As England’s green and pleasant land sweltered in record August temperatures, Gunnislake prepared at last to emerge from winter hibernation. After a brief flirtation with the Isaac Foot Cup, we finally had our first weekend match of the season, a mere three months late. Sunday 9th August is probably a record for the latest first home match of the season. Which reminds me, if you have not bought one yet, then we still have a few copies of Mike Hugo’s history of the cricket club for sale. £10 if bought at the ground or £12 including postage.
So once again we are back in the old routine of chase around for players, panic when someone drops out and finally get a game. I think I should write a whole article on the art of team selection…….. On Friday we had eleven and Saltash St Stephens had twelve players. Then Scott dropped out and then two Saltash players also bit the dust. Cue emergency call to Saf Wallace, and we were back to 10.5 per side! For Gunnislake there were debuts for old campaigner Kevin Beare (previously of Callington, Yelverton III and Plympton) and Jo Allen, a sprightly seventeen years old and officially a Luckett player, but also turning out for Milton Abbot. Turns out his grandfather used to play for Gunnislake, so we will have to work on him! Peter Godwin also joined us, as official umpire (not had the luxury of one of those for a while).
With a few late arrivals Gunnislake were allowed to bat first, with Ian Mill and Barrie James taking the honours of first knocks. Saltash, now in the heady heights of Division 5, used the Sunday fixture to give their youngsters and squad players a game, so a close match was in prospect. On a dry wicket, the ball kept low, especially with the slower bowlers, and batting rarely looked easy. Mill and James looked a little rusty and were soon back on the sidelines, but Adam Emmerson and Kevin Beare began to rebuild the innings, with some hard hitting and quite a few pull shots. The score had climbed to 78 before the third wicket fell, Beare bowled by Barlow for 35. Briefly the Emmerson twins held centre stage, before both fell LBW to the wily Chris Marsh. But by then a firm foundation had been laid. A brief collapse by the middle order followed and a score under 150 looked on the cards. However, a late flourish, led by Joe Allen, ably supported by Dave Warner, took the final total to 179, with extras contributing a valuable 33 to the score. Saltash St Stephens had the luxury of giving seven bowlers a turn, with Chris Marsh the pick with figures of 3 wickets for 29 runs.
Bring your own teas followed, and it has to be said there were very few signs of home baking, but rather a mix of crisps and shop bought sandwiches, and certainly no scones with strawberry jam and cream. I did find three banana skins in the rubbish, so someone was trying to be healthy! Ah well, at least we were playing again.
Now 179 was a good score, but Gunnislake were very short in the bowling department, with last year’s bowler of the year sitting the season out, and our second strike bowler, Sylvan Pook, still recovering from a heart bypass operation. Still, Paul Lees was available, compete with slightly wonky knee, and new boy Joe Allen said he was mainly a bowler, so there was hope! Paul managed his usual miserly spell, going for a mere eleven runs from his ten overs, immediately putting Saltash behind the clock. Joe was a little more wayward, but showed plenty of promise. By the first drinks break at fifteen overs Saltash had struggled to 40 for 4, with wickets for Lees, Allen and Saf Wallace. Andrew Rennie and Chris Marsh were then faced with rebuilding the innings and did so with some success. The score had reached 86 before Beare finally broke the partnership, leaving Marsh to marshal the tail. He was doing that well, until out to a blinding catch by Adam Emmerson, and Saltash were on the rack. Joe Allen returned for a second spell, and found some swing with the old ball, bowling the final three batsmen to end with the impressive figures of 4 for 28. The Saltash innings ended on 126, and Gunnislake were victors by 63 runs.
Well, considering the condition of the ground five weeks ago it was pretty impressive to be playing at all. The pitch was a bit uneven, with a low bounce, and we plan to try a bit more grass on the next wicket. So, most batsmen can console themselves with the fact that it was a difficult track. But it was good to be back in action (even those out third ball) and our thanks to Saltash St Stephens for providing the opposition, and a game played in great spirit.
Gunnislake 179 for 8 (A Emmerson 40, Beare 35, D Emmerson 26, Allen 21; Marsh 3 for 29)
Saltash St Stephen 126 all out (March 36, Rennie 31; Allen 4 for 28, Lees 2 for 11).
Gunnislake won by 63 runs.