As the early autumn sun lowered in the west, and a crispy air engulfed the barbecue embers, the pavilion of rural Chailey Cricket Club was awash with wistful chatter. As much as the summer was saying goodbye, the cricket schedule had been holding out for as long as it could. But now was the time of benediction. The grace of a Barber drive, the love of a Lukey toss victory, and the fellowship of a Wanderers social gathering had indeed been with us all. Amen to another season.
Chailey had hosted the final match in the absence of Plumpton’s invitation. Overnight rain had made way for a dry, bright and breezy afternoon. Arundel, most affable opponents, had struggled for numbers. Under normal circumstance the match may have fallen victim to this current Sunday struggle amongst the more established clubs. Thankfully, due to enthusiasm for one final hurrah, the Wanderers were over subscribed. The Author, Lloyd and Butcher jnr joined the opposition ranks and a forty over match was agreed upon. Lukey won the toss (read that again) and elected to bowl. The stage was set for the final scene.
Even with the added strength of young Butcher and the very able Lloyd, the Arundel innings struggled on the pudding pitch. A team of able Sunday cricketers lacked the flashing blades of Wanderers recent renaissance. As much as Arundel are a successful West Sussex League side, the Sunday team are a splendid tribute to the friendly game. The attitude and desire to include everyone was a pure testament to this. The youngest player was 14 and the eldest, wait for it, 86. More on bowler Denny in a bit. The opening exchanges were a little muted. With DJ Dave and Raunak employing some steady arms the score eased its way to 27 in the ninth over.
Lloyd became the first victim, stepping back to a ball that kept fairly low. Raunak had bowled especially well in his first spell, turning the ball off a fine length, and was most deserving of a wicket. The wicket set a pattern of struggle for the visitors, the next fourteen overs yielding forty-five runs as Wanderers continued to make proper use of a drying wicket. As the score crawled into the seventies a further four wickets fell, Baker Joe, Max, DJ Dave and Will B joining the party in a rotating attack.
Ensuing was seventeen overs of attritional cricket. Sensibly, Arundel clawed their way to a respectable scoreline. Batsman Pitts providing a measured but combative approach to a fully resourced Wanderers attack (every outfield player was used). Naturally there will be no mention of the pea roller from the hand of Will B that sent The Author back to the hutch without scoring…. But after this batsman Shoulders accompanied Pitts in a stand of twenty four which was only ended by a superb one handed catch, behind his head, from Johno at deep square. The innings ended on 139-7, the full forty overs being used.
|1||Crathern (L)||lbw||b||Naidu (R)||11|
|2||Dip||c||Johnson (M)||b||Baker (J)||17|
|3||Theodoridi (A)||b||Wheatley (M)||11|
|4||Butcher (M)||c||Wilson (J)||b||Field (D)||12|
|8||Shoulders (M)||c||Johnson (M)||b||Naidu (R)||12|
|Fall Of Wickets||27,34,52,64,72,102,131|
Tea was had, and particular thanks must go to Catherine for her rallying of domestic assistance in ensuring grumbling stomachs were fed and watered. Wanderers opened up with The Big Bear and Will B. It soon became apparent that, in these latter weeks of the flashing blade, matters would be swiftly concluded. But let’s take a brief look at the environment in which it occurred before dismissing a bowling attack as weak and ineffective against a plethora of talent and experience at village level.
Opening from the Pavilion End was a bowler of much ability, and, despite a number of loose balls being punished by Gwyllim’s club- and this was regular and without ceremony- one must take into account that perhaps fifty years previously things may not have been so one-sided. Yes, fifty years. For bowler Denny is eighty-six years young. Coming in off about six or seven paces he produced as much swing as anyone else had all afternoon. Granted, a number of deliveries were falling errant, but one sensed that this was not one of his better afternoons. For as long as he is able this old soldier will be playing the friendly game- and a fine chap he was too. A few Wanderers will be seeing retirement before any such considerations on his part, The Author being one of them.
At the other end, and equally unfazed by the Gywillim onslaught, was young Benjy Atkin. His deliveries were of sometimes good length and quite nippy, yet he came in for equal punishment. The first five overs were therefore the subject of assumed records that need no research. The largest age difference between an opening, possibly any in fact, bowling pairing, and most likely the fastest Wanderers fifty in modern club history- believed to be around twenty balls. Gwyllim retired in the fifth over. He left the field with the score on 59.
What was most apparent was that Arundel could have turned the screws early if they had wished to. Bowler Shoulders accounted for both Master Wilson and Max Wheatley in the aftermath of the carnage. The best, and rather swift, spinner to have bowled against us this season. Despite the outcome seemingly being sealed Wanderers wobbled. Bowler Dip, from the Pavilion End, was quick and dangerous. His errant deliveries saw punishment from Master Wilson and Mr Noakes though- and thankful Wanderers were. At 130-5, and with Raunak having left, there could have been twist in the tale. Baker Joe and Johno, with some fortune, saw the Wanderers home in 20.4 overs. A most surreal passage of cricket.
So that’s all folks, well, apart from a few thoughts and a short benediction of my own. I forgot to mention the game of pairs that occurred at the end of the match by those who were desperate to squeeze the last puff of breath from the passing season. Mr Lincoln had a bowl and The Author was ran out four times in four overs (although Lukey will admit to causing three of them). As the light drew in, and the smell of burgers wafted in the air, time was finally called and we all met for a spontaneous social.
So, dear reader, what of the title of this final match day offering ?
‘Amicitia et liberalitas’- sounds rather grand doesn’t it ? Well, perhaps. But it runs deeper than that. It’s Latin, you probably knew that, and it means ‘Friendship and generosity’. Two words that currently run through the veins of this cricket club. Two words that sum up all the effort and time that people give to its social fabric. Two words that Luke epitomises in his captaincy, or Gwyllim shows when deciding that someone else should have another go when the fastest century isn’t beyond him. Two words that allow a bowler, new to the club, a run in the attack when the match is delicately poised. Two words that summarise the efforts of the ladies of the club who toil and ask for no recognition. Two words that have kept this club alive when many others are folding in this demise of Sunday cricket.
I spoke to folk on Sunday and suggested that they should become the club’s motto as well as being incorporated in the Mark IV badge for the anniversary year. This was met with much approval. The AGM will have the final say. But ultimately this is academic.
This year the Wanderers season has been most friendly and most generous of spirit- and that is all that matters.
|1||Jones (G)||Retired Out||51|
|3||Wilson (J)||b||Shoulders (M)||25|
|5||Wheatley (M)||b||Shoulders (M)||0|
|Fall Of Wickets||59,70,118,119,130|
|Result||Southwick Wanderers won by 6 wickets|
Photographs by kind permission of Gemma Manvell