Rioteers CC v. East Meon, 16 Aug., 2020

A strong turn out on a murky Sunday afternoon.

The players met at the Izaak Walton for a loosener, while the match manager with Charlie following in convoy arrived at the ground with at least 5 mins to spare.

The toss was lost and E Meon decided to bat in the constant drizzle.

With Jim Shea injured and Braz stepping into scorer mode we were able to cap another Rioteer debutant Simon Wilson – strong journalistic background, so I’ll be brief !
First up Bertie was given the new ball and managed to bring our debutant into play at mid-wicket where he managed everything but stopping the ball, showing top Rioteer credentials from the off!

Welcome Simon, to the Rioteers!

Capt Bickers having chosen to keep wicket whilst awaiting Simon Brazier’s arrival was in for a rough ride. One of Bertie’s hurled missiles pitching slightly short of a length and shooting along the ground, the next flying wide and high to the fine leg boundary. Then the fourth a good length ball going down leg-side took off viciously scything through the Bickers’ grasping gloves and pinging him on the side of his unprotected head. He went down in shock and pain. Meanwhile Simon Braz had arrived and was padding up.

Poor Bickers had to retire hurt and the game continued with Simon taking over the gloves.

However the drizzle upped it’s tempo and the game was abandoned after another couple of overs.

We all retired to the Izaak Walton for the debrief and to check if the skipper was fit to drive home.

So the skipper continues unbeaten but only just !

New Dogs, Old Tricks – Rioteers (109/6) beat Medstead (103 all out)

And so to Medstead, on a scorcher of an afternoon.  The previous day’s Test themes of exciting young pacemen; challenging left-armers; unplayable rippers; misbehaving pitches and the quiet guys playing bold, match-winning innings fuelled much of the pre-match chatter and provided a convenient (lazy- Ed) template for a close, intriguing game.

Cap’n Bix won the toss and deeming the pitch of baked white thatch unreadable, sagely snubbed convention by inviting the opposition to bat first, with nary a snide comment from a keen Rioteers side boosted by debutants Max, Phil and Oscar. Harry and Bertie hit the pitch hard and their groove early, and the wicket delivered sufficient variability to reduce Medstead to 27/3 – all wickets to Harry with the seemingly luckless Bertie suffering 2 dropped catches.  Phil then added drift and bounce with his left-armers, producing 3 fine catches, one by Bix via the ‘keeper’s helmet (which had the pub quizzers rushing to the rules book to verify ICC Rule Amendment, 26/9/17) and two worldies from Damian that had Brazier (R) coo-ing in appreciation.  This left the innings looking flat-footed at 35/6 before Pearce (37) and first Fonz (18) and then Cooper (17) took the pitch out of the equation with some controlled hitting to get Medstead to 103.  This despite Marty locking up one end with a marathon spell of wrong ‘uns and flippers that drew breathless (if inaccurate) comparisons with Yasir Shah, and Max’s no-ball lob shattering the stumps early in his spell.

Tea was leisurely, as the teams rehydrated before Simon and Oscar strapped up to take on what euphemism dictates be called a ‘tricky’ total.   Simon’s customary watchfulness was compounded by a very late night, but Oscar opened his shoulders to settle early nerves with a brisk 29 before the #3 neglected his off-stump again, Damian fell to a fine stretching catch (he who lives by the sword etc – Ed) and Max caught the mood for the obligatory mid-innings wobble.  By now, nerves were shredded by SJ’s 5 maidens in a 7 over spell of mesmerising spin, which drew breathless (if inaccurate) comparisons with Marty (admittedly only from Marty).    Whatever Simon and Bix had at the drinks break didn’t help, as each fell to their first ball afterwards, leaving the Rioteers at 51/6 – halfway there (for the Tiggers), but more than halfway not (for the Eeyores).  Tense.

