Rioteers v. Hursley Park Sunday XI, 21 May 2023

The Rioteers came into this game with a season record of WWW (WWWWW if you include the last two games of the 2022 season). Would they continue their run of form?

Two days out there were problems. Injury meant the team sheet was down to 8 men. Arrangements for tea were looking uncertain. How would the Rioteers manage…? Captain Campbell to the rescue! He found youngsters Tom and Zac to debut for us. And understanding the importance of a good tea for optimum Rioteer performance, he started baking! George found a second Hugo for the team and we were up to 11.

Our hosts kindly let us bat first as Campbell and Greg were delayed. Simon and Martin opened, with George at number 3. All started well, each suggesting the possibility of a big score, but Simon (14) and George (22) were both caught trying to hit out, and Martin (31) was run out. The early middle order came and went quickly and it was left to Alfie (top scorer with a beautifully paced 40) and Hugo Prince to stabilise the innings. Princey’s bat was making nice contact with the ball, until he overstretched clubbing a ball to the leg side, sustaining a side strain severe enough to need to retire hurt on 17. Following an elegant, but all too brief innings from Cledders, the second Hugo (Andrae) joined Alfie, and between them they accelerated the Rioteers to a decent total. Hugo was unbeaten on 27, joined at the end by Campbell for a 3 ball 11 n.o. Rioteers 206 for 8 at tea.

Thank you Campbell and Greg for the delicious cakes and sandwiches, and to Hursley Park for tea and hosting.

The Rioteers declared at tea. Consistently good bowling from the youth section (Zac, Tom, Greg and Alfie – who I understand is still only 17) kept the Hursley score under control and wickets fell at intervals, but at 115 for 3, and the Hursley’s two outstanding batsmen on the day Sharma and T. Flynn looking good, the Rioteers streak of wins looked about to end…

In steps the more experienced section of the bowling attack. Hugo A., Campbell and George subdued the middle order, leaving Martin to come in to bamboozle the tail with flight and guile, assisted by smart work behind the stumps by Alfie and clean up with the glory of bagging a fourfer. Hursley 174 all out.

Thank you Hursley Park for hosting and lending us a fielder.

Well done Rioteers. WWWW for the season so far.

Rioteers vs. Hursley Park, 22 May 2022

[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.

Rioteers vs Newport Inn CC, Sunday, 17th July, 2022

Once again the Rioteers were lured to that epitome of a Sunday fixture: Newport Inn CC at Braishfield. So many aspects of this fixture typify the amateur Sunday game: the 2.30pm start, gloriously defying current trends for early combat which would deprive dedicated Rioteers of their lunchtime pint (pintS, Ed.); the wooden pavilion with a more than passing resemblance to a garden shed; and by no means least, the fact that one team had 14 players, the other, only 10. Can you imagine, dear reader, India lending a struggling England a couple of players if the occasion were to arise? No? Well, that is precisely what the Rioteers altruistically offered Newport Inn CC on Sunday last.

You may recall that the weather forecast for the weekend in question invoked the now all too familiar apocalyptic elements (Michael Fish it’s your fault!). On this occasion the cause of apprehension was not storm and flood, but extreme heat- and here comes the connection with the first paragraph for those readers already inclined to accuse the Match Manager of a brazen lack of continuity in this report. In order to cope with the expected debilitating conditions, it was proposed to play 12 a side, but with only 11 on the field at one time, and only 11 to bat. Thus, each player would be allowed a few overs’ break to recover from the heat- essential for the Rioteers with 2 septuagenarians in the “squad”. However, the opposition reported a deficiency of one in their team, whilst at that point the Rioteers had potentially 16 available! However, at late stages Simon H withdrew as he was on (in?) Alderney and wished to avoid the heat wave; no doubt he was enjoying the attractions of the island with which those players who recently visited this offshore haven would readily empathise, and Harry H. was offered a ticket for the final of one of the new-fangled competitions with which seriously traditional Rioteers would not empathise! (only kidding Harry Ed.) On the day, Archie H. volunteered to play for the opposition along with his Uni.  mate, Guy. Interestingly, the latter, a would-be army officer, found himself confronting an actual one: Lt Col Tim Osman. In the event, in terms of runs scored, the potential shaded the actual….

