By Richard Higginbottom
Last weekend we were in Norfolk and then Cambridgeshire. After a T20 on Tuesday at Parliament Hill we headed West to Wiltshire for an inaugural fixture against Sherston Magna, a match founded by Patrick Bolster who met us at the ground, another sunny Sunday in this exceptional Summer enabling our so far unbroken run of weekend fixtures to continue.
Richard won the toss and invited the hosts to bat (it’s etiquette you see). And because it appears we have ample bowling strength but limited batting power. This factors in the Whitley Bay Champion being advised by his doctor that bowling is OK for his back but not batting (I suspect this physician bowls for one of the teams we’re yet to meet this season). Stuart, given choice of ends, selected the one beyond which sheep were grazing (there was a line of trees and a road at the other end). As the ground is pretty nearly flat and it was a still day, we could only imagine he wanted to be close to our woolly friends. Perhaps he was thinking “kebabs on legs” as he was measuring out his run up.
A chance spilled in the first over as Stuart located his radar; at the Road end Dave’s slow stuff is mesmerising the batsmen, they can’t get him away. Good tight start with the home batsmen trying to break the shackles. Dave suddenly produces a big full toss and Gaunt, eager to capitalise, swings all round it and is our first victim. Next, a very good stand by Langley and Blundell despite some continuing tidy work by our openers; Stuart’s given a rest after four and Lord Fakenham replaces him … obviously we’re now too far West for the son of Norfolk (or he’s thinking that next time he’ll bring his fishing rod) and he can’t quite get his usual line and length, resulting in the scoring rate increasing as these two accomplished batsmen took advantage. In the meantime Dave’s on good form and gets another wicket as a neat outswinger is clipped into Richard’s gloves (about time – he’d narrowly missed one before). Dave completes a fine spell and is replaced by Jim, who is targeted for attack by the batsmen. Sure enough, Witt is drawn out of his crease by The Praying Mantis and Richard makes a sharp stumping (well, I’m not going to say it was easy …). Morgan’s in and some of the aesthetes among us took umbrage at his back-to-front baseball cap. He clubbed his first one back over Jim’s head – not quite middled – 2 runs; attempted the identical shot next ball, sending up a short-range skyball that Lord Fakenham gathered comfortably, moving around from slip. Langley’s still in and Ajay has struck some good blows so we switch Sachith for the baronet and this makes the skipper looks like a genius as our fast spinner bowls out Ajay with his first delivery. Jim’s not to be outdone and bowls Langley with a textbook off spinner for an elegant 39. Jim shortly after induced a top edge from Vic … which carried all the way for six. Wasn’t that short a boundary either. Must be a good piece of willow. Sachith’s now causing problems and finds another good ball to castle Dickinson. Jim finishes his superb spell by bamboozling Vic who had hit a fast 21. Pegg at 9 is clearly used to batting higher up the order, but Sachith finds yet another jaffa to send him back to the pavilion. Tarun bowled a couple of tidy overs as we brought back the Prodigy (Stuart) who unusually hadn’t got a wicket up to now. The South Coast Slammer duly obliged, removing Hulance for 7 to finish the innings. The home skipper Gould finished on 21 … obviously a batsman having a day off down the order.
Sherston Magna 156 all out off 33.4 overs Gaunt b Stead 8 Langley b J Monahan 39 Blundell c Higginbottom b Stead 22 Witt st Higginbottom b J Monahan 3 Morgan c Amesbury b J Monahan 2 Ajay b Dassanayake 12 Vic b J Monahan 21 Dickinson b Dassanayake 2 Pegg b Dassanayake 4 Gould not out 21 Hulance b Bruce 7 Extras 15 Salmagundi Gardeners O M R W Bruce 6.4 0 30 1 Stead 7 0 19 2 Amesbury 6 0 42 0 J Monahan 7 0 36 4 Dassanayake 5 0 17 3 Sakhrani 2 1 8 0
A very good tea – thanks to our hosts, this is a most agreeable trip. Now, Richard doesn’t like to grab a premium batting position when he’s kept wicket, so moves himself down the order. Stuart’s also gone down a bit to help out with giving everyone a game. So let’s see how we get on.
First over and a run-out … wait a minute it clearly says above that Higginbottom is down the order. Ah! It turns out that Paulie-J has hit one straight to Cover, called for it and Jeremy’s been far too polite to shout “NO!” and was run out by quite a long way. Fifth time this Summer we’ve lost a wicket before a run was scored. The opening bowlers are bowling beautifully and Paul B gets an excellent off-cutter from Gould that bowls him off his pad – we’re 2 for 2. The only way your correspondent can handle this situation is to put on his not-very-good Richie Benaud voice and say the score out loud. At least I got half way to a smile. Paul J hit a four then got out to an excellent slip catch by Hulance off the left-arm pace of Pegg. Sachith decides the best form of defence is attack and launches a big six over wide Long-On. Jim then gets a jaffa from Pegg without troubling the scorers. Sachith hits another six – this time over Midwicket. A couple of fours … can we support him? Not enough time to tell as Gould gets one to hold its line and keeper Morgan takes an outstanding diving catch off the resulting outside edge. Tarun shaped up well (his first game for many years) but perished fairly soon, caught by Gaunt off Dickinson. The captain’s now in and must have washed his bat because he doesn’t seem to be able to do a thing with it. Good job Stuart is batting well at the other end, clubbing the loose stuff, blocking the good ones. Richard has just settled down when Vic replaces his innocuous left-arm seamers with left-arm leg spinners that are turning an alarming amount. More than good enough to account for the captain (ball spat at him and rolled onto the stumps off glove and pad … would like to claim it was unlucky, but was really beaten all ends up). At least some good advice was given to Lord Fakenham: “if it pitches on the stumps, it’s going down leg”. His lordship took advantage with two fours immediately to square leg before the gap was plugged meaning he got a single off the last ball of the over. And then promptly got out to an injudicious shot at the other end off Langley. Good show by Fakenham who cursed himself considerably more than his captain did. The Whitley Bay Champion looked composed and Stuart’s still playing well so with these two in there’s still and outside chance … ah no Stuart got a similar ball to Richard … he got some bat on it, but only enough to send a simple catch to Langley to finish the game. Good runs again though Stuart, only needed another three of us to get 30 …….
Salmagundi Gardeners 101 all out off 24 overs Jordan c Hulance b Pegg 4 Gostick run out (Blundell) 0 Brasted b Gould 0 Dassanayake c Morgan b Gould 22 Bolster b Pegg 4 J Monahan b Pegg 0 Sakhrani c Gaunt b Dickinson 4 Bruce c Langley b Vic 32 Higginbottom b Vic 5 Amesbury b Langley 9 Stead not out 7 Extras 14 Sherston Magna O M R W Gould 4 2 17 2 Pegg 4 0 13 3 Dickinson 2 0 6 1 Whit 2 1 4 0 Ajay 3 0 24 0 Hulance 2 0 8 0 Gaunt 2 0 3 0 Vic 2 0 15 2 Langley 2 0 4 1 Blundell 1 0 2 0
SHERSTON MAGNA WON BY 55 RUNS