Twenty years and 3 days prior to this fixture the first Gardeners game took place at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. The founders would have responded to any suggestion that two decades on a Gardeners team would still be taking the field with a raised eyebrow and thrown-away Latin witticism.
Over the years, traditions have been established. Gardeners ancient or modern are slow starters. Despite Cunners miserliness (economy rate of 1.8 from his 8 overs) in the opening overs, erstwhile Gardner Jon Craig (he made a single GCC appearance some years back) scored freely for UCS. It took a brace of catches, including an early contender for ‘Catch of the Season’, from The Chancellor to get the home teams blood circulating more quickly in arctic conditions. Soon we had them 49 – 3, with debutant Alex Lee taking a wicket with his second ball.
With ragged fielding (Gardeners tradition #2) the backdrop Evans and Chapman took the score over 100 before The Chancellor got the luck that escaped him last year taking 2 wickets in his 3 overs just after drinks. Thereafter, around a fine James A-P spell, The Metronome, Ed Spirling and Huggy all picked up wickets to bowl them out in 38 overs for 150. A really good bowling performance and Steve Seaton deserves special mention for dealing with the variable bounce admirably behind the stumps.
Talk at tea was positive, despite an unseemly squabble over the last slice of Battenberg. If we bat the 40 overs we win, we said.
A big if as it transpired. The UCS bowlers, using a beaut bright-red Readers, hooped the bowl all over the place and too few adapted their game accordingly. Dave fell to a good in-ducker in the first over. Ollie and James A-P flickered briefly before holing out straight after hitting big sixes. Skip (36) and Steve, the only two, to bat more than half an hour, dug-in as did Alex who looked solid for his 13. Ed’s dismissal and the mild controversy (Gardeners tradition #3) around it, was the low point in a game that was otherwise played in good spirit.
In the end we hobbled to 97 all out in just 33.4 overs. It was a game we should have won, the bowlers set it up perfectly. But, as the stats show we were just too loose when we batted: only 4 made it past 20 balls; all 3 who hit sixes got out within an over of having done so; only 2 made it into double figures; only 1 batted for over an hour.
It was good to be back together though. Good to continue the Gardeners tradition, welcome new players to the fold and see Mike pop-in to show his first-born a glimpse of the baggy courgette-green and tomato-red in action.
We play most of our games in Dulwich and net during the winter at The Oval. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oliver Cunningham (life)
Jamie Elliot (life)
Rob Navratil (life)
Hugo Nisbet (life)
David Woodhouse (life)
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