WhatsApp was all-a-meteorological-twitter ahead of this clash, as Blades from all over Hampshire gave their reports of drizzle, mizzle and rain. Would this fixture – the latest in the year since 2005 – survive the impending showers and gloom? This correspondent set off in the rain with the car headlights on, more confident of seeing rain on umbrella than leather on willow, but as the clock ticked round to 6pm the rain eased to drizzle, and Lo, there was Cricket.
Brookfield batted first, and the Humphrey/Galpin combo kept the initial score down to 4-0 from the first two overs, the opening bats letting E X Tras do all the work while they got their eyes in. Meering took a catch off Humphrey in the third, only for a No Ball to be called, and in the fourth a very smart field and throw by Farmer had a little too much fizz and eluded the Galpin grasp when a Run Out looked odds on. 14-0 from four, Brookfield surviving the scares and beginning to score. And score they did as the next over saw a four and a six from the first two balls – Brookfield were back in it. But the Barrier had other ideas and bowled their skipper for 5 in the 6th. Lowe saw a six off his next over clear the scorer’s hut but kept plugging away in the returning rain and got his revenge by bowling the number two for 22 in his next over.
The decision was taken to shorten the game to 10 overs a side, and Brookfield reached a very respectable 59-2.
60 was by no means a guarantee, especially given the conditions, but Farmer and Brown headed to the middle to begin the chase. That changed to Marsh and Brown in the second over as Farmer was caught on the slips for 2. Great fielding in the third saw the ball hurled into the keeper, leaving Brown having to dive like Tom Daley from at least five yards out to narrowly avoid the Run Out as Blades battled to keep up with the rate. A glorious flick of the wrist saw a four from Brown next over but in the fifth over he skied one to a thankful mid off. But hang on, it’s a No Ball! Catlike, Brown had survived again – but was bowled two balls later. Hurst joined Marsh in the middle to continue the chase. Meanwhile as Hamer K padded up, Hamer B as heard to implore “if you get out Dad, please don’t throw my bat.”
Marsh was back in the hut in the 6th with Blades a whisker behind the rate at 32-3. Humphrey strode to the centre to show everyone how it’s done hitting two big fours. 18 needed from 18 balls. Some good running and disciplined calling, combined with less disciplined calling from the pavilion, brought the score to 51-4 when Hurst retired hurt in the ninth having tweaked a muscle. Hamer K went to the middle and quickly came back again, and so it was Galpin and Humphrey who needed to hit nine from the last over for the win. Willow was brandished, yards were covered, and it came down to two needed from the last ball. Galpin connected, and the pair set off for a run that they probably wouldn’t have risked if it weren’t for the match riding on it. They made it safely home – just – and that was it. Blades ended on 59-4 for the first time ever….
RESULT: MATCH TIED
Champagne moment contenders:
Brown’s slide to avoid the run out
Hamer B’s sledging of Hamer K before he was even batting
Lowe adopting a “Roaming Scorer” approach to operating the ESB