While Boris hob-nobbed with Joe, Angela and Emanuel in West Cornwall, East Cornwall saw Gunnislake facing Saltash St Stephens II. This was a return fixture following last week’s abandonment, though both with much changed sides. There was nil chance of rain intervening this week with clear skies and hot sunshine and the square baked hard. With several players missing the Gunnislake selectors did a Pep Guardiola and shuffled the squad, bringing in old campaigner Stephen Parsons for his first game of the season. The surprise for Gunnislake was to find Saltash St Stephen’s had signed three new payers, including the now former captain of Newquay III, Sam Millatt. For Gunnislake it was just one debutant, Sam Beckwith, brother of Nick Wiggs.
Saltash won the toss and invited Gunnislake to bat. With Adam Emmerson in Australia and Ian Mill visiting his new granddaughter, Gunnislake opened with new captain Kevin Beare and former captain Stephen Lees. Beare kept one end steady while Lees got his leg side pulling well oiled. Seasoned with a few wides the score climbed steadily. Chris Bridgen bowled tightly at one end for St Stephens, but at least by Gunnislake standards, the runs flowed. It was 58 for 0 at the first drinks break after 15 overs and by the time Gunnislake brought up a century opening stand the run rate was up very close to five an over. The first St Stephen breakthrough came at 128 when Beare was bowled by Tim Phillips for 42, just as he had found his timing and remembered where the boundary was! The gentle seam of Phillips was to prove a thorn in the side of Gunnislake. Lees reached only his second ever century, but was wilting in the sun. Soon after, he sliced a tame catch to the covers, which was safely held by Owen Patton. Patton was on loan from Gunnislake – we can be too nice to the opposition sometimes! Stephen Parsons was out two balls later and the traditional Gunnislake collapse was in full swing, with Tim Phillips the notable beneficiary. Maximum batting points were in doubt until Mark Everett shepherded the team past 200, as the innings closed on 204 for 7. Phillips claimed six of the seven wickets. And here is one talking point from the Gunnislake innings: did Stephen Lees nick the ball when on 52? There was a tiny noise; the batsman felt nothing and no-one appealed, but a snickometer may have revealed the faintest of edges…..
The St Stephens’ reply was led by Chris March and Sam Millatt. For two overs they were behind the run rate, but alas it was for two overs only. In the third over MIllatt pulled a good length straight ball from Dinesh Thirupuvanarajah through mid wicket for four. Ominous. Soon after came the game changing incident: Thirupuvanarajah beat Millatt’s bat and the ball clipped off stump. Somehow the bails stayed on. Marsh played well, but fell in Mark Everett’s first over, caught by Spencer Whatley. Andrew Rennie did not last long, bowled by Everett for 8. But Millatt was a class above the rest, and after that off stump mishap he rarely looked in trouble. He found an able partner in Tim Phillips who nudged and nurdled to rotate the strike, with an odd classical left hander pull behind square. There was a near suicidal run out, but Millatt dived as if scoring the winning try and a direct throw from debutant Sam Beckwith missed by a whisker. A final twist in the tale had failed. The incident only served to galvanise Millatt; he passed his century and accelerated the scoring. Phillips fell for 21, a well held catch by Jake Beare at mid-off, off the bowling of Sylvan Pook, but Millatt was not to be dislodged. Following a few beamers Gunnislake had been forced to bring on captain Kevin Beare for his occasional off-breaks. It was the final nail in the coffin. With a flourish Millatt hit two fours and a six over mid-wicket to bring the match to a close, unbeaten on 127.
This truly was a tale of two centuries (with apologies to Charles Dickens). Lees played to his strengths, but Millatt was a class act and St Stephens always seemed to have the chase in hand. Was Lees out on 52? Why did the bails stay on when Millat’s off stump was clipped well before he reached 20? These are fine lines that make cricket such a fascinating and frustrating game. A meagre two points now separate the two teams in the Division 6 East table………
Gunnislake 204-7 (S Lees 102, K Beare 42; T Phillips 6-40) Saltash St Stephens II 207-3 (S Millatt 126no, C Marsh 22, T Phillips 21; M Everett 2-33). Saltash St Stephens II (18) beat Gunnislake (6) by seven wickets.