Rioteers CC v. Appleshaw CC, 7 July 2019 – and breaking news


After an absence of 3 years the Rioteers ventured back to the idyllic village of Appleshaw.

Due to a the Hillier family party, an early start was made at 1pm for a 30 over bash with wides counting as 2. (This proved to be a factor with wides bowled by Appleshaw being the highest score of 33 in the Rioteers innings).

The visitors decided to bat first. Bickers was pulled off kicking and screaming after 10 overs having only amassed a painfully slow 13.

The innings then progressed assuredly with Cook and Bertie H retiring at 30. Wickets fell steadily but not quickly enough for the pinch hitter Brazier snr to reach the crease having been unfairly put at 10 (last man – as a Nipper Hillier pulled out last minute due to woman pressure – is he a man or a mouse??).

187 was the final score – it could have been more.

After several strawberry and cream scones the Rioteers staggered into the field. B & A Hilliers opened up somewhat waywardly until they took advice from the senior pro standing at mid on and ignored their father. Appleshaw wickets started to fall regularly and apart from Hill and Hughes who both retired at 30, the Appleshaw men fell cheaply. Both the retirees returned but the task was too great and the hosts finished all out on 164 in the last over (not withstanding 2 expensive overs from Bickers) well short of the target.

So the Rioteers came away victorious, their 4th win this season on the bounce.

This match also saw the end of an era with Braz snr deciding to hang up his bowling boots for a final time. His bowling record of approaching 450 wickets is second only to Peter (Tiles) White over a bowling career stretching back 40+ years. [Let’s hope this decision is not final – Ed.]

He intends in future to concentrate on his batting and add to his 3300 career runs with a record not outs of nearly 150 innings. [Let’s hope this decision, also, is not final – Ed.]

Bring on the Newport in 2 weeks time.

Ode to Alderney. Or, a flawed history of a flawless tour, 21-23 June, 2019

This weekend a seemingly phenanthrene-fuelled [actually alcohol-fuelled, Ed.] Blitzkreig was waged on Alderney by the Rioteers – the infamous farrago of twaddlers, fenilletons, wall-mounted heliantheae, philosophically mesomorphic, socially congelifraction-inducing bunch that we are. [Right, you’ve met Richard’s word-inclusion challenge. In just one sentence, as I predicted you’d manage to do. Now would you please get on with the tour report? Ed.]

Okay. In to the (crepuscular) light we go …

Vive la fraternité

Aurigny, or Alderney to its English-speaking inhabitants, lies just off the coast of Normandy which is in the EU. It has been famously described by the great poet and philosopher John Arlott as “two thousand alcoholics, clinging to a rock” – to which said figure the Rioteers seemed keen to add during their stay on said rock. Your humble odist had heard various stories about the primitive bi-planes, tri-planes and suchlike that have previously been used in attempts to get our team of heroes to the island quicker than is possible via the biennial ferry. Therefore he was surprised when he left the gate at Southampton Airport to be issued on to a 747 and offered a flat bed upstairs in which to relax and shop during the journey back in time to our destination. On a cultural note, Aurigny is thought to be the location of both the lost city of Atlantis and the Elysian Fields of Hades (or Champs-Élysées, as many local residents call them).

We arrived on three separate flights. John and your odist arrived on the morning flight, were picked up by Richard in his limousine, then went for a happy wander around the western half of the island. That Peter was bumped off the morning 747 and had to travel on the early afternoon flight attests to the popularity of this island. Early afternoon delivered Peter and several other golfers, who did what golfers do, in this case with nine greens and eighteen tees at their disposal. We were joined early evening by another ‘plane-load of tourists. Nous étions tous arrivés. Cameraderie and happiness were in no small measure of supply as we greeted one another as the loving teammates that we are.

We settled in to our accommodation and then headed for downtown St. Anne. [Actually Braye, you idiot. Ed.]

We dined at the chippy, brilliantly called The Chippy. A fish-, chip-, etc- and, most importantly, gravy-fuelled physiotherapy session ensued. We also wove in some psychological preparation—for what is a body without a mind but a Johnson-voter?—as team members aired grievances and/or joys while inviting like-minded or similarly experienced teammates to drink a cup with them. Alcohol-fuelled mental therapy is, after all, the most effective healer in both the short and the long term.

How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?

As the post-therapy tears of closure began to fall, we headed to the pub, where we stayed and drank and laughed and sang till the early hours, by which point we had reached that nirvana of optimum match-readiness that only a lucky subset of professional athletes ever truly experience.

Saturday morning was spent by some at the beautiful beach, maintaining the match-prepared equilibrium for which we’d all strived so perfectly the night before. Others felt the best way to stay at their peak was to relax in bed.

