Rioteers CC v Crawley Crows CC, 5 August, 2018

The sunshine was turned up to full volume, as might’ve been Edward Elgar’s second symphony, as the Rioteers converged upon the pastoral, sun-dappled, English idyll of the Crawley Crows’ cricket ground. The quintessentially English music was replaced by The Ride of the Valkyries as those Rioteers arriving by bike rode over the horizon to join their comrades, the excitement and anticipation rising as players and families gathered and the start of the match approached.

Captain Hillier won the toss. The Rioteers were batting first. The deep reassurance and Scandinavian élan of Sibelius sounded out as Dave Bickford opened the batting with a Nordic calm that was to anchor our innings. The sweet music was briefly and rudely interrupted by the crass, flatulent thoughtlessness of Perez “Prez” Prado as our number two batsman Damian Stafford neither defended nor properly attacked his first and only ball, guiding it in to the grateful hands of the bowler. Dave was subsequently joined in the middle by James Hillier, the first movement of whose bat sounded the opening notes of Rachmaninov’s first piano concerto. James went on to make 105 before retiring – his innings providing, perhaps even exceeding, the majesty of Rachmaninov, by first impressing the crowd with a subtle, quiet beauty before building up to the confident allegro and fortissimo of the third and fourth piano concertos. Congratulations to James, whose innings included eighteen 4s and three 6s. After James retired, Dave was joined by the tuneful Robert Rinaldo (6), Bertie Hillier (20), Joe Stafford (who hit the ball well but was unluckily stumped at the end of his first over), Martin Hillier (4, retired), Jim Shea (a melodic 7 not out), and Wilf Hillier (0 not out). During this time Dave’s masterful performance was eventually ended on 71 in the dark, brooding, Nordic winter of an LBW decision. We’d scored 244 / 5, thereby setting Crawley a total that was [ competitive / eminently chaseable / seemingly insuperable * delete as appropriate ].

Crawley provided a tea that was [ competitive / eminently chaseable / seemingly insuperable * delete as appropriate ], during which the sun continued to shine, and the players and families were once more accompanied by Edward Elgar.

As the Rioteers took to the field the mood music switched from classical to rock ‘n’ roll. The Rioteers turned their bowling up to eleven, and strummed away at Crawley’s batting line up which finished on 177 / 8. The Crows’ opening batsman Martin White carried his bat with 65*. We can only wonder how many G Cummings might have made had he not had to retire owing to what the scorer unsympathetically noted as “ball on balls!”. Other than these performances, run-scoring was very limited owing to the following, impressive bowling figures: Matthew Lowden (1/23); Archie Hillier (0/23); Bertie Hillier (1/23); John Hall (2/36); Martin Hillier (1/27); Robert Rinaldo (3/12). The following bands were playing during each bowler’s spell, respectively: Nick Cave; Jake Bugg; alt-j; The Beatles; The Velvet Underground; Jimi Hendrix (turned up beyond eleven!). The only interruption to these glorious sounds came when our captain decided to change the music, inexplicably selected Perez “Prez” Prado once again, and pressed play. “Prez” built on his lamentable batting performance both by once again offending everyone’s eardrums and by breaking the Crawley record for the longest over ever bowled (previous record – eighteen balls) with a horrible nineteen-ball rendition. Joe Stafford and Wilf Hillier were both very busy in the field, chasing, stopping and returning everything in an inspirational manner. They were the electric Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding providing the verve and tempo for Brinaldo’s Jimi Hendrix and the other bowlers.

Thank you to our splendid hosts and friends at Crawley. And finally – congratulations once more to James Hillier on his century. Here he is in action …

Rioteers CC v Newport Inn CC at Braishfield on Sunday, 22nd July 2018

In the bucolic setting of Braishfield, bathed in the unaccustomed warmth of this unusual summer, the Rioteers put in a performance as rare as the weather and one which befitted the glorious tea provided by our opponents. However, not all omens were auspicious at the start: the opposing captain was obliged to point out some ominous cracks in the outfield which aroused concern for the unwary fieldsman, but also speculation as to their origin. Fanciful thoughts of tectonic activity were ruled out by your correspondent in favour of the more prosaic explanation that Tertiary sedimentary rocks such as clay are prone to contraction when dried out.

