This game is traditionally one of, if not the standout cricket fixtures of the English summer. For anyone present on this sunny afternoon this match will live long in the memory. Forget 2005, forget 2009…..this was nail-biting, top quality cricket. Well, it was certainly nail-biting and it was cricket.
There were numerous occasions, almost too many to mention (but this witness will try) when even the clanking construction of the City of the Festival of Speed fell silent. Those lucky workers, atop of cranes and grandstands gasped at the sight of John Ashworth`s diving left handed slip catch which removed the Aussie pro off Horsham. They downed tools and looked on transfixed, as a remarkable last wicket partnership between Ashworth and the skipper breathed life into an innings which had been heading towards catastrophe. When Lord March himself leant out of his bedroom window (apparently) to order his workers back to their toils, he too was spellbound by the drama unfolding in the far corner of his lawn.
The tension began at the toss. Derek Horsham and Joe Waylett were late. It was rumoured that children had been forgotten in a hostelry en route and a U-turn of Cameronesque proportions had been required. But another child came to the rescue. Harry Walker (7), the finest player in his family, won the toss and we batted. The opposition were persuaded into a timed format, rather than their preferred 40 overs. This was a masterstoke….by Harry.
The very first ball was something of a wake-up call. Unsportingly Goodwood insisted that the “mulligan” rule was not to apply and The Treasurer returned to the picturesque pavilion bemused. An unplayable ball had popped up, stayed low…or words to that effect. In went young Louis Ramsey and he and Mark Chapple steadied the ship somewhat.
Chapple deserved more than his 20 and Ramsey was unlucky to only score 9. Joe Waylett (who had arrived with Dexey and the children at long last) looked solid, despite the scorebook recording he was stumped for a duck. Jason Galley, making his Martlet`s debut, was given out LBW, controversially perhaps, by another debutant, Mr KC Lee, the umpire. The Skip, who had done his homework on the match official, had also given a Martlet debut to Martin Allen, football manager (association rather than rugger….which our Chairman worked out 22 overs into their bonding in the slip cordon) and media pundit. Martin had been Mr Lee`s hero at Upton Park when playing for the umpire`s beloved West Ham. If only Galley had donned the claret and blue rather than irritatingly keeping the skipper out of their Knaresborough school team, he may have avoided his golden duck.
No such misfortune was to befall our other guest, who struck a few lusty blows which fell just short of the boundary. Will Rydon was the victim of another debatable LBW and it was only an attractive innings of 32 from Craig Talbot that got the Martlets to 124-9 when Walker senior strode out for his customary Goodwood batting disaster. It was difficult to determine who was more surprised ; Walker, his team or the opposition, when he and Ashworth declared 50 runs later on a much more respectable 174-9.
Tea was enjoyed under the Cedars and the workmen made the most of the break to actually get some building done. The hard hats were being shaken in disbelief 20 minutes into the reply as Goodwood collapsed to 14-5. Horsham and Ramsey had done the damage in fine style.
Panic gripped the Martlets as the prospect of an early return home to Countyfile and the children`s homework spread through the ranks. Yet the Skip had the answer! Shortly after bringing himself on Goodwood sprang back to life. The 6th wicket fell some 132 runs later!
Waylett bowled a tidy 4 overs and conceded only 3 runs. Allen`s 4 overs cost only 14 and surprisingly no LBWs, despite wonderfully histrionic appealing. Perhaps Mr Lee was entering into the spirit….Mr Galley certainly was, as his 3 overs went for 35. However, this meant the game was becoming an epic. When Will Gammon was finally bowled by Chapple for 86 the tide began to turn. A run-out – was it really a direct hit by Chapple or did cheeky Will Rydon somehow interfere with the bails from behind the stumps and did the batsman make his ground? Thank goodness it was the opposition`s umpire who slowly raised his finger.
An LBW to Chapple and a fine catch by Waylett off Horsham meant a Shakespearean climax. Goodwood still required 15 as Johnny Heaven entered the fray. The Martlets had given it everything. Fantastic team spirit and a dogged determination. Yet it was not quite enough. Heaven dispatched Horsham for 2 emphatic 6s over the pavilion and the dream was over.
At the risk of upsetting that great cricket fan Alf Tennyson – “Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”.
And one thing was sure, as we supped our Coronas with the victors on a beautiful sunlit evening at that most gorgeous of grounds, we all loved cricket that happy day.
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