They say cricket is a funny old game and it would certainly seem so for Gunnislake. With only seven players available last week, this week saw a selection committee meeting, with 15 players touting their services. Numbers were bolstered by the Astley family’s annual trip back home from Dubai, so Harri and father Andy made a rare appearance for the team. Readers with a longer memory will recall Andy’s exploits as club captain back in the twentieth century! Nevertheless Gunnislake had the rare luxury of five players under the age of thirty.
The toss was traditionally lost and Gunnislake were asked to bat (always a wise move for helping get the teas ready). With the late arrival of Ian Mill, Stephen Lees stepped into the breach as an opener, but did not stay long, as one kept low and zagged back. (In my defence the Liskeard keeper described it as the ball of the season). All a cunning ruse to bring Andy Astley out to bat. With Adam Emmerson, he steadied the ship and with some sharp running between the wickets kept the score ticking over well. Andrew Cobb and John Scott bowled well for Liskeard, making good use of a lively pitch, but with no further success. So Liskeard turned to the spin of captain Martin Mote and Gunnislake decided to up the attack; eighty-three runs came from the next ten overs, and Gunnislake began to believe. Astley had by now blown away the cobwebs, and with good support from Emmerson the score continued to climb. Spinners Mote and Tim Hyslop came in for some punishment, but it was Hyslop that achieved the breakthrough as Emmerson finally fell, caught for a fine sixty; 154 for 3. Astley continued on his way, with brief support from Brian Martin and Ian Mill. With the prospect of father and son batting together Astley senior holed out in the deep, two short of a century, so it was not to be. But young Harri is a chip off the old block and he took up where his Dad left off. The runs mounted steadily, climbing well past maximum batting points and reaching 260 by the end of 40 overs. Adrian Cameron (lacking cricket whites, but we have to make allowances for our honorary Gunnislake resident!) finished unbeaten on 12, with Harri sacrificing his own wicket, run out off the last ball for an excellent 36.
The mood over tea was quite upbeat, with all bar the skipper contributing and a top score of the season against a very good bowling side. The trouble was Liskeard are also a very good batting side! But we had done all that could be asked of us, so far.
Liskeard opened with Andrew Cobb (season average 197) and Tim Hyslop (season average 40). But perhaps Cobb was in too much of a hurry, pulling his first ball to mid-wicket, straight into the safe hands of Andy Astley. 0 for 1. Fourth ball George Jefferis sent the stumps flying and Liskeard were two down, without troubling the total. A maiden over from Sylvan Pook followed, and then Jefferis struck again, 5 for 3. Were Liskeard trying to emulate Ireland in the test match earlier in the week? What had Jefferis had with his cornflakes for breakfast that morning? Pook gave way to Harri Astley, but Jefferis continued to cause mayhem, as two more wickets fell and Liskeard were surveying the wreckage of their innings at 14 for 5, all wickets falling to Jefferis. The middle order showed some resistance, but chasing a high total and with little to lose still went for their shots. The ball flew around, plopping into the odd gap and whizzing through the slip cordon. Harri Astley joined in the fun, bowling James Cobb and then seeing John Dunn caught at silly mid-off. One more for Jefferis followed; eight wickets down and less than 50 on the board. Due to a scoreboard error Jefferis was taken off an over early (though to be fair we could have counted ourselves), finishing with figures of 6 for 31. But if Liskeard were pleased it was to be short-lived; Astley Senior came on, so father and son were bowling in tandem. The ninth wicket fell to son and then Dad got in the act to bowl Liskeard’s last man. In a moment of disbelief it was all over, Liskeard had been skittled out for 61 and Gunnislake had won by 199 runs.
Liskeard’s promotion push had received a setback and Gunnislake’s recent poor run of form had come to an end. A good all round team performance with some sparkling individual contributions produced a result that few would have predicted a few hours earlier. Well done everyone!
Gunnislake (20 points) beat Liskeard (four) by 199 runs.