A further problem soon became apparent: for a match designated as 12 a side, the Rioteers turned up with 13 players! Your correspondent, now less certain of his ground, (please excuse the geological pun) acknowledged responsibility and was rescued by Dessie’s generous offer to umpire.

Thus, with the nonsense resolved, the game began with the Rioteers put in to bat. Another unusual aspect of this far from ordinary game was that Simon Brazier, although present, was not to open the visitors’ innings; rather, Martin Hawthorne, (30 runs) and Dave Bickford (23) did so and provided all the impetus of a fine opening stand. When the former was bowled by a Yorker, James Hillier strode to the crease with all the confident authority of a batsman intent upon a major innings. So it proved: with one 6 and eight fours, James played the dominant role in a fine partnership with Simon, (demoted to?) number four in the batting order. After reaching his fifty, James trudged off to the bewilderment of most players on the field. Was he retiring to give others a chance? Was he simply knackered? Apparently he had injured his Achilles but knowledge of the reason appeared to engender little sympathy from his colleagues. Simon went on to make an elegant 36 but only one other Rioteer managed to exceed the total number of extras, 12, namely Bertie Hillier who made 14 and appeared to be cutting loose when he was bowled. (Your correspondent hesitates to offer the advice to Bertie that moving one’s feet might enhance the chance of batting survival, on the grounds that he himself achieved a first ball duck.) One other item typified what “friendly cricket” is all about when young Charlie Light came in to bat and was bowled at for several overs by the even younger Wilf Hillier. Hopefully both will go on to enjoy the game and play often for these long established rival teams. Rioteers declared at tea with 185 for 10. (Declared with 10 wickets down? Yet more Sunday nonsense! And so much the better for it.)

So to that sumptuous tea: prawn cocktail sandwiches, fresh strawberries and a variety of cakes were just some of the delights. Would the Rioteers suffer the consequences of their indulgence when they went into the field?

Apparently not. Hall took a wicket in the first over and here credit must be given to the home umpire who was prepared to raise his finger after just 3 deliveries upon hearing the cry for lbw. At least sportsmanship is still present in Sunday Village Cricket if not in some of the higher levels of the game.

Thereafter, Newport Inn’s wickets fell at regular intervals, not because of problems with the wicket which was less affected by drought than was the outfield, but because of some fine bowling and fielding. Campbell Williams started the rot with 2 wickets for 13 runs, abetted by a fine catch from Simon behind the stumps and by Bertie at mid-off for a peach of a dismissal well above his head as he ran backwards. Both Bertie (1 for 10) and brother Archie (3 for 13) bowled fast so that only Dick Travers managed a substantial innings (22 not out) for Newport. Wilf, Andy Mills, Richard Brazier and skipper, Martin Hillier who also took 2 good catches, all took a wicket so that Newport Inn CC were finally bowled out for the infamous score of 111!
Result: Rioteers won by 74 runs. More importantly, a sunny afternoon in the English countryside was much enjoyed by both sides.

Rioteers CC v Broadhalfpenny Brigands CC, 1 July 2018

So Rioteers again graced the cradle of cricket. Walking in the steps of the founders of the modern game and Victorian greats such as WG Grace, Gilbert Jessop and Richard “9fer” Brazier.

Unusually the Brigands were down to 9 players and Damian honourably offered to play for them to even matters up as 10 a side. I think he just fancied facing our bowlers!

In the absence of the skip and vice, Hawthorne took on role of captain. He went out for the toss with the very clear instructions to win the toss and bat on another sweltering day. As per usual he lost the toss, however the Brigands helpfully decided to bowl first.

The Rioteers innings was opened by the skipper in partnership with Simon Brazier. The innings progressed nicely with an open partnership of circa 70 until Hawthorne went for an expansive drive against the spinner and failed dismally and was bowled for 27.

He was replaced by deputant Josh Hasdell who contributed a brisk and entertaining 14 before being replaced by our South African ringer Neil Winspear. He set about the Brigands bowling with some glee including two huge sixes. In the meantime Simon had secured yet another 50. Unfortunately he soon departed for a very tidy 60. He was replaced by Williams, who had been keen to point out that he was averaging 79 with the bat this season. Suffice to say he kept to the 9 part of the average!

