Eton Ramblers v Sussex Martlets 22 May 2022
Martlets (236-4; Arris 67, Rebbetts 58) beat Ramblers (235; Walker P 6-64)
Eton is a something of a four-letter word these days. The list of disgraced prime ministerial alumni overshadows the illustrious pupils like George Orwell, Hugh Laurie and our very own Johnny Barclay, in whose name this fixture is played. The venue alternates between Arundel, where ‘Trout’ so brilliantly ran the Foundation (having also played there many times whilst captaining Sussex) and Eton, whose 1st XI he represented in all of his five years.
We returned to The Playing Fields (Upper Club, actually) for the first time since Covid. Ashers Snr wandered out to inspect the battlefield with the opposition skipper, Ashers Jr. They pretended to know what they were looking at before concluding ‘yup – it’s a road’. The Ramblers duly won the toss, elected to bat, and Muzza was duly anointed with the captain’s armband. Perfect Match Manager bullet-dodging delegation.
They got off to a flier. Cambridge Blue George Hallas and Jamie Roy dealt easily with Walker Jr and Darryl Rebbetts to post 59 before Roy spooned to Arris off Rebbetts. Gordon-Lennox provided further support before he was snared by the ever-reliable Murray whose arrival prompted a mini-collapse. Carleton-Smith and Russell departed having, in their words, not really played enough cricket this season. Mould and Jayarajah flashed and fizzled, but all momentum halted once Walker Sr came into the attack. And what an extraordinary day he had. Not just his first Martlets fifer, but his first six-fer, luring the wide-eyed with possible ‘maximums’ (yeuch) that fell to the fielders instead. The finest catch was by Walker Jr who had just earned a consolation prize for an outstanding but luckless opening spell – he had a plumb LBW appeal denied against Jayarajah, who then smashed the cover off the ball only to be given out LBW after all. On a different day we might have withdrawn the appeal. The Ramblers ended up on a challenging 235.
Lamb and Carter opened in swashbuckling style and raced to 49 before Lamb was bowled, which was something of a novelty as he usually swipes something aerial to extra-cover. Loughton chipped in with 21 before Arris strode out for what was to be an imperious innings. Shaw joined him after Carter’s dismissal and strangely didn’t get a ton. In fact, he trudged off (no doubt hoping the Sussex 2nd XI selectors didn’t see the shot) and retreated to the showers to annex hair product from someone else’s bag. ‘You can take the man out of St James, but you can’t take the boy out of Three Bridges’ quipped Heaven, noting this felony and winning Sledge of the Day. Rebbetts (58) joined Arris (67) to finish the job with only 4 wickets down. It all sounds easier than it felt. If one or two of Eton’s middle order had flourished, and one of ours had stumbled, it might have been a different story. Not that the result seemed to matter as both teams quaffed sociably in Datchet’s Royal Stag. Floreat Etona, Floreat Martlets indeed.
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