Strollers go 'ever so goosey' in the rain with victory at Chippers
posted: August 9, 2021
The Strollers yesterday recorded a rare victory at Chippenham (only our third in 25 years!) and our sixth successive win as our fine form of late continued. As has too often been the case recently, we were sadly unable to muster a full XI – this time there were only eight of us on hand – but thanks to the oppo's generosity we were able to get the game on, Chippers kindly lending us a couple of fielders and allowing our two lowest scoring batsmen to bat twice.
In turn, Abhik made a gentleman's agreement that Chippenham could bat first, a decision that would soon haunt the oppo. Fancying a go himself, the skipper opened the bowling with Varun and was immediately rewarded with the prize wicket of star player Charlie Rattley who unluckily played on without scoring. Abhik followed this up with the cheap dismissals of O'Neill and Collinson – the latter well taken by the Kitten who held on to a sharp snick behind. When Varun had Abdullah trapped LBW Chippenham were four down for just 24 and we pinched ourselves in disbelief.
With many of the regular Chippenham faces absent due to an over 50s match being played that same afternoon, it was down to Reeks Snr to steady their ship – and this he managed somewhat despite the loss of Qumar who, having hit one huge six over long off, was then trapped LBW by Spencer who had come on at first change.
It was only when Harry Grant (Chippers' skipper for the day) came to the middle that our demolition job stalled. Playing watchfully with Reeks, Grant dug in until drinks, at which point the heavens opened for the first of three interruptions for rain, which threatened to intervene all afternoon. After a 20 minute delay we were back on for an attritional passage of play which saw no quarter offered by either side – our efforts boosted hugely by Chippenham's opener Mark O'Neill, now fielding for us at deep cover and keenly throwing himself headlong at anything that threatened the boundary (one quivers at the thought of his laundry bill).
Heavier rain then followed so we were off again for another break but after the resumption, Chippenham decided to get a wriggle on and began striking the ball cleanly around the park as they passed the hundred mark. Reeks made it to a well-earned half century before he gamely retired to make way for his young son Jack who, having hit a couple, survived a near return catch to Spencer (a bump ball) only to be bowled the next delivery. Nevertheless, Grant – having also made it past fifty – ploughed on until sportingly declaring on 167-6.
With the legendary Chippenham tea still sadly not on offer (hopefully the last Covid hangover we have to endure) it was up to us to bring our own refreshments and we happily enjoyed a bountiful selection of cakes kindly brought by Dickie, Spencer and Gav's other half Dana who had baked a splendid lime sponge for the occasion. Additionally, we were treated to a delightful musical accompaniment over tea courtesy of Dickie's vintage wind-up gramophone, with the strains of 'Ever So Goosey' and 'Every Inch A Sailor' blissfully wafting over the ground.
Having supped to their satisfaction, our openers strode out to the middle to resume hostilites. With the Chippenham seamers typically on target from the get go, Gav and Davie stoically defended the first few overs seeing themselves in nicely before unleashing some well struck boundaries – the Kitten playing some attractive strokes to the offside whilst Gav opened his account with a powerful on drive.
All seemed to be going smoothly until, with almost fifty on the board, Charlie was brought on at first change and got through Gav's defences with one that nipped up off the pitch to clip his off bail. Davie, having played nicely on his way to 27 was Charlie's next victim when he edged to gully and when Spencer was then run out for just 2 we worried that the modest target of 168 may yet be beyond us.
The final 20 overs was signalled shortly after 6pm and with 118 still needed we needed to relight the touch paper. Thankfully Harry, batting with his old man at the other end, managed to get our progress underway again with some typical big hitting at the expense of young Jack. George supported Harry well and got in on the act with a glorious cover drive to the long boundary by the pavilion. Unfortunately, having hit 13, he was stopped in his tracks when Jack cannily pitched in a faster delivery which skidded under the bat.
Varun was next in and joined Harry with some stylish strokeplay which took us past the hundred mark until Brown Jnr was expertly caught at deep midwicket for 40. Dickie – happily making his first appearance of the season having sustained a broken finger earlier in the year – marched out to the middle but once again the dark clouds above burst and the covers were hurriedly brought on as the ground was drenched by the strongest downpour of the day.
After some pointed discussion about whether or not we should call it a day, we eventually resumed at 7.15pm with the rain thankfully easing off. Dickie farmed the strike cleverly allowing Varun to continue where we had left off as he took us to within twenty runs of victory until Charlie, now bowling spin, was reintroduced and yorked him for a well made 38. This meant we had used up all our personnel but with Chippers gamely allowing our two lowest scorers to return, Spencer strode out for an encore – surely the ideal candidate to take us over the line. Alas, having hit one powerful off drive for four and with just three now required for victory in the penultimate over the Spengali skied one to cover where Abdullah held on.
With nerves now fraying Abhik returned as our last man for the final over and Dickie, who had kept our momentum up nicely with some smart running between the wickets, nabbed a single to offer the skipper the strike, leveling the scores. And ultimately what had been a highly absorbing contest finally came to an end when Grant overstepped, handing us victory with a no ball.
After a long rain-interrupted day we marched off and, in customary fashion, we made our way directly to The Tharp to celebrate that rarest of accomplishments... victory at Chippers. Thanks as always must go to our magnanimous hosts whose sporting declaration and keen efforts aiding us in the field (again, apologies to whoever does Mark's laundry for the immense grass stains) made it another great game. We'll look forward to next year's clash and, with any luck, the accompanying tea with relish.