The forecast has been good, but started to deteriorate on Thursday. Come Saturday morning the BBC predicted a 50% chance of rain throughout the day. The grey clouds gathered, a breeze whistled through the trees, and many ash trees were losing their leaves (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus – we like to educate our readers!). The thermometer barely made double figures; autumn was well and truly with us. However, after a very brief shower, the rain stopped and a start at least could be made to the penultimate match of the season.
Liverpool has the three Graces, Goldilocks had the three bears, and for one day at least Gunnislake had the three Beares: Kevin, Simon and the baby of them Jake. Kevin is now a regular Gunnislake player, Jake is in theory joining us next season (ankle injuries and football permitting) and Simon was playing as a guest for the day. Unless you want to keep a closer eye on son Jake, Simon?! Meanwhile Milton Abbot had the rare luxury of eleven players, including Joe Allen who is the Tamar Valley equivalent of a Kolpak player or, for those with a long enough memory, the International Cavaliers). Can we persuade him to commit to Gunnislake for next season?
There were perhaps three highlights of the Gunnislake innings, the first being a mix-up between Ian Mill and Kevin Beare. Beare skied one and set off in pursuit of a run; Mill thought about it then said (or shouted) no. Alas Kevin’s advancing years meant he did not hear, and soon they were both at the bowlers’ end looking perplexed as Milton Abbot gratefully took off the bails at the batsman’s end…. If only. If only I had been given a fiver for every time I had been run out. If only Kevin had washed his ears a bit more thoroughly the night before. If only Ian had practised his sprint starts…… It’s an easy game from the vantage point of the boundary!
However, this calamity brought guest player Simon Beare to the crease, whereupon the art of batting suddenly started to look easier. Ten fours and one six followed as Simon led a brief charge. Incident two came late in the innings, as Simon survived a loud and confident appeal for caught behind; perhaps Kevin’s poor hearing had struck again, for by this time he was the umpire? Lucky for Gunnislake, unlucky for Milton Abbot! Younger brother then stayed to the end, finishing on 68 not out (highlight three), with extras the second highest scorer with 25 to their name. Glossup took three late wickets for Milton Abbot, all bowled, as Gunnislake closed on 132 for 9.
While Milton Abbot have struggled in recent years in Division 5, the problem has been one of player numbers, not quality. And that quality shone through when it was their turn to bat. The fours whizzed past outstretched hands and the runs quickly climbed. Even guest bowler Andy Dore was in trouble, going for more than five an over, though truth be told, sedentary fielding was partly responsible. Seven Gunnislake players qualified for an over 60s match. It was a bit like table football as Gunnislake stood and hoped the ball would come to them; find the gap and it became rummage in the hedge for the ball. Gunnislake did manage two wickets, with one apiece for Sylvan Pook and David Emmerson. The Milton Abbot reply was emphatic and took a mere 20.1 overs, with Richard Baxter (39 not out) and Charlie Helyer (44) top-scoring. For Gunnislake it was nice to see David Emmerson bowling again, hopefully a harbinger of better things to come next season.
And it is nearly on to next season, with one more match remaining in a season of friendlies, providing the weather holds out. We welcome Yelverton next Sunday for the final match of a truncated but interesting campaign.
Gunnislake 132 for 9 (S Beare 68no; Glossup 3 for 25, Ireland 2 for 23, Holding 2 for 27)
Milton Abbot 133 for 2 (Helyer 44, Baxter 39no, Jenkin 21no)
Milton Abbot won by 8 wickets.