Winspear also fell soon after for a brisk and high quality 35. However, at this point we some 35 runs shy of the desired 200 mark. But no fear an excellent partnership between Harrison Hill and our own baseball convert Rinaldo who both scored excellent 15s in rapid time saw the Rioteers to a challenging 201 for 6.

The team then repaired to the marquee for the usual high quality tea with the strawberry meringues being a particular highlight

The West Indies had the 3 Ws, but they didn’t have the 2 Hs! The bowling was opened by the might of the two Hs with the small matter of some 56 years between their respective ages. Hall gracefully agreed to bowl up the hill (and over!) to allow Hill to bowl down Hill! With both bowlers keeping it tight Brigands struggled to build momentum. Hill then got two quick wickets including one courtesy of a spectacular full length diving catch by Hasdell at first slip.

Both were then replaced by the might of Williams medium pace and the guile and flight of Hasdell. The Brigands opener was still in and was starting to look really threatening. However, he was fooled by Williams complete mastery of the slower bowl and knock one back to the bowler who gleefully celebrated the caught and bowled of their star bat.

Williams continued to make in roads to the Brigands batting including a good catch by Hill in the covers getting rid of our very own Stafford.

Hawthorne then turned to the partnership breaking talents of Rinaldo who dutifully obliged with an excellent first ever LBW in his first over.

Winspear replaced the unlucky Hasdell and outlined his all rounder credentials with an excellent spell including two wickets on his Rioteers debut.

The skipper was then able to turn again to Hill to mop up the tail and he dutifully obliged by getting their last man to pop up a catch to Hawthorne.

Rioteers VICTORY for the first time this year! An excellent team performance with solid batting, bowling and fielding from the whole team.

The victorious team then decanted across the road to The Bat and Ball to celebrate their win inn the usual manner.

Rioteers CC v Cadnam CC, 10 June 2018

On the journey to today’s game at Cadnam three Rioteers discussed, among other things, the fact that the first international cricket match was played between Canada and the United States on 24 and 25 September 1844, and that Great Britain beat the USA to become the first baseball world champions in 1938. We ruminated on the counter-intuitive, mixed-up nature of these facts.

On the journey home from today’s game three Rioteers contemplated several matters including but not limited to: capitalism; the increasing divide between rich and poor; the privatisation of the NHS; Greek philosophy; the (significant) influence of Indian philosophy on early Greek philosophy; that Greek culture is the sine qua non of the culture of the Roman Empire in particular and of Europe more generally; that, possibly, Indian culture is the sine qua non of Greek culture. And so on and so forth. We ruminated on the awe-inspiring nature both of history and what the future may bring.

In between these conversations there had taken place a game of cricket, the effect of which had clearly been to sharpen the wit and expand the intellectual horizons of this surely representative cross-section of Rioteers.

Thank you for reading the match report. Those that wish to delve in to the finer detail of what went on between the above conversations are welcome to read the appendix, below.


Our captain ordered me not to use the word “hubris” in today’s match report, so I shan’t. Martin won the toss and elected for the Rioteers to bat.

Honourable mentions on the batting front should go to Jim Slape and Bertie Hillier, both of whom got in to double figures, and to Simon and Dougal Swales, father and son with the thankless task of trying to score as many as they could in the last few balls. Now, while Rome may not have been built in a day,  openers Campbell Williams (1) and Martin Hillier (2) managed to spend a glorious hour(-ish) building for the Rioteers a partnership and the foundations of an innings of which Romulus and Remus could only have dreamed (had they known about cricket, which they did not, only having had boring Greek Olympic sports from which to draw inspiration). These magnificent gladiators scored 98 and 72 respectively, upon the Doric, Ionic and what-have-you columns of which the Rioteers ended up posting a very respectable score of 216 for 8 off 40 overs.

For completeness of this appendix, batting scores appear below, together with a picture of son and father leaving the field in an emotionally charged moment.

It was a humid, sunny and hot afternoon. Everyone needed refreshment and, as always at Cadnam, a banquet was provided that might have made Caligula blush. Tea was, simply, an Epicurean delight (although it should be noted that referring to Epicurus’ thinking in relation to food in this way is to misunderstand and misrepresent the great man’s meaning, as a representative cross-section of Rioteers may have discussed on the way home). Thank you so much to our splendid hosts for their hospitality.

For completeness of this appendix, here is a picture of Campbell about to enjoy his tea. He batted so peerlessly that none of his teammates felt qualified to join him.

