[Report written by Sudip Nandy.]
Early season lack of availability meant that 3 debutants were brought in for this game: Andy Marks (ex-Hursley), Sam Golledge (youngster, trying cricket out again after a few years) and Mark Nall (not so youngster, trying cricket out again after 35 years!).
The Rioteers were greeted with bright sunshine and patriotic bunting throughout the village and at Hursley Park’s ground “The Quarters”. It felt like we were approaching “peak English summer”.
Captain Campbell was delayed by umpiring duties at the Trojans vs. Hursley under-13’s game. So following introductions in the dressing room and tales of yester-year from Richard B., Simon B. stepped up for the toss, but the Hursley captain generously offered Rioteers first bat as we were one short at the start.
A solid foundation was laid by Andy and Simon, with an opening partnership of 41, including Andy getting off the mark with a 6! Andy was caught hitting out for a well compiled 28. Sudip N. and Robert R. came and went quickly, to bring in George R., who was to play the match defining innings. Clean hitting from the start by George and steady accumulation at the other end from Simon kept the scoreboard ticking along at a good clip. A back niggle saw Simon retiring at 40, bringing Martin Hillier in to carry on the good work. George was eventually out lbw for 78, and Martin holed out at deep mid-on for 20. Mark and Sam each enjoyed brief returns to the middle, and the final phase of the Rioteers innings consisted of some lusty hitting from Campbell, supported at the other end by the walls of Richard and John H.
Tea was taken at 4.50 (following the late start at 2.20). The spread of cakes was particularly delightful, as the players mingled with the spectators over refreshments.
The Rioteers declared at the tea-time score of 218 for 8.
We opened our bowling with the youthful quick bowling of Sam, and the wily medium pace of Campbell. Sam took a couple of overs to settle into his line and length, and then bowled accurately but without wicket in his opening spell of 5 overs. Campbell at the other end was miserly, giving away just 5 runs in 5 overs, and taking the wicket of the Hursley opener who was bamboozled by the flight/rotation/pace of his deadly slow ball – bowled! Also a couple of good looking lbw appeals were turned down.
John and Martin came on as first and second change. John dropped on to his exemplary line and length, and was rewarded with the wicket of the other opener in his first over, lbw, the Rioteers by this time appealing in a much more professional manner!
There then ensued a fascinating tussle between bat and ball. The Hursley middle order batted well, but Hall, Hillier, Rinaldo and Rees matched them. Robert got the important wicket of Brimble (O.), and a smart stumping by Simon helped him gain his second wicket. Martin bowled with flight, guile and the occasional boundary ball (deliberate I’m sure to tempt Hursley with a hint that they were in with a chance), and produced a box office 4th over, including two wickets, with the aid of excellent catches at mid-on and mid-off by Sam and Richard.
George bowled tightly and picked up 2 wickets, and Mark bowled an eventful single over, including catching the batsman’s top edge off a length ball which then crashed into the batsman’s face. A black eye followed but fortunately no serious injury; the batsman sensibly decided to become the second retiree of the game.
When Martin came back on with about 3 overs left and 20 something runs to get, all 4 results were possible. The trap was set. Hursley’s outstanding batsman Brimble (M.) had just reached 50… Hillier sent down a short of length delivery disguised as a boundary ball … it was pulled to deep mid wicket … straight into Andy’s safe hands. Well held, and a WIN for the Rioteers! By 25 runs.
The bar was open, the barbeque was on, and a pleasant post match analysis was held in the evening sun. Thank you Hursley Park for your generous hosting in a beautiful setting.