The rampant Rioteers journeyed to the Bramshaw bowl for a prompt 2pm start. Most of us made the 2pm with the exception of a few late leavers of the Green Dragon. Captain Martin managed to partake in the toss, a rarity this season, and made the clever decision to stick Bramshaw into bat whilst we only had 8 players at the ground at that stage. Even better ‘tried’ to negotiated to play a timed match only to then roll over, resulting in a 35 over match. It didn’t take long for the cavalry to roll on from their later than expected Gammon lunch.
H Hill opened up, coming down the hill, bowling at a good pace to the left handed opening pair, who were unable to get him away. B Hillier was then given the task of following the maiden, running/jogging/trotting up the hill. Second ball of the over, coming around the wicket to the left handed captain, pitched on a good length and drifted in to take the bail of middle and off, leaving the home side 0-1. Their number 3 then marched down the hill and then dragged his bat promptly back up. After loosely driving a back of a length wide loosener straight into the mitts of our Canadian/Italian overseas (R Rinaldo). B Hillier was on for a hat trick, the field gathered around the bat but the ball was well defended into the ground. 0-2 the home side were in trouble and the pressure continued as another maiden this time from B Hillier with the help from debutant C Branch with diving stops that Tuckers would have been proud of. H Hill then took the remaining openers off stump with another top delivery, making him become the 3 man out without troubling the scorers. Hill then followed up this wicket, with another ‘erratic’ ball which like all the other ‘erratic’ balls was on a good length attacking the stumps. This squeezed the batsman (another lefty) to trying to force one through the ‘tactically’ vacant mid-wicket causing him play onto middle stump off his pads.
Eager for more wickets Captain M Hillier then called on his trusted wicket takers, who had been held back to most people’s surprise. But this questionable decision was rewarded almost immediately. A Hillier found his line and length after some encouragement from his bowling partner C Williams got one to boomerang back into the right handed dangerous number 4, taking out his leg stump with what some said was a Jofra-esque, unplayable, toe-crunching yorker. Then some didn’t. C Williams continued to keep it tight and built pressure, allowing A Hillier with another in-ducker to claim another stick, with a further batsman recording a duck. C Williams and A Hillier bowling well as a pair and continued to trouble the batsman into play and misses, with one bowling ‘line or length‘ and the latter moving the ball both ways.
Overs per bowler were limited to only 7, which led to the arrival of R Rinaldo and S Brazier. A somewhat wayward R Rinaldo was surprisingly given a second over and then amazingly a third, even after a loud chorus of ‘thanks Robert, good spell’ after both his first and second over. But after twisting the skip’s arm for the second time, the team’s patience was rewarded as Rinaldo claimed a wicket, bowled. Then two balls later a skyer was sent out to cow corner only to be swallowed by J Shea, he wasn’t letting A Hillier anywhere near this one, this his second catch in 3 years. Rinaldo could then have claimed a third but for a lazy S Brazier, ‘walking in’.
The skipper then turned back to his openers and first change bowlers to grab the last 2 wickets. Hill again bowled a tight line and length but it was A Hillier that had the number 8 caught by Williams trying to drive one over mid-off. Williams and B Hillier then replaced A Hillier and Hill, and, after having a sharp caught behind chance put down, Williams trapped the batsman in front of all three. This left the home side 173 all out from 32 of the 35 overs. This LBW decision was the only bowler friendly decision made by Umpire John Hall all day, having earlier given wides for balls that were hitting 5th stump. John had however very kindly come to Umpire after an error from the MM, so most let him off.
Debutant Branch almost jumped at the opportunity to open the batting, in front of his mini barmy army, having turned it down initially. He and Bickers led the charge, though Bickers didn’t last after playing on trying to leave a short ball that failed to get up, for 5. S Brazier then joined Charlie out in the middle and had front row seats to the onslaught of Branch. He took apart the Bramshaw bowling attack with some hard hitting, including an absolute monster 6 over mid-on. He continued to bring the attack to the bowlers and didn’t allow them to settle with S Brazier nicely backing him up with some classical strokes. As Charlie confidently made his way past 50 some tighter bowlers came to the crease, bowling some useful off spin. This may have slowed the run rate but only momentarily. After another 6, which the bowler watched fly over his head, Branch appeared to have ‘injured’ his back and retired only 19 short of a maiden century, definitely not bullied into retiring by a selfish skipper. Team mates were shocked by this terrible decision of robbing Branch (81) of a very probable and entertaining 100. Princey joined Brazier at the crease with barely 50 required off 14 overs. Princey showed the off spinner plenty of respect and in the end too much, as he watched the ball grip and spit before clipping the top of off. Out for 1 without offering a stroke. J Shea joined Brazier momentarily as Brazier passed 50, after which he quickly retired, obviously thinking of his average for 54. Nevertheless, it meant A Hillier joined Shea to get the remaining 11 required runs. They knocked the runs off quickly with ease, Hillier ending on 10* and Shea 1*. With 8.1 overs remaining. Rioteers withheld their rampant form continuing their winning run since Cadnam. (Probably has nothing to do with a talismanic teenager returning from his travels).