The Sussex coast on an August Friday morning does not have a lot to recommend it to the drivers of motor vehicles. The infamous A27/M27 is designed to get anyone looking for the perfect day off on the wrong foot. Temperatures rise. Am I going to be late? Yes, quite probably, if you did not set off at dawn.
But sooner or later you drive in through those gates and the world becomes a better place. The sky is blue, not a cloud in sight, the square looks an immaculate green, the backdrop with the Duke’s flag fluttering from the battlements is magnificent AND there is not a sound associated with 21st century frenetic living.
Looking around, the curtain-raiser contest has already started. Which side can muster a full eleven first? The juniors are ahead on points already; maybe helped by the fact that, for a change, this event is not on the day after the A Level results and subsequent celebrations.
The match manager’s phone rings. Trubby. (Is that his alarm clock in the background?) He is twenty minutes away. (Really??)
Michael Murray and Jo Gilligan toss anyway and Jo calls incorrectly. Michael, noting out of the corner of one eye the arrival of Campo, elects to bat first.
The opening pair had some initial problems with ball recognition, and it did indeed pass the outside edge a few times, but they soon came to terms with the Junior opening attack and progressed the score to 89. By this time lunch was in sight and both openers succumbed to the thought of it, Marcus Campopiano for 50 and Richard Iago for 43.
There was, as ever, an excellent turn-out of Vice-Presidents for lunch, the most senior of whom being Hubert Doggart, Keith Jenkin and Brian O’Gorman. Stuart Ritchie proposed a toast to our President, Chris Snell who recently celebrated his 75th birthday.
It was a great treat to see Martin Bodenham back at Arundel for a Martlets match. Unfortunately, he was conflicted, as he was also umpiring and thus unable to partake in the rather longer lunch “hour” enjoyed by the reminiscing older statesmen of the Club.
After lunch the Martlets moved steadily, if unspectacularly, towards a declaration. Good contributions were made by George Read (58) Darryl Rebbetts (24) and Ben Canfield (34*). Captain Murray called a halt with the score on 245-6, after some 54 overs.
Normally, the Martlets manage to make relatively early in-roads into the Juniors’ batting line-up, but this year’s team had clearly not read the script. The opening partnership of Dan Young and Harry Moorat put on 163 for the first wicket. It was an excellent partnership, only slightly aided by Trubby’s clutching himself rather than the ball, when a rare chance was offered.
Michael Murray switched his bowlers with his usual skill, but such was the confidence of the Juniors that his best chance of getting wicket looked as if it might be from run-outs, and indeed that was the case: two of the three wickets captured were run-outs.
Nonetheless, the team fought all the way to the end with some good ground fielding. Darryl Rebbetts bowled the final over, with the Juniors requiring ten to post a famous victory. He seemed to have matters well in hand conceding seven runs from the first five deliveries.
At this point money must surely have changed hands, because what should have been the final ball was a wide. Or maybe Darryl just loves living on the edge? Either way two runs were needed off the seventh ball.
Reading the situation perfectly, the captain made sure he was handily placed at shortish 3rd man to return the ball before the second run could be completed. Match drawn with the scores tied.
How much longer can John Bettridge wait for a victory in this match, before the heart gives out?
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