TANNER's HEROICS SEE DEVIZES ROUNDLY BEATEN
On a baking hot day, with an erratic pitch, tricky to bat on, in front of very few spectators, the home team found themselves five wickets down for not very many, only to be rescued by a magnificent 6th wicket century partnership, on the way to a memorable win. I’m referring to England’s epic test victory at Old Trafford of course, but the description fits equally well to the Marshfield 3rds’ excellent win over competitive Devizes 3rds team.
With a strong team, packed with bowling talent, it was a surprise to find Marshfield compiling the largest total since Avebury a couple of seasons ago, eventually closing on 244-9. This total had seemed unlikely, if not impossible as opener Guy watched a succession of batting partners depart in short order. Marching to the crease at 48 for 5, Graham Tanner, fresh from a lusty 40 the previous week, now set about rescuing the innings. With Richard playing a well-paced supporting role Graham launched some fabulous blows against the tiring Devizes bowlers. Notwithstanding a few close shaves, he sailed untroubled past 50, before marching resolutely on. The century partnership was roundly applauded and it seemed that nothing could stop a well‑deserved century. Alas, he finally perished on the Australians nemesis score of 87 (13 from a century), picking out cover with a back-foot punch. A measure of his dominance comes from the scorebook. After the initial collapse, very few singles or twos are to be found, just fours and sixes. It was truly raining boundaries at Tormarton. Graham’s 87 contained eight fours and three sixes. Richards innings of 68 were crucial too, so when he too departed, there was a sniff that Devizes might still restrict to target to less than 200. Now the real engine room came into play. After a stylish, but brief, innings from Ruddle, skipper Creed and the Devonshire day release guest Hodder continued to rain of boundaries, supported by a watchful Dicko, following captain’s orders to see out the full overs, and not just protecting his average. So 244 for 9 at socially distanced tea, and the job half done.
That Marshfield would not have things all their own way was immediately apparent. Opener Gaw tucked into anything short from the opening bowling of Dixon and Taylor (surely a shoe shop in Great Malvern?- Ed), and quickly Devizes rattled to 28. Taylor, in particular, was finding the newly oriented pitch at Tormarton a challenge, running up the considerable slope, and with a sizeable crater on the crease. Dan gained his revenge in the 5th over, extracting a little extra bounce to induce an edge to keeper Hendy and dangerous Gaw was gone. Dixon soon joined the fun, claiming the other opener LBW, but Hockley had taken over where Gaw had left off, and the score was already 52. Now Hodder entered the fray with devastating first over. There are moments on a cricket pitch where time seems to stand still, most often with a skied shot and a catcher moving in. Worse is where two fielders, eyes fixed on the ball, are closing on the same spot. So it was here. The batsman had launched the ball high in a direction between mid-on and midwicket, and both Dan Taylor and Chris Ruddle were closing fast, eyes to the sky. Dan had called loudly, but to no avail and Chris still came on. It seemed a collision must result, and certain the chance would be grassed. Astonishingly neither occurred. At the last Dan realised the danger and pulled out, and Ruddle shoved out a left hand and triumphantly claimed the catch. There may not be a better grab this season. The skipper was left (almost) speechless.
The next ball was crashed to the boundary for four, but the one after that was superb. Bowling left arm round, the ball angled into the batsman who stepped across and was hit plumb in front. Hodder immediately appealed with a gusto that Stuart Broad would have been proud of. What he couldn’t see, as he was facing the wrong way, was that the ball had continued on from the pad and removed the leg bail. He was out, probably twice over, but in the book, it goes down as bowled. This seemed likely to be a pivotal over, and so it proved.
With Will Christie at one end and Hodder replaced by Harry Steel, wickets fell with regularity, with the only real resistance shown by young Caleb Hollow, who belied his small stature with some well-timed shots, racking up a swift 25. The last two wickets fell to the spin of Ruddle, teasing lower-order batsmen with flight, bowling Cross, and inducing Hollow to rashly leave his crease, with Hendy completing the stumping. In the end a convincing victory by 102 runs, but it could have been very different if Devizes had held more of their catches. As the old saying goes – catches win matches.
Some last points. Tormarton’s decision to rotate the square by 90 degrees looks a good one, with the outfield now a more consistent size, and no need to short boundaries on the edge of the square. The downside will be the challenge of bowling up the hill, but the better bowlers will be able to use the slope to their advantage. This correspondent suspects it will favour the slower spinner, with the slope influencing the bounce.
Some strong contenders for MoM. Richard’s diligent half-century and Hodder’s tidy, if brief bowling, but the award must go to Graham Tanner’s excellent 87, which turned the game and rescued Marshfield from a potentially low score.
Thanks must be given to your intrepid correspondent and the chap from Devizes for umpiring in the incessant heat for almost 90 overs, above and beyond the call of duty - cheers - Editor in Chief