Sussex Martlets (165 for 9 declared in 51 overs) beat Eton Ramblers (164 in 40.2 overs; M Murray 4-12) by one run
So where did that one run come from? Was it a superb diving stop at midwicket by Will Rydon early in the Ramblers’ innings? Was it a scampered second in the Martlets’ fifth-wicket partnership, in which Alex Wyatt (33) made the only contribution of any note during a poor batting performance? Or was it one of Paul Walker’s guileful deliveries in the pouring rain, making one of the old Etonians err on the side of caution?
Any one of the Martlets could claim that they were the man who saved or created that single, but in truth, the honour probably belongs to the square leg umpire who called one short with only a few overs of the Ramblers’ chase remaining and the game poised like a man on wire.
Where that run came from hardly matters; the match was one of the season’s unlikely classics despite only 329 runs being scored in 90 overs, the last quarter of them delivered in pouring rain.
Having been put in by the Ramblers on a tinder-dry late-summer deck at Eton, the Martlets wholly failed to take advantage of good batting conditions. A promising opening partnership between Peter Lamb and Marcus Campopiano was cut off in its prime and only Wyatt, the 26-year-old former Leicestershire bowler representing the Martlets for the first time, did any real damage to the Ramblers’ steady bowling attack.
A late 24-run flurry from Mike Murray, captain for the day, gave the total a modicum of respectability but few thought 165 would be enough. It very nearly wasn’t.
Fuelled by a superb lunch, Wyatt and Josh Burrows opened the bowling, the former operating at brisk pace off a cut-down run-up…until being struck down the ground for four, at which point the full run-up was unveiled and the pace cranked up to ‘hostile’. The Ramblers’ dangerous opener, G Loup, was removed soon after, superbly caught by a diving (or falling?) John Ashworth at mid on.
With runs continuing to leak, mainly from the bat of E Williams, it took the introduction of Paul Walker (15-0-51-3) to stem the flow. Operating for 15 overs unchanged, many of them with a slimy wet ball, Walker celebrated his multitude of dot balls like wickets and his three wickets like winning goals in a cup final. None begrudged him doing so – certainly not among the Martlets, who realised he might just be bowling them back into the game.
Nevertheless, on entering the last hour, the Ramblers needed only 58 runs with six wickets remaining. Suddenly Lamb chipped in with two vital scalps but, with rain now flowing more steadily than runs, the coup de grace fell to Murray (5.2-1-12-4). Having scored 48, Williams inexplicably missed a straight one and the game was afoot.
It was around this time that Rupert Stanning, batting at No 9, ran that fatal one short. Two wickets later, with just one more run needed to tie the game, Murray delivered yet another wily straight-break that breached the defences of the No 11 batsmen and brought an intriguing game to its dramatic conclusion. There were ten balls remaining.
This was the third year of the revived fixture against the Eton Ramblers, who played in superb spirit throughout. Combine that with the excellent grub (and the one-run victory) and it is to be hoped the fixture stays on the Martlets calendar for a long time yet.
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