After another rain affected match at Boconnoc, a dry week and fine weather was the order of the day as Gunnislake welcomed Launceston III to the Hawkmoor ground. Despite the bank holiday a full side was easily raised and the hosts were able to field a slightly younger team than for their last home match against Launceston. An average age of 46, and ages ranging from 15 to 73, enabled a good score on the Diversity Index, but it might have been even better if we had been able to field a woman or two, or even a registered disabled cricketer. For those not in the know I would explain that we were chided for our venerable team in the last match, by Launceston’s very able, but one-legged, captain. Paralympic cricket anyone? With four teenagers in the Launceston side, it was a question of would youth triumph over experience? The score so far this season, one win each…….
Gunnislake won the toss and inserted Launceston to bat. Andrew Baker and Simon Wilton set off at a decent pace and the total had reached 50 before Gunnislake had their first breakthrough, Baker bowled by Paul Lees. This brought Zander Zambini to the crease, the first of the Launceston youth policy. A few extravagant shots gave Gunnislake some hope, but soon his cover drive was well oiled and working effectively. Unfortunately at the other end mayhem was beginning to unfold! Mark Everett had replaced Sylvan Pook and inroads were being made. Simon Wilton was his first victim, bowled for 28, and after that it was a steady procession. No one else made double figures as Everett racked up eight wickets for only 33 runs. The odd catch was held, the umpire chipped in with two LBWs and Zambini was left stranded on 36 not out. Launceston had slumped from 50 for none to 113 all out.
Gunnislake were now clear favourites, but anyone familiar with some recent batting displays would retain hope for Launceston. Gunnislake opened with Stephen Lees and Adam Emmerson, back from a major training exercise with the Royal Marines in Australia. A steady start followed against the bowling of James Owen-Law (16 years old) and Ryan Hodge (a mere 13 and only slightly taller than the stumps!) A trio of young fastish bowlers promises well for the future, but today the damage came at the other end. Gunnislake seemed mesmerised by the gentle seam of Emma Barnes. First to fall was Stephen Lees, who played too early and lofted a catch to mid-off. A mini collapse followed as the score slumped to 39 for 5. The fielding side were suddenly alive and chirping away while Gunnislake were like rabbits trapped in the headlights. Barnes bowled her allotted ten overs, to finish with five wickets, but Launceston continued with the gentle theme, bringing on Paddy Webber as her replacement.
At last, Dean Organ hung around briefly before Owen Patton became one of only six players all day to make double figures. Had too many people been watching India in the Headingley Test? Fortunately Emmerson remained calm at the other end, mixing watchful defence with regular boundaries. Patton was out with the score on 90 bringing Mark Everett to the crease. After eight wickets he may have thought his job had been done, but in the end it was the calm head of Everett that stayed with Emmerson to see Gunnislake home. Experience had triumphed over youth as Gunnislake ran out winners by three wickets.
This was a close match that could have gone either way, with the ball dominating the bat. It ebbed and flowed and was played n good spirit, despite some dodgy umpring decisions. (Or was that delusion from the players?) The season finale in two weeks’ time will see the fourth and final match in this season’s tetralogy. Will Gunnislake be able to further lower their average age? Watch this space!
Launceston III 113 (Z Zambini 36no, S Wilton 28; M Everett 8-33), Gunnislake 114 -7 (A Emmerson 63 no; E Barnes 5-42). Gunnislake (18 points) beat Launceston III (5) by 3 wickets.