Cue calm counter-attack from Bertie, who in the space of a couple of overs broke the back of the run chase and added a cool partnership of 48 with Phil, who with 11/4 and 15* played the all-rounder Woakes to Bertie’s Buttler (similarly angst-ridden by dropped catches).   Damian’s chiselling insistence on enforcing wides threatened to finish the game on a dull technicality before Bertie steepled a huge 6 to take the Rioteers home by 4 wickets.

With Brazier (R) channelling Statler and Waldorf as he scored from a bench at 3rd man, musing loudly about which grounds at which he’d like an end named after himself (Ian Bell is said to prefer a Stand – ed); Hugo backfilling club history to the new boys (you wait years for a left-arm bowler, and 2 come along at once – welcome to the club, chaps) and Dessie and Val brewing up, there was a quiet sense of both rejuvenation and continuity at the game.  The beer garden at the wonderfully named Castle of Comfort deserves special mention for its herd of ornamental Ganeshes, which added a trippy element to a thoroughly wonderful afternoon’s cricket.  Cap’n Bix’s merry bandwagon rolls on.

Rioteers CC v. Newport CC, 19 July, 2020

Our season finally got underway against our old favourites – Newport Inn CC – on their picturesque ground in Braishfield.

Our young but experienced team gathered under the new captain – Bickers, who lost his first toss and the Rioteers were asked to bowl.

Harrisson Hill (15) opened up with the now elderly Williams. After 11 overs the oppo managed just 23 runs with Harrison getting straight back on line and length (6-5-2-1) whist Williams was his usual self – leaking runs.

The Hillier family then took over. B Hillier being the pick of the family (3-8) with A Hillier (2-23) whist Daddy Hillier was wayward and expensive.

Debutant Gregory Williams bowled neatly without success whilst his father returned to pick up the “bunnies” with the skipper gaining one wicket courtesy of a stunning catch at mid wicket by Shea.

The Newport ended their innings on 147 setting the Rioteers a smallish target to chase after tea.

Simon B and Charlie Branch opened up, Simon plodding 6 singles to start whilst losing Branch (10) and Shea (1) in the 4th over.

Bickford steadied the ship outscoring Simon who plodded on to his fifty before retiring. Bickford perished on 32 as did past captain Hillier (22) before Archie and the elderly Williams saw the Rioteers to a 6 wkt victory.

Rioteers CC v. White Hunter CC, 2 June 2019

Finalmente! Lo so.

Ragazzi, è stata una grande battaglia e alla fine ne siamo usciti vincitori. 

Richard Brazier ha vinto la battaglia delle lemon drizzle contro la formidable torta degli avversari.  Non bisogna mai sottovalutare il peso di anni e anni e anni di esperienza.

È stato il nostro primo incontro con White Hunters e in luce della nostra grande prestazione, ci hanno invitato per una rivincita l’anno prossimo – la tipologia di torta è ancora da stabilire.

La partita chiedi?

[Click here for a translation of the above – Ed.]

Just call batmen and robins.

Sudip returned and he reminded us how much which we have missed this asset.  Clearly time at the nets also paid off handsomely and he was able to post a quick 45 runs with fours to give away.

Other impressive performances with the bat included, Campbell, Bert and Sam, each posting 50+ runs not out before admirably giving way to others.  In total we posted 287 runs before the lemon drizzle battle ensued.  Thanks to both teams for such fine a contribution to the break.

Our bowling attack and fielding efforts were not be overshadowed by our batting and we showed exceptional skills.  A big thank you to the young Alfie who was a last minute substitute for James Hillier who was still nursing a groin injury.  His catch at the boundary added to the wickets total and James, please take good care of your groin and don’t hurry back prematurely and rest over the winter season.  James junior also made a cameo appearance efficiently running down balls saving valuable runs.  Harry again showed pace with 2 more wickets contributing to what has shaped into an excellent campaign.

As sometimes the lemon drizzles, we didn’t quite take all the wickets and settled for a draw.