After this gentle morning of light breakfasts and/or light lunches, excursions, meditations, and whatnot, the Rioteers decided to eschew the team coach and walk to the ground in downtown St. Anne. [Actually geographically correct, this time, you idiot. Ed.] Robert, Marty, and Campbell were so perfectly focused on the task in hand that they nearly got lost on their way to the ground. To be fair to them, an island three miles long and one mile wide is exactly the kind of place where it is very easy to get lost.

Anyway, or rather next, the first, and most prestigious, of our two matches was about to start. The winner of Saturday’s game would be awarded what surely must be the least attractive trophy ever to have been fashioned. This is universally acknowledged, such that our hosts are going to burn it and put its ashes in an urn for the next time … such is the rivalry between nineteenth-century Hampshire and eighteenth-century France.

Our revered and splendid captain Marty, having eventually found his way to the ground, won the toss and elected for us to bat in what is surely one of the most scenic cricket grounds in France.

La belle France
Nos beaux ouvreurs

We built a superb total of 286/5 on the bedrock of a Brazier father-and-son opening partnership. While the detail of both Saturday’s and Sunday’s games is set out in Appendix 1, the following wagon wheels convey the salient information about our batting innings on Saturday.

The following piece of genius is dedicated to the fabulous performances of Campbell, Bertie and James on Saturday, and—spoiler alert—to Matt and Simon for their match-winning batting on Sunday.

Our batsmen had put us in an ascendant position, one which our bowlers never looked likely to relinquish. Again, details are set out in the appendix. Our fielding was distinctly touristy. On the bowling front there were some really splendid performances. John took a magnificent 3/13 off eight overs with two maidens (the splendidly deadpan umpire said to him something along the lines of, “It’s like taking candy from babies”). Matt 2/6 off 1.1 over. Captain Marty took a wicket. First-time tourists Archie and Robert took 2 and 1 wicket/s respectively. The following piece of genius is dedicated to our bowling heroes, who won us the soon-to-be ashes in splendid style.

After the match both captains said a few, moving words, and, as we all shed a few tears in contemplation of the spirit of the beautiful game, Martin was presented with the trophy, the aesthetic quality of which has already been remarked upon. Debutant tourist Bertie was awarded man of the match (and an Alderney CC cap) for his majestic knock. Campbell was awarded a set of keys to the pavilion, in a forlorn effort to prevent him trying to use cricket balls to break his way in in future.

Marty receiving the trophy. His name is on the board in the background, for having scored 140-ish on a previous visit to France

Saturday evening was an affair more subdued than that of the previous day. It is fair to say that, Aurigny being such a friendly place, most Rioteers felt as if we knew many of the locals.

Sunday morning was a special occasion indeed, featuring a concept that is surely soon to be made in to its own TV show. Breakfast with Braz is the very latest in alternate-world commentary, sure to entertain, enlighten, and embolden in equal measure. It certainly raised the Rioteers’ morale, ready for Sunday’s T20.

In Sunday’s game we fielded first. The fielding was again touristy – apart from the magnificent Campbell, who invented Easter-Island-statue fielding and turned it in to a thing of beauty. Robert bravely stopped a sharp one in the field. Archie took a great catch. Moving from his outpost on a couple of occasions, Campbell took two wickets, as did Bertie (one of which owing to sage advice from John). We had been set a total of 172/4. Another solid father-and-son start, this time Marty and Archie, was built on by splendid performances by Matt and Simon, with another pavilion-threatening, late flourish from Campbell – the latter two finishing our innings and catching the total we needed with one ball to go. Congratulations to Simon on his 64* – a Rootesque, match-winning performance. We all knew that the T20 format was his natural habitat.

All through the weekend we enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of our splendid hosts – Alderney CC, Simon, and Richard. Thank you so much to you all, and to all players of both teams.

Your odist feels it is important finally to acknowledge Marty’s friendship and captaincy, which is an example to all, and always embodies the spirit of the sport we all love. And it was lovely to accompany his two lads on their first tour. An ode to Alderney indeed.

Appendix 1

Saturday batting
Saturday bowling
Sunday bowling
Sunday batting

Appendix 2

Apropos of the wartime fortifications on Aurigny (and an excuse to end with a fantastic song) …

Appendix 3

You can find more photos from the tour at

Appendix 4

Here’s a somewhat low-resolution picture of Alderney CC’s review of proceedings …

Rioteers CC v. Crawley CC, 16 June 2019

In cricket, few things are more important than timing.

The caress of a cover drive is nothing without it, otherwise you’re watching Williams flay another over cow.

Sometimes it works for you, as it did for most of Sunday…..

Horrific weather is the only thing that will distract a Rioteer from a sunday fixture, but gloriously, a week of rainfall stopped exactly on time to allow the chalk uplands of Winchester in the village of Crawely to host this fixture.

