Rioteers CC v Cheriton CC, June 4 2017

Cheriton (73 all out) v Rioteers, (159/9) June 4.  Rioteers win by 86 runs

The Rioteers bandwagon breezed into Cheriton on Sunday with Cap’n Bix at the helm for the second weekend running.  But even with Marty as assiduous scorer (and muttering about a trip to Warrens to get the full suite of coloured pens to take his scoring to the next level), it was the remaining range of Hilliers (J, A and B) who were to scribble their names over the game.

On a merkin-like pitch, the stolid, constipated, watchful Shea (4) / Bickford (13) opening partnership was broken only by a catch of breath-taking athleticism and brilliance from Bertie H,  guest-fielding for the oppo.  Not to be outdone, Archie H then went native by triggering the skipper on one that looked high and wide, even from the lounge bar of the Flower Pots.  At 2 down for not quite 30, the Rioteers were flirting with ignominy, with young Hilliers behind both wickets.

Cue masterful, uninhibited middle order batting from the Wood-ster (23), the serene James H (46) on a favoured ground of his, and an urgent Archie H (30), anxious to avoid his skipper’s wrath.  Bertie was then on the wrong end of an Old Testament decision from Bix (wrong Hillier, Dave), and Brazier walked after gloving a catch to the keeper (not the first one off his wrist that day, he confided loudly in the bar later) giving Cheriton some hope of keeping us below 150.  However, late hitting from Lowden and urgent running from Dessie got us to 159/9 – respectable on a (s)low pitch.

The highlights of the splendid tea were mini pork pies (jelly-free and no gap between meat and pastry) and wonderfully light scones.

Archie spent tea contemplating the yakuza ritual of yubitsome, the ritual cutting off of a finger to atone for a misdeed. But the need to offer Bix the iki yubi (the ‘living finger’ sacrificed by a transgressor to show atonement, often in the hope of escaping a heavier punishment) clearly motivated Archie, as first he took a stunning reaction catch at silly mid-on (‘just a bit closer, Archie’ – Bix) off a Lowden loosener, then clean bowled two (albeit one a with grubber) with the first two balls of his opening over, steaming down the hill.  Rioteer joy was compounded by another Lowden wicket, leaving Cheriton 5/4.

A mini-revival followed as they milked the left armers of Mills and Brazier, and Shea and Wood vied to drop the dolliest catch of the day.  Robert then catalysed a second wind by taking his debut Rioteers catch (technique, technique), Bertie showed off his wonderful arm with a runout from the deep, Brazier surprised a batsman by landing one on the stumps, and Woody opened up the lower order for Lowden (6.2 overs/4 maidens/3 wicket for 2 runs) and Archie (3 overs, 3 wickets for 5 runs) to wrap up the game with Cheriton on 76.

In late evening sunshine, the teams toasted the Rioteers first win of the season with some refreshing, chilled Vedett IPA (light, quaffable but not too hoppy – a beer with a somewhat different attitude) and a josh-filled banter-session in the Pots (with Marty rubbing his gammy knee, Archie counting his fingers and Dessie reminding us of his impressive strike rate as a bowler).

Hearty thanks to Cheriton for returning texts from NZ; getting a full complement (having been a team of 8 at 10am on matchday), but most of all for a wonderful game of cricket played the right way by all.

Quintessential village cricket indeed.