Brief side notes:

  • Someone please help Richard with google translate to go along with his English dictionary to translate Damian’s fine reports.
  • A classic ground, not to miss next time round with a lovely thatched roof pavilion and gracious hosts
  • Bickford, don’t worry mate, bad luck only comes in 3s and you have been punished enough.  This time run out from the ball deflecting off the bowler’s fingertip and removing a bail.

Rioteers CC v. East Meon CC, 18 August

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*.

Rioteers CC v. Longparish CC, 25 August 2019

Where were you when Stokes beat the Aussies?

The Rioteer faithful (that unlikely fan base) travelled varying distances to the quintessential, idyllic cricket ground of Longparish – from 200 yds to 12,000 miles in the case of Damian’s cousin Diane from Australia. 

Meanwhile at Headingley, Australia had removed Root early doors and Bairstow had also fallen – the Ashes were as good as lost.

As ever, the sun shone on this part of rural Hampshire in the water meadows along the River Test – home of Mayfly Gin (quick plug for my friends who launched their Gin this weekend – available at Caviste and the Leckford Farm Shop).

Before play began, the Rioteers gathered in the dressing room where skipper Martin said a few kind words, before Jim Shea and then Damian said a few more, even kinder words and presented a bottle of bubbly (wrapped in the Financial Times) to Sam Cook who had joined the team this season, in his mother’s footsteps, and contributed so fully with bat, ball and more importantly Rioteer spirit all summer, with this his final hurrah before returning to Auckland.

Martin lost the toss (I think) and the Rioteers were put into the field.  Bertie opened the bowling from the Hurstbourne Priors end and found the edge with his second ball which flew to the big birthday boy bucket hands Bickers who joyfully caught the ball behind the stumps.  Brother Archie bowled from the Plough end with equal pace and menace.  Both brothers picked up a couple of wickets but also combined to pull off an exceptional run-out.  Bertie bowled and the batsman edged along the ground wide of Archie at slip, who managed to stretch, pick up and throw the ball with alarming velocity to the bowlers end to throw down the stumps – with a small deviation off Bertie’s hand, though I am assured it would have hit anyway – Archie said so.

Meanwhile at Headingley Buttler and Woakes had been dismissed and another nail was in the coffin of the little urn (not sure if that works) needing over 100 runs with 3 wickets left.

Longparish made steady progress through Luke Benzing, who top scored for the hosts with 31 runs, and Sam Gardner – but couldn’t quite break free as the Rioteer bowlers kept a nagging line and length.  John Hall’s un-erring accuracy earned him 2 wickets in this middle spell, while Sam’s off-spin at the other end tied the hosts down and he, too, picked up the wicket of danger man Luke B.

Meanwhile at Headingley Broad and Archer had gone, England had tried hard but over 70 runs left with one wicket remaining – impossible.

Another brother bowling combination ensued in the form of skipper Martin and yours truly, though I was inexplicably taken off in my prime after only 2 overs.  However, I am pleased to say that Jonathan Arnold, making his debut for the Rioteers against his son Ben playing for the hosts, took over from the Plough end and bowled brilliantly with figures of 4 overs, 2 maidens, 1 wicket for 2 runs.  Negotiations are taking place to arrange a more permanent transfer.

Jim Shea also showed us what we have been missing this season with an array of unplayable deliveries in what was the most memorable over of the match.  To put Jim’s over into context, word had reached the middle that “meanwhile in Headingley” Stokes had gone berserk with the bat and had brought England to the brink of victory.  Every ball Jim bowled was followed by anxious looks to the boundary where the Longparish team were gathered around a mobile telephone.  At least twice, their reactions conveyed the Aussies had won only for emotions to be catapulted the other way when shouts of “He’s not out” raced across the outfield.  As Jim trundled up to bowl his last ball he looked like a spent man, drained of emotion, but as the ball left his hand a great cheer arose from the pavilion heralding the impossible had become possible, England had defeated Australia and Jim had completed his over, conceding just 3 runs.