….which , at last, leads us to the game itself. Rioteers batted first and opened with experience: Martin H. and Major Tom (so sorry: wrong rank and wrong vowel! Ed). Tim was into his stride more quickly and seemed well set with a score in the 20s when he holed out to mid-on who took a good catch from a fierce drive. Robert R. was promoted to number four and mixed his baseball shots in the arc between mid-wicket and square leg with a few runs on the offside. Mark N. ( the method of using the initial letter of the surname avoids the Match Manager’s propensity for spelling this particular case incorrectly!) came in next and produced in an abbreviated innings, one absolutely magnificent pull for 4 to square leg off Newport’s quickish opening bowler. Williams father and son came next, Campbell scoring more boundaries but Greg definitely playing with the straighter bat! Meanwhile, Martin continued his measured and responsible innings, most unfairly labelled “boring” by his unappreciative offspring.

Another brief innings followed from Hugo P. with some lusty blows and great enthusiasm; no wonder he engenders so much good will from the rest of the team but also a degree of micky-taking which he endures with consummate bonhomie. Thereafter, some aggressive batting ensued which quickly piled on the runs: Dan C. contributed some classic shots, Bertie H. some of sheer power but also at least one cover drive on the ground which scorched the already ochre turf. Both went in their 20s before last man, Zach O., came in and, as had Greg before him, demonstrated the potential which had older members of the team hoping that these young players would be with us whenever possible in future seasons.

Finally, but certainly not least, let us return to Martin’s performance in carrying his bat (if you listened to his sons you would think that was literally all he did) of 85 not out in a team score of 210 for 9. This was by no means Martin’s highest score but it was a beautifully constructed and well paced innings, containing familiar singles (including attempts to put off the fielder, Archie no less, by shouting, “quick, they are looking for two!” when he had no such intention), heaves to mid-wicket, nowadays called “slog-sweeps”, and, believe it or not, classic cover drives off front and back foot.

In truth, the score seemed too much for the opposition, and so it proved but not before 163 runs were grittily carved out and with the game extending well enough into the final 20 overs for considerable interest to be maintained. Rioteers opened the bowling with 2 players of contrasting age but similarly classic sideways on actions. In the event neither Dan nor Zach had much luck but both were a pleasure to watch. First change was Bertie with considerable extra pace – your reporter can confirm that his pace indeed compared favourably with that of the opening bowlers for Hampshire Academy recently observed at Alton. Father and son both bowled, Campbell taking a wicket early in his spell, Greg gaining his with some very well flighted off-spinners. Sam, Mark and Hugo all enjoyed decent spells before Bertie came back to finish things off.

In case you had forgotten, dear reader, we shall now return to the original theme: the lending of players from one team to another. In this case, Archie and Guy proved invaluable in making a partnership of more than 50 at a late stage in Newport’s innings. Archie played some fine shots and it is no exaggeration to say that had he not got out, the Rioteers may soon have been worried. Guy brought his own brand of unconventional, but nevertheless effective batsmanship (and a degree of humorous gamesmanship it should be noted) to the occasion and was well on his way to half century when he too was unexpectedly dismissed. All in all, is it any wonder that this is such a popular fixture in the Rioteers’ season? Our thanks to Newport Inn for their hospitality on and off the field (the tea was superb!).

Alderney tour, 17-19 June, 2022

There are few phrases more certain to bring an element, a frisson, if you will, of interest to a relationship than the ‘so what happened on tour? ‘ interrogation upon re-arrival at the familial abode.

The traditional response of ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’ rarely suffices to calm the interrogator, so for the first time the full, unexpurgated, uncensored details are revealed.

