Fresh from their surprise but resounding victory over Liskeard, Gunnislake headed west to face St Stephen, who find themselves propping up the league table. But as last week showed never take anything for granted in this wonderful game. And indeed, the first surprise of the day was Gunnislake winning the toss and deciding to bat.
The captain had a cunning plan: to send in Dean Organ, who had been impressing in the nets, to open as a pinch hitter. Alas he struggled with altitude sickness, and having got off the mark courtesy of a dropped catch, troubled the scorers no further. Never mind Dean, there is always next time! And so it was back to the traditional opening pair of Ian Mill and Adam Emmerson. After a slow start the run rate gradually climbed and things were looking good until Emmerson was out LBW, 88 for 2, quickly followed by Mill, 88 for 3. In times of yore this may have heralded a crisis, but today’s youngsters are made of sterner stuff. It fell to Harri Astley (19 years old) and JJ Brenton (still not quite 13) to rebuild. Astley was particularly severe on some of the bowling, hitting seven fours and two sixes, while at the other end Brenton played with a lovely straight bat, finding gaps on the offside as he played with a maturity beyond his years. Astley reached his maiden half century, only to fall straight after; perhaps we should not have applauded the fifty? Jacob Crocker did not last long on his debut for Gunnislake, but Brenton kept going. The runs were coming pretty fast, with some quick scampering between the wickets, interspersed with heavy breathing as Stephen Lees tried to keep up. Maximum batting points were safely secured, and in the 49th over Brenton brought up his own richly deserved first fifty in adult cricket. After forty overs Gunnislake had amassed a very respectable 241 for five, Brenton undefeated on 56. All the St Stephen bowlers took some punishment, but St Stephen captain Les Brown kept us guessing with an impressive seven different bowlers being juggled. Matt Wallace and Josh Raven finished with two wickets apiece.
With grey clouds louring upon our house (Shakespeare, Richard III), the St Stephen reply got under way, led by captain Les Brown and Kieran Broadfield. Brown was, however, struggling with the responsibilities of captaincy and fell to Pook in the second over. With Pook in a miserly mood at one end, George Jefferis joined in the fray, getting the wicket of Simon Drew, and then inducing a run out as Josh Davey failed to beat Harri Astley’s throw. We played on through a bit of light rain, eager to keep the momentum going. Jefferis gave way to Astley and Brenton took over from Pook at the downhill end. Broadfield was hitting the ball hard and straight and sailing on serenely from one end, but found it difficult to find a partner to keep him company. For a while, however, Brandon Hartley proved a good foil; a few edges were interspersed with rather cleaner shots, and St Stephen were going well. After drinks, the wily Iain Barker was brought on to bowl, and immediately broke the partnership, bowling Hartley for 18. Jefferis, returning for a second spell, finally got Broadfield out, but only after he had registered his third fifty in seven games. With Broadfield’s departure St Stephen’s resistance was broken; Barker and Astley mopped up the tail as St Stephen subsided to 134 all out.
And so another good twenty points for Gunnislake, but more importantly significant landmarks for two young players who should go on to greater things. Well done Harri and JJ!
Gunnislake (20 points) beat St Stephen (five) by 107 runs.