Sussex Martlets (237 for 6 declared, 48 overs; H Rollings 83) beat Band of Brothers (107, 40.4 overs; J Shaw 5-10) by 137 runs
Band of Brothers arrived at Belmont House’s glorious country house cricket field with a season-long unbeaten record to defend. And with light and time fading, against the odds they looked as if they might just manage it.
But with the BoB lower order offering uncomplicated resistance (otherwise known as blocking the crap out of it), it helps for a captain to be able to call on a hostile quick to try and blow the game to a conclusion. Enter Jordan Shaw, who had managed to return from the Martlets Dublin Tour the previous week with enough energy to answer his captain’s call to bowl one last spell on a hot summer’s afternoon.
With time fast running out and the Martlets fielders converging into an amphitheatre of close catchers, Shaw yorked the Band of Brothers No 10 and wrapped up a fine Martlets victory with a similarly sharp delivery to the No 11. Having earlier taken two wickets in his first spell and one in his second, Shaw finished with figures of five for 10 from 12.5 overs, six of them maidens.
The Martlets victory was well deserved. Although a draw was always on the cards, after racking up 237 from only 48 overs, the visitors never looked like losing the match. Harry Rollings, one of three Junior Martlets in the side – was the mainstay of the Martlets innings with a stylish 83. Although the boundaries were short and the outfield fast, the mottled and crumbling pitch meant that a batsman could never truly feel at home.
All the more impressive then that every Martlets batsman given time at the crease cruised into double figures. The platform was built by Cameron Jones (16), Michael Loveday (21) and James Cruickshank (28*) before the firepower was heaped on in abundance by Joe Gilligan (28) and Jordan Rollings (22).
Gilligan’s two sixes off one Band of Brothers seamer – the first clipped nonchalantly over straight midwicket and the second slog-swept contemptuously over square leg – were almost matched by Jordan Rollings’ gigantic heave deep into the car park as the innings accelerated swiftly towards a declaration.
In reply, the Band of Brothers never really got going. Tight opening spells from Shaw and Lloyd Jones put the batsmen well behind the required rate and when they attempted to open up, Toby Shepperson was the beneficiary, the 15-year-old’s nine overs of legspin yielding three important wickets.
By now the pitch was borderline dangerous. One Band of Brothers batsman who strode out to bat in a cap was urged to fetch a helmet – an exhortation that might just have saved his life given that his very first ball from Shaw reared off a length and stuck a clean blow to his head.
As the game entered the last hour, the Band of Brothers lower middle order became fixated by the possibility of a draw and, seeking wickets, the Martlets bowling attack took on a kind of “lucky dip” feel. Stuart Ritchie (another player amazingly well recovered from the Dublin tour) took one for nine from his four overs, Cruickshank chipped in with one wicket at a cost of no runs in two overs.
Still the Band of Brothers tail held firm – they have not gone the season unbeaten without reason – but with time running out, Shaw came steaming back in. When he speared the ball through No 11’s defences there were eight balls remaining in the game.
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