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Brigands v Old Woks, 2 June 2024

This was the kind of unpredictable cricket match that bookmakers dream of. A Brigands team with seven bowlers and no wicketkeeper against an Old Woks side with eight Winchester College old boys, two teenagers, and an Old Etonian.


There were Grand Matches played at Broadhalfpenny Down in the Eighteenth Century where teams would play for 500 Guineas and locals would come to bet on the result. For a bit of fun, and in a nod to history, two locals made a £20 wager on this match.


Brigands batted first with Jake Peach and Dave Henderson putting on 42 in quick time but once both had been spun out, wickets tumbled and the scoreboard showed 62 runs for 6 wickets.

Attack is the only form of defence for Sam Sargant who came out, to join Ed Hands, and scored a quick 16 before hitting one in the air to deep mid-wicket. 92-7.

Gerry Northwood was in next, cheered on by his nonagenarian father who told tales of how his son thrives under pressure. He recalled a game of swing ball after school one day when father and son were trying so hard to win that Northwood Senior hit a shot and accidentally let go of the racket which flew into, and smashed, the kitchen window to the surprise of Mrs Northwood who was washing up.


Northwood cover drove his way to 35 with four flowing boundaries, and Hands accumulated 49 of 73 balls before getting bowled going for glory. Brigands declared on 175-8.


Harry and Nina Bates had been presented with new caps for their incredible service and it was lovely to see the support from the Harris, Northwood, Bailey, Tompkins, Sargant, and Peach families. There was plenty of tea to go around, including a delicious Sue Bailey Lime and Coconut cake.


Sam Sargant bowled fast but without luck. Ed Hands bowled both Old Woks openers, the first with an away swinger and the second with one that nipped back off the seam; Jimmy Anderson would have approved.


Mike Beardall and Jim Morris bowled first over Maidens as the Old Woks regrouped before Tristan Hanson (38) and Billy Wyman (27) went through the gears and put on 50 for the third wicket including a lovely six into the trees.


A twenty-team cricket world cup began in the West Indies and USA this weekend in a format with fine margins and winners sometimes determined by fielding; Brigands won’t be world champions any time soon. Long barriers were breached, throws were errant, and six catches were dropped before the drinks interval. Neil Wood tried a catch using a belly-first technique and Jim Morris got confused by the dual boundary lines. Brigands, once known as the best fielding side in Hampshire had an off day at the cradle of cricket.


Out of nowhere, like a Liz Truss premiership, came an over of chaos. Ali Cheena walked out to bat at seven wearing sunglasses and no thigh pad. He asked for a runner but as no one else was padded up, the next batter walked out to the middle to join in. His spectacles fell off first ball, he survived an LBW shout next ball, and then he set off for a quick single third ball only to be sent back by his teammate who had to explain the rules. He charged down the pitch to attack but missed the next two balls, and then last ball, he played the wrong line, got hit on the pads, and was given out whereupon he stood in disbelief drawing an imaginary trajectory of the ball passing leg stump with his gloves. The over appears in the scorebook as a Tom Ladenburg wicket maiden.

The score was 102 for 6 wickets, just 74 runs to get. The Sorrells, father and son, were together, the latter showing a patient and well-coached technique, and the former possessing what he called his “magic bat” which was all the more believable the third time he was dropped.


Bowlers were rotated and the openers brought back on, but to no avail, as the Old Woks got over the line with a couple of overs to spare.


After the match, the Old Woks enjoyed their victory at the ground that Winchester College owns, and the winner of the aforementioned bet offered to buy a disconsolate and bruised Brigands Captain a commiseration beer.


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