With the Führer’s recent demand (by inference) for longer, better, more articulate and more humorous match reports ringing in his ears, your correspondent suddenly faced a dilemma. Having taken a pre-season pledge not to lampoon Pimblett any more (unless merited) I was suddenly stranded; bereft of good raw material.
In any case, how can one compete with the literary exemplar that is the Vicar of Dean in all of his pomp; now surely worthy of the title, Editor at Large. We look forward to his next epistle with considerable expectation.
Meanwhile, the bucolic backdrop of the Chippenham Park ground provided an ideal setting for a Sunday fixture, complete with the stables’ clock chiming each quarter hour, although, as one sage pointed out, quite at odds with Greenwich Mean Time. The Chipps’ are a friendly but competitive bunch and should never be taken lightly. Indeed, they had a strong side out - no doubt in an attempt to finally put one over on their visitors.
Electing to bowl first skipper Davidson believed the Phillies had the capacity to chase down a decent target. Although, as I search for the right description for the Phillies bowling and fielding, I can only come up with the ‘Curate’s egg’.
Young Turner claimed that he had not kept wicket for ages, and this was soon apparent as he spilt a straight forward chance. But once one of the more venerable members of the team had reminded him that, ‘it’s just like riding a bike’, he pulled off a ‘ripper’ – I think that’s an expression used by Australian cricketers, so please excuse the coarseness.
Not to be outdone in the dropped catches department Coteman, who clearly felt that his skipper was responsible for catching anything flying within half a mile of him, proceeded to misjudge a skier - leaving the ball to fall into no-man’s land. Chippenham batted deep, and giving their stars a second chance was not a good policy. Young Ward batted well for 101 before falling to the dogged Gimson, whilst Van de Peer (Snr) somehow got to 69 before being run out.
The Chippenham skipper clearly thought it was a three day game as he continued to call for new batsmen as wickets began to tumble, without adding much to a score-line that was already looking formidable. As this was going on Heggars tempted Ratley with a long hop that was pulled lethargically to mid-wicket where Rutt took a fine tumbling catch. Gimson finished with a respectable 3 for 56 as the declaration finally came at 266 for 6, and tea, always a treasured feature of this fixture, became the sole focus for all twenty two players.
The Führer had arrived mid-way through the Chippenham innings to discover that a gazebo had been erected in his honour. He managed to occupy the ornate structure, regally holding court for some time, before a group of determined locals, and several dogs, reclaimed the space citing an ancient feudal law.
After a predictably satisfying Chippenham Park tea, which always slows down the pace of the cricket a tad, the Phillies’ response began at a respectable strike rate. The plundering approach of Gill offered hope of having a good tilt at the total but he was soon to join Dodson and Dillon back in the hutch with the score still at a paltry 42. The debutant, Cox, carried out some excellent repair work, supported by a brief cameo from Turner.
There was little more to report of the next passage of play apart from Cox’s continued determination, but when he was out with his score on 49 the writing appeared to be on the (pavilion) wall. The loss of another couple of wickets brought skipper Davidson to the crease. Meanwhile, a schoolboy tiff blew up between the ubiquitous Pimblett (who had kindly turned up to score) and the fresh-faced Gill. The cause of the dispute? Well, it was naturally about whether the remaining twenty overs should be counted down or up on the scoreboard. Neither side would give way, much to the distraction of Coteman who was fiddling nervously with the straps on his pads as he waited for the next wicket to fall. And fall it did.
Still 130 runs shy of the target, Coteman joined his captain who, during the first available mid pitch discussion, growled, “I want to draw this game!” With just over thirteen overs left, and only Stephens left to bat, it seemed like a tall order.
For over forty minutes the home side deployed all resources at their disposal – quick bowling, quicker bowling, slow stuff, and some tempting rubbish. Chippenham must have thought their time had come, but Davidson and Coteman were having none of it and saw the Phillies through to an unlikely draw.
Chippenham - 266 for 6 declared
Philanderers - 150 for 8
A perfect illustration of that wonderful English invention - an exciting draw. An heroic act of resistance from young Captain Davidson and the vastly experienced Coteman ensured that the unbeaten run continues. I must admit to a modest feeling of pride as the two heroes ambled nonchalantly towards the boundary edge at the close of play. The Fuhrer
Rory being congratulated by his Granny following his heroics with the bat