Cadnam batted confidently, with a strong top order that scored 25, 26, 78 and 37 respectively. A not insignificant number of wides and suchlike also contributed an extras score of 36 to what was a deserved victory for the hosts of 219 for 4 off 31 overs. It is worth noting that the Rioteers’ fielding was energetic and committed, which bodes well for the rest of the season.  Although he took no wickets, John Hall was our most parsimonious bowler, giving away only 26 runs off 8 overs (2 maidens). Congratulations to Dougal Swales on taking his first wicket for the Rioteers, beating the bat of Cadnam’s number four batsman Godfrei and hitting middle stump. Richard Brazier bowled Cadnam’s number five. Jim Slape got two wickets, the second of which was during an epic, Russian-novel of an over that began with several wides that had the planned soporific effect on the batsman prior to the (also planned) sucker-delivery straight on to the stumps.

For completeness of this appendix, bowling scores appear below, obviously.

Rioteers CC v Coombe Bissett CC, 27 May 2018

It seems a long time since Hambledon. For the two matches that were called off, we had two fantastic teams, different on the whole from the first two games of the season in terms of personnel. So it shows that we do have the numbers out there. Hopefully the season will continue in that form and thank you to those that made themselves available but have still yet to play.

On to Coombe Bissett after a night of thunderstorms both sides were keen to play. Fortunately the rain had stopped early enough for the puddles to drain away through the chalk. In fact the sun had been out all morning and a very warm day was brewing.

We won the toss and batted.

Hillier M and Jim Shea opened and crafted a solid foundation. The score was ticking along at about a boundary an over – too hot to run too much, before Jim was caught trying to up the rate in the eighth over for 9.

Damian came in at three but was soon on his way back continuing his weekend of disappointment, following Liverpool’s Champions League final.

Bertie looked eager from the start hitting a 4 first ball but departed soon after. Bowled by a low straight one.

In came our new Trojan recruit, Josh Hadsell, who had an air of Craddock about him and we were all expecting great things. The skipper had protected him, farming the strike with his inability to count to 6, so it wasn’t until about his third over that he was able to make an impact …he let go an absolute screamer. The ball was despatched with such ferocity that the mid-off let out a scream as the ball whistled through him as he just managed to raise a leg in desperate avoidance.

Unfortunately Josh succumbed too early to the talented 15 yr old leg spinner who bowled him through the gate.

Archie followed and he and his Dad put on a small partnership before he too was caught, trying to up the run rate.

This brought Campbell to the crease and with the skipper, confident in his partner, skewed one to cover and was out for 54.

Brazier joined Campbell and watched as Campbell set about the bowling knocking the ball to all parts of the ground. He at last fell to a good straight one for 53. Brazier then tried to steer the tail of Rinaldo, Dessie and Joe Stafford to a meaningful total but instead protected his average ignored the fact that it was an overs game and prepared for tea.

Robert looked good with his first shot which earned him a compliment from Braz. Unsettled by this he was caught behind two balls later.

Joe was due to come in next but Dessie (79) evergreen, ever keen padded up quicker and trotted out to the crease to keep Brazier company in those last swashbuckling overs. They did manage a run an over and we went in to tea 166-9 in our 40 overs.

Tea was a delight of sandwiches homemade cakes and a fine cup of tea.
The two Hillier boys opened up and once Archie got his line right bowled nicely in tandem.

The first wicket came in Bertie’s second over a strong appeal for LBW from bowler and keeper left the lady umpire in no doubt.

The bowling was shared around. Brazier first change bowled better in his first spell of three overs keeping it tight.

Josh came on and gave us some rasping off spin, which caused a few problems, not least for the keeper (me) and was rewarded with his first Rioteer wicket.

Campbell bowled well taking one wicket and having the keeper stand up, well outside his comfort zone!

It was time to bring on Rinaldo who had been doing a great job in the field.
With his action questioned early, the batsmen weren’t quite sure about him and his two overs only produced 6 runs – well bowled Robert.

In the field we had Joe Stafford on his toes being kept busy at square leg, Bertie covering a lot of ground looking threatening throwing in from the deep and Dessie standing at fly letting nothing through.

Unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough and Coombe Bissett passed 167 for 4 with three overs to spare with Archie picking up a good wicket with his final spell .