Hillier lost the toss, and was sent into bat, and with all the talent at this disposal chose this time, to stick himself in up the order, with the (timeless) Bickford.

And at 70 without loss, and almost without a boundary, on the moist outfield, it seemed that, this time, his timing was spot on.

But with Hall stood behind the stumps, as if carved by the Rapa Nui people on Easter Island, it is only ever a matter of time before his bowlers optimism unleashes the trigger, this time up on Bickford, whose time was up.

However this meant that Hillier (A) came in. And quickly his time too, was up, with then Hillier realising that his time was also drawing to a close and retiring before anything untimely happened.

This brought Slape to the Wicket, whose timing on two big sixes had everything, and batting with the ines(time)able Cook accelerate the rate as the clock was ticking down towards tea. Cook also retired, one six too many, and in case Crawley thought their time was up, Hillier B went in and sent about nurldling a few to all corners of Hampshire. Soon with the too early demise of Slape, it was Shea’s time and then quickly it wasnt, before the innings was drawn to a close by Hillier (B) who chose the wrong time to attack a womans bowling. However his time will come.

And with that it was time for tea, with the Rioteers ammasing a monster 251 for 3.

By now Hillier’s far and wide had gathered, to survey the offerings, and what a spead, and in their first mistake of the game the Hillier’s lingered too long over the egg mayo, delayed over the cheese and onion, and prevaricated over the date and walnut.

A quick tea and we would have been out, sharp in the field, eager for wickets, but the clock, she doesn’t stop.

For sometimes Time works against you, and this was one of those occasions……

We sampled the chocolate brownies, the coffee and walnut, the tea, the conviviality, and we should have been out in the field….

When eventually we stepped out into the late evening sunshine, spirits were high, especially with Hall and Williams bowling in tandem, and soon Hall was into the wickets.

But then for a long time the game slowed, wickets proved hard to come by, Crawely batted well. Was it time for Hillier ( A), yes but no impact, was it time for Brazier? yes but no impact, to speed thing up Hillier (b) came on and made the breakthrough with a quick one, but the overs were coming down, and then slowly so did the wickets.

Time for Hillier, Williams Cook and Hilliers A and B again, but this was not a timeless test, and the clock and overs ticked around and down.

And there we were, Crawley eight down, and one ball left, time was up. But was it?

Archie launched, for the first time, an unplayable delivery.

A big wide.

Archie thundered in again for the second time, got his timing wrong, and just in time pulled out.

He thundered in a final time for the third time.

And the flat bat of time came down to close the game with two Crawley wickets remaining.

Reflecting over a cold, and istonic refreshment, the Rioteers reflected that a good time had been had, but that time had been the winner.

This time.

Rioteers CC v Cadnam CC, 9 June, 2019

Today at Cadnam there was a lively discussion about the genre of cricket reporting literature. Should writers experiment with what has the potential to be a mutable format and celebrate the richness of the English language—owing to its rich etymology, for example, it has roughly twice the number of words in its vocabulary than does French—or ought they to stick rigorously to a sort-of Stalinist, “plain English” formula—as is catered for by the open-source SCAT template for those reporters with writer’s block and/or little imagination—whereby the writer and their readers follow a recognised, certified information imparting and digestion process week in, week out? Or, to summarise – do Rioteers, as we settle down to read about our exploits, wish to read literature, occasionally playful, or would we be better served by bureaucratic status reports? Are we on an odyssey which accrues beauty and meaning, or are we engaged in a string of transactions, each one of which is simply to be rubber-stamped and filed away? As the post-match drinks were drunk, this surely rhetorical question seemed to answer itself.

Colonel Bickers’ splendid new car was also a topic of discussion. (We Rioteers are a polymathic tribe, and can turn ourselves to any subject – from the genre of cricket reporting literature to motor cars, and indeed to every concern in between these two ends of the spectrum of life.) It was decided in his absence that Dave’s car was not a virago but a farrago – the former meaning a domineering, possibly violent woman (with an archaic meaning of female warrior), the latter meaning a confused mixture, a hotchpotch, ragbag, and so on and so forth.

Now, while this writer would love to own a car called a virago, those Rioteers that found themselves in more thoughtful, philosophical circumstances wondered whether farrago might be the perfect way of describing our splendid band of brothers. And, once more, the rhetorical nature of a question settled itself in the minds of said, thoughtful members of our splendid team.

We played a really enjoyable game of cricket today with our hosts, Cadnam Cricket Club. But, or rather also, we discovered a little bit more about the truth of the nature of ourselves, as we do with every game. Don’t you find?

As has been common this season we were only ten (our eleventh player having been involved in a self-immolation by bicycle incident earlier that morning). We were very pleased to welcome Simon’s friend, Adam. And it was lovely to welcome Archie back from his gap-year travels. Cadnam fielded a youthful eleven, which bodes well for our splendid hosts and the seasons ahead. The Rioteers presented with our usual farrago of youth, beauty, truth, experience, ugliness, and various levels of existential optimism.

