The sunshine was turned up to full volume, as might’ve been Edward Elgar’s second symphony, as the Rioteers converged upon the pastoral, sun-dappled, English idyll of the Crawley Crows’ cricket ground. The quintessentially English music was replaced by The Ride of the Valkyries as those Rioteers arriving by bike rode over the horizon to join their comrades, the excitement and anticipation rising as players and families gathered and the start of the match approached.
Captain Hillier won the toss. The Rioteers were batting first. The deep reassurance and Scandinavian élan of Sibelius sounded out as Dave Bickford opened the batting with a Nordic calm that was to anchor our innings. The sweet music was briefly and rudely interrupted by the crass, flatulent thoughtlessness of Perez “Prez” Prado as our number two batsman Damian Stafford neither defended nor properly attacked his first and only ball, guiding it in to the grateful hands of the bowler. Dave was subsequently joined in the middle by James Hillier, the first movement of whose bat sounded the opening notes of Rachmaninov’s first piano concerto. James went on to make 105 before retiring – his innings providing, perhaps even exceeding, the majesty of Rachmaninov, by first impressing the crowd with a subtle, quiet beauty before building up to the confident allegro and fortissimo of the third and fourth piano concertos. Congratulations to James, whose innings included eighteen 4s and three 6s. After James retired, Dave was joined by the tuneful Robert Rinaldo (6), Bertie Hillier (20), Joe Stafford (who hit the ball well but was unluckily stumped at the end of his first over), Martin Hillier (4, retired), Jim Shea (a melodic 7 not out), and Wilf Hillier (0 not out). During this time Dave’s masterful performance was eventually ended on 71 in the dark, brooding, Nordic winter of an LBW decision. We’d scored 244 / 5, thereby setting Crawley a total that was [ competitive / eminently chaseable / seemingly insuperable * delete as appropriate ].
Crawley provided a tea that was [ competitive / eminently chaseable / seemingly insuperable * delete as appropriate ], during which the sun continued to shine, and the players and families were once more accompanied by Edward Elgar.
As the Rioteers took to the field the mood music switched from classical to rock ‘n’ roll. The Rioteers turned their bowling up to eleven, and strummed away at Crawley’s batting line up which finished on 177 / 8. The Crows’ opening batsman Martin White carried his bat with 65*. We can only wonder how many G Cummings might have made had he not had to retire owing to what the scorer unsympathetically noted as “ball on balls!”. Other than these performances, run-scoring was very limited owing to the following, impressive bowling figures: Matthew Lowden (1/23); Archie Hillier (0/23); Bertie Hillier (1/23); John Hall (2/36); Martin Hillier (1/27); Robert Rinaldo (3/12). The following bands were playing during each bowler’s spell, respectively: Nick Cave; Jake Bugg; alt-j; The Beatles; The Velvet Underground; Jimi Hendrix (turned up beyond eleven!). The only interruption to these glorious sounds came when our captain decided to change the music, inexplicably selected Perez “Prez” Prado once again, and pressed play. “Prez” built on his lamentable batting performance both by once again offending everyone’s eardrums and by breaking the Crawley record for the longest over ever bowled (previous record – eighteen balls) with a horrible nineteen-ball rendition. Joe Stafford and Wilf Hillier were both very busy in the field, chasing, stopping and returning everything in an inspirational manner. They were the electric Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding providing the verve and tempo for Brinaldo’s Jimi Hendrix and the other bowlers.
Thank you to our splendid hosts and friends at Crawley. And finally – congratulations once more to James Hillier on his century. Here he is in action …