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Brigands v Butterflies, 27 August 2023

There are around 60 species of butterfly native to the UK, with almost 80% of these in long-term decline, a matter of which even Winston Churchill was concerned about. In contrast, Butterflies Cricket Club, founded in 1862 from 6 species of school, has been thriving thanks to an enviable fixture list and a supply of youthful cricketing talent.

On a green wicket and in blustery conditions with Brigands batting first, Ladenburg was soon caught at point, Jay ran himself out trying a quick single to cover and Northwood hit a return catch to the bowler and Brigands were 42 for 3.

The Hendersons, father and son, set about a rebuild by defending the pace of Kiwi-quick Tom Flavell and attacking the spin (and short leg side boundary) of Danny Harrison. Flavell's first 5 overs cost 9 runs and Harrisons first 5 cost 46 including 2 monstrous sixes from Dougie Henderson; the first went into the neighbouring parish of Clanfield and the second into the tall trees behind the bowler's arm.

They ran between the wickets well, almost telepathically, and their fourth-wicket stand of 91 was their highest together before both were out, and it was left to Mo Ali (who hit 3 sixes himself) and Lee Gray to add 60 runs for the sixth wicket and a Brigands declaration on 210-5.

A higher-than-average target was set out of respect to the strong Butterflies batting lineup, but what happened next was a privilege for anyone at the cradle of cricket on a Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon, as it was being at Edgbaston for Flintoff's over against Pointing or at The Oval for Broad's last flourish in The Ashes.

Ed Hands, bowling uphill was in flow, his action rhythmic, and his attacking focus like a lepidopterist after his prize. He removed the top 3, all clean bowled, with a mixture of seam movement and subtle changes in length.

At 24-3 the Butterflies were in trouble and only spilled catches could save them. There were in fact 6 drops, the first to Wood and the last to Henderson Senior, in ascending order of catch probability. Peter Danks, Brigand's esteemed scorer, noted he ran out of space to record the fielding errors.

After 9 overs Hands was rested only for Gray to take over the mantle and his accuracy paid off with a wicket in his first over, bowled again. Bailey, behind the stumps, took two smart stumpings to round off a lovely afternoon in the sunshine and the biggest Brigands win of the season.

As the umpires walked off, Clive Barnett, an Umpire who is unrivaled at giving a pre-dinner Grace, was beaming; he appreciated his front-row seat watching counter-attacking Brigands batting and even better Brigands bowling in the beautiful surrounds of the Hambledon Valley.

Brigands 210-5 declared beat Butterflies 90 all out by 120 runs

Brigands v Butterflies

Grey and Ali lead Brigands off the field

Umpires, including Clive Barnett (right)

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