Nestled in the comfortable surroundings of Eastergate Cricket Club in the South Downs, any casually interested passers-by on Sunday (around two ‘o’clock) would notice an extraordinary sight. With the mercury topping 30 degrees and most fielders under threat of passing out under the sun, the opening batsman was still wearing a full knitted jumper. To any Scotties arriving late, this simply meant Rupert was opening the batting. The extraordinary thing to them would be that we had started roughly on time. The opposition had sportingly agreed to let us bat first whilst the skipper was held up in traffic, due to the apparently spontaneous combustion of an Audi Q7 somewhere up the A3.
Rupert and Grant set off the Scotties innings at a steady pace. The scoreboard was ticking along slowly until Grant was undone by a young lad who was getting more bounce than the pitch belied. In fact, this was turning out to be not the easiest scoring pitch, with a little uneven bounce, anything in the corridor of uncertainly threatened to clip the top off-stump. Mr Van Der Horst was undone in similar fashion, driving forwards to a ball that danced a little off the seam.
From there on came something of a procession as Rupert held an end, and the opposition unleashed their most dangerous weapon; a leg spin bowler so slow that it would have been advisable to steal Jimmy’s copy of The Saturday Times Magazine and catch up with Giles Coren’s latest meal as he was running in, tuck it neatly under the arm as he released and then, and only then, shape up to bat. You would still be forgiven for playing through the shot. Which is exactly what Prateek, David Watson, Uncle James and Roop all did, resulting in a variety of clean bowled, LBW and dollies to the assembled fielders. Francis Ward, the bowler, was having quite the day.
On came the Skipper, ready (or so he thought) to feast upon the delicious pies being served up by Mr Ward. A number of well timed drives and a few almighty slogs meant that he quickly got the scoreboard moving once again with a number of boundaries and a few gentle strolls between the wicket. Unfortunately however, during one almighty heave with an aim to smash the ball through a conservatory a hundred metres away, he also managed to throw all of the tendons in his arm towards the conservatory. Needless to say, the ball went through to the wicket keeper for no run. A short time later, our skip was on one of his gentle strolls between the wickets when he must have stopped to admire a particularly interesting beetle, for it appeared that he had stopped altogether. Unfortunately for him, the ball had not crossed the boundary and in the midst of his beetle admiration, he was run out. By this time the ‘Goose’ Campbell–Smith was at the wicket and shortly before the skipper’s dismissal, played one or two slices and a scored a streaky four and a few singles before having a massive flap at something that could so easily have been simply blocked. Through the ball went to middle stump.
With this, Messrs ‘Head Boy’ Cooke and Thickett were left, in vain to score a few. The total result was all out for 136 off 39 overs. A few too short, some said over tea.
It did indeed turn out to be a few too short. A fine effort was put in by Ant who was unlucky not to take a few more wickets, and special mention must go to Uncle James for a top effort. He was rewarded with three fine wickets and could rightly be pleased with the days efforts. Prateek and Roop backed this up with some nice lines and a decent bit of turn, but alas we were outdone as their top order ticked off the runs with 6 overs to spare. Another 40 runs was the consensus to make it a more competitive match, but as all retired to the pavilion for liquid refreshment, it had been a decent day out against a bunch, on a lovely day. One cannot complain too much. The match teas weren’t bad either.