Yorkhull CC

Yorkhull v BroadHalfpenny

on 20th April 2003

At the home of cricket:

Hambledon.

Once a group of elite cricketing geniuses who had not played together in earnest since 1996 they finally gathered in deepest Hampshire, for their final hurrah. A game at the home of cricket, Hambledon, arranged by Derek who lived just minutes from this famous ground. Many of the team had played little or no cricket since 1996 though some still played parks cricket, evening cricket or the odd game for a select eleven. Would they be able to turn back the years and produce one last cricketing story? The team that arrived looked strong on paper. Although our top wicket taker Sid was unable to play because of a knee problem and Barry Knowles returning to the fold, and one of the few still playing regular cricket refused to play, the team was boosted by the presence of the skippers' son becoming the fourth in the Senior clan to play for Yorkhull, the first record of the day. All the regulars were there, Rob, Derek, Geoff, George, Keith, Greg and the tour's originator, the skipper, Paul. Win or lose we would go down playing together as we had done since that first tour in 1978 just 25 years previously.
 As we arrived on the ground it was clear that a pre-match net was not to be undertaken. Fears of pulled hamstrings, back strain, exhaustion or simply disinterest put paid to that idea. The one dilemma we did have to face was the fact that the skipper needed to bowl today to return to the top of the averages in fact he needed at least two wickets to do so. Therefore he could not keep wicket the job he had done with such distinction in the latter half of the Yorkhull tours. Barry Knowles was our only regular wicket-keeper and he was on the bench and Derek Mather refused to don the gloves for one last time and could not be persuaded to do so today. The dilemma was resolved with Greg Morris agreeing to turn back the years and undertake wicket-keeping duties. As we sat around looking and admiring this unique historical ground we watched some old man come up to the pavilion presumably to get a seat to watch the game. These men made us look young and sprightly. One of them approached me and said who is the skipper? I replied it was me, he shook my hand and said I am the BroadHalfpenny skipper. Amazingly it looked as if we were about to play a game in which we were still the younger side.
 At the tossup they were insistent we bat first so we did. I decided to go for the classic batting order as there was no second game here to change the order around. Rob Woodford and Derek Mather opened with a good steady partnership which was only broken when Woodford was caught after an enterprising 39. Derek soon followed after a dour 21 and we were 66 for 2. Greg Morris came and went only briefly able to roll back the years and was bowled for just nine. At this point Keith Shaw and Murray Scott came together, probably our most reliable batsmen in terms of recent performances. Keith made just 16 though Murray with an enterprising 28, with just one six on this occasion, helped moved the score on. We were 119 for four and then 119 for 5. In strode Ian Ayres, returning to the Yorkhull fold after some considerable absence. He did not disappoint, (sorry that's not true he did disappoint), going for just one run. We were 127 for six. Geoff Seaman with 11 was joined by the incomparable George Bright. George certainly continued to roll back the years and finished 20 not out whilst in the meantime the skipper sacrificed his wicket for the team and his son, Joe, batted out the final overs. We had managed to amass 156 for 8, a creditable performance.
 Tea was enjoyed before we reluctantly and creaking returned to the field. We opened with Joe Senior and the evergreen, George Bright and indeed they were 0 for 1 with Joe picking up his first Yorkhull wicket with his fourth ball, (its in the genes!). A second wicket partnership between Littlejohn and Peach threatened to take command but the batting was slow and the bowling was proving very tight. Joe came off after seven overs for just 11 runs with George having five overs for just 15. GEOFFREY Seaman came on with Murray Scott, the latter bowled to his usual high standard taking four for 30 of 14 overs. A rain break threatened the completion of the game so as we returned to the field it was clear that the time had come for the skipper to roll back the years and come on and bowl. He decided to bowl off spin and, as these games tend to throw up, it was skipper bowling to skipper. Baines-Walker was 10 not out and looking solid. Skipper came in to bowl, a perfectly flighted ball and the wickets were shattered. The boy was back! In came a sprightly 70-year-old looking worried about the quality of this bowling. Another ball was beautifully flighted Bates was simply bamboozled, missed it and was clean bowled. In all the years that Yorkhull had played there had never been a hat trick.
 The crowd were hushed and attentive (or were they asleep?). The skipper surveyed his field and wondered whether to deliver another flighted delivery but decided instead that he would bowl with a little drift hoping to catch a thin edge. He came in to bowl, the ball drifted, took an edge, nestled neatly into the gloves of the keeper. Suddenly there was pandemonium when the keeper seemingly having caught something too hot to handle immediately threw the ball on the ground. There was silence on the pitch - had we just witnessed this? The last chance for Yorkhull to get a hat trick has just been denied. The skipper returned to his mark was heard to mutter 'that man will never play for Yorkhull again'. And he has kept to his word. So it was not to be but now the game was going to result in a final victory surely. However we were playing a timed cricket match in keeping with the traditional setting and we could only get them down to 125 for 9 as the game drifted to a draw. We had not disgraced ourselves if you discount the disgraceful behaviour of the wicket-keeper. We had survived, there were no heart attacks, people were able to hobble to the bar for a well earned drink. What a way to finish to play at the home of cricket and to survive and be able to tell the story.
Yorkhull CC have never played since. We finished as we started a successful team.