Rioteers CC v Hambledon CC, 5 May 2019

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After the previous week’s draw with St Mary Bourne, an optimistic Rioteers team today enjoyed the splendid hospitality of Hambledon in beautiful surroundings, under a cloudy sky.

We were captained by the inimitable Colonel Bickers, who was generous enough to share with his team-mates his key, possibly only, tactic: it’s all about where you put your fielders – a concern that would be especially important today as the grandmaster only had ten pieces at his disposal to move around the board.

Your correspondent doesn’t remember who won the toss, but the Rioteers fielded first, bringing in to play immediately our only tactic, I mean strategy …

Hambledon batted well, with five of their eleven scoring in to double figures, most notably Seb Duggan, who was run out for 61. Four of the opposition were caught. Yes, you read that correctly. After the previous week’s drop-fest, in which even several sandwiches at tea were fumbled over the sides of plates, it was hard to recognise this sharp, responsive Rioteers fielding unit. Perhaps it was all owing to the Colonel’s placement; we stopped and caught everything that was to be stopped and caught. After Simon made a majestic dive to dismiss Hambledon’s number 8 on four runs, catching him twice–first time spilling the ball upwards, only for gravity to plonk it back in to his still upturned, grateful glove–our great leader rightfully took a moment to congratulate himself aloud on having had the foresight to place a wicket keeper behind the stumps – an important lesson for all budding captains on the subtler arts of the game. The quality of the Rioteers’ bowling matched that of its fielding (and placement decisions), with Brazier R 1/11, Palmer 1/22, Lowden 3/57, and Cook 4/25.

Hambledon ended their innings on 175/10, thereby setting their opponents a total that was competitive yet chaseable.

Tea was absolutley marvellous, with Hambledon’s hospitality providing lovely food almost as good as the company of those providing it.

Sam Cook and Simon Brazier opened for the Rioteers, with each showing contrasting approaches to the task at hand, such that speculation mounted that Sam might reach his fifty before Simon got off the mark, an event that might well have occurred had Sam not been bowled on 33 when he looked settled for a longer stint where Captain Bickers had placed him. Simon batted on well, being stumped quite some time later on 21. Other batting performances to note include Robert Rinaldo’s 8 made up of two boundaries, and a characteristically zesty 10 from Richard Brazier who came in at number ten. Our number six batsman Ralph Palmer scored very quickly an impressive 32, including 4 fours and a wonderfully struck, flat maximum over cow (and car) corner which cleared the vehicles, and the fence, easily. As we were only ten players Hambledon, in typically sporting fashion, suggested that Matt Lowden bat at number eleven once his stint at number nine had come to its close (the scorer said, “Lucky chap”).

The Rioteers ended their innings on 122/10 to leave Hambledon celebrating a deserved win and our Colonel musing on the placement of his battalion (sorry to all readers for this – Ed.). Thank you Hambledon for a great afternoon of cricket.

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