Heartaches have had statistically bigger defeats than this one, but not many. Had a few early moments gone the Hearts way the final result might have been much closer, but not much. All the same an XI under the dynamic leadership of A.J.Rossdale gave their all in the heat, an all which did not prove anything like enough. There was consolation in the usual immaculate JPG hospitality, under the guidance of Victoria, Lady Getty, coupled with the overwhelming beauty of the Wormsley ground, and a distinguished crowd including the leader. Yes T.Rice had (wisely) dropped himself, feeling two senior citizens in the team was enough against these particular opponents.
The selectors turned to the North East for the second time this season. Jonny Wightman and Matt Muchall made the trek south, as they had for the Isham fixture, and they undoubtedly justified their long journey, though Matt’s match was not to be one of his luckiest. Rossmore began his return (temporary) to the captaincy by looking good in the team photo and then by winning the toss. Insertion was obviously the name of the game.
Wightman and Combieman were a new opening bowling pairing and they made Getty skipper Tim O’Gorman and the Times Cricket Correspondent jump around a bit. Had a hard low and fast slip catch stuck early on, and the occasional bat-beating ball not missed the stumps by the width of a coat of varnish, Jonny might have had three before JPG got to 40. Alex supported the Durham dynamo with vim and after a couple of warm-up overs, bowled meanly and accurately. In the 13th over, Wightman finally flattened CMJ’s wicket and at 41-1 Heartaches were still in the match.
They were not to be again. Watling, apparently only selected in the wee small hours of the morning, joined his captain for a monumental stand that straddled either side of the monumental lunch, at which glasses were raised to the late Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie OBE. Colin had been a vital figure in the organisation of Wormsley cricket over the years, and was a good friend of the lads in red, pink and green. Hearts will be glad to know he was laid to rest wearing his Heartaches watch. At lunch the score was 160 for 1 and after the break the score ground on to 202 before the acting captain received overdue reward for a long and biting spell by bowling O’Gorman for 106. His 17 fours and one six indicated considerable domination (he is of course a not that long retired first-class player) and he was clearly aiming for a second ton before Dopers did him.
Goodness knows how well Watling would have done had he had an early night, but he continued his rampage with Church in tow. Matthew Muchall and Kimberly Sully were given a turn, the former a long and subtle one, in which he was not always helped to maximum effect by his fielders, the latter a mercifully short one. All the same, the fielders, old and not quite so old, stuck to their task, and their shirts, well. Wightman returned, refreshed, and dismissed Watling fourth ball, the skipper holding an alert catch at mid-on. Before Jonny could run through the rest of the side, they declared.
Heartaches’ opening batsmen had an average age of around 40 and an average height of around 5 feet 8 inches. As one of the pair was Dave Glenn these stats are perhaps not quite as reassuring as they seem. Few however would have tipped the fine all-rounder Muchall to be plodding back to the pavilion before his veteran partner, let alone in the first over, but this is indeed what happened when their over-eager umpire fingered Matt when he was quite a long way down the track. Thus was any glimmering of hope that there was still life in the game snuffed out. Our umpire, the legendary Kevin O’Kelly, would surely have been more lenient.
The Ferret, as is his wont, hung in bravely against a duo fast enough to make him long for the slow bowling he normally loathes, while T.M.B. Whittome looked the part. Morrick was particularly speedy and in due course moved one away from Dave that he was good enough to get a bat on, even if he never saw it. Torquers survived the three balls left of Morrick’s over and then Gladys six at the other end (plus a welcome no-ball). Morrick’s sixth over was not a good one for the Hearts. He clean bowled Riley-Smith and Graveney with successive deliveries, both beaten by sheer speed. As Rossmore entered the fray the leader congratulated himself on his decision to sit this one out, especially as he still got into the photo. 28 for 4, improved to 30 for 4 by tea.
Andrew and Timothy staged a useful mini-resistance, coinciding with a double bowling change. Hillman and Beagles, while slower (much), were still pretty high-class, the former having been on a recent MCC tour to Argentina, managed by the Hearts leader. In fact T.Rice had attempted to sign Rob Hillman for this very game but the off-spinning all-rounder had opted for the higher fees offered by the Getty XI (manager: Carl Openshaw). At 48, the apostate Hillman deceived Rossdale. The Spaceman now came in for a heave or two, the final one of which miscued. Now Glad found a safer partner in Wightman. During their huge (comparatively) seventh wicket stand of 24, the last 20 overs began. Surely there was still a faint chance of a draw, even if fainter than Tinkerbell at an anti-fairy convention, which Whittome’s gallant knock alone would have justified?
Unfortunately, Jonny’s resistance ended just before the deadly Morrick was resummoned. Ditto TMB. The whiff of freedom perhaps encouraged both to make hay before the return of speed, which this reporter is sure they would have both survived through to the end of the final twenty. Whittome however had made a stupendous 37 (100 for once out in his last two innings) which if his colleagues had each matched would have given Hearts a win with a mere six wickets down. When Morrick returned he only had time to bowl Big Al. Nigel strode out but the innings ended as it had started with another tactless lbw decision, leaving Chris Hutton and Heartaches 2006 (so far) folorn.