Sussex Martlets 191 for 7 (40 overs match)
The Sussex Martlets suffered the narrowest of defeats in the lee of the historic Cowdray Ruins in a dramatic finale to this 40 over game played in the finest of spirits.
With novice Martlet Match Manager West causing consternation in the ranks at his ability (or lack of!) in the pre-match formalities, the Martlets were forced to take to the field on another hot afternoon. Peter Hartland and guest Adrian Sharp opened proceeding bowling tight lines, and Sharp quickly removed the dangerous Tom Atkins early on. Thereafter, Tom’s younger brother George and Midhurst veteran Stephen May dispatched anything loose and played aggressively to increase the scoring rate substantially. First changes Willie Bicket and Paul Walker had little luck in staunching the flows of runs, although Walker in particular found to his frustration that the regular stream of aerial shots his bowling induced tended to err to field positions left unguarded by his skipper.
It was the introduction of Alex Wingfield-Digby who made a welcome breakthrough with the game looked to be heading away from the visitors when he had May caught behind by Simon Warrender to break a stand of 129.
The score accelerated further, and the Martlets recalled opening bowler Hartland. With son Ian coming on at the other end to replace Wingfield-Digby with his lively seamers, wickets suddenly came. Phillip Ellwood then got in on the act with his ‘mystery ball’ when he replaced Hartland senior (whose allocation was spent), the home side subsided completely. The Martlets by their persistence had turned an unpromising 135-1 into 193 all out at tea, Ian Hartland taking a critical 22-4.
Both sides were joyed to see Peter Collymore, a distinguished past player for both clubs, arrive at The Ruins to spectate on affairs soon after the resumption. He saw the Martlets survive an early wicket to consolidate via a fine partnership between Wingfield-Digby and Ellwood which advanced the score to 73 before the former fell after a knock that contained some lovely shotplay. During this period, Midhurst captain Sean Kearney was a sad departure from the fray with injury, to be replaced by the young Midhurst scorer. Peter Hartland and Ellwood then combined in a judicious partnership of 58 before the substitute starred in the field by taking a great catch in the deep to end Ellwood’s innings.
Despite the Martlets having wickets in hand, runs were at a premium, and the tension increased as Hartland and Sharp added 43 more to leave the score at 174 part way through the 37th over when Sharp fell to a run out. This stand included five penalty runs during a truly memorable spell of four overs from the home side’s Mark Kemp during which he seemingly recovered from a bad injury to bowl better after the event!
With the wandering side unable to truly conquer the scoring rate in the next two overs, the equation when the final set of six began was that the Martlets were five down needing six to win, but knowing that the miserly Midhurst opening bowler Julian Goodale was to send down his wobblers. What followed was pure theatre, with the next five deliveries containing a two, a single, the run out of the unlucky Alan Newman (truly a victim of the circumstances) and two ‘dot balls’. And so the last ball of the 80 overs saw three required for a win, two for a tie with the result ultimately settled in the favour of the hosts by Goodale’s unerring wicket-taking yorker.
Post match banter of the most convivial nature duly ensued, and there is no doubt that the participants will be thumbing through their gleaming fixture cards next Spring to ink in the date of the next renewal of a fixture that has provided regular drama in recent times.
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