Skipper’s six-fer saves day in Miracle of Mill Road
Sussex Martlets 302-4 (46 overs); Raut 146, Hasted 85, Cooper 51
West Chiltington and Thakeham 300 (48.5 overs); Louw 120, Batra 58; Loughton 6-90, Raut 3-50
The picturesque ground of West Chiltington played host to the Martlets on Thursday. Skipper Hector Loughton had picked one of the strongest batting line-ups seen by the Martlets, with genuine batsmen down to 11. It came as no surprise when the skipper won the toss and had a bat on a beauty of a pitch.
Out strode the Martlets duo of Ben Pullan and Jack Cooper to take on the very youthful looking West Chilts team. The opening bowlers set about the task with great accuracy, but the pitch allowed for no error, and Pullan and Cooper capitalised until Pullan decided he didn’t fancy batting on the road and chipped up to extra cover. In came Simon Hasted, who quickly hit his stride, capitalising on anything short. Twin spin from the hosts did little to stem the run flow, as Cooper progressed merrily on his way to a debut 50. But, having reached 50, Cooper was then bowled by the off-spin of Hugo Gillespie.
In strode Abi Raut to join his Chichester teammate. Raut continued the rapid progress of the Martlets, quickly catching up with Hasted at the other end, saving particular brutality for the spinners. Martlets lunched happy at a smidge under 200, with Hasted unbeaten on 83 and Raut 67.
The carnage continued after lunch as Raut tucked in, hitting successive boundaries to join Hasted in the 80s. Having been told to get to his ton and then progress from there, Hasted duly ignored the skipper and holed out on 85.
Olly Bradley, itchy from the pad rash, walked to the crease to witness Raut hit a fine and rapid ton. But Raut didn’t stop there. His next 46 runs came at their brutal best as Raut flayed the home bowlers to all parts of the ground. Bradley wisely decided to watch and have a net. Raut eventually fell on 146, caught on the boundary off a rank full bunger seeking the 150. At this point the skipper had seen enough, bringing the innings to a close (despite great protestations of the team) at an eye-watering 302-4 off just 46 overs.
It quickly became apparent that 302 may not be enough. Having banked entirely on Jano Moller to tear through the top order with the new pill, Moller unfortunately pulled up after one ball with a groin injury. George Read replaced him, with Peter Lamb (yes that renowned opening batsman) taking the new ball from the other end.
Both seamers could count themselves unlucky, as both West Chilts openers, Morne Louw and Sanchit Batra, were dropped. The openers certainly took their lives fully, as they capitalised on anything off line or length. Panic began to set in as both passed 50. The part-time off-spin of the skipper was fodder for the batsmen, but generously Batra decided to top-edge one to short fine for Read to take a fine catch.
Gillespie joined Louw and continued to feast on the Martlets’ offerings, especially on a wayward over from Bradley. Raut (despite the skipper having no intention to bowl him) was called to bring some control, but he also found himself on the end of some fine shots. Raut eventually removed Gillespie for a fine 35, bringing the opposition captain, Reuben Taylor to the crease. West Chilts sat pretty at tea, just two down and cruising to victory.
Post-tea, Lamb was reintroduced to the attack and deservedly picked up the wicket of Taylor. But with the score on 224, and Louw looking set to bring up a century, hope for a Martlets’ victory was rapidly diminishing. Louw completed a fine century and looked to have found further support in the form of the No 5, Theo Trevelyan-Clark.
The reintroduction of Raut and Loughton, this time bowling at the different ends to earlier, somehow brought about a collapse of epic proportions. Raut had Trevelyan-Clark caught before the next over, Loughton had Louw caught well at long-off by Hasted for a fine 120, with the score of 275. Two balls later, Loughton picked up another with the rankest of long-hops that the batsman duly stuck down Lamb’s throat at deep square.
Raut and Loughton sensed blood, picking up three wickets between them with the score on 298 and 299. In strode a nervous-looking No 11, clearly not expecting to bat. No 6, Alfie Batchelor, had watched the carnage unfold from the other end, and it was clear he was the one to win it.
Raut bowled a very tight penultimate over, restricting the runs and ensuring Loughton had a several balls at No 11. On the fifth ball of the over, the skipper snuck one through to bowl the No 11 to complete a famous victory for the Martlets by just two runs.
A brilliant advert for cricket played in the correct spirit at a wonderful club.
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