For what felt like the first time this season, we were finally given a break from the weather gods and arrived in Wimbledon with the ground looking resplendent in the glorious sunshine. The pitch side perambulation threw up the inevitable discourse regarding what to do if we won the toss – the usual suspects decrying that “You must bat on this!” or “Let’s see how it plays in the first innings…”
Banishing the opinions of others from his mind, Chipperton won the toss and elected to field, which could have proved costly with a couple of players absent shortly before the start. One of these was Jeavons who, replete in pink converse, looked like he was off to a festival! Perennial alarm dodger Symo also made a similarly sheepish late arrival, but we managed to beat the Bank Holiday availability dilemma and fielded a strong 11.
Hill opened up with the pairing of Bhups and Charlie, with the latter particularly keen to banish the demons of being launched into the nearby tennis courts in our previous visit to Cottenham Park! The opening breakthrough came following a period of sustained pressure and dot balls, with Charlie luring one of the openers into a drive that spooned to Jeavons at cover. This spurred Bhups into action and he claimed an LBW moments after his previous delivery sparked a huge and convincing appeal. Having weathered the opening barrage, the remaining opener started to go on the offensive and cut Charlie straight to point, where he was dropped by Schneider – much to everyone’s surprise after his ground-fielding masterclass in the first 10 overs! The drop was not a costly one, as Charlie used his full frame to nonchalantly pluck the ball out of the air after it was driven firmly back at him the very next ball.
With the score at 27-3 after the opening 10, the skipper opted to bring himself on to freshen things up. This decision was vindicated as it catalysed what can only, at best, be described as naive cricket (although “brainless” was the adjective used on the day). His first delivery brought a wicket as the advancing batsman, not needing a sighter, charged down the track and prodded the ball to Symo. The second followed shortly after another batsman charged down the wicket only to miss the ball and have Stupples whip the bails off. At 41-5 and with more than 20 overs remaining, Corinthians were at something of a crossroads: continue swinging from the hip or patiently rebuild the innings. Was the outcome ever in doubt?
For those unfamiliar with the setting, the overhanging branches at one end of the ground loom over the boundary rope and offer the promise of 6 runs at any contact. Therefore, much like the Sirens in antiquity, who lured nearby sailors to their demise with their enchanting music and singing voices, Chipperton coaxed the Corinthians batsmen into trying to clear the rope. Bhups was stationed at long off and he held on to one catch in the deep, although he was switched with Charlie after their captain twice narrowly evaded Bhups’ grasp. This switch worked immediately as Bhups – now at long-on – ran in and held on to a skewed effort at hitting a third maximum. The fifth wicket of the spell was a carbon copy of the first as, much against his instincts, Symons held on to a simple catch at cover. Jeavons finished the job at the other end and claimed the 2 remaining wickets in the 23rd over to leave Hill with a target of 93 for victory.
Hill made a positive start to the run chase and benefitted from a combination of wayward bowling and fluid strokeplay. Bhups took on the role of aggressor as Stupples looked to play himself into some form at the other end. The former found the boundary on a consistent basis as the hosts persevered with an attacking field. Bhups brought up his half-century in style and ensured that we were in an unassailable position before eventually falling for 58, just 2 runs shy of victory. This meant that Mackay had the unenviable task of going in for the dying embers of the innings, although he overcome Symo’s sledging at square leg umpire to survive on 0*. Stupples hit the winning runs in a welcome return to form (17*), as Hill wrapped up the game with around 25 overs to spare.
All in all, a comprehensive victory and our fielding was particularly pleasing. Thankfully we do not have many occasions in which several players are reduced to spectator roles, so thanks to Elliot, Rob Schneider and Symo who missed out with bat and ball on this occasion. Similarly, Mackay and Barry did not get the game they would normally expect, but this is due to being victims of the team’s success on the day.
There’s always another game/collapse to look forward to at this club.
Fielder of the day: Rob Schneider