Optimism was the order of the day as Gunnislake welcomed the return of star batsman Sam Boundy for the match against lowly Saltash. Gunnislake had the rare privilege of eleven players, with a debut for John Meakin. Saltash arrived with only eight players, so a home win was the bookmakers’ favourite. But Gunnislake never like to keep things simple.
Saltash won the toss and asked Gunnislake to bat; in a generous (or was that complacent?) mood Gunnislake lent two fielders to the visitors. The home side were soon reeling at 14 for 3, with Boundy, Lees and James quickly sent back to the hutch. Brian Martin lifted the gloom for Gunnislake peppering the leg side boundary, with good support from Sylvan Pook. Stephen Parsons chipped in with a patient 18 before Adrian Cameron once again showed his talents were wasted at rugby, with a bright 23 not out helping Gunnislake to a third batting point. For the second time in three matches the opposition captain tried his hand at both keeping and bowling, not something we will be trying at Gunnislake! Phillips and Martin were the pick of the Saltash bowlers, with five wickets between them. A total of 127, while rather better than the Menheniot score of 53 on Saturday, seemed a rather light and disappointing score. But all remained to play for, and only seven wickets were needed to force the victory.
Saltash resisted the temptation to eat too much of the cake plied on them, so the match would have to be won by cricketing means. On a slow pitch runs continued to be hard to come by, and Gunnislake achieved an early run out when Saltash tried a quick single to Boundy. Clearly they had not done their homework! A bullet return to the keeper, the bails whipped off, and Martin was on his way. George Jefferis kept the bowling very tight at the Tamar end, while Brian Martin had a brief but unsuccessful spell at the Village End. Enter old master Pook, and a third ball breakthrough sent Durndell back to the pavilion leg before wicket. Bailey was caught by Sam Boundy and then Tait quickly perished to another catch. At this point the score had crept to 66 for four off 27 overs and Saltash appeared to be on the ropes.
By now Saltash opener Phillips had perfected his offside glide through the slip cordon, and he found an able assistant in the experienced Mark Cole. Cole started with twos, sped up with fours, and then settled down to singles in the gaps as Gunnislake tried but failed to upset the rhythm. Although three or four catches went begging, the required run rate climbed, tension mounted and nineteen were needed off the last two overs. Cole rose to the occasion, Gunnislake wilted, and fourteen were conceded. Iain Barker was left with the unenviable task of trying to prevent five off the last over, but five singles and some scampering tip and run saw Saltash home with one ball to spare.
A fine match played in good spirit, but Gunnislake were left with a series of what ifs. What if Sam had scored a few more, what if we had not lent Saltash two fielders, what if we had taken our catches? Five points were scant reward for such a close match, but as we move towards the second half of the season, some improvements are called for!
Quote of the Week
It is as well for us to remember when we are watching the best batsmen that, however easy it may all look, they do not achieve their success without toil and sweat, and that there are times even with the greatest when they must seem to themselves, as we humble performers so frequently seem to ourselves, to be batting with a broomstick, with a barn door for a wicket.