On another extremely hot 2006 afternoon, Heartaches wilted before a fairly youthful and highly motivated Fernhurst side, whose motivation was loudly and continually expressed throughout the match, to the extent where umpire “Fingers” Fingleton, whom some will recall as a former Hearts player, fresh from staying with friends in the area, threatened to draw the exaggerated exuberance to the attention of the ECB. Four old and much-loved Hearts hands, or eight if you are a pedant, were on the card for the first time this summer, so the nostalgia rating was as high as the pollen count as Horne, Pryke, Deal and Robinson mingled with more regular employees.
Returning to leadership, T.Rice lost the toss and decently agreed to Graham Heath’s suggestion that Heartaches should bat. A new opening combo running the gamut of sexual variety and hair style, of veteran Jonty and most recent cap Iz, were the first to take on the fiery local pacemen/boys and they dealt with the opening salvoes pretty well. It was slow going but for more than half an hour, both openers displayed defensive confidence, Iz’s correctness of strokeplay soon earning respect from the opposition. Jonty spooning one back to Howell with the score at 26 just at the point when the scoring looked set to shift up a gear was a surprise. Equally unexpectedly, Isabelle followed a few minutes later.
The openers had not perhaps set the innings on fire but by tea time their contribution had been reassessed as pretty reasonable. No-one who followed did anything of much greater value, no-one was able to get a grip on the attack. PJ and Sir Christopher (making his 2006 début after hip surgery) did not get the rub of the green from their umpire, and the Ferret never even got to face a ball before heading back to the pavilion, but even allowing for these misfortunes, 99 in 39 overs was not exactly crowd-pulling stuff.
Andrew Rossdale celebrated his first outing of the summer (his back is back) by top scoring but 17 in 43 minutes did not inspire the popping of too many corks. He and the leader, whose crowd-repelling knock of 10 in 61 minutes was the longest innings of the day, put on 30 for the sixth wicket, but as it seemed to take several weeks to compile, did not receive the best-partnership plaudits it might have done. Earlier, Spaceman and Torquers had tried to get a move on but didn’t – later, Peter Robinson’s comeback knock of 8 not out was somewhat sullied by his insane call for an impossible single to which Dave insanely responded. Anthony Deal, by this appearance matching the leader in playing at least once every year from 1973-2006, brought up the rear with style but sadly without runs.
After a fine tea, the somewhat depleted Clava Rectan bowling stocks made a reasonable fist of defending the all but indefensible. Kim mixed dynamite with dross, the latter type proving more successful, enabling the bowler himself and Dave to pull off fine catches, but the wides and no-balls were fatal, in effect eventually reducing the target to just 75. TSMSRS, in his 201st match, did much the same, but not for so long, brushing nine others aside (the leader had a dodgy knee) to snaffle a high caught and bowled (loudly). The best bowler by far was the legendary Rossmore, who failed to convince their ump that most of Fernhurst’s line-up were at least as leg before as Pryke had been when up before the same arbiter earlier. Dopers mixed it with mesmerising skill and should have taken about 6 for 16.
Hot Rocks showed no sign of hip replacement woes behind the timbers, holding onto the first stumper’s catch by a sexagenarian since Harold was in his prime. He took his time to deal with Iz’s superb return to run out danger man Pezier but this is often the way of the aristocracy. Fernhurst had wobbled a bit at 22 for 2 but in the end it wasn’t even a close-run thing.