Captain Marty was uncharacteristically cutting things fine with the clock, so Simon did the honours with the coin-toss and chose to field – primarily based on his outsourcing the decision about what to do to Campbell, who suggested we might better enjoy the always-fantastic tea provided by Cadnam if we didn’t have to go out and field after having got the most out of it.

The weather was warm and partially cloudy, gradually becoming even warmer and sunnier later. The pitch was in excellent condition considering the rain that had fallen during the preceding days.

The Rioteers’ fielding was, once again, really good – full of the energy and joie de vivre we have come to expect. Joe Stafford, keen to play, and learn, and getting better in all departments, has always shown energy and skill in the field and continued to do so today, attacking the ball and saving runs by getting it back to the keeper quickly. Simon, wicketkeeping once more, took an excellent close catch behind while standing up at the stumps (to Marty’s bowling). And, if your surname was Hillier, you were taking a catch. Bertie took an excellent catch at cow corner off Campbell’s bowling to dismiss Cadnam’s number one for 19. Archie took a hard, sharp catch, again off Campbell’s bowling, at mid-off to despatch Cadnam’s number two for 12. Marty took a catch on the boundary around deep midwicket, from the bowling of his prodigal son, to dismiss Cadnam’s number six. He did this in spite of the fact that Helios, his chariot and his horses were almost burning his eyes out with the brightness produced by the mid-afternoon segment of their voyage across the sky. The bowling was very tidy, with Archie and Bertie both taking one wicket apiece, Richard making a parsimonious 1/21 off 5 overs, Marty’s wonderful percentage bowling gaining 2/26 off 7, and Campbell’s mercurial concoction distilling to produce a magnificent 4/14 off 8 overs, with two maidens.

Cadnam batted out their forty overs, their number eleven understandably proud of his 0* from the last four balls, and ended their innings on 169 – presenting a much more catchable total than has been on offer to the Rioteers at this venue in recent memory.

Tea was really good. Your reporter always enjoys watching the improbably large amount of food the younger members of our team, and Campbell, manage to balance on their plates, teetering, Billy Smart’s Circus style.

The Rioteers had a chaseable total, and the calibre to chase it.

Dave and Simon, having each eschewed tea in favour of a banana and a shot of pseudoephedrine straight to the heart, strode out to start the Rioteers’ chase. Both were looking comfortable and assured, until Simon played a shot that on virtually every other day would have gone to the boundary but today was taken at gully(-ish), low to the ground and very skillfully, by the Cadnam fielder. Simon was replaced by his friend and our guest Adam. Dave was batting assuredly, including playing a couple of really nice, experienced glances, one between slip and gully, another fine on the leg side, both of which reached the boundary. Adam slowly accrued runs but also picked up a nasty muscle twinge which meant that a runner was required. Damian, padded up to go in at four, was already wearing the requisite baggage to act as a runner so went on to perform the task, replaced by Simon once he’d put his kit back on. Dave was eventually caught for 19, at which point Damian returned to the field, this time as a batsman not a runner. If this reads as being confusing – you should have been there, where it was more so. Adam was shortly after that bowled for 7, which ended having to manage a triumvirate of players being on the pitch with varying degrees of responsibility for batting, calling and running. The veritable farrago was replaced once more by a duo – Damian being joined by Richard, coming in at number five to steady an innings at risk of terminal collapse. Both stayed in, with the small reward for themselves on the scoreboard compensated for by a large number of wides and no-balls, for a number of overs that may or may not have reached in to double figures but felt like a lifetime lived by someone who’d made poor choices. Damian was eventually bowled and replaced by Archie, who like his predecessor found the bowling hard to despatch. Once Richard and then Archie had been removed, there then came the charge. Campbell, having come out of his tea-induced food-coma, crash-bang-walloped his way to 29, including two sixes, before being caught while aiming for another six. Bertie and Marty then embarked on the partnership of the innings, son and father managing their running between the wickets almost as if they were, well, son and father working in perfect harmony. Bertie in particular shone, scoring a couple of sixes and several fours to accompany the many really well taken singles run by the couple. Bertie was bowled on 49, at which point Marty was joined by our number 10 and last batsman, Joe. At this point the Rioteers were on 158, and needed 12 to win. Joe started well, supporting Marty, who scored another two. Joe then slotted a lovely shot leg side for another two. We were on 162. Our captain was on strike. We had several overs in hand, but no wickets left to lose. Marty, looking to hit out, was caught. He ended his innings on 13, Joe on 2*.

We had come very close. It had been a really, really good game against wonderful hosts. Thank you Cadnam. But, or rather also, we discovered a little bit more about the truth of the nature of ourselves, as we do with every game. Don’t you find?

