The third man
The route from Sheffield to Lower Wield is not regularly travelled, however our number three batsman left at 7am, and after a hearty northern breakfast of roast whippet and two slices of gravy, arrived at the Yew Tree at midday in the aforementioned suburb of Alresford, and in singular glory ordered the chicken jambalaya, and a pint of the landlords most refreshing tonic.
Basking in the late autumnal sunshine, and with only the quiet meanderings of Hampshire’s finest pub to occupy his thoughts, the third of the Rioteers strokesmen, relaxed and allowed his mind to drift.
Eventually, and before the minds travels were completed, the team arrived, and sausages were quickly ordered and dispatched, the Jambalaya retired undefeated, the merits of GPS, sat nav, and following your nose were discussed, Brazier turned up, injured, with only 13 functioning ribs, and then refreshments drained the mighty XI, walked the long eight yards to the pitch.
A strong XI with returns from Walder and Green, and a youth policy bordering on the sensible, our numero trois watched the skipper trudge up the long hill from toss success, and announce a batting foray, and himself and Walder in, over 100 years of experience, and things progressed smoothly on the rock hard bowl, until Walder submitted to a well taken caught and bowled.
Our batting ménage a trois became two as they crossed halfway down the slope, and our eponymous hero solidly repelled the first couple of deliveries with ease under the watchful eye of the young Hillier ( A) officiating into the sun.
Into the final third however and this delivery pitched, slowed and clipped a high trailing thigh, leading to the slow lifting of the first digit by the young official, and the long trudge uphill of our tertiary willower commenced, for a duck.
The rest of the innings was passed by our protagonist in glorious sunshine just over the high boundary, watching the Rioteers solidly batt until reaching tea on 168 for 8, with Brazier not out 11, having been restored to his rightful position of 7.
As ever with the Wield, the tea was an absolute winner, the tea of the year trophy being retained once more, and the Rioteers went back for seconds and indeed, date I say, thirds, but the gargantuan feast remained barely troubled even with the trenchermen Walder Green and Williams, well supported by the second smallest of Braziers future Rioteers who displayed an admirable enjoyment of the lemon drizzle.
Then in the still resplendent sunshine our northern emissary, re-took his position, but this time just inside the boundary, at, well, Third man, and there he remained, about 20 yards from his original hostelry pew, until with about 10 overs remaining and the Wield oppo on 78 for 5, it was realised that it would be more sensible to bring him in.
Greeting his colleagues for the first time, he proceeded to watch the Wield block out the remaining 10 overs with the Rioteers unable to make any impression upon the remaining batsmen, and the match ended in a slow draw, despite the best (and worst) endeavours of three Hillier bowlers.
Retiring to whence he came, and a further refreshing tonic, our third man, reflected on a day well spent, if you’re going to travel 5 hours, on a stomach lined only with roast whippet, get a three ball duck and field at third man all day, then there are very few better places to do it.