It's cuffing home
The Fortfield witnesses another heavy 2nd XI victory as Cooke and Gingell strike with bat and ball
The heatwave continues. World Cup fever intensifies. Sidmouth 2nd XI continue their quest for honours in C division East. Time for David Mansfield to make a concession to the escalating temperatures and excitement. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the cuffs on his shirt were unbuttoned and upturned with one fold of sleeve. A tantalising glimpse of wrist. Enough to top off the intoxicating atmosphere of anticipation on another sun drenched afternoon in the valley.
Having lost the toss Sidmouth were requested by Whimple to field first on a baking day, the visitors wishing to have first go on a Whitehall 'special', which has a tendency to leave all bowlers feeling that sense of dread where they know the surface is going to offer little assistance.
Tom Simmons had a new opening bowler partner in this match. Ed Hurley returned from holiday in Ibiza, where a week of museum and church visits had left him refreshed and invigorated. Skipper Anthony Griffiths asked him to open up from the town end, taking the usual berth of Fionn Wardrop, who has headed off on vacation himself, to Greece, for a week of foam parties and raving.
Whimple's openers duly made serene progress in the first ten overs, despite much huffing and puffing from the young bowlers. Byron Knowles uncharacteristically shelled a chance from Ed Hurley's bowling. Otherwise, it was clear that Whitehall's slab of road held no problem for batsmen against the seamers. Griffiths concurred with this view so it was spin all the way after the openers had completed their tidy spells. Messrs Holmes, Dibble, Gingell and Cooke bowled all the remaining overs.
Despite the benign conditions, and two further missed opportunities (catches), Whimple were not scoring at a rate that was going to trouble Sidmouth's formidable looking batting line-up. It was widely acknowledged that a minimum score of 275 was required. In this knowledge the scoreboard pressure was causing the batsmen start taking undue risks. They did strike three or four sixes but there was a growing feeling that the batsmen were not playing a percentages game any longer.
One of missed opportunities, referred to above, couldn't be called a dropped catch because nobody came close to laying a hand on the ball. It may be surprising to readers to learn that the ball spent a good three seconds (hang time) in the air and landed no more than six feet from where the batsman stood, having top edged a pull shot vertically. Where was keeper Cameron Grainger-Evans? Well, he was spinning around behind the stumps looking skywards trying to locate the ball, with screams from the fielders trying to tell him it was pretty much directly above him. Find it he couldn't. The reprieved batsman couldn't believe his luck. Cameron gave it the double teapot.
After Daley Holmes' initial breakthrough, to a terrific catch in the deep by 'Liz' Hurley, Whimple's two best batsman managed a complete mix up in attempting a single and a simple run out accounted for the other opener. Once their number three, Cameron Kidd, was bowled by Dibble, in the last over of his spell, the complexion of the innings changed. Matt Cooke and Nick Gingell, bowling in tamdem, perhaps for the first time, took six wickets between them, and left Whimple at 182-9 at the tea interval. Surely this total was insufficient.
Sidmouth's top three, Isaac Thomas, Cooke and Gingell all scored half centuries and each made batting look very easy, scoring freely to all parts of the ground. The home side cruised to victory with 20 overs to spare. Cooke (61) the only wicket to fall. It was a bit of a 'cuffing' - in batman style terminology.
The players on the field of play always knew the England football score thanks to the cheers heard from the local bars and the pavilion. Incredibly the 3rd XI had returned from their game at Clyst Hydon by the 3pm kick-off time, largely thanks to their hosts being reluctant to play competitively due to their preference to watch the football. It's a funny old world; and a different World Cup. But it could be coming home.