For some of us this was the last match of the season. We watched with trepidation as the drizzle descended from dark clouds during the morning but clung to hopes of a positive forecast and the fact that Simmo and Denise had got the cover on. In the end we did not lose a single over and most of the match was played in bright sunshine.
Thinking that there would be some moisture in the pitch and that it would dry out later, Tim elected to bowl first having won the toss. The ground was looking splendid after a team of Friday afternoon volunteers and Sunday ‘finishers’ had cut, painted and trimmed everything necessary.
Worryingly, one of the Gloucester Gipsies openers was wearing an England helmet having represented the national over 60’s team. Rob Barton made short work of his partner however as Paul Wordsworth took the catch to seal an early breakthrough. Asif Kamal in a chirpy mood as usual bowled tidily, producing some prodigious swing. When he found the right line, he was a handful as the number 3 found out when given LBW by umpire Lumb.
Max Nalborczyk and Mike Simpson were our first and second change bowlers. Both bowled well but some good hitting and average fielding meant Gipsies were starting to move in front. Max fought back and induced a mishit that Mark Ford-Langstaff snaffled at backward point. Simmo took the first of his three wickets trapping the pugnacious number four LBW in what had been an intriguing battle. 91 for 4 soon became 105 for 5 when Simmo clean bowled number six for not many. Shortly afterwards Simmo took a third (good catch by Max) and Middleton looked to be on top.
That was wishful thinking however as the Gipsies numbers 5 and 8 had other ideas. In a partnership that switched the balance back towards the Gipsies, Paul Wordsworth and Simmo took some punishment. It took the introduction of skipper Tim Riley and some canny flight and guile to induce a well taken boundary catch by Elliot Barton to dismiss number 5. Tim then bowled the number 8. Tim took a third wicket on the stroke of tea and Gipsies declared at 201 for 8.
Tea was excellent with John Floyd in charge despite some pre-match confusion as to who was doing it this week! Rona, Andrew, and Georgina produced a back up plan whilst we were fielding. It was a fine example of how teamwork at a club like ours involves many more than just the eleven on the field. Thanks to all and apologies if I have missed any other helpers amongst the uncertainty.
Veteran opener, Howard Lancaster, and youngster Elliot Barton, at the top of the order for the first time set about chasing the runs. Unfortunately, Elliot who was looking accomplished pushed too hard at one and gave the bowler a simple return catch. Max, in his first season for the club hasn’t had too many opportunities to impress with the bat but today took his chance. Coming in first wicket down, Max played really well for a solid 41. Hitting the bad balls to the boundary and picking up plenty of one’s, two’s and to Howard’s delight, threes; he accumulated nicely and helped build a solid foundation with first Howard and then Tim. Howard had forced the Gipsies into placing two regulation gullies and one fly slip to counter his fierce cut shot but fell to a well taken catch in the covers.
The innings of the day belonged to Tim Riley. The required run rate was creeping up to 7+ an over and a captain’s innings was required. Tim duly delivered. His innings included a collection of well-executed boundaries behind square on the leg side and a couple of audacious reverse paddles mixed with run rate reducing singles. When Max fell, swiftly followed by the unlucky Squiff Wordsworth the in-form Jamie Lumb joined him. Jamie has matured well as a batter this year and has made significant contributions all season, but this run chase would be the most challenging of them all.
The score stood at 112 for four with a run a ball needed for victory. The next sixty-seven runs were delightful to watch especially in the context of last weeks collapse. Jamie normally scores in boundaries but was restricted by a sore shoulder limiting his power. Making up for it with good running between the wickets, he and Tim were like marching ants, forever on the move and an unstoppable force. It wasn’t a surprise to see Tim reach 50 but it was when he was bowled for 73.
Mark Ford-Langstaff joined Jamie in the middle for the last three overs. Twenty-three were needed in the fading light and with the field back patrolling the boundaries this wasn’t going to be easy. Scampered singles and twos followed by a boundary off the last ball of the penultimate over left Jamie facing with ten required for the win. Ten was whittled down to six but with only one ball left after some excellent death bowling, we finished on 196/5.
Honours even and a fabulous game. Well played Gipsies. Let’s do it all again next year.
Next week we play the Authors in our final game of the season. Prior to the start of the match at 12:30, and with a change to the norm, there will be a brunch held between 10.30-11.30 when the end of season awards will also be presented. If you have played this year and would like to be in the 2021 club photo, please don your whites and be ready to smile at 11.45.