Rioteers CC v East Meon CC, 20th August, 2017

A number of schools of thought exist about August …

Firstly you have those of 11 years or younger who see it as a Haribo fuelled den of delight with sleepovers, no school and acres of screen time.

Secondly there are those careworn parents who see the period as a mine–field of juggling jobs, holidays and overdrafts and wishing for the strictures that September will bring.

And finally you have the middle-aged match manager who is faced with underwhelming weather and an empty team sheet. The batsmen have buggered off to Biarritz and the bulk of the bowlers are sitting in a leaky tent in Devon with their assorted offspring.

After much wrangling 11 Rioteers strong, true and mostly upright sidled onto the field of play from all corners of the south of England. The sky was the slate grey you’d only find in Blighty in August but crucially the rain was plying its trade elsewhere as we commenced.

The opposition batted first. Hall and Lowden bowled the first 15 overs and managed to hold the opposition in some sort of check as they glided to 108 – 1. We were then treated to a rather brutal display of batting by an array of Atkinson’s and a number of boundaries ensued. Rioteer debutant’s Jonny Druce and Ralph Palmer bowled well and were among the wickets. Robert Rinaldo had a great direct hit for a run out. Brazier was called upon to unleash a one over spell (following his amazing yet unlikely, boundary catch) and Lowden and Hall again tried to stem the tide at the death.

The result was 240 for 7 which, to be honest, was a little lower than looked likely in the heat of the innings.

The opposition had a number of phone apps which all agreed on the same outcome but differed slightly on the timings: it was going to hose it down. We therefore elected to bat for half an hour to enjoy the lack of rain. Druce and Shea got off to a steady start and looked strong and stable until Druce holed out for 8 and Tim Barker came in. A quick fire and elegant 12 ensued before one popped up and he was caught. This brought skipper Bickford to the crease, along with the rain.

We went into tea on 33 for 2 and filled our boots. An excellent spread it was too, with crustless cucumber sandwiches with pepper in (?? Are you sure – ed) and a wonderful array of cakes.

There then ensued what can only be described as a soggy rear-guard as Shea (once the chocolate cake had kicked in) became more expansive until holing out to a superb one handed diving catch. James Hillier, Ralph Palmer and Robert Rinaldo held out as the rain purred down and the fielders and bowlers tried in vain to master the slippery conditions and the tail enders. Damian Stafford, despite pacing around padded up and ready to go, remained in the hutch and we finished on 95 for 5 and a draw can be chiselled into this years results.

Roll on September.

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