Hearts finally broke into the 2006 winner’s circle with a resounding win over the Rain Men on a scorcher. The leadership of Torquil Riley-Smith, turning out for the Hearts for the 200th time, was not found wanting from the moment he dished out sponsor’s shirts (insideracing.co.uk) at the top of the afternoon to the delicate six impeccably caressed by Graveney to clinch victory.
What would have been Torquers’ double-centenary match versus William Heath’s Gentlemen had been cancelled because of the pestilence of the World Cup - the Heath-Hearts fixture had clashed with England’s third or fourth appalling performance. With England’s overpaid, underachieving, effeminate oafs now out of contention, a fine representative of Hearts old, newish and brand new graced this important tribute to one of the most loyal and vocal all-rounders to sport the red, pink and green. TSMSRS became the tenth player to clock up 200 matches, during which service he has scored over 3,000 runs and taken over 300 wickets, 4 of the runs and 1 of the wickets quietly.
Insider Racing Heartaches got off to a rollicking start with pace pairing of Space To Rent both striking early. In a briefly explosive early spell, Phil plucked Rose for a duck and Kim held Ransome to a mere five, each uprooting at least one stump. The next two Rain Men proved to be more adhesive, so the temporary skipper began to manipulate his bowling resources cunningly. Phil’s signing Phil Butler (the 284th player to represent Hearts and one of the first 11 to represent Insider Racing Hearts) sent down four overs of extremely economical and testing off-spin while Torquil himself took an end for three. Neither they nor Mark Packard who was also allowed just four overs could dislodge Welch or Matthews but it was still a surprise to the ex-leader to be entrusted with the ball just as the batters looked well set.
After his grim 2005 with the ball, T.Rice bowled strangely competently, nearly nabbing both batsmen (not at once) but hard chances failed to stick. Electing to do it on his own, he suddenly bowled Matthews in his fourth over. At this point he should have come off, or if not then after six overs, when he had taken a reasonable 1-24, while the return of Glenn at the other end laid the Rain Men’s middle order to waste. The total had slumped to 67 for 6, Phil having picked up three quick victims, one with the help of the dapper Chris Hutton behind the stumps, two without any help at all from team-mates or stimulants.
The number eight, Mr. Odwell, adopted an aggressive attitude in stark contrast to most of his colleagues and, while Welch took root, smashed Rain Men back into the game, wrecking the former leader’s figures en route. The sluggish start had not quite been rectified by tea so the declaration at 137 for 7 was a mild surprise.
Leading from the front, Torquil promoted himself to number one to begin the response. Unfortunately, neither he nor his number two, PJ, lasted long. Both openers were back inside within 23 balls, which was at least an improvement on the Rain Men’s opening of 14 balls of survival. A serious stand was needed and Hearts followers wondered if T.M.B. Whittome (last three innings 0, 0 and 0) was the man to do it.
Cometh the hour, cometh the return to form and Glad, after a shaky start, soon began to flourish. He was in good company having a wildly confident Kim as his partner who more often than not has demonstrated a personal batting renaissance in the past two summers. Kim reeled off eight spanking fours as his principal contribution to a stand of 79 that had the Rain Men, if not on, then near the ropes. However he hammered one with perhaps too much ebullience which left his bat with too much emphasis on the vertical, getting out just before victory looked certain. Had the Wets nabbed two quickies after this lucky break it could have been a close run thing but Graveney overcame the shame of having been bowled by a 4-year-old in the nets by playing a cultured cameo in company with Gladys who by now was in full flow. An unbeaten stand of 49 saw the Insiders home for the first time since the 2005 Cornwall tour.
The selectors were annoyed that they thus did not get the chance to see Simon Buxton bat, as his sparkling knock on this ground the previous season had been encouraging. To those who say that Simon is perhaps not the long-term solution to Heartaches’ future problems this reporter can only reply: you’re right.
(b) By the time Marcus Berkmann’s son is six, the Rain Men will be a force to be reckoned with.
(a) The sponsorship deal with Insider Racing has now expired and players should return their shirts to Riley-Smith Enterprises before the next match.