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. 

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

AND BREAKING NEWS WHICH WILL SHOCK THE WORLD!!!

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 https://twitter.com/RioteersCricket

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].