Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you the match report from last Tuesday at the castle against Hurstpierpoint College…
We arrived in dribs and drabs around the 10.30 mark to find the Hurst boys had been warming up for, judging by their levels of sweat, the past 7 hours, looking rather keen and eager to get one over on the mighty Martlets.
The day couldn’t have started in worse fashion. Losing the toss and being asked to field on what can only be described as the flattest deck Sussex has ever seen in early May. A few questionable looks and eyebrows were raised in my direction by my own team mates (understandable), knowing full well I had one job and one job only. Nevertheless, we got changed and headed out.
Due to a few line up changes and limited replacements available in the build up to the game, in true Martlets fashion, it worked out we had a team consisting of 9 top order batsman and no genuine wicketkeeper, making the loss of the toss even more painful.
Myself and Martlets debutant Isaac Heater opened up proceedings, toiling away to no prevail at both ends. Issac was incredibly unlucky to not have picked up any reward for his 11 overs of genuine quick bowling, with a few missed chances going begging. I myself was hit for the largest 6 I’ve ever seen in amateur cricket, with the ball later being retrieved from the Black Rabbit beer garden (marginal exaggeration for dramatic effect). Was then firmly reminded by their opening bat I am very much ‘pedestrian’. We move.
Dominic Heater and Omkar Khot were bought into the attack, slowing things down nicely, extracting a little more from the deck than the seamer’s, with Dom getting the long due breakthrough, cleaning up the left handed opener. In came the Hurst skipper, Bertie. What happened next cannot be done justice by words. To change things up, on comes Ryan Trotter, nursing several injuries/excuses. Ryan’s first ball, a loopy full toss on leg stump, was nailed straight down Tom’s throat at deep square, the only man out on the leg side. Inspired captaincy or sheer luck, decide that amongst yourselves. The rest of the over did not disappoint either. In amongst a couple of half decent balls that actually bounced, Ryan, without really saying a word, was living rent free in the well set openers head, with both bats now fighting their inner demons to not get out to this dross before the lunch break. Many a false shot was drawn, many an ‘oooh’ and ‘aaaah’’ from the 12 die hard martlets fans flocking the bank. A wicket maiden over that could have gone for 20 any other day. Annoyingly, both men survived.
After being stuffed like a turkey on Christmas Day by the Arundel catering team at lunch, we headed back out, with talks of another hour or so before a declaration was called. After Ryan’s moments of magic in the first session, the only other real highlight from the second was Jordan Rory Shaw forcing 19 year old Luke Forster to keep so he could steam in and show off just how fast he is. Given the urgent need for wickets, I wasn’t gonna say, no was I? Jordy did get his token wicket, a brilliant catch by Tom again in the deep. Hector Loughton also reminded me he has a Martlets 5-fa rather late in the day and so proceeded to send an off peg cart wheeling. Thank mate.
After all that, the 4 wickets were dotted around nicely, with all bowlers putting in a real shift and some excellent fielding at times too. A special mention to Joe Willis who hit a magnificent run a ball, chance-less, 123 for the college. Hurst declared after only 48 overs with 280 on the board. A few men were rather down beat at the site of chasing such a score, however, I knew this match was very much in our favour…
Out went Jordan and Hector up top. Hector on the wrong end of a very questionable LBW decision early doors after setting off like a house on fire. Nick Beechey soon followed, which bought Chichester overseas Tom to the crease. Jordan and Tom then put on over 100 in no time at all, hitting the ball so cleanly. Jordan fell for a very typical Jordan style 50. However, David Pugh rolled back the years with a very eye catching 30 odd, while Tom kept going at the other end. David fell, bringing myself to the crease, who made everyone laugh when, to avoid being stumped, pulled off a rabona Neymar would have been proud of (over 20K views on TikTok now, you’re welcome). I was later referred to as ‘Payet’ for the rest of my innings by the oppo.
Funnily enough, eventually I was stumped. Luke soon followed me back to the hutch after unluckily one kept rather low on him. This then bought the mother of all finishers in Omkar to the crease. After starting steadily, nudging around to get Tom back on strike, edging closer to his hundred, Omkar unleashed a monster bomb down the ground off Bertie, who suffered even more headloss at his own team mates. Very enjoyable to watch.
Without anyone really breaking a sweat, the target was in site. Down to a run a ball with only 6 overs to go. Tom, the man of the hour, who some would argue is a like for like replacement for John Ashworth, got down on 1 knee and swept their spinner for a one bounce 4, bringing up his ton. A truly incredible knock from a man who is still only 19, but looks old enough to be Luke’s dad. Chichester have got a fantastic player on their hands.
With only 3 needed to win, Tom fell, trying to end it in some style. This left Omkar to guide a drive backward of point away for 4 to get the Martlets over the line with an over to spare. I was very quick to remind everyone I backed us at half way, like any good captain would.
As debut matches go for a match manager, that really couldn’t have gone much better. My team of champions were all immense and I would love to have you all back at their place next year.
Man of the match, undoubtably Tom for his innings.
Special mention to Ryan as well, for refusing to hide himself in the field, despite his injuries, and then proceeded to get absolutely peppered at cover. Brilliant entertainment.
Thank you all, love, Ready x
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