There will be no hidden phrases subtly placed for the knowing to spot, but invisible to the unaware. If a 23 year old Columbian twerker dressed for summer were to join the tour party at 2am one morning, this report would tell you about her. Our correspondent will not refer to ‘vibrant tropical flavours supplementing the evenings refreshment’.

So prepare yourself, the first time, for a detailed tour report. If you are of a shy, or nervous disposition it may be worth averting ones attention, and returning to the wholehearted goodness that is Wimbledon.

Some facts are undeniable. Alderney is an unusual but mesmeric tour location, buffeted by tide and time, and nestling a mere mashie niblick from our Gallic cousins.

Our 13 intrepid tourists congregated on this isolated rock, prepared and honed for three days of physicality, and ready to defend the Rioteers honour. An honour built up over many years through honest sporting toil with the locals.

Once congregated there was the little matter of accommodating and provisioning, before time for relaxation in advance of the initial engagement

By now the sky was high, clear and blue, the sun a massive gleaming grapefruit ripening above us, and the simplest pleasures were afforded us.

An hour or two of childlike endeavour amongst the purest of sands, with the feel of a ball between the fingers and the bracing sea between the toes, prepared the spirits and heightened the senses, in advance of the 4pm arrival of the congregating islanders for our first formal engagement.

The 20:20 is not the last weekend train to depart Waterloo for Totleigh-in-the-Wold, but the challenge which faced us that glorious summer evening, and faced it we did, with verve, aplomb, and panache.

It has been said the Rioteer will celebrate a defeat with the same gusto as he celebrates a win, but on this Friday there were no comparative benchmarks for assessment, as the metronomic regularity of wickets, sixes and incident, provided an early evening tonic for the gathering crowd. Celebrations underway, the evening progressed.

Statistics, as they are, provide only the merest hint of the occasion and are available elsewhere, so we must instead rely on this correspondent’s view of these initial skirmishing’s, which can be confirmed as wholeheartedly positive from all perspectives, and beginning to generate an impressive esprit de corps.

Retiring early the team reflected positively on our initial assignation, and committed to maintain an aggressive pace over the remaining weekend.

The breakfast table on tour, is a time of reflection, of engagement, and of rehydration. Few have breakfasted fuller than the Rioteers on this morn, and whilst Alderney may lack newspapers, people and religion, it has a significant market for pork based goods and butter, so for a Rioteer emerging into an overcast morning it was the perfect location.

With all 13 Rioteers re fuelled and ready the scene was set for the weekends main event, the trophy match.

The Alderney ashes.

Stories are legend about the origin of this mythical timber, however the facts are that at a little over 7 inches of hard polished wood, it represents the ultimate ambition of each Rioteer to lay there hands on this beguiling object.

And so into the fray.

By now the season had transformed into autumn, bluster and buffet were the conditions faced by the captains aiming for success as they strode forcefully through the winds to the toss.

The Rioteers were invited to bat, and they accepted the invitation, and whilst the weather stayed dry, it was the breeze and opposition that threw everything at us.

But the Rioteers had not travelled overseas to capitulate at the first hint of stormy conditions, and rowed into calmer water of the mid innings break well positioned for a win, with good performances scattered across the team, with particular praise being heaped upon individuals who can be read about for posterity on the Alderney honours board.

However cricket is nothing without its traditions and one of these is that those who contributed little with the bat have the chance to partake of massive carbohydrate loading in order to contribute little with the ball, and the full array of carbohydrates were on offer at the tea interval to those who had, and had yet to contribute.

The Rioteers as ever out stayed their welcome at the refreshment table, but eventually moved out into the gathering storm.

Having set a defendable target, the Rioteers progressed to defending it, but as the wind blew the runs increased, and the game moved slowly towards its epic conclusion.

Whilst averages, run rates, strike rates, and ipl values can tell you so much, the story of this match was the ceaseless endeavour of a small band of team mates in horrific weather conditions battling through adversity.

If Shackleton himself had surveyed the scene, he would have scuttled his boat and stayed indoors with the remaining tea but the howling gales were nothing to a Rioteer keen to lay his hands on the 7 inches.

