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The Philanderers v Gumley, Sunday 15th September at Exning Park

A new venue and new opposition as we welcomed touring side Gumley CC from Leicestershire to the picturesque venue of Exning Park, nestled within the Lackford Hundred of West Suffolk. Exning is reported to be the historic capital of the ancient Iceni tribe and the home of Queen Boudicca from where she launched her failed uprising against the invasion forces of the Roman Empire in AD60. Could the chosen cohort of Philanderers troops repel the invasion from South Leicestershire and secure the unbeaten record for another year?

We arrived in bright sunshine to see the opposition, adorned in salmon pink tour shirts (sponsored by King Power), taking a walk around the parched outfield and endeavouring to rid themselves of the previous night’s excesses. Fearing a long stint in the field under the strength of the Suffolk sun, they won the toss and chose to bat, much to the chagrin of captain Pearson Snr. Jonah Munday opened from the house end (with the herd of nonchalant ruminating cows behind) partnered by the languid Finn Karsten from the pavilion end, and with both taking a distinct liking to the middle third of the pitch the square/third man boundaries took a bit of a peppering as did the torso of yours truly who decided to use the chest rather than hands to stop another boundary. Following 5 overs, and a Pimblett miss at slip, a regulation catch that he didn’t even lay a hand on, the captain decided enough was enough and turned to George D. George would have opened the bowling but arrived slightly late having forgotten to remove his pinafore following tea preparation. Immediate success as their opener was caught by Ed P at short mid-off and next over Jonah found his length sending the lefthanders off stump cartwheeling back to the obvious consternation of keeper and slips!! What then followed was of Laker and Lock proportions with Messers Pimblett (language Timothy from the skipper!!) and Dean bowling in tandem, followed by an Emburey-like Ragnauth replacing George who had to rush off to put the kettle on/cut the crusts off the sarnies. A combined 22.4 overs yielded 8 for 89 with George returning to take the last 2 wickets and finish with 5-30. David and Mel both bowled through their 8 over allocations with Pimblett recording a wicket maiden and not one boundary!! Words fail to adequately describe his spell although there were mutterings from the kitchen that it totally demerited his 5-for!! Fielding was a bit of a curate’s egg but included a very decadent, some may say disdainful, one handed pluck out of the air by Ed P and special mention to Nick Cox, taking the keepers gloves for the first time in Philanderers pink, for generously perfecting the art of deflecting catches to his fellow slips, sadly only Jonah Munday taking up the kind offer following several despairing attempts by Mr P.

Gumley’s innings closed at 148 and we retired to the pavilion for a sumptuous tea prepared by Mr Dean. Sadly the lack of adequate fenestration, a pavilion design much maligned by our resident architectural practice (Pimblett & Associates), did not allow a decent picture to be taken but suffice to say it was a feast. Mountains of sandwiches including cheese & pickle, ham & whole grain mustard, and tuna mayo were accompanied by sausages, pork pies, flans/quiches and rounded off by a plethora of cakes and fruit. Great effort George!!

Gumley’s opening attack included an Asian bowler who must now proudly claim joint ownership with Jonah of the world record for the biggest height differential between two respective first-up new ball bowlers! The Philanderers reply began in rip roaring fashion with sumptuous shots off front and back foot from both Ed P and Tom P-T. A partnership of 64 in 8 overs ended as Ed, espying the remaining carrot cake, took a stroll down the wicket towards the pavilion and was stumped/run out for 38! Gill quickly came and went before George P joined Tom in a 53 partnership of classy batting which ended when Tom, attempting a ramp, was bowled for 54 and George drilling the next ball to extra cover departed for 17. A mini collapse including Dodson for 1 and Ragnauth LBW for7 (he later admitted that he had always had problems with straight bowling!!) was rectified by the now traditional Karsten barrage of 6,6,4 to end the innings and secure a 4-wicket win. It also might have been the sight of the remaining troops fighting to avoid the No 9 slot that persuaded him to bring matters to a precipitous conclusion.

The Fuhrer, mit family, was in full flow, reprimanding the skipper for his profligacy in providing both match balls and bemoaning the fact that he had only 1 month off before preparations began for the 2020 fixtures. He was also later spotted trying to recruit the cricket services of the groundsman’s 12 year old son, reportedly the Suffolk U13 captain! Is there no limit!!

A great day to end the 2019 season at what must rank alongside Holkham as one of the most picturesque venues we play at. Everyone agreed that is should be revisited again in 2020, more than once please, which the groundsman was very happy to consider. A very hospitable ground, not least that the “honesty” bar was left open all afternoon. Can it legitimately now claim to be regarded as our home ground as it lies only a 10 minute drive from The Bunker?

Another unforgettable Philanderer’s season, an excellent tour and yet another unbeaten Sunday campaign. I know I speak for everyone in saying a big thank you to Phil for all his tireless efforts in getting XI good men and true to the battlefield (on mainland Britain anyway) throughout the season. Unlike Boudicca we did repel all invasions, as long as they took place on Sundays!!

Edward Dodson

'Fielders approaching the cartwheeled off stump with due reverence'

'Exning Park a lovely ground to play cricket'

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