After a season with actual selection decisions, Gunnislake returned to the bad old ways, having to dip into the loans market. Last week’s injury crisis deepened further with the withdrawal of Owen Patton with a broken finger. After a week of negotiating and cadging we ended up with a more than capable Andrew Rennie from Saltash St Stephens, and a team debut from our umpire Peter Godwin.
The forecast was not promising, and pitch marking was delayed to the Saturday morning, when yours truly got soaked. But three weather forecasts were consulted and the Met Office, which is usually most accurate, predicted a mere 10% chance of rain. So Launceston were summoned and the match was on!
Launceston won the toss and asked Gunnislake to bat. It was a rather different one to the team we comprehensively beat on the opening day of the season, with a battery of young gun fast bowlers. The pitch was lively and the ball often pinged past at height, giving a tricky day for both keepers. Tricky for the batsmen too, as Ian Mill and Sylvan Pook were both out cheaply. At this point Dinesh Thirupuvanarajah (wish my computer did predictive text) joined Stephen Lees, and showed his own unique talent of hitting the ball hard. Technique somewhat limited, but a good eye, especially against the faster bowlers! A breezy 28 followed, which included four fours and a six, before he missed a straight one, bowled by Finlay Worth for 28. The momentum continued with Andrew Rennie, as the score rattled along at five an over. Gunnislake looked to be heading for a score in excess of 200 when the rain intervened.
After a short break the match was reduced to 34 overs and Launceston decided to bowl their slower bowlers in response to the slippery ground conditions. While this was a noble gesture to help get the game going, it turned out to be an inspired tactical choice. Launceston captain, Patrick Medhurst Feeney, got Stephen Lees out second ball with a careless pull, caught at square leg. Medhurst Feeney then promptly reeled off five maidens in a row. At the other end Melissa Zillwood had put something in the batsmen’s drinks. Gunnislake prodded and missed and the runs dried up. Three were bowled by Zillwood and the inning stuttered to a close on 153 for 7, with a meagre 21 runs from the last ten overs. That seemed below par.
There was little time to regroup, as some seemed intent on getting home for the England football match. The Launceston batting order was geared to giving their young players a good opportunity, with Dad Kevin Worth duly allocated the number eleven berth. That was probably a good job, as he had scored 178 not out for the second team earlier in the season, not to mention (oh go on then, I will) , 57 not out for Launceston first eleven, although a mere 12 against Gunnislake in the opening fixture of the season. Andrew Baker anchored the Launceston reply and had initial good support from Lois Thornton. But when Thornton was out a few wickets tumbled as the visitors struggled to 66 for 5. Gunnislake were even ahead on the run rate at the same stage of the match, but probably not under Duckworth Lewis.
Finlay Worth, not much taller than the stumps, joined Baker and helped pull things back for Launceston. Some fine fast bowling from Piran Knott and parsimonious guile from Sylvan Pook kept things reasonably tight, but Launceston looked increasingly favourites to win. An aged makeshift Gunnislake team offered scant support in the field, dropping a few vital catches and allowing boundaries through. Pook bowled Worth, but Emma Barnes kept things calm as she and Baker took Launceston to victory with few further alarms.
A fourth consecutive defeat leaves some things to ponder. It was a good effort from the bowlers, but there is much room for improvement in both the batting and fielding. It is not fair to blame those who answered the selectors’ emergency calls, but if we can get our best side out we could be a match for most teams in Division 5 and 6. This result sees us slip into the bottom half of the table, level on points with next week’s opponents, Menheniot Looe. An emergency call has gone to Her Majesty to see if she will return the Emmerson twins to our side, but the omens are not good. Nevertheless we expect to welcome back one or two others as we seek a return to winning ways. It is time to look up the table and stop the slide down!
Gunnislake 153-7 (S Lees 39, D Thirupuvanarajah 28, A Rennie 21; M Zillwood 3-20) Launceston III 154-6 (A Baker 63no; D Thirupuvanarajah 2-32, S Pook 2-37). Launceston III (18 points) beat Gunnislake (6 points) by four wickets.
PS England did of course win, 4-0 against Ukraine.