And so we arrived at the last match of the season, facing a Launceston team for the fourth time this season. Gunnislake were 2-1 up in the series, and looking for a third consecutive win. Facing them was a curate’s egg of a team, seven regulars and four team members listed as “Unsure” in the official Play Cricket Records. Two unsures turned out to be two more youngsters off the youth production line of the Launceston Academy, one is a likely relative of regular Simon Wilton, and the fourth turned out to be a rather good player from Lewdown, “borrowed” as the Devon League had already ended its season. Meanwhile Gunnislake also fielded two unsures: Jacob Crocker (who’s Mum has not signed the dual registration form) and Owen Patton (who’s Mum has not received the dual registration form because yours truly miss-typed her e-mail address).
Launceston opted to bat on a damp track but a fast outfield, but quickly lost Simon Wilton is a run-out mix-up with his brother/ cousin / namesake. The score rattled along at four an over, but wickets continued to fall, with three down with the score on 35. Enter Keith Maynard from Lewdown, and the run rate climbed, until a swing too many missed and the umpire’s finger was raised for LBW. At this point Gunnislake’s hopes were high, but then a pandemic of butterfingers took hold. David Spence and James Law benefitted as Gunnislake seemed incapable of holding anything. The bowling of Mark Everett was the chief victim, but come the end of a frustrating spell he even spilled a chance of caught and bowled off his final ball, much to the amusement of some and anguish of others. From the eighth best bowling in the country against Launceston two weeks ago (8 for 33 for less regular readers) it was down to earth with a bump. Spence and Law did eventually depart, but youngsters Oliver Sheldrake and Ryan Hodge kept the attack up until the fortieth over, Launceston finishing on a challenging 187 for 7. For the statisticians among you we think there were eleven spilled chances.
Adam Emmerson and Stephen Lees started the Gunnislake reply, knowing that a steady start was not enough. Things looked good briefly, until Lees shaped up to pull a long hop from James Owen, realised it was keeping very low and was too late in getting his bat down. The ball was straight, the wicket was shattered and Lees was out for 20. Emmerson now felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders, and rightly so, as the next six batsmen mustered a mere five runs between them. Two of these were caught and bowled by Patrick Medhurst-Feeney, although Everett stoutly defended the hat-trick ball. Meanwhile Emmerson fell to an excellent catch by none other than Keith Maynard (him again!) for a fine 31 and Gunnislake had their backs to the wall. The win probability calculator had slipped below 10%. Mark Everett and Sylvan Pook stet about restoring some respectability, but the required run rate continued to climb. With a win almost certain, Launceston let all of their younsgters have a bowl. Despite lenient umpiring the extras began to climb, but never at a fast enough rate. As the evening shadows lengthened it felt that Launceston were like a cat playing with a trapped but very much alive mouse. Eventually the Launceston captain tired of such play and called up Maynard to deliver the coup de grace. Pook lost his middle stump, but Gunnislake clung on to the bitter end, finishing on 131 for 9.
And so the mini-series ended two all, though on points’ countback the season score works out as Gunnislake 50 Launceston 45. Nevertheless the youth of Launceston finish the season in third place in the table, with the wily old Gunnislake team down in fifth place.
Next week we entertain Yelverton in a friendly, then on Sunday 26th September our last game of the season will be at Callington, when a Gunnislake Over 50s team take on Cornwall Over 50s in a tribute match to Geoff Husband.
Launceston III 187-7 (J Law 39, K Maynard 35, D Spence 32; I Dawe 3-27). Gunnislake 131-9 (A Emmerson 31, S Pook 24, S Lees 20; P Wilton 2-5, P Medhurst-Feeney 2-16, E Barnes 2-29). Launceston (18 points) beat Gunnislake (6) by 56 runs.