Rioteers CC v Hinton Admiral CC, 27th August

With the world and his dog joining queues stretching from Ringwood to Andover just to be part of The Rioteers’ own Barmy Army, the various routes adopted by our 11½ man team – Walder taking over at tea (with thanks to the oppo for their approval) from our wicky for the day and professional comedian, Matt Culmer … did he survive his Gig? … thankfully your match manager didn’t have to do the 2nd half of the show – meant the start was delayed to await the skipper and his crew, but the vast crowds seemed to have got lost leaving a youthful Greg Williams to blow his own trumpet and chant those Rioteer anthems alone as the sole Rioteer fan.

Hinton Admiral showed due respect to the fabulously balanced blend of youth and experience put out on the day – shame the same could not be said for the ratio of bowlers to batters – by providing the semi-professional surroundings of the Bashley 1st Team pitch. Its straw coloured track looked a belter… but looks can be deceiving… and local knowledge later revealed this strip would take more than half the wickets to fall on the day, behaving like a exhausted snail in a limbo competition (with apologies to whoever first coined that phrase).

A fine performance in the field saw Hinton Admiral restricted to 140 all out in fewer than their 40 overs… yes, an overs match on a Sunday! sacrilege in the view of your Match Manager.

With the pace attack of the younger Hilliers opening and a first ball bowled from Archie, the day started brightly… in fact very brightly, this being the hottest August Bank Holiday Sunday this year …

So many fine performances would vie for the champagne moment. Would it be: the swallow dive of an attempted catch from Brazier that elicited reminders of Clive Tuck efforts from the skipper, or the end to end walks that kept Jim Shea supple enough for yet another fine fielding performance, or the valiant sprinting around the outfield from Joe Stafford, or the sibling banter from Bertie when a charge reminiscent of many an older Hillier trying to snaffle a catch that ultimately went to ground, keeping up that famous family tradition. No, the award must surely go to the beguiling Williams delivery that captured the essence of Rioteer greats Doc and Dessie’s dolly drops, a drifting out-swinger that pitched on leg and moved towards middle and leg, delivered with the venom of that same limbo dancing snail, steered almost deliberately to the hands of a waiting Archie. A bowler/fielder combo that yielded a further pair of catches during the day.

A sterling performance behind the stumps from Matt Culmer was supported by some inspired field placings from the skipper, who managed to keep back overs from Hally (2 wkts from 6.2) and Simon Culmer (2 from 5), whose efforts to return from Australia a couple of days before just to turn up for this game and to show off his Aboriginal art inspired trainers and new haircut, were widely applauded.

And so to tea, and yet another fine, assorted buffet with Chocolate Caramel Wacko bars worthy of comment from Shea and plenty of Pink Fancies to tickle Brazier.

The Shea/Walder opening partnership warm up routine of staying in the shade for as long as possible may not be followed again this year but proved beneficial for one of the pair.

Your match manager was quickly partnered by a swashbuckling Damian Stafford whose 8 was second top score (ignoring the useful 15 from Mr Extras) and helped form the highest partnership of the innings.

With the run rate being matched at the half way point, Walder’s exit for 30 revealed a tail of Brontosaurus proportions and the innings closed after 30 overs on a score of 80, just as the bar opened … perfect timing!