament to the lengthening years that village cricket affords one in sport- even if the 100th anniversary will be met with zimmer frames to assist in an outfield sprint and golf carts to drive us all between the wickets.
Returning to the fray, Wanderers were soon on top. As the middle order would start their innings so Mr Slaymaker would finish them. Numbers six and seven fell to this one of our splendid crocks. Opening batsman Scott was a reluctant LBW victim among them. Wanderers chased in the field and the light drew in. With six overs remaining Jevington were 95-6. It all became rather close, and seemingly correct in their assessment, the spoils divided themselves in appreciation.
With a silly run out to follow and the late order struggling to penetrate the outfield, whilst trying to hold their wickets, the game finished at its natural end in a draw. Jevington had fallen six runs short of victory and Wanderers shy of two wickets. As the team limped its way off in the gathering night one was left to ponder how a season takes it toll. Three matches remain and delightful they shall be. Weary limbs will once more reach the breach and folk will make there last effort towards respectable average. To assist in this, cameras shall be banned and the St John’s Ambulance will be placed on call. But, despite this, in his 47th season, The Oldest Swinger In Town will bowl with little complaint so as to prove mine and others protestations redundant.
This is village cricket. There is no such thing as retirement.
|1||Scott ®||lbw||b||Slaymaker (P)||24|
|2||Page (S)||c||Baker (J)||b||Smith (L)||19|
|3||Swanborough (A)||Run Out||18|
|4||Fielder (R)||c||Slaymaker (P)||b||Slaymaker (P)||14|
|5||Scott (I)||b||Baker (J)||5|
|6||Fielder (S)||b||Slaymaker (P)||3|
|7||Ritchie (M)||b||Slaymaker (P)||7|
|8||Page (L)||Run Out||11|
|9||Scott (M)||Not Out||10|
|10||Martindale (P)||Not Out||2|
|Fall Of Wickets||28,61,68,79,89,95,107,119|