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Mark Pougatch's Newsletter, 2020

The mere fact the Grannies played some cricket in the awful summer of 2020 says a lot about what both the game means to so many people and what The Grannies means as well. It was frankly fantastic that we played at all, and that the mere playing of the game was the main thing this year of all years.

And so The Grannies season began on July 19 th against The Armadillos. The weather was very May rather than the height of summer. Skipper Peter Schutzer-Weissmann made the first 50 of this truncated season with 63 but 142 all out felt about 30 short. Covid meant no tea this season so something was always going to be missing from every Granny outing. We were ultimately undone by a youth with a Mohican who’d taken 4 wickets and then thumped it around the field as they got home 7 down. 2020 was never going to be a normal summer.

I can vouch first hand that the London New Zealand game would never have even started, let alone be finished, in a normal summer. The weather was perfect for rugby. It rained most of the day but it was great to play even a T20 game and we never quite had enough as LNZ got home by 6 wickets just before the tide finally came in. There was another close game with the Eton Ramblers the next day but unlike last year, this time we just lost out, by 2 wickets. 77-5 wasn’t a perfect platform but Matt Nichols and James Scott put on a rapid 50, Matt making 70 in 187 all out. At 146-6 we were in with a squeak, ditto 178-8, Jim Streeter went for a catch and came down like a giant redwood, we lost – but we were playing.

A young Old Amplefordians were too good for us by 30 runs despite the chairman Bob Percival’s excellent three stumpings. A target of above 300 looked ominous but an outstanding century from Andrew De Mestre was one very much to enjoy in a losing effort.

Falconhurst again got the better of us by 41 runs this time. Mike Fernie continues to roll back the years and his 3 for 20 was the highlight in the home side’s 184-8 in 30 overs. The Schutzer-Weissmanns, Peter 47 and Kit 27, top scored but we came up well short.

The Griffin beat us like they normally do, this time in a T20 game. 25 wides was overly generous of us but Harvey Park’s 4 terrific stumpings was a wonderful effort. 184 was some peak to scale but as in 2019, Grannies in the opposition did for us – brothers Ben and Toby Pullan making sure we got nowhere near, The Grannies 124 all out.

The Flashmen did for us by 84 runs. We fielded in intense heat for 40 overs but at 60-4 we were well in the game. 2 hours later it was 200-4 as a father and son combo cashed in. 276- 6 after 40 was some total. There was no 3 course tea this year, Will Hooker rattled up his traditional 50 (53) but in reality it was always going to be a mountain too steep. Tilford is a new fixture and a Granny win by 41 runs. James Scott anchored the innings with 71 on a boiling hot day and we closed on 214 for 9. Matt Siebert with 4 for 26 from 6 overs broke the back of their innings as we celebrated the first win of this very weird summer.

One win begat another and an 8 wicket win over the Bar of England. Jon Staniforth inserted them at Temple Grove and they slumped to 30 for 5, Shiv Haria Shah with 2-13. Ben Hope took 2 wickets with some youthful pace and we were left 200 to chase. Last year Jonny Morris was run out for 61 and he seemed determined to make amends and did so with a magnificent unbeaten 115 – with 7 sixes and 13 fours to guide us home after a mere 27 overs. He was the second Granny centurion in just 9 games of this truncated summer.

And after two great wins, we were then thumped by 9 wickets by the FAS Ramblers. 5 Grannies were in the opposition but it was two Hopes, whose family have a long association with the club, who starred for the club. Ben Hope made an excellent 57 and his younger brother Charlie struck a stunning 60 including two huge sixes off our own James Scott. 182- 7 off 36 overs seemed competitive but it wasn’t to be, but at least father Hope, Jason, was playing as well to see his boys’ fantastic efforts!

We’re deep into September now but still playing and seeing off the Dotties by 10 wickets. They fell from 50-1 to 132 all out with debutants Pat Sheridan and Gus Gayford taking three wickets each and Jonathan Staniforth proving there’s plenty of mileage left in this old sea dog by taking two wickets. Billy Maisey then promptly murdered their bowling with 87 not out, James Scott was unbeaten on 30 and the players retired to the Griffin to rehydrate.

The final fixture of 2020 was played on a sun-baked pitch in Horsmonden against The Turks. Sean Keaton made 59 of 45 balls but Billy Maisey carried on from where he had left off the day before- facing both the first and last ball of the innings making 192 not out off just 113 balls. That had Granny historians scrabbling for the record books. Suffice to say, it’s the highest Granny score for a very long time. The Grannies had motored to 332 of just 35 overs and it proved comfortably beyond them by 97 runs, Toby Sykes taking 3-15, Will Dunn and Tom Bell two wickets each. Every Granny batted or bowled or did both and it was a hugely enjoyable way to end the most difficult of summers. We played some cricket and, given that at one stage that looked frankly unlikely, it was a tremendous effort to play as much as we did and 79 Grannies made sure they represented the club this summer. Dare we hope that 2021 might be more normal.