It is clear that both the Jameses have been under-used in the bowling attack this season – but there are still 3 games to go. 

Talking of underused resources, the Rioteer bowling record holder was never even taken out of his wrapper.  Clearly Richard “Braz” Brazier was being kept up the skipper’s sleeve in case of a Longparish counter attack.  But just as it seemed Martin Bearpark was on the brink of doing just that, his partner succumbed to Bertie’s final ball.

Brazier, however, cannot be kept out of the action and it is important to properly describe the athleticism and bravery that belied his years as he ran in from mid-on and dived headlong to pick up the catch of the day – well that’s how I remember it.  4 catches were held during the afternoon with no drops recorded.  The other catchers may have to reveal themselves to the editor (thanks Damian) as I’m afraid I can’t remember, but I think Bertie had one and perhaps Martin the other? [If you reckon you got a catch and have been cruelly under-represented, please call our customer complaints department on the number not provided. Ed.]

Tea followed the Longparish inning that finished on 139 with Martin B the not out batsman on 15.  And what a tea it was.  Even though the temperature was in the 30s, the delicious cakes, heartily filled rolls, fruity tarts, bountiful crisps, lashings of cold cordial and hot tea were consumed with relish.  Thanks to Jonathan and Claire for a magnificent and much appreciated feast – more reason to finalise a transfer deal.

Martin sent in Archie and Sam to open the batting – Sam batting in his final Rioteer match of the season in front of his grandparents.  The Longparish attack was strong and accurate but Sam was in in “all or nothing mode”.  Last week his first shot went for six, the second was out.  Sam began as he left off last week, while Archie took up his uncle’s mantle with a steadier approach.  Sam chanced his arm and a few difficult chances went down, and there was a chance that those chances would be rued later. 

Nathan Smith broke through for Longparish removing Archie with an LBW appeal that even his uncle could find no fault with as he raised his finger – the score 45.  The raised finger brought Damian into the fray who was clearly hyped up with the emotion that followed England’s victory barely an hour before.  It was clear by the glint in his eye that he was Ben Stokes, but sadly had forgotten the first few painful, patient, watchful hours that marked the beginning of Stokes’ epic knock.  After a cleverly worked leg-bye, Damian looked to launch his first ball from Will McDermott – only to hear the death rattle as the ball evaded bat and imploded into the timbers sending the bails flying – the score 46.

Damian’s demise led to the aforementioned Birthday Boy Bucket Hands Bickers striding out to the crease.  Dave showed all his experience and great touch as he kept his end ticking over and ended on a commendable 18 not out.  At the other end, however, Sam had stepped up a gear and had swapped edges for full blooded drives off the middle.  To their great credit, the young Longparish bowlers did not waiver and stuck to their task, bowling good lines.  However, every dog has his day, and this was surely Sam’s as every swing connected and the scoring gathered pace and victory was assured in fairly quick order with a final six from Sam.  That shot not only saw the visitors’ home but also brought up a tantalising 99th run for Sam – or so we thought until a recount of his score showed that he had indeed scored his maiden century – a great knock. 

Both matches were duly celebrated after the match at The Swan in Barton Stacey (the Cricketer’s having closed after Sunday lunch).

Thanks to Longparish for being great hosts once again and look forward to 2020.

The Rioteers next match is a joint affair with the Raqueteers on Saturday 7th v Catus  (Andy Mills match manager) and the following day Sunday 8th v Chute (Damian match manager).

Rioteers CC v. Bramshaw CC, 4 August, 2019

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).

Rioteers CC v. Newport Inn CC, 21 July 2019

Regular readers of Rioteers’ match reports should be prepared to suspend belief before continuing with this one.

