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The Philanderers v Frogs, Sunday 19th September at Exning Park

Rain saves Frogs as season comes to soggy end

An enthralling game, in which neither side could quite ever gain complete control, was ended by rain with The Frogs 117-5 after 24 overs in reply to The Philanderers 202-8 from their allotted 40. In many senses it was a microcosm of the whole season, a great start but disappointing end, in which Phil’s superb fixture list was decimated in the latter half of the season. In fact, just one weekend game was completed since a fine win against The Free Foresters on July 18th, whilst that stage of the season all eight scheduled games had been played to conclusion, having resulted in six victories and two draws.

The season opened in some style with The Philanderers breaking the ‘300’ barrier for the first time, posting 305 against Cambridge University Crusaders. The total was built on a magnificent 101 from Hammond, who was in superlative early season form, and an almost equally as good 92 from Chandraker, and allowed The Philanderers to get off to a winning start. Successive draws followed, though of rather different styles. The first a ‘winning draw’ against long term adversaries Chippenham, who despite some Davidson heroics with the ball, held on with 8 wickets down. The second was against new opponents The Gents of Essex, an excellent addition to an increasingly strong fixture list, who welcomed us to a fine ground in Coggeshall and provided stiff opposition.

The Gent’s batted first (they usually do, as their skipper somewhat infamously remarked on our arrival) and had Coggeshall Town’s overseas pro’s 76 to thank for rescuing them from a precarious 100-5 in posting a total of 190 declared. The Philanderers had however bowled and fielded brilliantly led by Cross, TPT, Rutt and Munday, but backed up by the whole side, and forced The Gents to bat past tea in order to get a competitive total. The result of this effort was therefore that there wasn’t much time to chase down the target, and with wickers falling at regular intervals, it was left to Sir George and Rutt to defend the final overs and secure the unbeaten record.

June to mid-July marked the metaphorical and literal high point of The Philanderers’ summer, with five games between June 6th and July 18th bringing five straight wins. First up a thrilling chase against another new and extremely welcome addition to the fixture list The Frogs. Set 211 to win the game appeared to be in the balance with two overs left before George Doel struck a number of boundaries to secure the win, after a platform had been established by 59 from Will Wright. The wagon then rolled on to Exning Park (in front of ‘our’ shiny new score hut), for an attempt at making it to 50 games and six years undefeated (on UK soil), against our most recent vanquishers and old friends The Flycatchers. Phil felt this would be fitting way for record to end, but with an opening stand of 172, thanks to a fifty from Ragnauth and unbeaten hundred from Hammond, put such thoughts soon to bed. Sadly, for The Flycatchers Chandraker was in no mood to provide respite, and scored a ludicrously good, and astonishingly fast 88, denied a seemingly certain century of his own as we walked in with five overs of our designated 40 left, on 295-1. The Flycatchers fought bravely, but were unable to get close to such an imposing total.

The Dell Boys were up next, another new addition and indeed new club, who it sounds like provided entertaining opposition. Certainly, the game induced the best match report of the season, the prose of Jack Dillon well worth a dip back into the archives for anyone who missed it. Guest Billy Norman’s 66 was the pick of the batting card, and Jonah Munday the standout bowler.

The final two games of the midsummer burst were against two powerhouses of the Sunday ‘jazz hat’ (aka ‘nonsense’) cricket scene, the I Zingari followed by Free Foresters, which bought two victories, owed in large part to two more ‘guest’ players (we’ll return to this later). The IZ were first dispatched at Exning by a margin of 80 runs, set up thanks to an innings of 77 from Tom Sherwin’s mate Tom. The Free Foresters then arrived at The Perse on the hottest day of the year, and took great delight in winning the toss and batting. With the score at 100-2 at lunch, it looked like a bleak afternoon for the hosts, but a somewhat bizarre collapse of 7 wickets for less than 30 runs turned the game on its head. The Foresters certainly played a part in their downfall, but it was an impressive fielding and bowling display in tough conditions. The Foresters however managed to struggle to a competitive total, and with The Philanderers gun batsmen mostly failing to fire, the game was in the balance with 10 overs remaining. Where there’s Mihir though there’s hope, and 56*, combined with some lusty late blows from guest Balfour, The Philanderers got home to complete another win.

