Etonians have long memories – apparently, the last time they played against Manderston was 30 years ago.
The home side were very pleased to welcome the Eton Ramblers – a side consisting of alumni from this prestigious seat of learning, who were on a short tour of Scotland.
Circumstances dictated an early start on Saturday, with lunch at the halfway stage.
On a glorious September day, Eton won the toss and put Manderston in.
Once again the home team failed to bat out the allotted 40 overs, inadvertently channelling England’s current frailties.
The bowling was fast and accurate, and the fielding excellent – former Etonians are a formidable bunch of cricketers who have clearly been taught how to play properly.
Fergus Barne played a good hand, hitting 36, including two enormous sixes, but the standout innings was by Hayden Martin, who hit 59 in great style, with five fours and two sixes, and caused Etonian heads to droop momentarily as it looked as if he would go on to take the game away from them.
Unfortunately his next attempted six went straight to a fielder, who calmly took a steepling catch.
Only Chuck Scott (14) and Mike Scott (10) gave any support to these two and Manderston closed on 141; a respectable, and potentially defendable, total but, once again, not commanding.
Of the bowlers, openers F. Kelly (1 for 17) and Tom Dalrymple (1 for 10) were exceptional; H. Warburton (1 for 23) was steady; M. Haldane (1 for 27) and P. Cottee-Jones (2 for 35) persevered well to pick up wickets.
Finally, spinner Steel bowled one over and picked up the last three wickets for no runs, the only consolation for the batters was that a hat-trick was narrowly avoided.
The Eton openers started off positively, looking to score at every opportunity, while being respectful of good balls – proper batting, in other words.
However Lewis Baird charged in with hostile intent, and dismissed C. Steel with a cracker for just four runs. However, H. Berry, at the other end was going well, hitting a six and a four until he was run out by a superb throw for 38.
When Ercham was bowled by Michael Scott for 13, the Etonian score was 85 for 3 and things looked as if they could go either way.
However, J. Watt and H. MacLeod batted sensibly and well, taking full toll of the occasional bad ball, as Manderston tried an assortment of different bowlers to break the partnership.
With 125 on the board, the game seemed over but there was a twist in the tail as skipper H. Martin introduced his son Kaylen to the attack.
Bowling old-fashioned line and length, with a hint of movement, he bowled top scorer Watt (39) with his third ball. He then proceeded to take a wicket in his next over, giving hope of a dramatic reversal.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t bowl at both ends and a trickle of runs from the other bowlers edged the visitors towards their target.
In his fourth over Martin Jr snaffled two more wickets – one stumped by George Farr, the other drilled straight to cover, leaving Eton seven wickets down but with just one run to get.
A slightly nervous hit and a wholehearted charge down the wicket got the single that was needed, leaving the Ramblers victorious and preventing Kaylen of the chance to grabbing the remaining wickets needed.
But what a birthday for him – four good wickets and the presentation of a Manderston cap to the birthday boy.
Eton’s motto is Floreat Etona, which can be translated as ‘May Eton Flourish’. These players certainly lived up to it. Manderston doesn’t have a motto but, it did, it could be ‘Play in the true spirit of cricket” – and both sides succeeded in this.