On Sunday, 21st July, the Rioteers (but not initially their Captain) found themselves once more in the delightfully rural setting of Braishfield, ready to play old opponents, Newport Inn CC. In the absence of Martin Hillier at the appropriate time for the toss of a coin, Vice-captain Dave Bickford duly stepped in and, having called correctly, chose to bat on a dry wicket whose slope makes (un?)even Lords look like a billiard table.

 Dave opened with Martin Hawthorne in a classic right/left-hander combination which produced a steady start despite some hostile bowling from the “top end”. Having established themselves, stroked some boundaries and begun to look settled, both succumbed in relatively quick succession. (Readers please note: Dave was not given LBW by the Rioteers’ own bowler-friendly umpire. Ed.) There then developed a most entertaining  partnership by two batsmen of contrasting ages, shape, and style. The younger, taller Sam Cook (don’t mention the ODI Final) bludgeoned his way to 47 runs with five boundaries, including 2 sixes, whilst James Hillier played with the straightest bat in the team. However, James may have regretted his adherence to the classic tenets of this noble game when having to run no fewer than 40 of his score of 56 not out- no wonder that he retired, bemoaning the fact that the scorers could have informed him earlier than they actually did of his feat in reaching the half century.

As is his tried and tested custom, Campbell Williams decided to take a close look at the bowling and to assiduously assess the testing conditions before hitting his first 2 deliveries for 6! Live by the sword….Campbell made 29 before holing out in another attempted boundary hit. Meanwhile the much younger (it does show Campbell) Bertie Hillier demonstrated to his older partner exactly how to bat aggressively by hitting 7 fours and 2 sixes in his 54 not out before he too became the second batsman to retire, allowing Damian Stafford and Harry Hill brief cameos of innings. Indeed, Damian in his all too brief occupation of the crease, raised one of the bigger cheers of the day from an unusually large number of spectators by means of a textbook drive to extra cover. (One Newport player was heard to remark that it was time to cash in on such local interest by charging spectators an entrance fee. One assumes he was in jest. Ed.)

Rioteers declared at tea: 235 for 4 and 2 of those wickets were the result of superb catches in the deep by Ben Travers. Despite a slight hiccup with the water-heater which delayed the (liquid) tea, tea (food) itself was well worth waiting for: traditionally thick-cut sandwiches for healthy appetites and a wide variety of cakes. ( A lemon cake, my favourite. Ed.)

Rioteers produced yet more contrasts when in the field after tea, not least the age difference between the opening bowlers- well over fifty years. The younger, much faster Archie Hillier, came steaming down the slope and took two wickets, one courtesy of a slip catch by brother Bertie. Archie could well have had more but some chances went begging. At the other end John Hall, running (tottering?) up the hill, bowled much slower and offered to be taken off after 3 consecutive maidens bored everyone to death. (Spectators were observed to depart at this point. Ed.) The even younger Harry Hill replaced Archie down the hill (confused?) and also bowled fast but perhaps found the slope too great to adjust to his familiar rhythm. (Have patience dear readers; there is much more of his role to come. Ed.) Meanwhile our earlier maligned skipper demonstrated his adeptness at man-management, combining the pursuit of victory with the necessity to keep each individual involved in the game. His next bowling change, the introduction of Robert Rinaldo at the upslope end could have been a masterstroke, so many chances were created by his bowling. Sadly, chances did not become wickets most noticeably when Campbell reversed the tendency he perfected in Alderney, not to move forward for a catch, by failing to move backwards enough at mid-on to provide Robert with a deserved wicket. Campbell rubbed salt into the wound by later coming on to bowl at the same end then taking two wickets, one of which was a catch in the same mid-on position. (Could you write the script? Ed.)  The catch in question was truly astonishing: the right-handed Bertie Hillier ran full pelt from mid-on towards the boundary before flinging himself horizontally to clutch the ball spectacularly with his outstretched left hand.

Bertie and Sam Cook both had spells at the top end, but without success. It is interesting to speculate at which point the slope fails to be an advantage to the bowler; on this occasion, it clearly was not as the final events of this compelling contest revealed.