We adjourned to the Fox and Goose and enjoyed the evening sunshine.

Rioteers CC v Hambledon CC, 6 May 2018

It’s exam time for many, and we found the following mock paper based on events of the weekend.

MULTI-CHOICE – (5 marks per question)

1 Rank in ascending order;
A the range in temperature from 6° to 26°
B the difference in layers worn in successive Sundays’ cricket matches
C the difference between chances given by Hambledon batsmen last year, and those this year
D the number of Rioteers able to play the game

2 After a big night out at a Portsmouth nightclub, do you;
A Get picked up by your Mum at 4am
B Have a nosebleed on the pitch
C Crack your box, but still score a ton
D All of the above

3 What took place while Damian was waiting underneath his slip catch;
A tea
B completion of the Sagrada Familia
C peace talks in N Korea
D formation of a new island off Hawaii

4 Bowling a batsman and knocking his stumps over is;
A a sign of wickedly unplayable pace
B rare and noteworthy
C the new norm
D simples, when the ground is so hard that stumps sit proud out of the ground

5 Not having played for 11 months, being walloped for a huge six but coming back to get a C&B off a very correct no 4 who’d scored a ton the day before is;
A a sign of class
B a bit of a fluke, it slipped out wrong
C something to celebrate
D ‘the kind of band I am’

6 Bowling well to generally well set fields in which fielding was neat and keen, taking two early wickets but not getting much of a sniff after that means;
A game on, it’s a batting wicket
B we needed to be on our top batting game
C par for the course
D a bit of a tall order this early in the season

7 When tea is a bountiful range of sandwiches (chapeau to the fine ham and pickle on brown bread), moist cakes (including a Victoria sponge of rare lightness) and thick slices of firm but juicy ripe pineapple, stacking your plate into a huge tower and then going back for seconds is;
A a sensible refuelling strategy for the long innings ahead of you
B a highlight not just of the day, but of the nascent summer
C signature Rioteer behaviour
D the only time we filled our boots

8 If a ball is drifting in from outside off on a trajectory towards off-stump, should the assiduous opener;
A play an orthodox forward defensive
B move back and to leg to give room to cut
C watch it onto his stumps
D allege it drifted and spat back in viciously

9 You’ve had knee surgery, and anchored your team’s innings the previous week; do you;
A content yourself with scoring in boundaries
B turn down risky singles, especially when ball played direct to athletic and accomplished young club cricketers
C trust your partner’s call
D praise the fine fielding, ruefully

10 When given LBW, do you;
A walk off briskly, even if harbouring doubts about the decision
B hesitate a touch to indicate surprise and a soupçon of doubt, then walk off briskly
C ask for DRS
D stand your ground, hold your pose looking at pads in incredulity, wander round the crease, walk off very slowly, hitting pads with bat, then chunter on in Pavilion

ESSAYS; answer two of the following questions (25 marks each);

1 Meteorology and creative writing; discuss the correlation between time taken to write a match report and the weather at respective games.
2 (Outmoded) Psychology; ‘Flashman, Malfoy, the Boston Strangler and Oswald Mosely were simply misunderstood’ – discuss how dark characters serve only to intensify the light, while relating to outdated forms of motivational team building.
3 Sociology – observing the social hubbub that was Hambledon CC on Sunday, discuss how cricket is all about people and having fun.
4 Civics – Elucidate on how cricket at such a venue against such genial but accomplished hosts on warm sunny day is just ‘brilliant’, with reference to The Fast Show and the(second) jug of lager in your hand.

Results at next week’s game at Ropley, for which Cap’n Marty is MM.

Rioteers CC v Newport Inn CC, 24th September, 2017

“To everything … there is a season.” This unfortunatley applies also to cricket, and so the Rioteers arrived at Braishfield ready to play their last cricket of 2017, and what would end up being both their second and third games this season against good friends and splendid hosts, Newport Inn.

Having won the toss, Captain Hillier, confident in our attack, put Newport in to bat first. Martin’s confidence was justified, as the Rioteers’ bowlers worked with both speed and economy (J Hall 3-18, A Hillier 2-5, A Mills 2-19, B Hillier 2-29, R Rinaldo 1-10). There was some decent fielding too. Yours truly’s catch from a sharp cover drive off one of Archie’s balls, more an act of self defence than anything else, managed to stick. James Hillier took an assured catch off Robert Rinaldo—henceforth to be called Brinaldo—to secure the bowler’s first ever wicket (later in the day he experienced another first, but made himself less popular, by giving someone out for the first time). Newport were all out for 90.

