“They seek him here, they seek him there....” – unlike the Scarlet Pimpernel, Max Renwick was consipicuously unelusive at Manderston’s final match of the season, played with superb last-minute organisation at Chatton, where Max happens to be the club president.
As the home side had 12 players and Manderston only 10, he gallantly offered to play for the opposition, so that his side now became the other side, and vice versa.
His reasonaing was that whatever happened, he could claim to have been on the winning side.
Unfortunately one of the home side then twisted their ankle, so, in the best tradition of turncoats everywhere, Max then went back over to the Chatton camp halfway through their innings, thus making the other side his side again, or possibly vice versa.
His versatility was further demonstrated when he disguised himself as a sheep and fielded at deep point, though investigation by resident ovine expert kiwi Foxy Walsh proved that this was actually Flossie, wandering in from the next field, and Max was actually having a crafty fag in the shade at long off.
Tacked on to these selectorial shenanigans was some good, fun cricket played in lovely weather in beautiful surroundings, the perfect end to what has been a slightly frustrating season.
Chatton won the toss and opted to bat first on a slightly sticky pitch, and opening bowlers Ollie Farr and James Conington soon took control of proceedings, Chatton being 4 down for just 13 runs after 9 overs.
The wickets included two good pieces of work by wickie Walsh – a sharp catch off an underedged slash, and a lightning quick run out.
Max inevitably came on and bowled out his own player, however, Aaron Scott then played a great innings to rescue Chatton from the doldrums.
Although hampered by an injured leg, which meant he never took more than a single, he proceeded to lose several balls by hitting sixes into the neighbouring fields with frankly unnecessary violence. There was some spin in the pitch, and when the bowlers allowed this to take effect the scoring rate slowed markedly.
A local rule meant that Scott had to retire when he reached 50, bringing a measure of relief to the perspiring fielders, and George Farr and Mark Conington kept things in check with a wicket each, though it has to be said that Peter Tyser really should have deposited George’s rank long hop into the next field rather than deflecting it on to his stumps.
Special mention should be made of Rich Thomson, who bowled excellently at the death, and whilst he might retain his sobriquet of “Pie Chucker”, these pies are now high quality, bursting with meat and vitamins, fit for a Queen. Chatton closed on 118 for 7 off 35 overs, a score that felt entirely gettable by a strong Mando batting line up, particularly with the short boundaries on this pitch.
Scoring was slow but steady against some fast and accurate bowling from Penn and Tuite but wickets fell at regular intervals. However, Jamie Farr was playing very nicely, eschewing the possibility of sixes for the certainty of some elegant fours.
Unfortunately he lost sight of the ball in the setting sun and hit it straight up in the air to be caught and bowled, to leave Manderston reeling at 38 for 5.
Luckily, Max was on hand to steady things and he and captain George Farr set about the bowling in fine style, with numerous fours.
By the time Max retired on 19 (cunningly preserving his infinite Manderston average) things were safer, then when George followed him to the pavilion with a not out score of 44 (including 8 fours) all was looking good.
However, it still needed cool heads to finish things off and Ollie Farr and Eddy Richards duly did so, the club vice-captain fittingly hitting the winning runs with a fine legside flick, or, as the TMS commentators might put it, an inside edge onto the pads, rolling out for an easy single.
With the final score of 119 for 5 in 24.2 overs it looks like a straightforward victory, but it was closer than appearances would have you believe.