Bramshaw v. Rioteers, 1st August, 2021

The prospects of a game were not auspicious on Sunday with banks of cumulonimbus clouds overhead and rain falling at the 2pm start time. With this in mind the two captains opted for a 35 overs match and Rioteers were asked to bat.

Jim Shea and Martin Hillier opened the batting but, after scoring one delightful four, Jim was first to depart when failing to wait for a rank long-hop to arrive at his bat only to top edge a skier which was well caught. At this point it is worth recording that both sides had only ten men and had to field well; both did so commendably. Indeed, Bramshaw had seven teenagers in their side, the youngest only thirteen, but their tremendous team spirit and unstinting enthusiasm more than made up for any inexperience.

As one of the older opponents commented, Martin and James Hillier, the latter coming in at three, set about building a partnership by playing straight balls with classic defence, but punishing the bad ones ruthlessly. James looked a batsman of real pedigree with some wonderful straight drives and pull shots played with rolled wrists always keeping the ball down. Sadly, he failed to achieve a much deserved fifty only because he was erroneously run out by the square leg umpire’s poor decision (your Match reporter’s fault no less: sorry James!). However, Martin proceeded with ever increasing facility and some aggressive strokes including many clever placements behind square on the off, as well as trade-mark sixes over wide long-on. Campbell Williams scored some quick runs before being bowled, and Greg Williams, after an understandably hesitant start from a young batsman who has played only  few games for the Rioteers, gained in confidence and played some good scoring shots which augur well for the future. Again, it is pleasing to note how many young players were also in the Rioteers team: the future of Sunday cricket looks safe in the hands of these two clubs.

Last man to bat for Rioteers was Bertie Hillier who, after taking 24 off one over, made way for his father to complete an entertaining century. Indeed, Marting played so well, as he has done on many occasions for Rioteers for many years, that your reporter doubts that he was the only one to learn from Martin afterwards that this was only his second century. The innings closed during a heavy burst of rain which occasioned speculation of an early tea, but this was not ultimately taken: the score finally 219 for 4.

When it was taken, the tea turned out to be superb and all credit and thanks to Bramshaw CC for returning to the old, and much missed, tradition. 

Bramshaw’s chase got off to a cracking start: Ben, who had also opened the bowling, hit Archie Hillier, bowling the opening over up the hill, for a delightful cover-driven four in the first over. Bowling down the hill, your reporter’s treatment was even more brutal when a six over long on clearly demonstrated the batsmen’s intent. Any thoughts the Rioteers may have harboured of an easy win soon disappeared. When Ben was eventually caught at the wicket by James Hillier, standing up to Hall, (some small compensation for the latter’s earlier treatment) the other opener, Ollie, went on to a fine half century and eventually 74. Many bowlers were tried (in fact, both sides used eight bowlers, thus ensuring that all players were well involved in the game, very much in the spirit of Sunday cricket) and Greg C. and Wilf Hillier both impressed by bowling good lines and lengths on a 22 yard pitch, when they normally play on 19. Skipper Campbell and Robert Rinaldo also bowled well as well as fielding with same enthusiasm as the youngsters, whilst Archie returned for a second spell and wisely opted to bowl spin; taking pace off the ball made it harder to score runs as deflections no longer automatically reached the short boundaries.

With five wickets down and their excellent young captain, Bailey now batting, Bramshaw reached the last over with the game in the balance, as Campbell left unreported in his teasing e mail. Bertie  Hllier was bowling fast from the bottom end where he had already clean bowled the opponent’s top scorer, and Bramshaw needed three off the last ball to win. The first required run was easily taken and the second was necessarily risked; a good throw came in, James whipped off the bails and a loud appeal ensued. The verdict: “not out” so Bramshaw finished with 219 for 5 and a tie.

Much as Rioteers had tried to win, none begrudged  Bramshaw their fair share of an absolutely splendid match. Finally, a mention for both skippers who contrived such a closely fought game whilst giving players of all ages from 12 to 75 the opportunity to enjoy their involvement in village cricket.

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