The day of the penultimate match of the season announced itself sunny and warm and Exning Park looked picture perfect. There was even a significant gazebo in place for the Fuhrer to receive supplicants. Flycatchers are the most ancient of our Sunday opponents and of-course the last side to inflict a weekend defeat on the club. Thus, it was entirely appropriate that the earlier pandemic destroyed fixture was re-arranged. Captain Davidson won the toss and chose to take first innings. At this point Rakesh, smartly attired in his umpire’s outfit, observed two similarly dressed male persons and upon making a gentle enquiry determined that he was a week early. Being a gentleman Rakesh then quietly retired to the scorers’ box to perform this duty for the remainder of the afternoon, his contribution being most welcome.
The Philanderers’ openers ambled towards the square. The in-form William Hammond and the hugely promoted up the order George Dean. In form he may have been but Will’s stay did not include the 2nd ball and indeed he did not set the best of examples to those who immediately followed him. Shortly afterwards 3 further batsmen were all back sheepishly unbuckling their pads too close to the gazebo for their liking. Four wickets were down with the score hardly reaching thirty and the unthinkable possibility of disaster looming. However, George was still there playing the Boycott role to greet the incoming Tom Picton-Turbervill. Slowly but surely these two repaired the damage with Tom playing some delightful shots once the foundation had been laid.
With the 5th wicket stand at an impressive 85 Tom was bowled for an excellent sixty but a determined George was still out there. Boycotting away he shared further reasonable stands with Mihir and debutant Ben Cross before falling LBW with his personal score at a career high of 31. Needless to say, having steadied the ship for a massive couple of hours George departed with the total at 148 having the careworn look of a man who had only managed a quick duck rather one who played a significant part in saving the innings from disaster! Young Ben then carried on in exemplary fashion, mainly in a productive partnership with Rory, before being last man out for 41 with the score at a hard won but eventually respectable 212.
The gazebo was alive with expectation during the tea interval none more apparent than the excitement from the Fuhrer at the prospect of viewing Hammond taking the gloves for the first time in his Philandering career. Since starring at the Perse as wicket keeper and captain many moons ago Will wished to pursue a more low-key role but the absence of any alternative forced him to take up position behind the stumps again.
The Flycatchers response started steadily enough but with Rory and Ben keeping a reasonably tight grip on proceedings. Suddenly a mid-innings collapse saw the Flycatchers slump to 78 for loss of 6 wickets. However, the sea-saw nature of the match then re-emerged when the 7th wicket pair pillaged an eighty-run stand putting the club side under pressure to re-gain control. There was even a modicum of disquiet, to put it mildly, in the gazebo and from whence warning smoke signals emanated! However, Rory did not panic and when he and young Ben returned to the bowling attack, they dramatically snatched back the initiative hoovering up the final few wickets leaving Flycatchers 19 runs short of their target at 193 all out. Rory finished with 4 wickets for 50 runs whilst Ben’s startling debut saw him take a 5-wicket haul for only 22 runs. The fielding had been generally excellent and Hammond re-living his youth made a smart stumping off a seam bowler which had been beyond even the Fuhrer during his illustrious career hiding behind the timbers.
So ended the penultimate match which had been enthralling throughout before victory was bravely achieved to continue the amazing undefeated run. Unfortunately, this also proved to be the final match of the season as the following week’s encounter was cancelled owing to the sudden arrival of winter. Never the less in this pandemic blighted season The Philanderers still managed to play 10 fixtures and which were in the main successful and very enjoyable. Let’s hope that next year a higher degree of normality will return which will allow a full season of games and, to enhance the Fuhrer’s dignity, the regular return of the gazebo!
The victorious side with hanger on at the end of the game
The Philanderers opening pair soon to face vastly different fortunes