Well the prospect of an entirely unbeaten season has receded somewhat. Given the Sunday XI are seemingly unbeatable, and Swaffham Bulbeck had already been vanquished (having defeated us comfortably last season), only little old friendly Grantchester, our second and penultimate mid-week opposition, stood in our way. Last season we had cantered to victory in the delightful riverside idyll by eight wickets.
Our selected leader, Mr Gill was not present before the agreed start time, so Sir George took responsibility for calling correctly and electing to bat. He also continued/started the tradition of asking a player arriving late at Grantchester to bat at 3!
Rob was soon walking to the middle when, both openers perished in the third over, Tom Picton-Tuberville most unhappily, given out LBW attempting an ambitious reverse sweep by the umpiring Tom Sherwin... Claims of “it can’t be out, it hit my hand” eventually were downgraded to “it hit my arm”, in which case LBW can apply, much to Sherwin’s satisfaction. In any case we were 2 down as 4 balls later Mihir uncharacteristically attempted a second 6 hit only to sky an easy catch.
Rob Gill was soon into his stride however, smiting 3 fours and a six in the next over before Tony Kennedy’s bowling was put in its place by James Tilbury smashing 3 fours in the 5th over- all was rosy in the Philanderers garden as the pair put on 51 (in 25 balls) but as Rob went on to 47 before an attempted 6 hit was caught on the boundary (it’s was agreed batsman would retire at 50 meaning his innings would end either way) the innings began to unwind.
Sir George instructed me “not to glue the innings up” (I didn’t) but he soon found himself trying to chaperone the tail as old foe Martin Baker took three wickets in two overs, including Tom Sherwin, bowled first ball, not for the first time as a Phillie; as we fell way, bowled out after 17.1 overs for 116. Could we defend the rather under par score? Well we had a pace attack (on paper) that would surely blow Grantchester away.
After John Burnett and Tom Sherwin had bowled tidily at the top of the order a few things became apparent to me. Bowling straight/leg side at pace meant any sort of bat contact stood a great chance of reaching the short boundaries or a leg bye became common. Secondly fast pace wide balls (which were not re-bowled but counted as 2) were starting to hurt us. And lastly- we were not taking any wickets! In fact, 77 was on the board before James Tilbury struck for our only dismissal, he actually literally ‘struck’ twice in three balls as the other opener had a toe cruncher given not out LBW but had to retire hurt anyway!
However, by 17.3 overs, Grantchester completed victory, some scant consolation that they took longer to score the runs than us, possible the extras difference partially explains our woes - 5 received but 35 dished out - 13 leg byes, 21 wides!
In any case we failed by an even greatly amount to social distance in the excellent Blue Ball over several beers, making up some of the earlier disappointments.
The rural changing room before the game
The hand sanitiser has a perfect view of the game