Sussex Martlets (243 for 6 declared; G Read 58, M Campopiano 50; B Heber 3-54) drew with Junior Martlets (243 for 3; H Moorat 92, D Young 89)
What a day! The weather was remarkable, the cricket of genuine quality and the finish nail-biting. It was, in short, just what makes for a perfect day at Arundel.
As ever the Juniors had had to make one or two late changes but were confident on arrival that this would be “the year”. The manager and the team were at this point utterly unaware that the opening bowler-cum-top-order bat was still in bed in Eastbourne. So it was 15 minutes after the fact was uncovered that Ben Hawkes, who had turned up to watch, found himself opening the bowling in borrowed kit.
Having elected to bat, the Martlet openers, Richard Iago and Marcus Campopiano, made a steady start and the score stood at 37 after the first ten overs. Accurate spells from Joe White, Ben Hawkes and left-armer James Brehaut certainly helped restrict the scoring in these early stages.
Spin then entered the equation and induced misses and edges that didn’t quite go to hand. Jack Troak, the Juniors’ captain, induced false shots with his flighted leg breaks, while the off spin of Ben Heber produced the first wicket of the day as Campopiano got underneath one and popped up a catch after he had completed his half century.
Immediately before lunch Adam Cooper, another very useful off spinner, bowled the other opener so that at the break the score stood at 132 for 2.
George Read continued to quietly compile runs, acting as the sheet anchor while Darryl Rebbetts accelerated until Heber had him caught behind. Shortly afterwards Heber pulled off a fine caught and bowled and Troak bowled the chairman. A very effective pre-declaration flurry came from Ben Canfield and George Read until the latter succumbed after a fine 58. Mark Trubshaw helped take the Martlets to the final total of 243 for six.
The Juniors’ spin attack excited much favourable comment from those around the boundary and I for one particularly enjoyed the Troak gasps of disbelief when each flighted ball didn’t take a wicket!
Now to climb the mountain! A fielding hand injury to Harry Rollings forced him to abdicate from the No 1 spot, while the other opener was presumably still in bed in Eastbourne. So what to do? Harry Moorat and Dan Young found themselves padding up. Moorat, I was told, doesn’t like opening but being a real gent and clearly of stoical disposition accepted his fate with less than a murmur. Young just wasn’t sure after three weeks in Europe on a diet of post-Brexit French cricket.
The reluctant heroes made a pretty good fist of it. After starting gently the strokes began to flow with Harry cutting superbly and driving on the up and Dan enjoying the drive and the leg side. The score stood at 72 at tea after 15 overs.
Twenty overs later Harry was eventually trapped leg-before by Trubshaw for 92 after they had amassed 163 for the first wicket. It was an outstanding partnership.
Twelve overs now remained to gather in the remaining 80 runs. Joe Gilligan, a keeper-batsman of quality, understood his mission, while Young moved to the driving seat. It was still quite an ask at this stage but despite regularly finding the well placed fielders runs continued to flow.
With three and a half overs left Young tried to turn one into two but the desperate slide left him just short of the crease. The score was now 217.Johnny Barclay assured me it was in the bag for the boys: 21 balls and 27 required. And still the runs came. Ross Whyte did his bit, Gilligan carried on. Fielders were still in the way!
One over left, ten to win and a juniors manager in bits on the boundary. Rebbetts to bowl; 2, 1, 1. Six runs required from the final three balls. Another 2 and a single. Three needed fromt the last ball and Rebbetts, the lovely man, bowls a wide. But the final shot of the game doesn’t travel through the outfield far enough. Whyte turned for the suicidal second nevertheless and was duly run out. Scores level; a draw. And people say draws are boring!
What a day, indeed I have nothing but admiration for a fine group of young cricketers who produced one of the finest games of cricket you’d want to see. My thanks to the umpires and scorers and the Arundel authorities for their contribution to the day and giving all present a few hours on one of the most beautiful cricket grounds the world has to offer.
Finally Jack Troak and Joe White made their last appearance for the Juniors after several years of real loyalty. For that I am most grateful, as I am to Jack for his special brand of captaincy, which transforms a group of cricketers into a unit with natural ease.
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