A lesson for Eton as Manderston steal win

Organising games of cricket can be a fickle business - and the much-anticipated match between Manderston and the Eton Ramblers was no exception.

Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 2:45 pm
Manderston in recent cricket action (library image)

The Ramblers’ dates on a northern tour, taking in Manderston CC and The Grange, are always organised well in advance.

However, the game was in jeopardy because of some rather disappointingly predictable and heavy August rain.

The Manderston square was untouchable in the run up to last weekend and declared unplayable.

The match was fortuitously relocated at the eleventh hour to Kelso and played on their all-weather strip at Shedden Park.

The Ramblers won the toss and asked Manderston to bat.

Will Conington, in his first appearance since carrying his bat in a match-winning performance against Tillside, managed a second ball duck, caught

behind, having slashed at a wide high bouncing delivery. Not an unfamiliar position for MCC to find themselves in.

Jamie Farr joined Tom Leslie and, after a maiden over, began to move the scoreboard on – only for Leslie to be bowled off his pads. Eight for 2 at the start of the fifth over.

R. Thomson, with one job to do, summoned an inner Rahul Dravid and occupied the crease rotating the strike with the now fluent Farr.

The all-weather strip at Kelso is a pretty true surface – the ball carries through well to the keeper and provides plenty of bounce for an accurate

bowler, and opportunities for patient batsmen.

Farr fell for 15 in the 8th over to Kelly, caught at extra cover, having played early through a bouncing, slower delivery.

The opening pair of bowlers – Lane 5 overs, 2 wickets, 1 maiden, 10 runs, and Kelly 5 overs, 1 wicket, 19 runs – kept Manderston to a meagre 29 for 3 after 10 overs.

There seemed still plenty of time, an age, 30 overs. Plenty of time to take wickets too. Thomson chipped to mid off in the same fashion as Farr for 4. Walsh tried to thrash a yorker back over the bowler’s head – to have middle stump cartwheel behind, for three.

M. Scott faced a few balls – promising stuff, with six, four, then bowled going back to a yorker.

With a lack of game time showing, C. Scott was given lbw, back and across his stumps, for two. J. Conington bowled for

two, with A. Mitchell chipping back to the bowler for two.

Manderston were reduced to 58 for 9 after 17 overs, when D. Scott joined S. Conington for an entertaining last stand of 24 runs.

S. Conington scored freely with élan and panache, seeing the Manderston innings end when D. Scott was caught for three – Manderston all out for 82. (Extras, the third highest contribution, with 14 runs).

The Ramblers are a great team to play against – youthful, sharp in the field and sporting. It didn’t go unnoticed that one Rambler batted with

a cut-down, slim practice bat, and it was quietly suggested by Manderston that if the runs were knocked off in good time, a second innings may be appropriate.

Tea was taken and the home side took to the bar for a consoling pint of Belhaven or two.

Manderston took to the field with purpose and a sneaking suspicion that they were light by 80 or so runs.

Undeterred, James Conington opened with only three runs coming in the first over, followed by three maidens overs.

Accurate and with pace, Conington was matched by Jamie Farr – beating the bat on numerous occasions. The opening pair of Whitmore and Dalrymple stood their ground, rode their luck and began to grind out some runs.

Manderston weren’t going to give this away too easily. At the first change of bowling after 10 overs, the Ramblers were 28 without loss.

There seemed plenty of time, and so it proved, to take wickets, with Sam Conington making the breakthrough in the 15th over.

The score of 54 for 1 rapidly became 55 for 3, three overs later, with two wicket maidens from S. Conington.

With only 28 runs required and 22 overs to play, the game looked like a second consecutive Ramblers victory.

C. Scott supported S. Conington and bowled with typical aggression and control – there were no easy runs on offer.

The pressure took its toll and S. Conington reaped the rewards, taking a well-deserved five.

J. Conington rejoined the fray and, not to be outdone by his twin brother, also took two wickets in two maiden overs.

The tally of 55 for 3 became 65 for 8. The Ramblers had one last batsman – having lost a player to travel-related difficulties – so it came down to the last partnership. Three overs on, only two added to the score of 67 for 8.

Manderston were on the verge. J. Conington 8 overs, 4 maidens, 10 for 3, and S. Conington 8 overs, 2 maidens 14 runs for 5, had both finished their two spells, both giving excellent performances. But there was no margin for error for the next bowlers.

M. Scott and S. Walsh took up the baton. A few runs scored off M. Scott – it felt like an age since more than a single had been scored in an over.

Five from the over, 72 for 8, only 11 required – would defeat be snatched from the jaws of victory? Walsh only conceded a single.

With pressure back on the batsmen, C. Scott took over from his younger, less experienced brother, to take the last wicket lbw for a remarkable victory.

Manderston’s fielding was excellent – only having three players over the age of 30 makes a difference.

Special mention went to Aaron Mitchell, taking a blinding catch at extra cover, and the acrobatic athleticism of Sam and James Conington and Tom Leslie, tidy as ever behind the stumps.

The opening pair for the Ramblers, Whitmore 27 runs and Dalrymple 15, were the only batsmen to trouble double figures.