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Brigands v Stansted Park CC, 21 April 2024

With new sightscreens, a flat rolled wicket, and a freshly cut outfield; the 2024 season got underway with a new fixture against Stansted Park CC. The sun competed with a chilly Northerly wind which saw one of the Umpires, Bryan Burns, with 4 layers including a scarf.

The Brigands won the toss and elected to bat, but lost Jim Morris who fell LBW to the fifth ball of the afternoon. Gerry Northwood hit 9 boundaries on his way to a fifty and there was a nice moment at 57-1 when Harry and Nina Bates were captured by the scoreboard celebrating their 57th Wedding Anniversary!

Dave Turner played steadily for his 33 before being run out by the eager and nimble Dougie Henderson (14). Dave Henderson (53) and Rupert Preece (18) upped the run rate and took Brigands to 190/6 and an early declaration came after 35 overs.

After the tea break, best taken in the wind-free sun-trap in front of the pavilion, Stansted replied confidently accumulating 50 without loss from the first 12 overs; the pitch had dried in the sun and wind. But the game turned on two smart stumpings from Paul Bailey, the first wicket falling on 71 off Mike Beardall and the third wicket on 126 off Lee Gray.

With the game in the balance, the 34th over was remarkable with Northwood snaring Brennan and Rollinson, both bowled, leaving 51 to win and Brigands on top. Northwood's second over went for 16 including a lost ball and the momentum swung back towards Stansted.

As the tension built, Match Manager Richie Hay was reunited with his prep school sports teacher he had last seen in 1992 who is now a member of Stansted Park CC

A crucial LBW for Guy Ladenburg with 2 overs to go left Brigands wanting 1 wicket and Stansted 10 runs to win. A few near misses, including the last ball when a 6 was required to win, meant the game finished in a draw with the ground draped in glorious evening sunshine.

Brigands 190/6 declared off 35 overs (Henderson 53, Northwood 50) drew with Stansted Park CC 185/9 off 43 overs (Bailey 2 stumpings) in a last over finish

Thank you to Meon Valley Times and Adam Jay for these two photographs.

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