Christie Crushes calne
fter the glorious weather of the Lockdown in April and May, when cricket was a distant dream, there was always a chance that the eventual return of the game at the local level would be bedevilled by poor weather, and alas that has come to pass. With the 3rds first fixture at Goatacre washed away after two very soggy overs, and last weekend’s game with Warminster called off mid-morning due to the overnight rain, it was a distinctly ominous drive to Calne through floodwaters as close as 10 miles from the Beversbrook sports complex. And yet, for once the weather gods were kind, and the match was completed with just a few spots of rain, albeit with a constant, strong breeze playing havoc with the bowling.
On winning the toss, and with a more batting than bowling looking eleven, that was the choice. For once, the 3rds produced a measured innings, with a solid start, an acceleration after drinks, and finally some superb ‘finishing’ at the end as the tried Calne bowlers were flayed to all ends. Having no direct line to TMS’s Andy Zaltzman, and no inclination to go through the scorecards myself, I can’t say how unusual it is, but all those who batted reached double figures, and there was no hint of a collapse. After a solid base had been laid by Guy, Hendy and your correspondent, Keith Pullin cut loose, showing scorn for a year away from cricket and blasting a swift 40, compiled mainly from boundaries from short pitched deliveries. As Marshfield have found to their cost previously (see the Beehive report) dropping catches can cost significantly, and the Calne keeper must surely rue grassing a routine catch that would have seen Keith back to the ‘pavilion’ with a golden duck. After Keith, came a belligerent Malcolm Miller, he also taking full advantage of some shorter bowling, on a much bouncier wicket than is ever encountered at Tormarton. Where once the target of 160 had looked sensible, now the target had shifted, and over 200 a certainty. Now came the innings of the day. Joining this year’s batting sensation Tanner, Will Christie produced a devastating cameo of an innings. Having never passed 27 in senior cricket, Will clearly found the bounce in the wicket to his liking, and unleashed a series of power shots, including no fewer than five maximums on his way to 60 not out. With barely a dot ball in the final few overs, Marshfield ended on 249 for 6, with Tanner falling on the final delivery.
Following the now customary picnic by the pitch, Calne set about chasing down the imposing total. Having suffered three sizable defeats already this season, they did not look a side brimming with confidence and quickly lost their openers, to a simple slip catch by Tanner off Christie, and a slightly more challenging catch by Miller at mid-on from Duckett. Both opening bowlers found the surface to their liking – Christie reverting this week to medium pace extracted a fair degree of bounce, and Duckett bowled a consistently full length at a decent pace. For all their weakness, Calne put up some stubborn resistance and drinks were reached with only three wickets down, Ruddell having taken his first of the day. As so often happens, the drinks interval brought wickets. The first was an odd affair. The luckless Hodder had a catch spilled, but in the ensuing chaos, Duckett through down the stumps and ran out the non-striker (who would have been safe if she had run her bat in). The very next ball, Hodder induced the Calne skipper to play on from a wide delivery and suddenly Calne were five down and struggling. The rest fell quickly, and it was Ruddell who found himself on a roll, taking a career third five wicket haul, including a smart one handed grab from Tanner – his second slip catch of the day. Skipper Creed ended the match, bowling the Calne number 11 and Marshfield took the win.
Full marks to Calne for getting a side together in difficult circumstances, and in the face of some heavy defeats. The game was played in an excellent spirit, and clearly Calne have some promising prospects in their ranks, not least the young opener Sealy, who ran in hard and bowled with no little aggression on the bouncy track. For Marshfield, there were several performances of note – the top of the order for once providing a solid platform, with a middle order taking fill advantage. Both Pullin and Christie produced some majestic power shots, and Christie’s innings, combined with a decent opening spell of bowling claims the MoM, with Ruddell’s bowling mentioned in dispatches.
Lastly - rumours of a new theory on the origin of Covid-19, linked to Keith’s ghastly coffin contents, have been denied by Public Health England, but what do they know?