And run by run, wicket by wicket the game inched, head down, into the eye of the storm.

The storm when it broke, torrential, with sheets of rain, came too late to affect the outcome, by which time all participants were safely retained under the pavilion enclosure, refreshing and rehydrating.

The winners celebrations were unrestrained, and whilst outcomes will have been shared worldwide, and the highlights package is even now the subject of a vigorous bidding war, it is worthy of note that this was the 13th match between the two sides, and there has yet to be a draw.

Retiring from the pavilion, further refreshment called, and partaking of a delicious evening repast, amongst friends, the events mellowed, and allowed further reflection.

Some wine was taken, then some more, and as the storm relented the Rioteers sought shelter elsewhere, eventually retiring back to our accommodation where those with remaining energy discussed the events of the day with a nightcap refreshment which was supplemented with vibrant tropical flavours.

Again, the morning dawned, and again the Rioteers gathered at the breakfast table, a little older, a little wiser and a little poorer.

But reflective of a famous match and prepared to forgo mainland life for 4 more hours, before ascending once more to the skies and normal life.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and whilst this 1,200 word epistle bristles with details as promised, only one image exists that can match this report in its style, its size and its importance.

Winners of the Alderney Ashes, 2022

Rioteers v. Racqueteers, 10th July, 2022

[Author: Peter Cledwyn.]

He lurched violently, staggered and grimaced as if struck down by a tropical stomach bug. 

The colour drained from his cheeks. 

Braz had just learnt Princey was skippering the Rioteers!!

At times of extreme trauma people often react by turning to family for support. “I’ll let Simon know” he murmured. 

But the fears were unfounded and the nightmare morphed into a dream!!

Princey won the toss and we batted on a wicket of variable bounce. 

Alfie was cruelly undone by a daisy cutter but the occasional ball was climbing off a length as well so batting was never easy and our 217 for 3 was down to contributions of 40 from Harrison, 50 from Jonny Gilbert and a memorable 71 from Princey who’s heroic knee injury cost him so many runs that he would surely have been bearing down on a ton that people, predominantly Princey himself, would have been talking about for years!

Tea was superb featuring homemade cakes, scones and clotted cream. Surprisingly Campbell didn’t materialise but we acquitted ourselves pretty well in his absence. 

The Racketeers were never really in the hunt for our total finishing around 

160 for 5. 

Will made it a good all round day for the Gilbert’s with a couple of wickets in an excellent spell. Bertie and Alfie both bowled well with Alfie having three catches dropped on a day he’ll probably choose to forget. 

The Raqueteers were a good sociable opposition it was a shame they were missing a couple of their top batsmen. 

I only took on the MM duties on Tuesday so many thanks to everyone for responding so quickly and making the job pretty simple and a special thanks to Princey who, as I left the garden of the King Alfred was taking Braz through his innings ball by ball!

See you all soon, Cledders. 

Rioteers v. Crawley Crows, 26th June, 2022

Thank goodness for the Osmans! (never thought I say that !)

Well in the aftermath of the Alderney tour, with Braz, Culmer and Hally testing positive for Covid, we were without a match manager.

Hally had build an eleven only for it to start falling apart. No Campbell, no Braziers and only one Hillier ( and the wrong one!)…

Rinaldo, Nall, this year’s regulars, were joined by Martin Hawthorne, my neighbour Mark and 4 Osmans – Dad Tim and his three offspring, Isla, Harry and Zac who had brought a mate – Callum.

We put Crawley in to bat and shared the bowling around and Crawley batted methodically amassing a decent 278 for 8. Captain Martin White retiring with a century to his name.

Mark and Zak opened up bowling well and with a quick outfield and only ten players 278 was not bad effort. Helped by great fielding by Callum, saving many would-be boundaries. All bowled who wanted to with fine debuts from Isla and Mark McGettigan and a first Rioteer wicket for Mark Nall ! Tim and I pitched in with a few overs and even Hawthorne had an over.

