Sussex Martlets 170
Tough game this, and one steeped in great tradition. Big expectations, therefore, rested on the shoulders of your correspondent and newly appointed match manager. The date change to earlier in the season ruled out a number of school-teaching stars from last year’s magnificent win, but we approached a cloudy but dry Arundel with a strong batting line up and promising ringer in Aussie newcomer Alex Garlick, currently installed as Stirlands’ overseas player.
Undaunted by the young, confident and only-just-left-University 1st XI imprimatur of our opponents, and the fact that the Arabs captain Ed Bruce had seemingly only just left the very school that my son attends, Martlet confidence brimmed as we won the toss and chose to bat, knowing that our openers would afford the middle order time for an indoor net or perusal of the Sunday papers before having to tackle the rather grown-up lunch. The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, and at 12-2 the script was already in danger of being re-written. Fresh from a ton in his maiden MCC qualifier however, Jonathan Haynes steadied the ship and, with support from Ritchie, the Martlets put on 49 for the 4th wicket. The latter’s dismissal brought Alex Garlick to the crease. He dazzled from the start, metaphorically with his batting and literally with a pinky-red helmet in his Adelaide/South Australia club colours. But more fell around him, and at 80-6 with half an hour to go before lunch, we were in danger of disrespecting the fixture and sending the not insignificant crowd home for earlier than planned vegetable garden duties on what was becoming a sunnier afternoon. We found some resolve and somehow John Ashworth, Patrick Jackson and Paul Walker hung around with Garlick before and after lunch for some respectable partnerships, if not individual scores. We went into lunch with three figures on the board, and afterwards the lower order rallied to 170 all out which gave us something to bowl at. Top scorers were Garlick 60*, Haynes 47 and Walker 19.
In retrospect we might have put 5 bottles of port on the Arabs’ lunch table and a jug of squash on our own, but they would have had plenty of batting in reserve to overcome that kind of tactic. As it was, the Martlets opened with the pace of Garlick and, daringly, the spin of Walker. This looked like a brilliant tactic as their opener slashed at an off-stump long-hop from Walker to be caught by Haynes at point. This morale-boosting strangle sustained our enthusiasm but Hammond (75), Gilliams (43) and Abeed Janmohamed (a Martlet in Arab colours for the day, 30) made easy work of the total despite some resistive bowling by Garlick. Fellow newcomer Graeme Watkins treated us to some efficient leg-spin, and we enjoyed seven overs of miserly seam from Jonathan ‘I haven’t bowled since prep school’ Haynes. Special mention is due to Nick Hayday who kept beautifully all afternoon having earlier, and very kindly, ferried a consignment of shirts from Nick Wisdom so we at least all looked jolly smart. Despite the apparent ease of victory, we stuck at it until the end. The game was played in outstanding spirit and the spectators had to wait until 6pm before attending to the courgettes.
Special thanks to Nigel Smith for scoring, Ron Pateman for umpiring, Johnny Barclay for being, well, Johnny Barclay, and Brian O’Gorman for (a) helping me out with general ambassadorial duties and (b) tipping my wife off to say, when I returned to the pavilion having survived only 19 of the 20 minutes I was due to defend before lunch, ‘oh darling – you really should have played forward, not back, to that’. Thanks, Brian.
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