Rioteers CC v Racqueteers CC, 19 May 2019

In contrast to the bucolic locations typically visited by the Rioteers, this Sunday’s game took place beneath the apathetic, metropolitan glower of downtown Winchester’s skyscrapers, graffiti, ennui, and menace (just down the road from the nihilistic, metropolitan sneer, lassitude, menace, etc. of the home of the Rioteers’ match manager for this fixture – Ed.).

We had an unfamiliar environment—less P.G. Wodehouse idyll, more J.G. Ballard dystopia—in which to face a new opponent – Winchester’s splendid Racqueteers.

In spite of the Rioteers’ team bus having been bombarded with flares and copies of the Hampshire Chronicle as it navigated the one-way system en route to the ground, the scene on arrival at River Park was none the less pleasant in its own, urban-chic sort of way. One advantage of playing in the centre of a booming metropolis is that the game attracts a crowd, providing the opportunity to advertise the beautiful game to the various extras from Blade Runner that regularly venture past the field of play. The Rioteers and their hosts were for the afternoon ambassadors – of élan, skill, composure, and sportsmanship.

Captain Marty won the toss (I think) and elected for us to bat first, in a T35 game.

To see out their thirty-five-over innings the Rioteers only needed six batsmen (and could have done without their number four Damian Stafford who was bowled for nought). The other five did extremely well. Openers Colonel Bickers and Captain Marty scored 67 and 70 before being out LBW and caught respectively. Sam Cook (without an E) scored a rapid 55 before being caught. Damian came and went. Chris Folley and Jim Shea then took us home with a composed 16* and a lively 33* respectively.

While this was happening the beautiful game was providing its usual opportunities for multi-tasking including an interesting discussion among non-batting and non-umpiring Rioteers about tectonic and volcanic and other earthquake-related conditions in New Zealand, during which John Hall provided an explanation, of the phenomenon of liquefaction, that at the very least matched the élan, skill and composure shown on the field by five of our six batsmen. While your reporter feels he now has under his belt a rudimentary understanding of the process, it is recommended that those fellow Rioteers not lucky enough to have been present at this discussion wishing to be edified by someone with both erudition and gravitas seek out John for a recap.

In the meantime, the Rioteers had accrued a very competitive score of 251/4.

Given the match was being held in the metropolis—“the world’s behind”, as Lemmy famously dubbed it—a gentil, between-innings tea was deferred in favour of a post-match bender in the nearest Wetherspoons.

The Racqueteers’ batting was good, with several impressive performances including Corbett and Gulliford scoring 71 and 66 before being bowled out. All seven Racqueteers batsmen that lost their wicket did so by being bowled by an in-form Rioteers attack. The Racqueteers’ openers were removed by John and Matt, following which Sam beat the batsman three times, Bertie twice. The Racqeteers ended their innings on 221/7, at which juncture we headed to the pub to be treated by our splendid hosts to sausages, chips and beer, not necessarily in that order.

Thank you to our wonderful hosts, the Racqueteers, who I trust will forgive the poetic licence (gross disinformation – Ed.) taken in this report in describing the River Park ground and King Alfred pub. We look forward to teaming up with you in September of this season to welcome French touring side Catus to the metrop., and to sharing the beautiful game with you again next season.

Rioteers CC v Hambledon CC, 5 May 2019

Today’s match report comes to you courtesy of the Stafford Cricket Article Template (SCAT®). It is open-source and therefore available for use by any match managers that might be struggling with writer’s block, as I am at the moment. A copy of the template may be acquired here.

After the previous week’s draw with St Mary Bourne, an optimistic Rioteers team today enjoyed the splendid hospitality of Hambledon in beautiful surroundings, under a cloudy sky.

We were captained by the inimitable Colonel Bickers, who was generous enough to share with his team-mates his key, possibly only, tactic: it’s all about where you put your fielders – a concern that would be especially important today as the grandmaster only had ten pieces at his disposal to move around the board.

Your correspondent doesn’t remember who won the toss, but the Rioteers fielded first, bringing in to play immediately our only tactic, I mean strategy …

Hambledon batted well, with five of their eleven scoring in to double figures, most notably Seb Duggan, who was run out for 61. Four of the opposition were caught. Yes, you read that correctly. After the previous week’s drop-fest, in which even several sandwiches at tea were fumbled over the sides of plates, it was hard to recognise this sharp, responsive Rioteers fielding unit. Perhaps it was all owing to the Colonel’s placement; we stopped and caught everything that was to be stopped and caught. After Simon made a majestic dive to dismiss Hambledon’s number 8 on four runs, catching him twice–first time spilling the ball upwards, only for gravity to plonk it back in to his still upturned, grateful glove–our great leader rightfully took a moment to congratulate himself aloud on having had the foresight to place a wicket keeper behind the stumps – an important lesson for all budding captains on the subtler arts of the game. The quality of the Rioteers’ bowling matched that of its fielding (and placement decisions), with Brazier R 1/11, Palmer 1/22, Lowden 3/57, and Cook 4/25.