Tea was delicious and we were joined by Dessie and Val and my parents which made up our supporters along with Cal’s brother. Braz had had enough of scoring so took himself home.

278 to win with about 2 hours in which to do it. Crawley opened with Jake a quick left arm around and we faced him with two Osmen? Harry and Tim after a few classy strokes past a helmeted silly mid-off we lost Harry. Hawthorne came in three and when Tim was given LBW we were on around 50. Mark came in and hit a wonderful 75 including a run-out with Hawthorne (who didn’t run his bat in – note to all!)

I was out cheaply bowled through the gate bringing Rinaldo in and he and Mark put a good partnership together. When they were both out, Crawley were expecting to breeze through us. But Zac and Cal had just come to make up the numbers.

They hit an array of great shots and ended unbeaten with a partnership of 50+. Well played boys! No need to nearly take your Dad’s head off though Zac

And we still had Isla and Mark N yet to bat.

So a well earned Draw was the outcome, Rioteers ending up on about 225-6

Special thanks to Isla – great debut and best bowling action of the day. For Harry it’s back to work with Roy 😊 – no, well kept, it was a long afternoon in the field.

So on to BroadHa’penny Down …


Rioteers v. Cadnam, 5th June, 2022

What a tea ! Cadnam – Always a good one but this was something else, topped with a two tear Platinum Jubilee Cake.

… A fine eleven gathered on the final day of the 4 day Jubilee celebrations…

The skipper lost the toss and Cadnam decided to have a bat…

From the forecast, we all knew what the day had in store.

Bertie opened up from the far end up the hill, bowling with good pace and movement but the openers matched his assault with caution.

Alfie Smith opened from the pavilion end and bowled some great balls and some he didn’t think much of !

Sam Morgan at mid-wicket was put back on the boundary to cover the odd loose one and Alfie got his man on the third one.

Sam taking a very well judged catch in the deep.

When Alfie had found his rhythm he started to cause a few problems and took a couple of good wickets, LBW and Bowled.

Bertie was replaced by the skipper who added his guile and Alfie was replaced by debutant Richard Mayon-White, who carried on where Alfie left off but without the luck with a chance going down at slip – They’re never easy Charlie 😊.

The fielding was keen and father and son Mark and George Nall kept the cover region well patrolled. James had another fine game at keeper donning the new helmet and standing up to keep the batsmen back in their crease.

Cadnam continued to keep the score ticking along with a solid partnership of a hundred or more with both batters reaching 50s.

Martin H came on to get through some overs and wasn’t too expensive and picked up one of the two Half centurians.

Mark had an over and Sam and Greg a couple of overs each before the rain came down.

We had had a glimpse of the tea preparations an were happy to go off, knowing, hoping we wouldn’t be required to go back out.

The rain grew harder and the match was declared a draw Rain stopped play – so we feasted  !

Next stop King Eds Wednesday week, before the Alderney Tour

Rioteers v. St. Mary Bourne, 24th April, 2022

It was a beautifully warm and sunny Spring day to open the season at the charming cricket club of St Mary Bourne.  The Rioteers team assembled full of anticipation.  Firstly, introductions were needed as no less than 5 of the team were making their Rioteer debut.  The Match Manager (yours truly) was very grateful that the fab 5 agreed to step into the breach – and hopefully they will continue to do so throughout the season when available!

With the club skipper, Campbell, unavailable – paying homage to our patron saint – the first decision was to select a captain.  Surprisingly James “nipper” Hillier was given the nod by the elder statesmen, and promptly lost the toss.  Put into bat, Martin and Jon were given the opening duties while the rest of the batting order could be mulled over while watching the score accumulate serenely in the sunshine.  The reality of the next few minutes could not be more off-plan.  The ball was swinging wildly, the pitch was keeping low and the SMB bowlers skilfully controlled both factors to great effect.  The cream of the batting line-up (Martin, Jon, Graeme, Chris and Tom) paraded in and back again with alarming regularity and a sense of panic had set in to the ranks and the debutant skipper.  Within a shake of a lamb’s tail, the score after 6 overs was 7 runs for 5 wickets.

