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Result - Hartley Wintney

Sun Apr 28th Grannies lost by 9 wickets

Match report

There is a particularly poignant moment at the end of an ancient episode of Ever Decreasing Circles (an 80s sitcom for those of you too young to remember) where the main character, Martin, comments while reflecting on the recently completed cricket match and the fabulous innings of one of his team which secured the victory, "It was the most beautiful innings I have ever seen. I would give anything to play an innings like that. Just once".

These words floated back into my consciousness as I watched 14 year old Edward Philpott and 15 year old Bobby Wollen put together a masterful partnership of over 50 to anchor the Grannies innings against Hartley WIntney and take us towards what we thought was a reasonable total. That our total as a team was insufficient should not reflect on the calm maturity and real skill that both these young men displayed in getting themselves "in" first of all, and then taking the fight to the bowlers when the situation allowed.

It's not just paternal pride which causes me to comment on one shot from Edward who dismissively smote the Hartley 1st XI bowler through the covers for 4 off the back foot. It was commented on afterwards by the Hartley team themselves and indeed the unfortunate bowler. Maybe my bowling in the garden is just too miserly to allow such flamboyance but I had never seen him play that shot before and I would give anything to be able to play it myself.

Prior to all this, the Grannies had got off to a reasonable start with a mix of circumspection and calculated mowing. All of Williams, Gregory and Puddifant got starts but couldn't go on to bigger scores. Aside from the aforementioned partnership we then offered little other than some fine shots from the final pair where both Newcomb and James looked comfortable. Rolling back the years to Glamorgan U13s, James played an expert dab to third man for 4 and Newcomb drove happily through the covers,

Hartley sages knew that 205 was potentially 30 short of par and so it proved to be on a placid track where bowlers had to work really hard for success. Regular injuries to our attack didn't help with all of Newcomb, Gregory and the other Gregory succumbing to niggles and strains which suggests that more pre-season, warm weather training might be in order!

Credit to James who was the pick of the bowlers following extensive coaching from the skipper during the week. His drifters from left arm over the wicket were rightly treated with respect and a return of 17 runs conceded from 5 overs in the context of the match was admirable indeed. He was ably supported by Battersby whose off spin caused problems, even for 2 well set batsmen.

However, for the batsman who was prepared to be patient there were runs for the taking and both the openers batted well within themselves before punishing the bowling from the short end in particular - a tactic familiar to Hartley players but not particularly exploited by the Grannies.

So Hartley cantered to victory in the end with some 7 overs to spare but Grannies could certainly claim the moral high ground as a result (ironically) of our youth policy and the fact that we never gave up. Wollen did well behind the stumps, Gregory flighted his off spin well, and Miller and Philpott were athletic and brave in the field. Taking their lead the skipper dived about with abandon but unlike them, rarely reached the ball.

So having shared a beer with a very hospitable opposition the skipper was left to reflect on a very pleasant afternoon, even in defeat, and the memory of "that shot". In other pages writers better than I have described an individual shot as being "like some promise of endless summer". Maybe in heaven I will get to play it just once.

Match info

Gentle Sunday cricket against the HWCC Sunday 2nd XI. Start time of 2pm but meet in the Cricketers pub overlooking the ground from 12pm for lunch.

Cricket Green,
Hartley Wintney,
RG27 8PG

How to get there
Hartley Wintney is on the A30 about 10 miles east of Basingstoke. The nearest motorway junction is J4a or J5 of the M3 both of which connect easily to the A30. The ground and the Cricketers pub are located south of the A30, behind the High St on Oakland Terrace. Parking is available behind the pavilion.