Hambledon ended their innings on 175/10, thereby setting their opponents a total that was competitive yet chaseable.

Tea was absolutley marvellous, with Hambledon’s hospitality providing lovely food almost as good as the company of those providing it.

Sam Cook and Simon Brazier opened for the Rioteers, with each showing contrasting approaches to the task at hand, such that speculation mounted that Sam might reach his fifty before Simon got off the mark, an event that might well have occurred had Sam not been bowled on 33 when he looked settled for a longer stint where Captain Bickers had placed him. Simon batted on well, being stumped quite some time later on 21. Other batting performances to note include Robert Rinaldo’s 8 made up of two boundaries, and a characteristically zesty 10 from Richard Brazier who came in at number ten. Our number six batsman Ralph Palmer scored very quickly an impressive 32, including 4 fours and a wonderfully struck, flat maximum over cow (and car) corner which cleared the vehicles, and the fence, easily. As we were only ten players Hambledon, in typically sporting fashion, suggested that Matt Lowden bat at number eleven once his stint at number nine had come to its close (the scorer said, “Lucky chap”).

The Rioteers ended their innings on 122/10 to leave Hambledon celebrating a deserved win and our Colonel musing on the placement of his battalion (sorry to all readers for this – Ed.). Thank you Hambledon for a great afternoon of cricket.

Stafford Cricket Article Template (SCAT®)

SCAT is an open-source (MIT licence) resource, available for use by any match managers that might be struggling with writer’s block.

A [youthful|hopeful|superb|battle-hardened|burly|ugly|cheerful|forlorn|seemingly randomly cobbled-together] Rioteers team today enjoyed the hospitality of [host team’s name here] in beautiful surroundings and in [insert weather conditions here] weather.

[Insert philosophical or other musings here – if you have any. Avoid religion.]

[Political observations: this section is best avoided, only to be used if match day coincides with a General Election, even in which case please don’t share for whom you voted as it might be the end of several beautiful friendships.]

[Team name] won the toss and elected to [bat|(what?)].

[First innings cricket. Highlight skilful performances actually related to cricket.]

[First innings whimsy. Highlight amusing incidents possibly only tangentially related to cricket – the more surreal the better.]

[Team name] ended their innings on [runs] / [wickets], thereby setting their opponents a total that was [competitive|eminently chaseable|seemingly insuperable|laughable|woeful].

Tea was [competitive|eminently chaseable|seemingly insuperable|laughable|woeful]. [Expand a bit at this juncture.]

[Second innings cricket. Highlight skilful performances actually related to cricket.]

[Second innings whimsy. Highlight amusing incidents possibly only tangentially related to cricket – the more surreal the better.]

[Team name] ended their innings on [runs] / [wickets] to earn a [glorious victory|tight win|equitable draw|undeserved draw|unlucky defeat].

Rioteers CC v St Mary Bourne CC, 28 April 2019

The afternoon got off to a fair start with as many as 10 of the 11-man squad present for duty at the allotted time.  The 11th man having to rest after an over strenuous warm-up the evening before.  There was an important introduction to be made as the team was introduced to Sam Cook who was making his debut after a lifelong ambition to represent the Rioteers – he had travelled 12,000 miles to ensure his dream could be realised.  A fine effort by anyone’s standard. 

The skipper won the toss and elected to bowl, and it was noted that the temperature and dappled sunshine made a far more pleasant experience than the corresponding fixture 12 months prior – which was arctic-like.  That was until the 6th over when one of the opening batsman, who was eager to score from the off, top edged a hook and the ball went skyward.  Not believing his luck and already mentally writing up his skilful feat of wicket-keeping mastery for the match report, yours truly duly called “mine” and then made a royal blunder of epic proportions.  The ball dropped to the ground as the fielders gazed in disbelief.  Bowler Matt, was gracious on the surface at least!

Unfortunately, this set the tone as at least 8 chances were dropped during the rest of the increasingly cool afternoon!  Needless to say, the dropped batsman went on to make plenty of runs and retired hurt to give some of his comrades a bit of middle practice.  Both openers made big fifties before there was a rally of sorts by the tourists after the drinks break.  Skipper (Martin Hillier) had seen enough and brought himself on to bowl.  This change of pace seemed to confuse the batsmen and he trapped one LBW and had another stumped by the keeper – who having seen his comrades spill multiple catches, was feeling part of the gang again!

