|Sun 16th August 2020|
On an afternoon of torrential downpours along the south coast, not many players turning up in the stygian gloom at Stowting expected to complete a game. This was even more so when the low clouds rolled in to hide the Downs, the drizzle began, and the light got so bad it was almost impossible to see the ball. It was a good toss to win, and George BW and Harry P made the most of the opportunity. In spite of the gloom and a sprightly opening attack, they settled in for a long stay, saw off the short rain break and were putting the first wicket record under pressure, when George (73) was bowled by one turning sharply. An opening stand of 191 sets a sound base, and occasional wickets thereafter are not material. Harry increased his range, hitting a number of long sixes before falling for 112, his second Straggler ton. James Baker (22) clubbed effectively, and Patch Clews (21*), still dreaming of what might have been in 2019, made a great attempt to turn dreams into reality, but ran out of time. A total of 268 for 5 looked plenty.
The opening ball of the Stowting innings was memorable for all the wrong reasons. The ball just about made it to second slip, while Rufus, with months of pent-up lockdown enthusiasm in the tank, completed a series of forward rolls and pirouettes before stopping in a heap about half-way down the wicket. As with the Straggler innings, the openers were well set and looking hard to dislodge, and it was only in the 14th over that Billy Richardson induced a false shot (swipe to a straight ball) to remove a young McCully just as the sun came out – the wicket now drying quickly. At 91 for 1 the chase was still alive, but Billy (3 for 11) struck again twice and skipper Seb weighed in with one to have Stowting stuttering at 97 for 4. George BW assisted with two exceptional catches at short extra. Much to the surprise of batsman, fielders and crowd alike, the Chairman clung on to a return catch before a procession of batsmen surrendered, clearly confused by the Chairman bowling a relentless leg-side line to a 6-3 off side field. They chose to give very precise catching practice to Harry P (2) and Rufus at mid-wicket and long on respectively. Patch (1 for 8) bowled uphill with great control, before the Chairman brought matters to a close with a very straight ball adjudged leg before (5 for 18), and Stowting all out for 134. In a season cut short by coronavirus, challengers for the batting prize need to get some innings under their belts; George has now done so, and is looking for red ink for the rest of the season to retain his award.