At the fifth wicket Nipper the Skipper was joined at the crease by Bertie.  As luck would have it a sporting gesture from SMB captain, James, he took himself and the other opening bowler off.  Bertie led the fight back with an assured 21 with some typical clean hitting.  He succumbed in the 14th over – caught by the SMB captain, who could do no wrong.  The score by this stage had moved swiftly to 53 for 6.  The newly appointed skipper, who had dropped anchor, was assisted by the final 4 batsmen, notably Robert Rinaldo and Peter “Cledders” Cledwyn, and very briefly Simon Hunt(!) before being the final wicket to fall in the 24th over for 40.  The last man standing was the 12 year old debutant Will Gilbey.  As tea was hurriedly brought forward, the total score was 91 all out.

After some refreshment the skipper watched the players warming up to assess who the bowling attack could be.  Bertie opened from the Village Hub end and was straight on the money inducing an inside edge on to the stumps.  One down.  The next 7 overs were tight and full of tension. Jon Gilbey’s first 4 overs going for just 5 runs, Bertie’s for 7.

But a spark was needed and young Will Gilbey was thrown the ball.  His first ball for the Rioteers saw the no.3 batsman push upwards and Graeme Johnson duly obliged in the covers.  2 down for 13, but the wicket brought danger man Johnny Orange to the fray.  He clipped his third ball nicely off his legs and called for 2, perhaps he had not seen that it was Bertie covering the legside boundary?  The resulting run out gave a boost of morale to the fielding team who began to think they may just cause SMB a few problems, at least, on their way to inevitable victory. 

Johnny’s son Tom began to put together a partnership with the opener, moving the score on to 30 when he was clean bowled by William, the boy wonder.  At the other end Graeme was plugging away – having not bowled a ball for many years – and he began to find his rhythm.  Bowling 5 straight overs, Graeme struck in his last to remove batsman number 6 – so 5 wickets down and the total 43. 

Chris Partridge was brought on to bowl to give William a rest.  6 deliveries full of mystery.  It may seem harsh that the skipper took him off, and amidst whispers of nepotism brought on his brother Martin.  However, the SMB number 7 had scored quickly against the Rioteers in previous years, so the guile of Hillier M was called into action. In his first over he was promptly despatched for 2 fours – on the face of it an inauspicious start but for the 5th ball of the over where the flight deceived the batsman who was stranded only for Nipper to drop the ball and miss the stumping.  A costly mistake perhaps?  The score was beginning to creep along – the 6th wicket partnership worth a valuable 23 runs.  It was time to bring Bertie back into the attack – no point leaving him any later as SMB edged closer to their target.  As drinks were taken, the score had moved on to 66 for 5.

It should be said that every SMB run was hard earned as the Rioteers fielded like their lives depended on it – the Cats in the covers (Roberto and Graeme), the Cobras at mid-on and mid-off (Chris and Tom Townsend) and special mention to the Long Barrier of Longparish, Simon Hunt.  Nothing was going to penetrate that ring of steel.

Second over after drinks Nipper was given the opportunity to make amends and this time affected a stumping off his brother to end the dangerous inning of the number 7 batsman.  At the other end Bertie produced another pearl to remove the number 8 and a wicket maiden.  The score was 67 -7.  Rioteers eyes widened – was this really happening?

SMB captain James was now at the crease to join the limpet like opener and together they saw Bertie’s last over off (another maiden) and picked singles off Martin.  Jon was brought back into the attack and produced a Flintoff-like over to remove the skipper and with the very next ball the number 10 as well – both clean bowled.  A hat-trick (the third hat-trick ball in the match) to win the game was on.  The fielders surrounded the bat, Jon reached the end of his run up, turned and cantered towards the crease and sent the ball, arrow like, towards the stumps….where it was solidly met by a very proficient number 11.  The next few overs saw these seasoned batsmen accumulate again – a  single here and there, and the odd four to bring them with in 7 runs of the Rioteers total, with 9 or 10 overs still left in the game.