Skips then put his cousin George on to bowl from the same end and having not played since Ropley five years ago, rolled back the years with some fine bowling, generating both pace and bounce.  He was duly rewarded with a snick to his other cousin behind the stumps who gratefully snaffled the one and only successful catch of the inning!

Matt came back on to bowl the last over before tea and, having bowled so well at the beginning with no reward (thanks to indifferent fielding), succeeded with 2 wickets.  There were other highlights too.  Pace and youth in the form of cousins Bertie and Sam – genuinely hurried the batsmen – and on another day would have both taken a hatful of wickets.  Robert Rinaldo’s continuing guile and agility shone all afternoon.  Damian’s brave fielding putting every part of his body on the line, and invariably in line with the ball.  James Whiting, back by popular demand, delivered a pot pourri of assorted deliveries that fair bamboozled batsmen and keeper alike.  Special mention must also go to Braz, though it pains me to say it, whose set of overs were tidy even against the batsman who was “in”.

Tea came and quickly went.  Then out strode Sam and Matt to launch the Rioteer reposte.  They didn’t disappoint, with double figures appearing on the score board before Matt fell to Brennan Bulpitt who bowled her opposite number in the second over.  This brought the wiley Whiting to the crease to join Sam – by now starting to stroke the ball beautifully around the park.  James also batted with aplomb and the pair put on another 70 runs before he succumbed on a total of 28.  Sam followed in the same over, for 45 runs, to one that “didn’t bounce as much as it would have in New Zealand”!  Sam had given great impetus to the inning and victory was certainly on the cards.  However, with 2 new batsmen at the crease the innings had to build again.  George (20-ish runs) and Bertie (26?) both set about the task diligently, and by the time their 50-run partnership ended were getting the run rate back on track. 

Martin and I were next up, with victory 12 overs away at about 8 an over.  After some lusty blows, however, the skipper departed which brought Damian to the middle.  After looking solid for an over or so, one nipped back and took his off-bail – and with it the hope of victory.  Veteran Richard “Braz” Brazier came chuntering to the crease.  Complaining it was a tactical miscalculation for him to be batting so low in the order, he grimaced through the next few overs against everything the opposition could throw at him like a seasoned war-horse.  Roberto was still back in the hutch as insurance, but in the end was not needed as the draw was played out.

Thank you to our hosts, St Mary Bourne, for a most enjoyable game and allowing us to play this form of declaration cricket.  Also, thanks to the George Inn for the post-match entertainment.  We hope to see you all again next year.

The last word must go to man of the match, Sam (whose mum, Kate née Hillier, erstwhile Rioteer scorer 1990-1992-ish and only female ever to have been officially allowed on tour), for successfully completing his rite of passage and becoming a Rioteer!

Rioteers CC v. Wield CC, 16 September, 2018

The third man

The route from Sheffield to Lower Wield is not regularly travelled, however our number three batsman left at 7am, and after a hearty northern breakfast of roast whippet and two slices of gravy, arrived at the Yew Tree at midday in the aforementioned suburb of Alresford, and in singular glory ordered the chicken jambalaya, and a pint of the landlords most refreshing tonic.

Basking in the late autumnal sunshine, and with only the quiet meanderings of Hampshire’s finest pub to occupy his thoughts, the third of the Rioteers strokesmen, relaxed and allowed his mind to drift.

Eventually, and before the minds travels were completed, the team arrived, and sausages were quickly ordered and dispatched, the Jambalaya retired undefeated, the merits of GPS, sat nav, and following your nose were discussed, Brazier turned up, injured, with only 13 functioning ribs, and then refreshments drained the mighty XI, walked the long eight yards to the pitch.

A strong XI with returns from Walder and Green, and a youth policy bordering on the sensible, our numero trois watched the skipper trudge up the long hill from toss success, and announce a batting foray, and himself and Walder in, over 100 years of experience, and things progressed smoothly on the rock hard bowl, until Walder submitted to a well taken caught and bowled.

Our batting ménage a trois became two as they crossed halfway down the slope, and our eponymous hero solidly repelled the first couple of deliveries with ease under the watchful eye of the young Hillier ( A) officiating into the sun.

Into the final third however and this delivery pitched, slowed and clipped a high trailing thigh, leading to the slow lifting of the first digit by the young official, and the long trudge uphill of our tertiary willower commenced, for a duck.

The rest of the innings was passed by our protagonist in glorious sunshine just over the high boundary, watching the Rioteers solidly batt until reaching tea on 168 for 8, with Brazier not out 11, having been restored to his rightful position of 7.

As ever with the Wield, the tea was an absolute winner, the tea of the year trophy being retained once more, and the Rioteers went back for seconds and indeed, date I say, thirds, but the gargantuan feast remained barely troubled even with the trenchermen Walder Green and Williams, well supported by the second smallest of Braziers future Rioteers who displayed an admirable enjoyment of the lemon drizzle.