It was still early and so the Rioteers went in to bat before tea.

Campbell, clearly with an eye on the weather and the Duckworth-Lewis rate, smote the opening ball of our innings for six, the second one for four, and continued much in this attitude. The run rate was looking good and continued to do so until Campbell fell for a swashbuckling 34. Jim Shea kept Campbell company till the former was out for 11, to be replaced by James Hillier who remained at the crease as others fell quickly until Martin walked out to join his brother.

Tea, provided by the Rioteers, was had at some point during the innings, although it was delayed while someone fetched the milk. If only the match manager had remembered that we’d need some …

In a fitting finale to the last game of the season, the two senior Hillier brothers saw us home. James ended his best ever season with the bat on 11 not out, while our skipper scored a graceful, characteristically confident, almost languid, 23 not out.

As there remained plenty of time in the day and there was a desire all round to squeeze as much cricket as possible out of the end of the season, we played a T10 match with our hosts before shaking off this mortal season.

Cricket is a game of perpetual regret, punctuated very occasionally by brief flickers of elation and/or flashes of hubris. On that note, it’s time to ponder one’s averages …

Rioteers CC v Hinton Admiral CC, 27th August, 2017

With the world and his dog joining queues stretching from Ringwood to Andover just to be part of The Rioteers’ own Barmy Army, the various routes adopted by our 11½ man team – Walder taking over at tea (with thanks to the oppo for their approval) from our wicky for the day and professional comedian, Matt Culmer … did he survive his Gig? … thankfully your match manager didn’t have to do the 2nd half of the show – meant the start was delayed to await the skipper and his crew, but the vast crowds seemed to have got lost leaving a youthful Greg Williams to blow his own trumpet and chant those Rioteer anthems alone as the sole Rioteer fan.

Hinton Admiral showed due respect to the fabulously balanced blend of youth and experience put out on the day – shame the same could not be said for the ratio of bowlers to batters – by providing the semi-professional surroundings of the Bashley 1st Team pitch. Its straw coloured track looked a belter… but looks can be deceiving… and local knowledge later revealed this strip would take more than half the wickets to fall on the day, behaving like a exhausted snail in a limbo competition (with apologies to whoever first coined that phrase).

A fine performance in the field saw Hinton Admiral restricted to 140 all out in fewer than their 40 overs… yes, an overs match on a Sunday! sacrilege in the view of your Match Manager.

With the pace attack of the younger Hilliers opening and a first ball bowled from Archie, the day started brightly… in fact very brightly, this being the hottest August Bank Holiday Sunday this year …

So many fine performances would vie for the champagne moment. Would it be: the swallow dive of an attempted catch from Brazier that elicited reminders of Clive Tuck efforts from the skipper, or the end to end walks that kept Jim Shea supple enough for yet another fine fielding performance, or the valiant sprinting around the outfield from Joe Stafford, or the sibling banter from Bertie when a charge reminiscent of many an older Hillier trying to snaffle a catch that ultimately went to ground, keeping up that famous family tradition. No, the award must surely go to the beguiling Williams delivery that captured the essence of Rioteer greats Doc and Dessie’s dolly drops, a drifting out-swinger that pitched on leg and moved towards middle and leg, delivered with the venom of that same limbo dancing snail, steered almost deliberately to the hands of a waiting Archie. A bowler/fielder combo that yielded a further pair of catches during the day.

A sterling performance behind the stumps from Matt Culmer was supported by some inspired field placings from the skipper, who managed to keep back overs from Hally (2 wkts from 6.2) and Simon Culmer (2 from 5), whose efforts to return from Australia a couple of days before just to turn up for this game and to show off his Aboriginal art inspired trainers and new haircut, were widely applauded.

And so to tea, and yet another fine, assorted buffet with Chocolate Caramel Wacko bars worthy of comment from Shea and plenty of Pink Fancies to tickle Brazier.

The Shea/Walder opening partnership warm up routine of staying in the shade for as long as possible may not be followed again this year but proved beneficial for one of the pair.

