A beautiful late August day gave me my first outing at Arundel Castle this season as we hosted Brighton Brunswick at our magnificent home. Brunswick won the toss and chose to bat on what looked like an excellent wicket after a couple of weeks of sunshine. Brunswick brought a strong outfit with them that boasted a number of premier league players as well as two league overseas players who thoroughly deserve a run out at the castle after their excellent services for their respective clubs this season.
The ever present mIke Murray opened the bowling alongside Rafe Liebers (a new graduate from the juniors). Phelps and Perman opened the batting for Brunswick who started off in lightening fashion racing to 40 off just 3 overs. This wasn’t without alarm though as the ball fell in a few gaps as well as Liebers finding the edge on a number of occasions. Murray stemmed the tide with the wicket of Perman who was bowled running down the wicket in just the 5th over! This brought Chappels to the wicket. The next 10 overs or so were much more controlled but without much alarm as Phelps went through to a run a ball 50. Rebbetts was steady with the ball without much threat as the flat pitch and fast outfield took its toll on the seam bowlers! At 164-1 and just 10 minutes to go before lunch, Martlets needed to break the partnership. Enter Joe O’Gorman. With Phelps on 99, Rebbetts brought the field in to add some well needed pressure and Phelps tried to turn one into the leg side against the spin and got a leading edge straight back to O’Gorman to take a deserved wicket after previously having Phelps dropped in the 70s. An important wicket for Martlets. Brunswick getting to lunch on 180-2 off 30 overs. Martlets knew they would be looking at a 300+ run chase off about 50 overs. Omkar Knot began from the park end after lunch alongside the dangerous O’Gorman who took a second wicket having Shelton Forbes (Haywards Heath overseas) LBW for 15. Chappels continued on his Merry way though, ticking plenty of singles and using a reverse sweep regularly as his aggressive option. Skipper of the Brunswick Callum Smith came in and looked dangerous before getting out in possibly the least favourable way in cricket – A flick off the finger of the bowler to be run out at the non-striker’s end. Omkar will claim he did it on purpose, as we all would! Om then took a legitimate wicket himself as he found the outside edge of Danny Hall for 0. This was well caught by Rory Slack, a 14 year old St James wicket keeper making his debut for the Sussex Martlets. He had a magnificent game and hopefully the first of many games we see him in a Martlets shirt. After a Liebers rotator cuff injury, Rebbetts finished from the Park end as Chappels looked to get to his 100 before an inevitable declaration from Brunswick. Chappels got to his 100 with a brilliant cover drive to the boundary as Brunswick brought their innings to a close on 281-5 off 48 overs. A good come back from the Martlets who managed to keep a lid on the run rate after Brunwick’s electric start! O’Gorman picked up 2-72 off 11 overs and was the pick of the Martlets bowlers. Huge congratulations to Ben Chappels who scored his first Arundel 100.
So Martlets took the field looking to chase down 282 for victory off an estimated 52-54 overs. A slow but steady start took Martlets to tea at 18-0 off 7 overs. Our ever reliant Sam Carter took to the field with another debutant Bobby Dubey. Martlets upped the rate after tea as Dubye went over the top and Carter took advantage of a few loose deliveries as the openers tired after long spells. Carter was first to go for 13 as he was bowled. This brought Jules Hunt to the crease who immediately took the attack to the opposition with some wonderful shots down the ground for 6! But the rate did continue to climb as the overs ticked down. Dubey was caught on the boundary trying to up the rate, but made a valiant 36 off 80 balls. He did an excellent job of seeing off the new ball. Unfortunately Beechey only lasted two balls as he hit a low full toss straight to extra cover. This brought skipper of the day Darryl Rebbetts to the crease at 79-3 off 23 overs, essentially needing 200 from 30 overs. A tough ask even on the flattest of all wickets! Jules continued his aggressive nature though going past his 50 at better than a run a ball. Unfortunately it didn’t last too much longer as he was bowled by Callum Smith for an excellent 69 off 61 balls. Hunt and Rebbetts had taken the score to 158 before the loss of that wicket putting Martlets right back in the game! Rebbetts ticking along at a run a ball on 30 when Hunt was dismissed. This brought a trio of youngsters in for the Martlets though which was great to see at the Martlets home of cricket. Felix Horsham Holt, Rafe Libers and Rory Slack all fell for single figures but showed excellent commitment and temperament and are great prospects for Martlets future. Martlets now were 179-7 off 41 overs with just 13 overs left needing 102 to win and just the three wickets in tact. Rebbetts still there on 42* needed to stay at the crease to give Martlets any chance of winning from here. Enter Joe O’Gorman. From ball one, Joe showed the aggressiveness needed with the field up and rate climbing. He made a fantastic 42 off 34 balls to put Martlets right back in the hunt for what must be one of their biggest chases at the castle! At 241-8, Martlets now needed 40 off 5 overs, Rebbetts was on 58 now and was joined by Murray to try and get the boys home. Some scampering between the wickets and a couple more boundaries from Rebbetts took Martlets within 17 with two overs left. With many fielders out on the boundary, Rebbetts needed to improvise and brought out the reverse sweep which sailed past point for 4 runs, and followed that up with a cover drive for back to back boundaries. 9 needed from 10 balls now. Rebbetts and murray both took a single from the remaining balls leaving 7 to win from the final over with Murray on strike. But Murray was bowled with the first ball of the final over bringing in Omkar to make a stunning finale. Om got off strike with a quick single first ball which could have been a direct hit but thankfully got Rebbetts back on strike needing 6 from 4 balls but only one wicket in tact. Again, it was time for some improvisation and the ever reliable reverse sweep came back out but thankfully proved just as successful as the ball raced past point once more to bring the runs required down to 2 runs from 3 balls. Next ball Rebbetts smashed a half volley straight to long off and although pressure was applied to the fielder, only a single was taken and trust was given to Om to seal what Martlets hoped would be an amazing underdog victory. Om hit the penultimate ball straight to cover, no run. With a tie, draw or Martlet win possible from the final ball, it is not often we get this type of situation! Final ball to be bowled, the field was a ring field as close as they could to prevent any quick single. The ball was outside off stump and Om drove off the back foot straight past cover for 4 runs!! A one wicket victory for Sussex Martlets!! Rebbetts finishing on 83* off 71 balls to see Martlets home. Special thanks to Callum Smith who managed the game perfectly as Brunswick Captain of the day to ensure everyone got the best game they could. This game of cricket really did have everything and shows the huge enjoyment that declaration cricket can bring. We very much look forward to the reciprocal game at Hove next season!
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