Then in the still resplendent sunshine our northern emissary, re-took his position, but this time just inside the boundary, at, well, Third man, and there he remained, about 20 yards from his original hostelry pew, until with about 10 overs remaining and the Wield oppo on 78 for 5, it was realised that it would be more sensible to bring him in.

Greeting his colleagues for the first time, he proceeded to watch the Wield block out the remaining 10 overs with the Rioteers unable to make any impression upon the remaining batsmen, and the match ended in a slow draw, despite the best (and worst) endeavours of three Hillier bowlers.

Retiring to whence he came, and a further refreshing tonic, our third man, reflected on a day well spent, if you’re going to travel 5 hours, on a stomach lined only with roast whippet, get a three ball duck and field at third man all day, then there are very few better places to do it.

Rioteers CC v. Chute CC, 9 September, 2018

The quintessential Rioteers match report traditionally carries an excess of metaphor, simile, allegory, and symbolism, exemplified below.

‘Brazier’s left arm carried the threat of a cold sponge pudding.’

‘nestled within the idyllic surroundings, the pedigree Herefords stood warily at long leg as Williams approached the crease’

‘We may define liberty, then, in Leonard Read’s felicitous phrase, as the absence of man-concocted restraints upon creative human action. At the ideal, each man should be entitled to manage his own life and to seek his own destiny as he sees fit, so long as he observes the equal and reciprocal freedom deserved by every other man. Such a concept limits the role of the state—the official restraining force imposed upon society—to preven­tion of aggression and coercive set­tlement of disputes by rules of common justice.

‘Hillier moved the field.’

However, this would be to simplify the occasion of our visit to Lower Chute.

A glorious sunny late autumn afternoon at a new and delightful venue, and the Rioteers, gathered promptly at 1.55 for the 1.30 start, and proceedings began at 2.20, with the opposition electing to bat. With Hall and Hillier (A) opening the bowling on a pitch of sometimes variable bounce (Halls tended to bounce), and with Hillier (j) sterling behind the stumps, the tight Rioteers fielding stopped many firmly struck balls.

Others may have taken catches but it kept the run rate low, but wickets were not falling.

Hall took the first and then with an early bowling change, Williams came on, Hall went off, Mills came on, and in tandem with Mills, and then Hillier, rattled through the middle order. With Boundaries on the big outfield hard to come by, we reached tea with the Oppo on 130 for 5, with the pick of the batting being Gairdiner dispatching Mills way over the aforementioned Herefords and Anya (3) sensibly playing a solid 33.

A chaseable target with the Rioteers batting all the way down to the tail, the thoughts at tea were not about the variety of cakes and sandwiches on offer, but about the oportunity of a late season win.

However thoughts turned and the bowlers exhausted after a long effort in the afternoon sunshine, tucked in, and then went back for a delicious second, maybe with another refreshing cup of tea.

After the third outing to the now depleted table, an aghast wicket keeper noted the oppo batsmen had not taken their pads off, and so after tea, the heavily laden pace attack trundled back out, not quite so quickly.

But the Rioteers are nothing if not resilient, and pressed on, whittling the remaining batsmen out, before the Chute batsmen declared with Ahl (E) not out 1 on his debut.

A quick change around, and Shea and Williams, with a previous best partnership of 99 set about a quick assault on the 156 target.

Well, Williams set about a quick assault, notably on the offside, with Shea Cook-like at the other end.

Williams eventually drilled a quick full toss straight and hard into midwickets waiting hands, followed by Hilliers (J), (B) and (M) making little impact on the scorers before departing, courtesy of some tight Chute bowling, and good wicket keeping from the skipper.

Shea however was still limpet like moving towards his half century, but the overs were coming down. Solid partnerships with Stafford, and Nandy saw the team score creeping up, but with shadows lengthening and the large crowd growing increasingly vociferous, grew confident of a home win with Nandy run out leaving Hillier (A) to come to wicket with Shea with 20 needed off the last 3 overs.

A previously unseen part of Shea game soon came to the fore with pacy singles and twos at every opportunity, and his fifty was reached to great applause from the side. The target was creeping down but so were the overs, 5 still needed off the last and with Archie (H) facing, the field came in, the ball went out, for four, and the game was level, with the winning shot coming with three balls left, and Mills, Hall and Brazier still in the hutch.

An excellent game, a trademark Rioteers win, great keeping from Hillier (J) and a terrific unbeaten 50 for Shea.

The Rioteers, led by half centurion Jim, attacked with gusto, like a fox in a henhouse, the various beers on offer at the post match hostelry, but the pub was the Fox, and a fox in a Fox is quite a messy metaphor, and these should be avoided like the plague.

All this tees us up nicely for next week at the Wield.