Your match manager was quickly partnered by a swashbuckling Damian Stafford whose 8 was second top score (ignoring the useful 15 from Mr Extras) and helped form the highest partnership of the innings.

With the run rate being matched at the half way point, Walder’s exit for 30 revealed a tail of Brontosaurus proportions and the innings closed after 30 overs on a score of 80, just as the bar opened … perfect timing!

Rioteers CC v East Meon CC, 20th August, 2017

A number of schools of thought exist about August …

Firstly you have those of 11 years or younger who see it as a Haribo fuelled den of delight with sleepovers, no school and acres of screen time.

Secondly there are those careworn parents who see the period as a mine–field of juggling jobs, holidays and overdrafts and wishing for the strictures that September will bring.

And finally you have the middle-aged match manager who is faced with underwhelming weather and an empty team sheet. The batsmen have buggered off to Biarritz and the bulk of the bowlers are sitting in a leaky tent in Devon with their assorted offspring.

After much wrangling 11 Rioteers strong, true and mostly upright sidled onto the field of play from all corners of the south of England. The sky was the slate grey you’d only find in Blighty in August but crucially the rain was plying its trade elsewhere as we commenced.

The opposition batted first. Hall and Lowden bowled the first 15 overs and managed to hold the opposition in some sort of check as they glided to 108 – 1. We were then treated to a rather brutal display of batting by an array of Atkinson’s and a number of boundaries ensued. Rioteer debutant’s Jonny Druce and Ralph Palmer bowled well and were among the wickets. Robert Rinaldo had a great direct hit for a run out. Brazier was called upon to unleash a one over spell (following his amazing yet unlikely, boundary catch) and Lowden and Hall again tried to stem the tide at the death.

The result was 240 for 7 which, to be honest, was a little lower than looked likely in the heat of the innings.

The opposition had a number of phone apps which all agreed on the same outcome but differed slightly on the timings: it was going to hose it down. We therefore elected to bat for half an hour to enjoy the lack of rain. Druce and Shea got off to a steady start and looked strong and stable until Druce holed out for 8 and Tim Barker came in. A quick fire and elegant 12 ensued before one popped up and he was caught. This brought skipper Bickford to the crease, along with the rain.

We went into tea on 33 for 2 and filled our boots. An excellent spread it was too, with crustless cucumber sandwiches with pepper in (?? Are you sure – ed) and a wonderful array of cakes.

There then ensued what can only be described as a soggy rear-guard as Shea (once the chocolate cake had kicked in) became more expansive until holing out to a superb one handed diving catch. James Hillier, Ralph Palmer and Robert Rinaldo held out as the rain purred down and the fielders and bowlers tried in vain to master the slippery conditions and the tail enders. Damian Stafford, despite pacing around padded up and ready to go, remained in the hutch and we finished on 95 for 5 and a draw can be chiselled into this years results.

Roll on September.

Rioteers CC v Longparish CC, 9th July, 2017

After a testing recruitment drive, 11 Rioteers worthy of the name arrived at the quintessential home of English village cricket – complete with thatched pavilion chalk streams and water-meadows – Longparish. Home of the retired master of cricket correspondence, John Woodcock – oh what would he make of the match which surely was worthy of the great man’s quill!

Our skipper, struggling with a knee injury which has affected his appearances this season, was last to hobble into view with the Winchester ½ of the Rioteer team. He promptly lost the toss and the signal was relayed to the openers Martin Hawthorne and Tim Barker – in only his second knock for the Rioteers.

Tim clearly looked to dominate the attack from the off with very positive and stylish stroke-play. Unfortunately, after a short while Tim met his demise before his full potential was fully realised. 10 scored. Meanwhile his partner was providing the anchor role. Although there was many a dot ball, when Martin decided to hit the ball he did indeed hit the ball – to the boundary – his first 3 scoring strokes racing for four.

