On a day forecasting frequent and thundery showers, we drove through 20 minutes of heavy rain to arrive at an unexpectedly sunny Longborough, where a grassy, soft wicket with a Lords-style slope and dramatic undulations on one half of the outfield promised an interesting contest.
‘A good toss to lose’, we thought, so JK promptly did just that. Longborough chose to bat first, knowing that they needed a good win to pull them out of the relegation spots.
Would our last match in this league be a triumphant send-off or a damp squib? Which of JK, Peggy, Archie or DFP end up top of the catches table? Should young Patrick really be eating a whole cold Cornish pasty 5 minutes before opening the bowling? Where the hell was Dickenson? And how big would Big Dave’s fine (£1 for every wicket he’s absent for) be by the end of the day? These were the important questions swirling around the damp cluttered lawnmower shed that doubled as the away team dressing room.
Once Ben finally appeared and we were able to get started 15 minutes later than scheduled, Peggy and Patrick opened the bowling and made instant inroads into their top order. With the ball swinging lavishly, moving off the seam and down the slope, and lifting viciously off a length, the Peggster was a particularly stiff proposition as he galloped in down the hill with the wind at his back.
DFP took a sizzling catch at mid-on to give Young Ginge his first wicket, Peggy yorked numbers 1, 3 and 4 in his first 3 overs, and at 20-4 Longborough weren’t looking pretty, whilst a rapid win to beat the rain was looking a real possibility for the Magna. Walsh joined the party with another clean bowled in the 10th, and at 30-6 the oppo’s hopes were withering in the wind and the occasional drizzle.
A spectacular stormfront with flashes of lightning now threatened only a couple of fields away but somehow missed the ground as a dominant Sherston continued to take wickets at regular intervals. A cool JK slip catch and a sharp run out from Archie on the boundary were both impressive, and Jarvis, playing his last league game before a full knee replacement, showed surprising agility to get out of the way of a firm on drive to allow Sezincote a rare consolation boundary. Northern softie. Bruce entertained with constant banter from mid-on, drawing jeers and laughter as he tried to catch a looping top edge with his feet.
Only Luker, Longborough’s number 8, provided any resistance, scoring a mouthy 30 and getting under Archie’s skin good and proper. Luker was the moral victor and the irate Walsh sprayed 4 wides in an expensive spell-ending 5th over. Don’t get involved, lad.
Finally Big Dave arrived, all pink shirt and brown cords, and adding yet another pound to his late arrival fine (£7 in total) as he took fully 10 minutes to get ready and join his team mates on the pitch. Didn’t fancy the drizzle, eh, Dave? He then strolled primadonna-like onto the pitch to take over the downwind end from a jug-avoiding Pegg (4-17) and yorked Luker (28 and the only one to make double figures) and the number 10, both middle stump. Longborough all out for 82 and the heavy rain had still not arrived.
Weather top of mind, Sherston hurried/hobbled out to bat. Harmer (19) and Jarvis (6, 6, out) both looked imperious before being beaten by straight ones, then Dickenson was run out – sent packing by an ill-positioned Umpire Stevens and chuntering in disbelief all the way back to the groundsman’s shack. It’s character-building, lad. JK did the usual ‘biff, bosh, bust’ and it was left to Bruce (11*) and DFP (1*) to try to see us home before the deluge.
But sadly that was not to be. Torrential rain forced an early tea – for the record, possibly the finest of the season with the best array of high-calorie sandwiches this side of Pret a Manger, stunning homemade carrot fairy cakes, chocolate gateau, scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, and assorted other delicious savouries and biscuits. And when the deluge faded away 30 minutes later, and the now fully-stuffed Sherston bowling unit were looking forward to the batters doing the rest of the work, the wicket had become a sponge and was left unplayable. The Mighty Magna were stranded high and damp on 57-4 off 10 overs, a tantalising 25 runs short. Match Drawn.
And there you have it. The end of another memorable mid-table season for Sherston Magna. Well done one and all.
And for a report on the post-match celebrations in the Rattlebone, glean what you can from What’s App. Your correspondent didn’t like the look of those shot glasses and copped off quick for an early supper.