On a glorious sunny day at Arundel, both sides gathered for a fixture billed as the Sussex Martlets v Western Sussex XI. This fixture could easily have been billed as a Chairman’s XI v Past Chairman’s XI, as the respective captains were present Martlets’ Chairman Stuart Ritchie and Past Chairman John “Ashers” Ashworth. Furthermore, there were mutterings about the Western Sussex XI were really a Rest of the World XI, with several tourists from the Indian continent taking part of their English holiday at Arundel that day.
Ashers won the toss and decided to bat. Mark Chapple, one of a number of renegade Martlets to appear for Ashers, opened with Nikhil Gover, one of the Delhi tourists now playing as the overseas player for Weybridge Vandals. Gover was the first to fall, feathering a fine catch to Jeremy Bushell behind the stumps. Chapple was next to return to the pavilion. An excellent 35 ensued, but in the final over of his innings, the first ball clattered back over the bowler’s head for four was to be met next ball with the middle stump firmly pegged back.
This period of play before lunch was remarked on as one of the finest periods of bowling at Arundel by the players present with Matt Stone from the Castle End and David Twine from the Park End keeping the batters honest and restricting our opponents to under 100 runs at lunch on a pitch with a very fast outfield.
Conviviality over, play resumed with Derek “Degsy” Horsham from the Park End and Steven Rae from the Castle End. The play opened up and our opponents scored more freely after lunch, but with the occasional setback. David Twine took the wicket of Erange Rathnahake with an excellent catch at gully by candidate Mark Ratcliffe. Derek Horsham pegged back the middle stump of Kushan Harjai, but only after he scored his maiden 50 at Arundel. Pick of the opposition batters was Dan Weigl, who was 71 not out in a most controlled batting display. Ashers generously declared after receiving 45 overs just after 3pm.
Opening the batting for the Martlets was Sam Carter and candidate Steven Rae. Much was expected from Carter, who the day before had scored a century for Newick. Steven Rae had an Arundel average of over 100 from his opening appearance for the Martlets last year.
Second ball up, Carter was out! Triggered by the umpire with a ball hitting the knee-roll, Carter was awarded his Equity card by Degsy for his trudging back to the pavilion where great protestations as to his innocence were made, notwithstanding that most players would be happy with a weekend average of more than 50. Steven Rae started his accumulation of runs with a number of partners including Junior Martlet Toby Pullen with a useful 25, under-23 player Jeremy Bushell with a 40, watched on by both his father and grandfather, and finally David Twine who accumulated a chanceless 30. All the while, Rae continued and finished not out on 125 – the best strike of the day being a six over cover into the banking at the Park End. The pick of the bowlers was Erange Rathnahake with three for 54 and in a moment of Chichester schools cricket irony, Ashers took the wicket of our own fixtures secretary, Craig Talbot.
With the last five or so overs of the day coming into sight, the Martlets needed a run-a-ball for victory, which was secured by a drive to long on by Rae for four at the end of the penultimate over.
It was an excellent day’s cricket at Arundel by two competitive sides who played the game the right way.
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