Another glorious sunny September Sunday in this somewhat truncated season was instore for the Philanderers at the wonderful ‘Abington Bowl’. The ground was looking magnificent (even if I say so myself) the outfield having a final cut as the players arrived by the home club’s most destructive batsman, who sadly, had thereby used up all his available free time.
From my vantage point (enjoying a beer outside the Three Tuns public house, essential umpiring fuel) having just nicked a deciding set (after 3 ‘warm up sets’!) in my Sunday morning tennis, I witnessed the early arrival of the Philanderers pace attack. Jamie Rutt, ignoring all the pub had to offer, paced up and down the High St not unlike a predator sizing up his prey; Rory Davidson had an entirely different approach- he took a seat in the sunshine at the hostelry, relaxed but then decided a pot of Earl Grey was the way forward- what would Fred Trueman have made of it all, especially as both later appeared to be in an ‘unnecessary dive’ competition when bowling?
No matter, I introduced the Captains to each other and explained their links in education hoping for a sympathetic understanding, as the teams strengths and attitudes where not very closely aligned, however a ‘time game’ was agreed which kept traditionalists happy and others confused enough for a tight finish to be something of novelty and enjoyed by the usual and sizable crowd on ‘the wall’.
The game started under blue skies with occasional vintage aircraft from the IWM Duxford (which in normal times would have had their main air display of the year) and vintage Rob Gill as the second delivery sailed out off the ground, followed by several boundaries as he bullied the 18 and 14 year olds opening the home bowling. Paul Leary was much more circumspect, having often failed at the ground before but suddenly he unleashed a range of drives, hitting 6 boundaries in 10 balls as Gill was forced to watch at the other end.
As the scoring rate spiralled there was only one Abington bowler to exert control, a new young Asian spinner who Phil has already enquired about recruiting; ok he may be at the Perse, but Abington haven’t League registered him yet!
In any case Gill’s fun ended at 55 out of 97 in the 15th over. John Howe was just getting his eye in when a misunderstanding resulted in a great throw from the Abington keeper to run him out at the bowler’s end 149-2. Will Hammond then joined Paul, who looked set for a hundred but fell for an excellent 83. Mihir, skipper ‘Sir’ George and Jamie chipped in with Hammond as a declaration loomed as more and more ‘irregular’ bowlers twirled an increasingly mixed fair. Will passed his half century- 54* before the call was made at 273-5 in the 40th over.
Jonah Munday and Rory Davidson charged in and gave little away, Rory making the breakthrough in the 8th over, before George Dean was brought on in the 9th only to bowl the ‘ball of the match’ first up; nipping a good length delivery back and through the gate for a plumb LBW, not that the batter, Abington’s one real hope of mounting a challenge thought so, some things never change. All the Abington batters made a start of sorts but none could get beyond 15 as wickets fell regularly and mostly to Jack Rusted (3-27) at this stage. Enter the Abington skipper at number 7 and after a very shaky start, he decided attack was the best form of defence. Eleven boundaries and 60 runs later a returning Munday castled him and with Mihir taking 3-42, the end was very much in sight at 149-9 in the 33rd over.
However, to win a timed match in the field you must bowl the opposition out of course and Abington’s final pair- a 14 year old and an 18 year old who bats 11 (at best) for the 3rd (or lowest) team had other ideas. As Sir George shuffled his bowlers, including himself, things became tenser and tenser. The final over eventually arrived, it was getting dark, migrating Tern were flying in typical V formations overhead (“what are they, some sort of Sea Gull”?) and Will Hammond was trusted will the bowling. Could the Phillies be denied? Will then bowled a full length ball that struck the pads on the crease the whole team went up, the Fuhrer’s eyebrows went up and so did my finger. In the end a tense 108 run victory!
The 'Abington Bowl' being prepared for our visit