With another win under the belt, the Rioteers arrived to the beautiful ground of East Meon looking to build on the unbeaten run. Amazingly, the Hilliers were first to arrive and the toss was done and we were in the field. The team was a core of youth with the odd experienced head. Captain Martin handed the ball to his two sons to take the new ball. A Hillier on his favoured ground, where earlier in his career had smashed (chipped) a stump in two, opened up running up the hill and bowling into the two openers. B Hillier having been given the choice of end bowled downhill unfortunately he struggled with his line and length causing him to bowl short and wide. This gave Rinaldo a good warm up to add to his pre match runs around the pitch of collecting the ball from the point boundary several times. A Hillier made the break through by knocking back the off peg of the veteran opener. He then continued to bowl tight trying to attack the leg stump of their Captain at number 3. Unfortunately, B Hillier continued to bowl short wide rubbish, he was even pulled back over his head for four. Leaving the score at 45 – 1 with A Hillier only having gone for 8 runs. A Hillier then very cleverly ran his fingers down the side of the bowl to perform a slower ball bouncer which the opener could only push around the corner to the returning T Powell.
S Cook replaced Bertie, he found turn in his first over and claimed the wicket of the defending number four which was expertly snaffled by the glovework of Bickford returning to the duty of keeping. T Powell returning to the side after a 5-year sabbatical was thrown the ball to replace A Hillier at the same ground as his last appearance and was amongst the wickets straight away. His left arm over was heaved to B Hillier who did his best to headbutt the ball at deep mid-wicket, to get rid of the dangerous captain, who had earlier survived an lbw shout that even Becca Evie and Charlie in the crowd had agreed was crashing into middle stump. Cook then got the batsman to watch one on to his off stump and Powell with another caught this time by a confident Sudip at mid-off. Powell finishing on return with 2-13 off 3 and Cook with 2-6 from 4.
They were replaced by Rinaldo and a young Wilf Hillier. Rinaldo bowled virtually every ball down the corridor of uncertainty asking questions of both right and left handed batsmen. Wilf marked his run up and then charged up the hill, and second ball had a chance put down by big cousin Tom. But second over he claimed his 1st Rioteer wicket at the age of only 12, but credit has to go to B Hillier. As he takes another absolute stunner at square leg, I didn’t get a great angle of the catch only saw a sprint and then dive to take a right handed catch at full stretch. With Dessie and Val, who were watching on to say: ‘after 33 years of Rioteers cricket I have never seen a catch like that’. But Wilf takes all the applause as he continued to bowl a steady line and length, which led to another close LBW shout to be turned down on the impact. This didn’t put off the young pacer as again had another big appeal for an LBW and this time the finger followed, 2 for Wilf. At this stage Robert was disappointed as he too had bowled very well, into his last over Robert bowled his only bad delivery of the day but this would be his only wicket as B Hillier took another more regulation catch.
One wicket remaining it was B Hillier who finally joined the party get their number 11 to chip one to point, after M Hillier had a missed stumping by Bickford, this was Bicker’s only ‘mistake’ behind the stumps as otherwise he was taking everything. Rioteers chasing 115 to win with B Hillier finishing with 6-0-38-1, M Hillier 4-0-6-0, A Hillier 10-4-23-2 (he’d got over his turned down LBW by now), Rinaldo 6-3-7-1 and W Hillier 4-1-30-2.
Tea was ‘class’ and range of sandwiches and cakes including a Colin the Caterpillar which was a bit of a game changer. Interestingly, a young Branch thought his fielding efforts meant he deserved the head.
Sudip and Bickers headed out to start the in theory comfortable chase. But it was rather uncomfortable watching maiden after maiden after maiden, until Bickford was caught out by a very sharp chance at short leg. J Hillier entered the fray and after watching the maidens from the boundary decided to then watch them from the wicket. There were several textbook forward defences though. Sudip then fell with the score 4-2 off around 10 overs, this got the returning C Branch still steaming having been forced to retire with the chance at a 100 on debut at Bramshaw. Branch stopped the pattern of maidens with some crunching shots of authority as Meon began to rotate their bowlers. J Hillier tried to follow Branch and bring it to the bowlers causing him to fall for a gritty 1. A Hillier then joined Branch at the crease. A Hillier looked to rotate the strike with singles and allowed Branch to take the lead as the openers returned as the chase began to gain momentum. Branch then heaved their Captain for 6 then 4 which broke this streak of 6 maidens. A Hillier continued to bore the fielders, bowler, crowd and himself, but Meon bowlers continued to bowl a good line with well set fields, and he is now fighting to salvage a half respectable average. As the partnership ticked over 50 Branch looked to bring the match to a close with some big ball striking, however he pinched the strike after refusing to run an easy 2 and next ball he was bowled through the legs trying to cart the ball back to Sussex. He fell for a solid and entertaining 80. Cook joined A Hillier and he went dot, six, out. B Hillier then joined his brother with under 10 required, he almost gifted Meon his wicket first ball but mid off dropped an absolute dolly much to the annoyance of the non-striker. The pair then quickly knocked off the runs to finish the match with overs in the bank. B Hillier finishing on 8* and A Hillier 25*.