Newport Inn CC, faced with so formidable a total, did not look like winning the game but at 78 for 3, then 107 for 4, well into the last 20 overs, they had every prospect of a draw. Moreover, the game was being played at 12-a-side to accommodate the number of visitors wishing to play in this popular fixture which meant that 11 wickets would have to fall. Well dear readers, it is at this point your credulity will be taxed; Martin turned again to pace: this time, Harry up the hill, and eventually Bertie back down it. Harry produced the performance of the season, if anything generating more pace than in his first spell at the apparently more favourable end. Four opponents were cleaned bowled: one in the earlier spell; one by a fast full toss which dipped at the last; one by a good length ball and one by a slow Yorker which visibly swung away. Another batsman was LBW and one caught which meant that Harry’s remarkable figures were:

7 overs; 1 Maiden; 13 Runs; 6 Wickets.

Bertie took the last wicket so Newport were all out for 123 runs- save, that is, for Richard Brazier who kindly agreed to make up Newport’s number when they generously agreed to 12-a-side game. Richard  was 7 not out, including a sweetly timed 4 off the back foot, perhaps a portent of things to come now that he intends to forsake bowling for batsmanship.

After the game we retired, not to the hostelry from which our opponents are eponymously named, for it no longer exists, but to the Wheatsheaf. How apposite that the Rioteers should play Newport Inn in such fine spirit on and off the pitch.

Rioteers CC v. Broadhalfpenny Brigands CC, 14th July 2019

Having spent the two weeks prior to the game sweating to try and increase the squad from eight to the requisite eleven I was then blessed with four quality additions with a day to spare. Thanks to Princey for agreeing to step down. The three new players being the returning Chris and Sam Green and our new overseas signing Johan from South Africa. Apparently he heard that this could be his last opportunity to take to the field with the legendary 9fer Brazier and at the cradle of cricket- how could he say no? 

The toss was won by captain Hillier and seeing that it was a fine afternoon decided to bat. He opened with himself and our new signing Johan. Who quickly showed that he had the ability to break into the might of the Rioteers XI. In partnership with Martin Hillier the 50 partnership was quickly reached until Hillier succumbed for a well made 23. This brought Hawthorne to the crease and the scoreboard continued to click over at a good rate. Until with the score on an impressive 140-1 Johan holed out for an excellent 74. Hawthorne quickly followed for 34. In turn quickly followed by Cook for 2 complaining that the bowling wasn’t quick enough for him! 

All the while Chris Green was demonstrating why he has been sorely missed as a regular Rioteer as he smote the ball all around the park for an excellent 38. His mantle was then taken up by Bertie Hillier who in partnership with Harrison Hill ensured we reached an impressive 215-6 before the declaration came. Bertie ending up on 21 not out. 

Then we were treated to the normal excellent Brigands tea with the Lemon drizzle cake being a particular highlight. 

Suitably refreshed the Rioteers then took to the field to seek the ten wickets to secure another victory. Matters could not have started better with our own legendary John Hall bowling their opener with the first ball of the innings. There was a rumour going around the ground that John had once played on this ground with WG Grace but even John is not that old! 

With John’s normal accuracy and in tandem with a fine spell from Harrison Hill Brigands found runs hard to come by. The opening bowlers were then replaced by Bertie Hillier and Sam Cook. Bertie then bowled the opener for a patient 3 which opened up the middle order for the two Sams (Cook and Green) to dismantle. Sharing five wickets between them. Assisted by fine catches by Hill, Hillier B and to the delight and surprise of the crowd, the Brigands and Rioteers ….. Brazier R. 

Captain Hillier M then returned to the pace attack of Hill and Hillier B to try and secure a second consecutive Rioteers victory at this famous ground. Bertie duly sure obliged with three more clean bowled wickets to take Rioteers to a well earned and comfortable victory. 

The team then transferred to the equally famous Bat and Ball pub to celebrate a well earned victory.