West Chilt played host to the Martlets in the traditional Thursday fixture of their cricket week. Hector Loughton, skippering an 11 combining both youth and experience, got the first job sorted in winning the toss and batting. Joe O’Neill and Loughton opened the batting against a West Chilt side with several familiar faces, but also a swathe of youngsters, one of whom opened the bowling for the hosts.
Martlets found themselves in early trouble, with O’Neill falling in the first over. Nick Beechey soon followed, and after Loughton inexplicably chipped one up to mid off, Martlets were reeling at 49-3. Another flurry of wickets saw Martlets 5 down for 58. Robin Frean counterattacked from 5, adding 28 stylish runs – but his fall on the stroke of lunch saw the Martlets have some food at 99-6.
It was left to Luke Forster and Dom Heater to repair innings and get the Martlets up to a defendable score. Both youngsters batted beautifully and with great intent, taking advantage of the quick outfield and small boundaries to both record their maiden Martlet 50s. Forster was to fall for a fantastic 57, but Heater continued to attack, taking the Martlets beyond 200. Finishing on 64*, Heater guided the Martlets to a final score of 224-8.
Archie Colville and Derek Horsham opened the bowling for the Martlets, with Colville taking a couple of early wickets. But all this did was join the dangerous partnership of Morne Louw and Hugo Gillespie in the middle – the pair must average around 100 each in this fixture! With great class and skill, the pair set about the Martlets bowling, punishing any bad balls. The spin twins of Heater and Forster toiled away with great perseverance, but unfortunately without any success – this included a couple of dropped catches which would prove costly.
Louw deservedly passed his hundred, a flawless innings that included 21 boundaries. Sportingly, he retired on 123. This, combined with the long overdue introduction of Luke Nelson and Alan Newman, threatened to change the game dramatically. Nelson picked up West Chilts’ number 5, whilst Newman snared his first ever Martlets’ wicket against his home club. Suddenly things began to happen! But with Gillespie at the crease, the hosts passed the target five wickets down, with Gillespie finishing on 82*. If only the skipper had introduced Nelson and Newman sooner – what could have been! (An earlier finish?)
As always, a huge thank you to West Chilt. They really are the most hospitable hosts, and put on a great show. The Martlets will be back next year to exact revenge!
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