On a stifling Sunday morning, 11 fine Hogs and Bounders arrived at a sun-kissed Warnford. The pitch looked good and the outfield fast and it would be a good toss to win. Unfortunately from the Hogs’ point of view, the toss wasn’t as glorious as the weather and the Bounders elected to bat first ensuring that the Hogs were the first side to drain sun cream supplies. Nevertheless, the Hogs morale was high and this was reflected in a decent opening spell from Rob and John Portal. John (the younger brother) was generously gifted the honour of bowling down the slope by his wise elder brother and dutifully picked up the first wicket of the day, bowling one of their openers for 8. It was important to get off to a fast start in order to keep everyone optimistic during what was an energy sapping day. A few overs went by where runs were flowing rather nicely for the Bounders until second slip Ed Chrichton decided enough was enough. The Bounders number three got a thick edge off John’s bowling, the ball flying quickly towards the 3 slips and a gully. Chrichton moved equally quickly to his right hand side and got down athletically to pluck the ball from behind him to take one of the best catches one is likely to see. The batsman was as astounded as the rest of us as to how the ball stuck, but he showed great sportsmanship in congratulating Chrichton for the best catch he had ever seen. Needless to say, Bucket Hands Chrichton remained at slip for the rest of the innings.
It was Captain Portal who struck next dismissing the other opener with a sharp caught and bowled off a leading edge. This was followed by a vicious dipping full toss which cleaned up the Bounder’s captain, Archie Isles. At this stage, the Hogs were in a commanding position with the Bounders poised at 82-4. However, it was becoming clear that the prized wicket of Reynolds was top priority. Ably supported by Kano, the silky left hander was strong through the off side and gave few chances to a very hot and increasingly frustrated Hogs’ XI, smashing Portal’s spirits with two consecutive sixes whilst the Bar Steward and President Roger Hunt prepared with boundless optimism for the next drinks break which was eagerly awaited by our thirsty Hogs.
At lunch, the score stood at 150-4 which seemed about honours even, especially since The Reynolds was still at the crease. After a delicious lunch and plenty of potatoes, play recommenced with a big session required. Alex White bowled with an unpredictable zippiness and on the first ball of his fourth over leaped with upmost gumption, raising his arms in appeal to the stone faced umpire who stood unaffected with unwavering sternness. In a flicker of his bushy eyebrows he conducted many mysterious calculations in his cricketing brain before proclaiming the woeful decree: Not Out! Just going down leg. On another day Alex would have had a couple of wickets, but alas, it was not to be on this fateful Sunday afternoon. A fresh faced Ollie Kelly provided the much needed uncertainty in the Bounders’ attack. He bowled with control and variation up the hill and was rewarded with the first of the prized wickets when Kano holed out to Alex Kelly for a decent 41. Durston was craftily holding up the other end and the two dovetailed excellently resulting a quick flurry of wickets, Kelly bowling Metcalfe with a beautifully delivery which would have got most batsmen out and then Durston claimed the wickets of Edgell and Parker in quick succession. The picnicking spectators were elated with this new tempo and meanwhile the scorer Linda was meticulously scribbling away, annotating with passionate accuracy the rip roaring adventures she beheld from afar.
The last Bounder came to the crease with the clear intention of batting out in order to allow Reynolds to continue his dominant display and remain a thorn in the Hog’s side. Durston had other ideas with more tight bowling, frustrating Reynolds as he closed in on his hundred. Three short, few would have bet against him however more probing bowling from the wise head of Durston lead to Reynolds missing a straight one and falling agonisingly short of what would have been a top draw hundred. At 209 all out, the Hogs were understandably proud of their mornings work.
With the pitch looking good, oodles of time and a modest target of 209, the Hogs were optimistic as Ollie Kelly and Bill Gunyon strode to the crease. Ollie looked assured early on, positive in defence and easy on the eye in attack. Bill was also looking relatively unfazed and at 33 for no wicket after 9 overs, there was little cause for concern. Things started to go wrong when Ollie was bowled off a good ball by Parker for a good looking 24. Still, no need to panic… Wakefield was the next man in at 3 and having been in the runs this season, was perhaps the victim of a long session with the gloves as he was trapped LBW for 0. It was at this stage that it became clear the Hogs needed to buckle down and get to tea – eat plenty of cake and re set. However wickets fell far too regularly to some good bowling but mostly loose shot making in a situation which didn’t require hurried batting. Lowe and Brereton both scored freely as they looked to attack but eventually were victim to the Bounder’s pressure. The tail provided a little resistance but by the time White came to the crease, the target was out of reach and the Hogs were bowled out for 147, 62 short of the total required.
Whilst not the result the Hogs wanted, it was a superb day all round. Lunch was, as always a triumph and Louisa Portal baked a plethora of deliciousness which was enjoyed by all at tea. Many thanks to the Bounders for their part in the day and thanks to all who came down to support.