Mandarins (175 for 7) lose to Thursley (176 for 5) by five wickets
As a taster for the forthcoming visit of the Lashings All Stars on 4 September (squad includes Devon Malcolm, Owais Shah, Monty Panesar and Gordon Greenidge – tickets £40 including a three course lunch) a small but select group of spectators at the Thursley ground was entertained on a sunny last day of July by a high-scoring game packed with incident, and, for the home crowd, ending with the right result.
On a pitch which turned out to offer both bounce and turn, visiting captain Andrew Somerville won the toss and chose to bat. Though a seriously pacey opening pair quickly reduced the Mandarins to 3 for 2, Somerville (78 not out) was unperturbed, putting on 102 with Brand (47) for the third wicket. With valuable support from Munro and Wilmot (whose late arrival was justified on this occasion by his kindly making himself available at very short notice) a total of 175 off the allotted 35 overs looked competitive.
And for the first 15 overs or so of Thursley’s response, it was. Heard bowled with undiminished pace off his diminished run up and was unlucky not to claim a couple of wickets. At the other end Hurst was frequently unplayable. His first ball was a fast leg break which bowled one of the opening Harris brothers; the look of bewildered disbelief on the batsman’s face as he walked back to the pavilion was enough to make the trip down the A3 worthwhile.
Forman, who picked up two wickets, and McIntyre (one) were also frequently threatening, but a sharp missed chance off the latter on Smallbone’s first ball proved costly as he and Meears A (one of another pair of Thursley brothers) began to middle the ball powerfully. At one point a six went into a particularly vicious looking holly bush. Your correspondent was all for giving up the search for the ball, but Munro, made of sterner stuff, found a way in from the back and immediately cried ‘I’ve found a ball, but not sure it’s the right one’ followed by another voice – ‘so have I’, and a third, ‘and I can see two more’, one of which turned out to be the match ball.
The last wicket to fall came in what turned out to be the final over. Needing six to win, Smallbone decided to call Meears for a suicidal-looking single, it later transpired in order to give him a chance to get to his fifty. Bowler Brand and keeper Wilmot combined, just, to get the bails off in time, but the square leg umpire initially judged the desperately diving batsmen not out, before then changing his mind (no question of any dissent from the Mandarins fielders influencing him of course…) on the grounds that, while over the line, the bat wasn’t grounded. ‘The umpire’s indecision is always final’ someone quipped. Run out 49. Many Mandarins will empathise.
While Thursley in the end won with plenty of overs in hand, this was one of the better Mandarins performances of the year. Come on chaps, let’s build on the momentum!