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The Philanderers v Gentlemen of Essex, Sunday 21st August at Exning Park

And then it was 60

As your correspondent lay listening to the reassuring drumming of summer rain on the roof of the rented property in the verdant Lake District, his thoughts turned back to the desiccated, straw coloured fields of Exning. A Philanderers team with an average age nudging 45 had, against the odds, salvaged a draw against ‘The Gents’ to extend the unbeaten sequence of Sunday fixtures to 60. An appropriate reward for our recovering Leader.

Arriving at the ground in good time it was clear that many of opposition were already there and clearly youthful and athletic. A brief conversation established that once again, their team boasted two professionals - one from Jo’Burg, the other from Guyana. In contrast we were fielding three players in their seventh decade and one in his eighth.

Skipper Ed Pearson successfully ‘arranged’ to field first and Messrs Davidson and Rutt led the charge. The two teenage openers set the scene with a flurry of elegant boundaries (eleven fours in their combined score of 51) before both being castled by fine deliveries. Any hopes that this might bring some respite were rapidly extinguished as the belligerent Eben Botha batted as though being auditioned for franchise cricket around the globe. Eleven fours and three sixes later he retired out for 71: perhaps to send the news to a series of talent scouts. A reverse sweep for six over the long boundary typified his assault.

A more restrained 62 (retired out) from their No. 4 combined with a typically Caribbean 45 from the other pro meant that The Gents were able to declare at 251 for 6 after just 33.4 overs. Rory (3 for 51) and Jamie (2 for 62) deserve credit for shouldering the burden and producing some fine wicket taking balls. Although wicketless Gerald’s figures of six overs for just 27 deserve mention. George Dean, Nigel and Ed took the brunt of the middle innings savagery with good grace.

Holding back the Guyanan Garraway, The Gents opening attack proved to be much to Will Hammond’s liking as he drove, pulled and bludgeoned his way to a fine 62. Nigel was just beginning to flourish when Garraway made his entrance - the end was unfortunately swift. He also removed both Dillon and Marshall. Starting slowly, our Captain soon found his touch and a selection of trademark extra cover drives were supplemented by a string of pulls that flew further and further. Ed had to suffer his father labouring at the other end (missing more lobs and long hops than he scored runs) but still managed 67. Rory also succumbed against the very ‘occasional’ bowlers employed, but Jamie and David Pimblett saw us through to 219 for 7 in some comfort.

Not a classic, but a game played in a fine spirit on a beautiful warm afternoon in an idyllic setting. One could ask for more, but it might well be thought greedy.

The run goes on.

George Pearson

Exning Park in more verdant days


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