Juniors take rare victory in last-over thriller
Sussex Martlets 219-6 (50 overs): T Haynes 46, G Read 45*; N Cooper 3-46, A Bushell 2-32
Junior Martlets 220-5 (47.4 overs): T Shepperson 93, J Willis 49; M Trubshaw 2-16
For a long time, the annual Martlets v Junior Martlets match has been an enjoyable but predictable affair. The senior team would bat first, rack up enough runs to take control of the game and then — like cats with mice — toy with with the juniors until administering the final killer blow some time in the final 20 overs.
No reason, then, to think that this year would be any different. The seniors were a strong team, as usual. Arundel was flat, as usual. And the seniors were to bat first, as usual.
Not long into the first innings, however, it became clear that this match would be anything but predictable. And come the extraordinary final over of the game, some seven hours later, three results were still possible – but a victory for the senior team wasn’t one of them.
Toby Shepperson should take most of the credit for a superb win for the junior side — his innings of 93 anchoring his team’s successful chase, but this was a match in which almost every junior player contributed to the victory.
For the seniors, the problems started in the first inning when no batsmen took advantage of the placid batting conditions. The only significant partnership in the innings was between Morne Louw (37) and Tom Haynes (46) for the first wicket. Thereafter, the juniors struck regularly, with only George Read (45*) making a satisfactory contribution.
Junior captain Nathan Cooper took three for 46, and there were two wickets apiece for Alex Bushell, who dismissed both openers, and Bertie Foreman, who took the prized scalps of captain Darryl Rebbetts and Olly Bradley.
Although all junior bowlers bowled well, the senior side’s disappointing total of 219 for 6, before a declaration after 50 overs, probably owed more to poor batting. The older Martlets team are supposed to be the more disciplined of the two sides, but this trait was not often in evidence.
Nevertheless, chasing 220 to win was to be no easy task against an experienced bowling attack. Nobody seemed to have told that to Shepperson though. Opening the batting with Anish Padalkar (41), the pair not only saw off the new ball attack of Josh Burrows and Ben Davies but scored enough runs while doing so that the required rate never got out of hand.
Padalhar was bowled by Rebbetts and No 3 Harry Moorat caught off the bowling of Read, but Shepperson and No 4 Joe Willis (49) made sure they took advantage of the batting conditions that the opposition had spurned. There was little swing, no seam movement and even when Shepperson was run out, he was very generously called back to the crease by the fielder, Jonathan Wills, who believed that he had unfairly obstructed the batsmen from running between the wickets. While priding themselves on playing the right way, the senior side would come to regret this act of charity.
Really, the Junior victory should never have been in doubt, but a lack of experience almost cost the younger side, and set up a grandstand finish.
Offspinner Mark Trubshaw was brought into the attack and the field brought up into the ring for what should have been the game’s death throes. Shepperson continued to hunt boundaries, however, and paid the price when he was caught by Read, falling seven short of his century. At this point, the juniors required another 45 to win from the remaining nine overs: an equation that meant the senior side weren’t dead and buried just yet.
Somehow — and junior captain Cooper must still wonder how — with two overs remaining and the scores level, the juniors not only batted out a maiden but lost a wicket when Willis tried to score the winning runs (and reach his own half century) by heaving Trubshaw into the leg side only to be caught at midwicket by a tumbling Burrows.
One run still required, with one over remaining. Easy enough in theory, but try telling that to a batsman Alex Bushell who was faced with a claustrophobic field and the accurate offspin of Haynes. After three dot balls, Bushell panicked and attempted a single that existed only in his imagination, running out his partner Charlie Tear and getting himself off strike in the process.
Two balls remaining and a new batsman, Foreman, at the crease. Haynes fired the ball into leg stump and may well have elicited another dot ball had Foreman’s shot found the middle of the bat. Instead the ball took a thick inside edge and allowed the juniors to scramble the one run they needed to secure a five-wicket victory, with just two balls to spare.
So much for predictable.
In his speech to the players and vice presidents at lunch, club president Brian O’Gorman had spoken briefly about the long and happy history of the juniors Martlets, recalling his own playing days. Rarely in that long history will a game have finished as entertainingly as this one did.
For the senior side, the consolation is that the future of Martlets looks bright indeed.
Go back to all fixtures in 2019
For detailed information on each venue, please visit our Venues page