Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you the much anticipated sequel to my match report from the Martlets against Hurstpierpoint College fixture at Arundel last year, with this time Hurst welcoming us to their hallowed turf…
Once again, in true Martlets fashion, we arrived via a mixture of modes of transport and interesting wardrobe choices, but all raring to go, looking to go back-to-back in the unofficial ‘Sussex Martlets – Hurstpierpoint College – Match Managed by Reado’ series. A few niceties and introductions later, Hurst won the toss (I say toss very loosely here, after Hurst Coach Jimmy Anyon told me we NEEDED to bat first to make a game of it… sweet) and decided to have a bowl on a deck that looked ‘interesting’. Fair enough. I headed back to the Pav to inform the boys of the good news, thinking I’m already 1-0 up on the day after losing the toss and being asked to bowl first on the M5 at Arundel last year.
Shock horror, one of my opening bats wasn’t even in Hassocks at the time of the toss (Luke Forster). With my stress levels already unnecessarily high, this was followed by a missing umpire, with the match ball, that no one could contact. I could feel my already depleting hairline receding by the second. Not what I wanted on a Monday morning off work. Then shortly before the 11.30 start, both umpire and opening bat appeared from the trees, as if they’d arranged this before hand just to annoy me. And with that, Luke and Redding Barnes, a fellow Stag from Buxted Park on Martlets debut, headed out to the middle to get us under way.
What proceeded to follow, was nothing short of bullying and would have been frowned upon in the school yard. Redding and Luke, with varying styles of batting, set a lovely foundation for us, getting us all the way to 216 before the fall of the first wicket. Luke decided to score the first 20 of his 60 odd runs directly behind the wicket keeper. A tough watch. Redding, scoring a magnificent 138 from 114 balls on debut, once passing 50, decided to dispatch every bowler into next week. One of the Hurst fielders couldn’t take the onslaught anymore and thought heading the ball over the rope for 6 was a good way to get concussion and remove himself from the field of play. A clever plan in theory, but executed poorly with Mr Anyon telling him to carry on.
By the time Redding fell, with us already past the 200 mark, I told the boys we will most likely bat until we reach 300 runs or 50 overs, which ever came first. Luke disregarded that and just decided to play for his average, literally telling me at lunch he is going to be 60 not out when I declare. Brilliantly, he was then bowled. Outstanding karma. Tom Naish came in at 3, having sat with his helmet on for the best part of 2 hours, was adjudged LBW rather harshly. Aussie import Noah Langham got the message from his skip and was stumped trying to speed things along. No shame there sir. Buxted overseas Arslan decided to show everyone how good he is and scored 24 from 10 balls before reverse lapping an off spinner to short third man, somehow. This left myself and Hastings overseas Alex Osbourne at the crease, after thinking no one other than the openers were going to get a bat for a while. After being complimented on my martlets baggy by the Hurst offie when walking out to the middle, with him probably thinking the storm was over, I proceeded to put him back over his head several times. Funny.
Like any good captain, after getting out myself trying to go over over cover, I decided enough was enough and walked off with 296 on the board. Alex was upset with me as I didn’t let him get to double figures at the other end. Grow up. With roughly 10 overs to bowl before the tea interval, big bad opening bowler Isaac Heater opened up with our very own Sam Curran (Chris Pring).
Now. What happened next, I shall never forget. Isaac, first ball of the innings, steams in from the church end, hitting a good length, drawing a false shot from the Hurst opening bat, who guides it off the face of the bat into Naish’s hand behind the stumps. I couldn’t believe my luck, opener gone first ball of the innings in the most village of ways. Well, whilst we were celebrating, the opener does not move, nor does our very own John Bettridge raise the finger. I couldn’t believe it. The whole team distraught, head in hands, tears of pain streaming down Isaac’s face as he’s been denied his first wicket in what feels like months. Alas, the game moves on. Didn’t cost us much in hindsight though as Dominic Heater swiftly cleaned him up with a perfectly executed wrongun. CYA CHAMP.
Before that, Sam Curran, sorry, Chris, bowled unbelievably well up the hill, swinging it both ways. In his 5th over, he found the edge of the other opener, deflecting off the glove of Naish standing up, into the hands of the diving Alex at first slip. An excellent grab. Shortly after that, Chris told me his ‘calf has gone’. How convenient. I chucked the ball to the ever consistent Ben Whelpton, who didn’t take long cleaning up the number 3 with an absolute seed. And with that wicket, we went in for tea, with Hurst 45-3. Spirits very high among the boys.
Heading back out after the interval, we knew we had work to do. Still 35 overs to get through in the dry June evening, with plenty of bowler rotation needed. With Ben bowling unbelievably well, no matter what end I put him at, it allowed me to keep chopping and changing. Rogers, Hurst’s number 4, played a magnificent knock. 145 from 93 balls. With wickets tumbling round him, I genuinely thought he was going to see them home at one point with only 60 needed from the final 10 overs. However… Sam Curran, sorry, Chris, nursing his ‘injury’, hid himself at short fine leg majority of the innings. Rogers, on 145, ramps Ben’s quicker ball with ease. Chris, whilst diving/falling/stumbling, sticks out a big left paw and the ball sticks like glue into his palm a couple of inches off the floor. Absolute bedlam followed. That was the one we needed, a game changing moment from the IPL’s most expensive player ever.
Once Rogers was removed, Ben proceeded to do Ben things and, after some confusion, we realised he had already got a 5-fa and his next wicket was indeed his 6th, not his 5th. Well bowled sir, a wandering captains dream spell of bowling. With one wicket to go for us and 35 runs from 3 overs for the Hurst tail to get, it was set up for a spectacular finish. The inaugural Martlets Women’s fixture across the road had finished and they had flocked to the Pav to get a glimpse of the scenes. Alex, between every ball, was telling me he’s gonna get him out, how he’s gonna get him out and when he’s gonna get him out. This didn’t happen. The brave number 10 and 11 of Hurst did their job, blocking out the final overs, with 10 men around the bat for the bulk of it. A flipper from Alex, missing the off peg by inches, not picked by the number 11, obviously, being the difference between a draw and a 2-0 lead in the ‘Sussex Martlets – Hurstpierpoint College – Match Managed by Reado’ series.
Hand shakes followed, BBQ devoured and beers flowed post game. Some outstanding performances on the day, Redding with his Martlets ton on debut, which some never achieve and Ben Whelpton with the ball on a string for his 6-45 from 16 overs. Bowled Gary.
Thank you all for playing and in excellent spirit too. Alas, the Martlets remain 1-0 in the series and I’m already excited for the fixture back at the castle next year. Special mention to Rogers for one of the most majestic hundreds I’ve ever seen in a game I have been a part of.
As you can tell, it’s been a slow day working from home. Love, Reado x
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