A wet week had given way to a dryish Friday, but then heavy overnight rain. The BBC forecast was not promising, but the Meteorological Office one was rather better. And so with some trepidation we made our way west to the outpost of Duloe, home ground for Menheniot Looe’s third team.
Gunnislake were able to welcome back Kevin Beare from injury and Paul Lees and Jake Beare back from work commitments. So a stronger team was fielded, albeit with a still relatively weak batting line up. Ian Mill, on a variety of painkillers for his knees, managed to pass his anti-doping test, so we did have at least one proper batman in the team. Menheniot Looe (or Men’s Looe as one of their team called it) seemed an older side, but it was not clear how strong they were, with a patchy record for the season, varying from concession to inflicting the only defeat suffered by runaway league leaders, Holsworthy.
Menheniot Looe won the toss and asked Gunnislake to bat on a damp wicket. Ian Mill and Stephen Lees opened for Gunnislake with Mark Rundle and Paul O’Connell sharing the bowling for the home team. A steady start was interrupted when Lees was LBW to Rundle, which brought Dinesh Thirupuvanarajah to the crease with the score on 30. Moving Thirupuvanarajah up the order had shown promising results the week before and things again looked good. At Division 6 a good eye can compensate for a modest technique and soon Thirupuvanarajah was swinging merrily away. He received good support from Mill, although with a slow outfield there were rather too many singles and not enough fours for our wounded warrior. At the half way point Gunnislake had built the score to 87 without further loss, and Menheniot Looe were beginning to rotate their bowlers.
When should we accelerate asked Thirupuvanarajah? Just stay there was the advice; we don’t bat deep! Good advice and a good response as the score steadily climbed past 120 for a third batting point in the 26th over and past 160 in the 31st over. But by now Mill was struggling and on reaching his 50 he retired injured, his knees complaining about all the singles. It was the sign for a Menheniot Looe counter attack, or a famous Gunnislake collapse. It depends on your perspective dear reader! The wickets tumbled and when Thirupuvanarajah was bowled by Rundle five wickets had fallen in the space of four overs. But for Thirupuvanarajah it was for a massive career best score of 85. Sylvan Pook was left to shepherd the tail to secure the fifth batting point as Gunnislake crept to 200 off the penultimate ball. Rundle and Chris James shared the bowling honours, taking all seven wickets to fall.
Rundle was not done and opened the reply alongside captain Mike Conbeer. For Gunnislake Piran Knott and Spencer Whatley opened the bowling. They kept things tight, with Whatley particularly accurate, bowling four consecutive maidens in his opening spell. Pook and Paul Lees took over and the stranglehold continued, with 26 off the first 14 overs. Then Conbeer skied Lees to midwicket where Lees (no relation) clung on to an ungainly catch. Rundle however was looking ominous and cracked seven fours as the innings accelerated. At which point a piece of good fortune fell to Gunnislake. A ball from Pook kept low and beat Rundle; he briefly lost his balance with his back foot raised at precisely the time the ball cannoned off keeper Beare’s pads and into the stumps. The keeper and cover point went up in unison and after an agonising wait of a couple of seconds the umpire’s finger was raised and Rundle’s contribution to the match had come to an end.
75 for 2 and Gunnislake sniffed a potential victory. The chatter in the field increased. For once the fielding looked almost good and wickets began to fall. Fifth man to go was David Dickens who smashed one straight to mid-wicket, caught by no relation Lees, out for a belligerent 19. It was the last real resistance as Menheniot Looe slowed down and seemed content to deny Gunnislake maximum points. Dean Organ chipped in with two late wickets as the home side registered a third batting point, but closed well short on 126 for 7. Gunnislake had run out victors by 74 runs.
This was an overall much improved fielding and bowling performance, but we still rely too much on one or two batsmen and a good helping hand from extras. Thanks to John Massey for some sterling work on the ground, which enabled a full match to be played. Due to the vagaries of the fixture list we enter a mid-season break, but in two weeks’ time face the sterner test of Holsworthy. By then we hope to have Owen Patton and Mark Everett back from injury. There are also rumours that David Emmerson could be coming to the end of his tour of duty, so maybe the selection committee will have to get out their red pen once again!
Gunnislake 200 – 7 (Thirupuvanarajah 85, I Mill 50 retired; M Rundle 4-32, C James 3-24) Menheniot Looe III 126 – 7 (M Rundle 33; D Organ 2-20, S Pook 2-24, P Lees 2-28). Gunnislake (18 points) beat Menheniot Looe III (6 points) by 74 runs.