The tension was palpable, every player felt the heavy burden of victory or defeat was on them and their individual actions.  Who could be turned to?  Who was going to see this through?  The ball was thrown to Rioteers lucky charm, Billy the Kid.  His first ball of this second spell was typically wicket to wicket, no run.  His second drifted slightly down leg, and was nudged to leg for an easy single – except the non-striker refused to run.  Jon threw quickly but inaccurately to Cledders at slip who skillfully gathered the ball and redirect it towards the wicket as two more Rioteers fell over themselves to push the ball against the stumps.  Surely the batsmen will have made their ground?  The bails tumbled, the players turned to see if the batsman was home, to see the 2 of them in earnest debate at the bowlers end.  The Game was Won in a fittingly extraordinary way.  My thoughts go to their not out opening batsman who was stranded on 30.

The team: Chris Partridge, Tom Townsend, Simon Hunt, Graeme Johnson, William “Billy the Kid” Gilbey, Jon Gilbey, Robert Rinaldo, Peter Cledwyn, Bertie, Martin and James Hillier.

Sadly, Coombe Bisset was rained off yesterday – so onwards next week to Appleshaw (8th May 1pm), Simon Brazier is Match Manager. Cheers, James

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.

Bringing It Home – Rioteers v Racqueteers, July 11

Sunday’s game faced a few headwinds; COVID grounded many younger Rioteers (meaning Greg didn’t get to revisit the scene of his famous 3 wickets in 4 balls); rain was due around 5pm; and it was competing with the Wimbledon final and a football game in the evening (about which we’re so over, already). However, a fine Rioteers team mixing youth, mid-life insouciance and no little flair served up another tight finish against our near homophones, the Racqueteers.

Smiling, Campbell lost the toss. On a pitch that was more pan de spagna than crespelleour hosts found scoring hard going against uniformly tight bowling. In the field, Guy and Sam demonstrated the latest sliding techniques to raised eyebrows from less supple teammates. Matt C and Andy revived their glorious Knott and Underwood double act, while the Wood-ster essayed John Lever before settling into a more convincing and effective Ray East. As Roberto’s imprecations tickled the bi-lingual umpire, wickets fell regularly, were evenly shared and fielding remained un-characteristically sharp. Runs escaped all but their skipper (using his feet well) and Rishi and Stots, whose use of the long handle gave the innings late momentum, before both fell to fine catches by Bertie on the boundary.

Thus, 133 was set from 25 overs – do-able, but also easily Munsoned. 

Within 30 minutes, the Rioteers were sagely sharing Boycott-bingo phrase #3 – ‘you only know a good score once both teams have batted’. With half the team in the hutch for 30 odd, the Rioteers were looking down the wrong end of the telescope, thanks to some wicked inswinging Yorkers, injudicious leaves and genial self-immolation at the crease. With the innings gurning badly, Campbell joined his vice-captain to smite their way out of trouble. Odds were still against, but hope (and belief) remained until the skipper (still smiling) neglected to ground his bat after running a cheeky 3, and was run out. This brought Archie to join Bertie for the last wicket with 60 odd still required. 

Could the de Boer brothers of the Stockbridge Road (who are not Dutch, not twins and never played together for Glasgow Rangers, but do bicker famously) pull off a Hollywood ending ? Or would the afternoon’s fine fielding performance be undone by an innings threatening to be more Joe Dolce than Joe Root ?

Need I have asked, dear reader ? Singles were turned into twos, twos into threes, the strike rotated coolly and the boundaries cleared as the target was chased down with an over and a bit to spare and the rain pelting hard. Archie finished on a canny 14*, Bertie on a sparkling 70* – bravissimo !

Ben fatto too to debutant Guy and to Sam (for coming back for seconds); ben tornato to returning amici Matt C and Woody (just as you thought you were out, we pull you back in) and grazie to our gracious hosts, the Racqueteers. Campbell next conducts the Rioteer commedia dell’arte at the Newport, (when the drinks are surely on Roberto ?).