The Sussex Martlets gathered at Christ’s Hospital to find themselves facing a light drizzle and eleven very keen young men, wanting to play a declaration match. Start was delayed by an hour to 12.30pm with play being extended by half an hour.
The delay of an hour allowed one of the Martlets, Derek Horsham to make his pleadings to the skipper, Club Chairman Stuart Ritchie, about his pressing need to attend a “fitting” in Camberley early in the afternoon for a part he had secured in a film. Missing lunch, Degsie was on his way, with the skipper wondering if he would be back in time in case an eleventh batter was needed.
The skipper lost the toss and the Martlets were put into bat, as is the tradition in this game. The prolific Adam Davies and Jonathan “I’ve not scored many this year” Hughes opened the batting for the Martlets, both exhibiting fine cover drives against a solid bowling attach. Lunch was taken on time at 1.30pm with the openers unbeaten with 94 on the scoreboard, Adam Davies already having reached a half century. At this point, the skipper was feeling relaxed at the unexpected absence of the actor.
Following a sumptuous lunch, designed no doubt to get Christ’s Hospital back into the game, Jonathan Hughes decided the time was right to go over the top, taking his lead from Adam Davies, only to be caught at mid-on having scored 38 runs. Peter Lamb was next to bat and he and Adam pressed on to 149 before Peter’s wicket was taken. To the crease came the skipper, only to witness a monumental collapse. First, Adam Davies cross batted lunge down the wicket resulted in his stumping. Then Freddie Burgess, guest player for the Martlets and former 1st XI captain of Christ’s Hospital, was caught next ball in the slips. Finally Michael Loveday, in a tragic repeat of his innings two years ago at this venue, was caught and bowled on the second delivery he faced from a leading edge. Christ’s Hospital bowler S Hannon had chalked up a triple wicket maiden to his great credit.
All the while, the skipper looked on helplessly to the events at the other end but his time was to come and after watchfully defending half a dozen balls, opened his account with a trademark flat six hit straight over the head of mid on. A couple of balls later, he followed that up with a drive to mid wicket for a four. The Martlets innings was back on track, and even though the skipper was out, others took on the mantle of providing a competitive total, including candidate Evette Burton with a lovely pull for a boundary to midwicket and Simon Warrender, with an excellent 25 not out to close the innings on 200 after 47 overs with Will Rydon also unbeaten. The actor was not required to bat, which was just as well as reports reached the ground that the mirrors at the “fitting” in Camberley were of insufficient size for an actor of his grandeur, or at least that is what his agent claimed.
After a quick turn around, the Martlets took to the field with a substitute fielder generously provided by Christ’s Hospital. Peter Lamb and Freddie Burgess opened up the bowling, with Freddie seeking justice for his earlier dismissal. Freddie bowled well but was unlucky not to take a wicket in his six overs. Peter took two wickets, one bowled right up in the block hole which was too good for the batsman. Will Rydon took over from Freddie at the school end and after a slow start, got into his rhythm and bowled to the end of the match, notably in his last three overs taking two wickets for two runs and bowling two maidens. One of these wickets involved one of the batsman absolutely middling the ball, but straight to Jonathan Hughes who took an amazing catch, whose nerve endings in his fingers were left tingling.
At some point, the actor returned, but the umpires rightly judged he had been away from the ground for so long, that the laws of cricket did not permit him the opportunity to bowl. At least his journey was not wasted, the actor did at least get a chance to field at short mid wicket.
The pick of the Martlets bowling however was from Adam Davies. Working out the pitch was gripping, Adam bowled a series of cutters which were too good for the batsmen. He bowled, had caught and given leg before five of the Christ’s Hospital batters, including the pick of the opposition Will Freeman. Martlets with a good memory will remember two years ago, Will made his debut in a 1st XI game playing for the Martlets in this fixture, taking a stunning wicket with his off spin in a four over spell. In this match, Will hit the highest score of 73 for Christ’s Hospital before falling leg before to the bowling of Adam.
With just over 30 minutes time left, the final wicket fell after nearly 36 overs and the Martlets were victorious. In truth, the real winner was cricket as both sides strove to win, but played fairly and with great spirit. And Christ’s Hospital once again showed themselves to be great hosts and were most generous in their hospitality during the day. Thanks also go to the officials, with our umpire Martin Bodenham making a return visit to Christ’s Hospital after many years, following his retirement from umpiring first class games, and to our scorer Brian Mullholland for travelling so far for this game and producing an immaculate scoresheet.
Most of this year’s opposition will remain at Christ’s Hospital and so the Martlets can look forward to a sterner test next year, a point rather lost on them as they supped their beer at The Bax Castle!
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