Tim’s wicket brought James Whiting to the crease on his Rioteer debut. James transpired to be a natural Rioteer – promising much but producing little. James, playing against his own village gave way to another James playing against his own village. Now I forgot to mention that James the debutant was cleaned bowled through the gate by, at the risk of sounding sexist, a girl! James, yours truly, strode to the wicket full of confidence having hit a few peachy shots in the nets. First up was a ball pitched up and inviting a drive which it duly received, but only as far as extra cover’s welcoming mitts. Golden Duck and another James heading back to the pavilion, a jubilant Longparish and 2 wickets in 2 balls to the talented Tally O’Farrell (watch out for that name in years to come). The hat-trick was on, and Archie Hillier replaced his uncle at the crease. Looking as cool as a Fox’s Glacier Mint with the confidence to boot, he was the man to steady the ship. He clipped his first ball off the middle of the bat to mid-wicket – a shot we would all be pleased with 99 times out of 100 – only to find the script-writers had out-done him and he was caught by a very sharp short fielder millimetres off the turf (the ball, not the fielder). The hat-trick was complete. A girl called Tally had done for 3 of the Rioteer’s finest in successive balls. 2 Hilliers back to the hutch for Goldens. In turned out Tally’s mother was the scorer, and to her credit showed no sign of gloating but consoled us in saying that she is a county player, playing for Hampshire ladies under 17s…….though she qualifies to play for the under 15s!

Cometh the hour cometh the man, albeit with a slight limp and awkward gait. Could the third Hillier offer any resistance? Indeed he could along with the other Martin, a brace of Martin H’s consolidated and then opened their shoulders taking the total from 39 for 4 to 123 before Martin Hawthorne was bowled for 35. Jim Shea took on the mantel of a supporting role to Martin Hillier’s progressive innings, and it was noted that one boundary was even scored on the offside – another spoke to add to the wagon wheel, and a lonely spoke at that.

Martin, or his gammy leg, had had enough after scoring 77 and retired with the score on 157, thus bring the 4th Hillier to the wicket, namely Bertie, son of Martin, brother of Archie, Nephew of James. Bowled! Golden Duck and a third for the family – has Wisden ever known this before?

This signalled Jim to lead the charge which he did ably before retiring himself on 29 including 4 fours. Matt Culmer and Simon Swales saw the Rioteers through to tea with a respectable 188 for 6 after being 39 for 4.

Tea was a joy to behold – both in its quantity and quality. Sandwiches generously filled with a range of savoury flavours, an assorted buffet of cakes and bowls of sausage rolls and other finger food – enough for the team and the travelling support (some all the way from Birmingham) to fill their bellies while analysing the extraordinary ebbs and flows of the previous 2 hours.

However, tide, time and tea waiteth for no man and as the Longparish opening pair strode to the wicket, the skipper realised he’d have to cajole his team away from the feast and girder their loins for the field.

Longparish’s young side made assured and steady progress, surpassing the Rioteer’s total with two overs and 6 wickets to spare. However, the innings was punctuated by some notable events! The first was the fact that Matt Culmer, having clearly worked on his new bowling style, got a wicket! The second, that he pulled off a most remarkable catch off his own bowling to set up a hat-trick. He took the catch at mid-on, having finished his follow through at silly mid-off. Somehow, and this is the reason for the late report, he managed to stop, turn, run, leap and fly about 15 yards in the space of a second to pull off a gravity defying catch – a feat only possible at the limits of the space-time-continuum. Matt was the pick of the bowlers finishing with 2-21.

Archie put in a solid 5 overs, without success, before he had to leave to book his camping spot on Wimbledon Common to ensure a Monday ticket at the All England Club. This brought to the field Wilf Hillier, Longparish under 10s and experienced Rioteer sub-fielder who stopped a few certain boundaries! Bertie was worked hard by the skipper and earned the wicket of his nemesis, Tally, and ended up bowling 13 overs 1-52.

James Whiting caught a well-judged skier – that should probably be sky-er? – off Hillier M, as did Martin Hawthorne off Hillier J. Unfortunately for Hillier J, Martin was standing in the cow field and the umpire signalled a six!

Simon Swales, James Whiting and Robert Rinaldo all looked good in their spells, and were unlucky not to have more success. Robert is compiling a separate spreadsheet of statisitics to include assists, runs stopped, played and missed etc (good luck Robert!). Tim was compact and agile behind the stumps – keeping up the tradition of strong Rioteer wicket-keepers!

The youthful Longparish, apart from the Golden Duck, all made runs with their opener retiring having made fifty. Tally made 23, and the Gardner brothers chipped in with scores in the 30s.

I think that was just about it apart from a merry time was had at the Cricketers, where Tim and James W swore allegiance to the Rioteers – at least that was my interpretation – so we hope to see them again soon!