Sadly, the second half of the season was unable to match the heights of the first. First The Incogniti were forced to cancel before we in turn were forced to cancel on The Nomads after covid-19 swept through the Pearson household.

The Grannies brought the run of cancellations to the end, and with The Philanderers not far past 100 and six wickets down batting first at one stage looked like they might bring the record to an end as well. Finn Karsten 60 and Henry Campbell 50* however combined to take us to 208-7 declared, and a devasting spell of 5-23 from Rusted completed the job. Sadly, despite four more fixtures being scheduled, this was to be the last completed game. Refreshers were unable to raise a side to visit us, before we were unable to raise a side to go to Great Abington.

The final fixture threatened to go the same way with The Buccaneers pulling out, but fortunately our new found friends The Frogs, narrowly beaten earlier in the season, were keen for a second round. With rain around a 40 over a side contest was agreed, with The Philanderers batting first. Wright was not able to hang around for long but Cross (41) and Chandraker made steady progress, though neither were able to go on for a big score and it took a much welcome 46 from the skipper Ed Pearson, with lesser or greater contributions from Sir George (including some vintage lusty blows), guest Connor Marshall, Hammond, Rutt and Davidson to get the hosts to 202-8 at the end of their 40, which had the feeling of being very much ‘on par’.

Davidson and Rutt opened the bowling, and it’s fair to say it wasn’t perhaps a vintage performance from either of them. Perhaps the ageing pacers were showing the signs of a long season, or maybe it was the effects of their equally busy but somewhat different Saturday exploits, Rutt on the association football field, Davidson at a rave. Nonetheless Davidson managed to induce two wickets, having survived a conference between the umpires as to whether he should be removed from the attack after bowling two beamers (the decision not to warn him on the grounds that the beamers were not dangerous and had been played ‘with consummate’ ease, possibly a bigger bruising to his ego than having been removed from the attack). The Frogs batting however seemed to have unusual depth and, even at five wickets down would still have fancied their chances of winning. Sadly, the rain came and we were robbed of a grandstand finish (your correspondent notes that The Philanderers would have won by 8 runs on Duckworth-Lewis, had that been the agreed method of settling the game). Thanks also to Mihir’s girlfriend Emma for fielding for 23 overs after Sir George was forced from the field with a torn hamstring in the first over.

Thus, another yet season draws to a finish. 14 scheduled Sunday matches resulted in 9 completed matches (4 cancelled, 1 no result) and yielded 7 victories, 2 draws and notably no defeats, a fifth consecutive complete undefeated season. A somewhat disappointing second half leaves your correspondent slightly unfulfilled, but on reflection it must be said it was an excellent season. Obvious high points would be mammoth scores against Crusaders and Flycatchers, both thanks to hundreds from Hammond. Your correspondent however would prefer to highlight the fielding and bowling performance against Gents of Essex and Foresters, which at times really belied the rag tag nature of the sides, and with the bat a couple of lower order recoveries from tricky positions that showed we’re not just reliant on the talents of a couple of gun bats.

Phil has certainly taken the fixture list to even greater heights, with The Frogs, The Grannies and Gents of Essex particularly proving excellent additions to an already strong fixture card. The grounds too are also uniformly excellent with ‘home’ games shared between Fitz, The Perse and Exning Park, each one a pleasure to play at. Membership too, in terms of numbers is strong, and thus surely the club is in the rudest of health? Well, not quite. Whilst a great fixture list and strong playing members should result in selection dilemmas for The Fuhrer, too frequently, we have been left to scrabble for players at the last minute, relying on (very welcome) guests to complete our numbers.

The fixture list, the club, The Fuhrer, they all deserve better than this, so I’m going to end this final match report of the season with a plea to the membership to endeavour to do better next year. We need more players to move up from the occasional, to the frequent of more like six or seven games, or we will go backwards from where we are now. So, when the fixture card drops (which rumour has it will include a tour to Devon) through your electronic post box in early spring let’s all make an effort to block out some dates and come back to Phil with availability.

With hobby horse away let me finish with a thanks to Phil for all his efforts once again, and a good luck to Mihir, in your correspondents eyes our player of the season, who is off on a two-year sabbatical to Singapore. He will be much missed, and makes that call for improved player availability even more crucial…

George Dean

The final day's play in 2021 at Exning Park

Champion golfer Hammond with generosity of spirit brought his clubs along to display at the game

Captain Ed leaving the field after his valuable innings


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