4 July 2019 Cricketer Cup Round 2Repton Pilgrims v Downside Wanderers30 June 2019 Solid win for the Pilgrims
O thou who passest thro' our valleys in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer,
Oft pitched'st here thy golden tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair.
Arriving at the ground on the morning of the match, it was surely impossible not to recall the words of William Blake in his poem To Summer. Replace 'golden tent' with 'enormous marquee' and the scene is perfectly set, as the tousle-haired young Pilgrims filed into the pavilion in varying states of disrepair. Such was the gloriousness of the day, the flatness of the pitch and the languor of the players, it was definitely a bat first day.
The Pilgrims lost the toss and were bowling. Skipper Poynton wisely decided to open the bowling with veteran Campion (in his first Cricketer Cup outing this millennium) before the effects of the Deep Heat wore off, and he and young quick Bull got the Pilgrims off to a solid start. The batting appeared largely unthreatening, and Campion was able to snare three early wickets. Walker and Jennings rebuilt with a 47-run partnership, helped by some good fortune and terrible catching. The Sookias drop, which saw the ball arc gently two metres from the bat straight to him, will live long in the memory. In truth, this was not a fielding performance to be remembered and the Pilgrims were fortunate that the dropped catches did not cost them.
A 39-run partnership for the seventh wicket was the only further resistance but solid spells from Brodrick, White and Mann and an outstanding couple of spells from dead-eye Lacey restricted Downside to 157 all out. Lacey clean-bowled three batsmen, impressively flattening middle stump each time. Meanwhile Sookias redeemed himself with an excellent catch and Mann took an outstanding caught and bowled. The Pilgrims were quickly 12 for 2 in reply, with both Jacques and Murrall falling to opening bowler Moran. However, Sookias and Brodrick eased early jitters, playing with purpose and intelligence to take the score to 109. Sookias's pull shot was in particularly fine fettle, while Brodrick habitually advanced down the track before unfurling an array of handsome strokes. He was spectacularly caught at point for 55 off 44 balls. Brodrick was the third to fall and with 50 still needed, the Pilgrims were facing a slight wobble with the last of the big guns, Poynton, walking to the wicket. But Downside's seventh bowler Tom Heaven delivered a poor over and Poynton was quick to feast on this manna from Heaven, smashing four magnificent sixes in one over before being bowled attempting a distinctly diabolical shot in an effort to hit his fifth. By this time, however, the target was just eight runs away and Sookias, with a finely-crafted 56 not out, saw the Pilgrims over the line with 32 overs to spare.
The Pilgrims are grateful to the umpires, Andy Lunn and Graham Harvey, and to scorers John Wallis and Sheri Allsop. Thanks too to the supporters, including headmaster Mark Semmence and various distinguished former players.
Next stop: Old Malvernians on 14 July at Repton. Do come along.