Rioteers CC v Longparish CC, 9th July

After a testing recruitment drive, 11 Rioteers worthy of the name arrived at the quintessential home of English village cricket – complete with thatched pavilion chalk streams and water-meadows – Longparish. Home of the retired master of cricket correspondence, John Woodcock – oh what would he make of the match which surely was worthy of the great man’s quill!

Our skipper, struggling with a knee injury which has affected his appearances this season, was last to hobble into view with the Winchester ½ of the Rioteer team. He promptly lost the toss and the signal was relayed to the openers Martin Hawthorne and Tim Barker – in only his second knock for the Rioteers.

Tim clearly looked to dominate the attack from the off with very positive and stylish stroke-play. Unfortunately, after a short while Tim met his demise before his full potential was fully realised. 10 scored. Meanwhile his partner was providing the anchor role. Although there was many a dot ball, when Martin decided to hit the ball he did indeed hit the ball – to the boundary – his first 3 scoring strokes racing for four.

Tim’s wicket brought James Whiting to the crease on his Rioteer debut. James transpired to be a natural Rioteer – promising much but producing little. James, playing against his own village gave way to another James playing against his own village. Now I forgot to mention that James the debutant was cleaned bowled through the gate by, at the risk of sounding sexist, a girl! James, yours truly, strode to the wicket full of confidence having hit a few peachy shots in the nets. First up was a ball pitched up and inviting a drive which it duly received, but only as far as extra cover’s welcoming mitts. Golden Duck and another James heading back to the pavilion, a jubilant Longparish and 2 wickets in 2 balls to the talented Tally O’Farrell (watch out for that name in years to come). The hat-trick was on, and Archie Hillier replaced his uncle at the crease. Looking as cool as a Fox’s Glacier Mint with the confidence to boot, he was the man to steady the ship. He clipped his first ball off the middle of the bat to mid-wicket – a shot we would all be pleased with 99 times out of 100 – only to find the script-writers had out-done him and he was caught by a very sharp short fielder millimetres off the turf (the ball, not the fielder). The hat-trick was complete. A girl called Tally had done for 3 of the Rioteer’s finest in successive balls. 2 Hilliers back to the hutch for Goldens. In turned out Tally’s mother was the scorer, and to her credit showed no sign of gloating but consoled us in saying that she is a county player, playing for Hampshire ladies under 17s…….though she qualifies to play for the under 15s!

Cometh the hour cometh the man, albeit with a slight limp and awkward gait. Could the third Hillier offer any resistance? Indeed he could along with the other Martin, a brace of Martin H’s consolidated and then opened their shoulders taking the total from 39 for 4 to 123 before Martin Hawthorne was bowled for 35. Jim Shea took on the mantel of a supporting role to Martin Hillier’s progressive innings, and it was noted that one boundary was even scored on the offside – another spoke to add to the wagon wheel, and a lonely spoke at that.

Martin, or his gammy leg, had had enough after scoring 77 and retired with the score on 157, thus bring the 4th Hillier to the wicket, namely Bertie, son of Martin, brother of Archie, Nephew of James. Bowled! Golden Duck and a third for the family – has Wisden ever known this before?

This signalled Jim to lead the charge which he did ably before retiring himself on 29 including 4 fours. Matt Culmer and Simon Swales saw the Rioteers through to tea with a respectable 188 for 6 after being 39 for 4.

Tea was a joy to behold – both in its quantity and quality. Sandwiches generously filled with a range of savoury flavours, an assorted buffet of cakes and bowls of sausage rolls and other finger food – enough for the team and the travelling support (some all the way from Birmingham) to fill their bellies while analysing the extraordinary ebbs and flows of the previous 2 hours.

However, tide, time and tea waiteth for no man and as the Longparish opening pair strode to the wicket, the skipper realised he’d have to cajole his team away from the feast and girder their loins for the field.

Longparish’s young side made assured and steady progress, surpassing the Rioteer’s total with two overs and 6 wickets to spare. However, the innings was punctuated by some notable events! The first was the fact that Matt Culmer, having clearly worked on his new bowling style, got a wicket! The second, that he pulled off a most remarkable catch off his own bowling to set up a hat-trick. He took the catch at mid-on, having finished his follow through at silly mid-off. Somehow, and this is the reason for the late report, he managed to stop, turn, run, leap and fly about 15 yards in the space of a second to pull off a gravity defying catch – a feat only possible at the limits of the space-time-continuum. Matt was the pick of the bowlers finishing with 2-21.

Archie put in a solid 5 overs, without success, before he had to leave to book his camping spot on Wimbledon Common to ensure a Monday ticket at the All England Club. This brought to the field Wilf Hillier, Longparish under 10s and experienced Rioteer sub-fielder who stopped a few certain boundaries! Bertie was worked hard by the skipper and earned the wicket of his nemesis, Tally, and ended up bowling 13 overs 1-52.

James Whiting caught a well-judged skier – that should probably be sky-er? – off Hillier M, as did Martin Hawthorne off Hillier J. Unfortunately for Hillier J, Martin was standing in the cow field and the umpire signalled a six!

Simon Swales, James Whiting and Robert Rinaldo all looked good in their spells, and were unlucky not to have more success. Robert is compiling a separate spreadsheet of statisitics to include assists, runs stopped, played and missed etc (good luck Robert!). Tim was compact and agile behind the stumps – keeping up the tradition of strong Rioteer wicket-keepers!

The youthful Longparish, apart from the Golden Duck, all made runs with their opener retiring having made fifty. Tally made 23, and the Gardner brothers chipped in with scores in the 30s.

I think that was just about it apart from a merry time was had at the Cricketers, where Tim and James W swore allegiance to the Rioteers – at least that was my interpretation – so we hope to see them again soon!