The boffins at The Met Office, or whatever they call themselves now, had advised a dry afternoon with rain after dark. When the Hendred track was inspected and conditions assessed all seemed in order and as usual Skippers tossing continued to rise to the occasion and he duly inserted. Having said that, I am not too sure that Skipper could actually see anything following a significant episode of drinking on match day!
Newcomer Jack ‘Selfie’ Self was welcomed to the Club (Cap number 146) and we all crammed into the changing room to Sample Sams’ grand array of team sweets including some sort of mushroom thing which Skipper devoured most of hoping they were ‘magic’.
As both ends were Uphill, Kyle was completely confused as to which end to bowl from and eventually opted for the pavilion end, though it made little difference. Early encouragement with an edge falling an inch in front of Shippo at 2nd slip and then another edge slipping through Skipper’s gloves. No breakthrough though and Hendred continued to edge forward, reaching 43 from 12. Sammy came into the attack and almost immediately got a straight one past the bat to clean bowl young Mulford. He repeated the act shortly afterwards to bowl McKenna.
The ground was dry, hard and sloping to the ropes meaning anything that beat the infield was going all the way. Abbott replaced the luckless Needham and could not quite find the consistency of Jesus College, meanwhile Hendred’s Francis and Prosper were settling and becoming more expansive to good effect, putting on a ton together before Selfie bagged Francis for Sammy’s third wicket. 164-3 off 35, with an easy batting track, fast outfield and 7 wickets remaining – a very large total loomed.
Jules had kept the lid on the runs and pinned the Hendred batters back leaking a meagre 10 runs from his opening 6 overs, but the luck was not rolling the Marsh way as several aggressive mis-timed efforts dropped between, in front or just over fielders and resulted in more runs instead of wickets. Shippo turned his arm in the closing overs and though consistency evaded him he bowled Prosper. A few other late consolation wickets for Kyle and Abbott helped stem the run flow and Hendred closed on 240-7.
Oddly in the latter overs light drops of rain started and the covers were brought on as a precaution at Tea. Thus it started with light intermittent drops and it never stopped…..
Abbott and Shippo needed to leave early for social engagements and so the order was accommodating, moving Shippo into the opening berth with Joe. Shippo had already missed the thrills of a Vegan Market that afternoon and he was eager to not miss the resulting meatless meal that evening!
Joe obviously had sympathies as his inning was similarly meat-less when he gloved a Palmer rising delivery 4th ball. Jayson started with a characteristic boundary before being bowled in the 2nd over and at 7 for 2 wickets, 240 seemed a long way off.
Spurred on by thoughts of Humus and Black Barley, Shippo started to punch the boundaries we expect and was taking control….until he swung across the line and not even a stick of Mr. Boycotts’ Rhubarb would have saved him. 22 from 24 balls had promised so much more.
It was the Skippers time now and along with debutant Jack a dogged partnership started to take shape. Jack joined Skip with the score on 42-3 off 9 overs and the rain was still coming down.
Palmer was steaming in and dropping plenty of short pitched deliveries in the gloom which the umpires should have actioned, but instead they asked Skip if he wanted to continue in the rain and gloom and he was happy to front it up, after all his hangover was clearing now!
The pair milked anything short and offline, but the ever dampening ball and outfield meant the ball was not racing to the fence as in the first inning. Then a double blow as Skip and Selfie went in consecutive overs only 3 short of a 100 partnership. The score stood at 142-5 after 30 overs. 99 required off 15 overs…..in the rain….
Jules was caught out early and the innings stalled. 17 runs had come in 7 overs when more than a run a ball was required. It was time to start Swinging In The Rain and Marsh’s own Gene Kelly arrived in the guise of Sam Richardson! The rain continued and Sam unleashed his umbrella to good effect. Mikey Herriott joined Sam and splashed the singles to turn the strike over to Sam as best he could.
With 45 required from the last 30 balls it looked unlikely but despite the almost 3 hours of rain the runs kept coming and 18 were required from the last over, with 2’s and a lusty straight 6 Sammy kept the game alive to the penultimate ball.
When games go to the wire and only a handful separates the sides one can see many places where the difference could have swung in our favour; a catch here, a boundary there, but the positives of what was achieved in the game outweighs any searching for scapegoat incidents. Skipper scored 64 from 89 deliveries, Debuntant Jack showed how valuable he will be with 35 and agile fielding prowess, Sammy with 3 wickets and his 2nd highest score of 68 from 53 balls. And an overall impressive outfit in the field saving runs. Perhaps, one of these days we will get a game in the dry – throughout!