Templars Succumb to Defeat to Flashmen

16 May 2017

Sunday saw the Templars take on the Flashmen, a fixture that has been running for a number of years now but has seen Stowe finish a distant second in the last few.

The first rain for some weeks allied to the covers being left off overnight gave captain Rowling no hesitation in inserting the Flashmen on winning the toss. And the Templars got off to the best possible start with Ed Selby-Lowndes inducing the Flashmen opener, Connolly, to drive airily with the ball just carrying to Rakteem Katakey. Then with the final ball of the over, the other opener, Wrighton, nearly joined his teammate back in the pavilion but this time the ball went to Mark Thompson-Royds at mid-off, where the only flesh the ball made contact with was thigh rather than endangering any palms.  

Sadly, this was to prove a costly miss as Wrighton was dropped a further two times (by Will Anthony at mid-off and then by Katakey at cover) before he reached 50. He finally succumbed two short of a century when a few chirps from Adam Cossins behind the stumps induced him into a rash slog sweep off Mark Hulbert, and only succeeded in looping the ball straight up in the air into the awaiting gloves of a gleeful Cossins.

After the initial juice from the early morning rain dried out, the wicket returned to playing slow and low that has characterized North Front wickets in the last few years, with little help for the seamers. Thankfully in Mark Hulbert and Tom Young, the Templars had two tidy left-arm spinners, with Hulbert in particular gaining sharp turn whilst Young bowled tightly, conceding just 28 runs off his 9 overs without picking up a deserved wicket.  

At lunch the game was evenly poised with the Flashmen just over a 100 for the loss of wickets, including Ben Ladd-Gibbon who drove Hulbert hard to mid-on, where Katakey atoned for his earlier drop with a smart catch. With Wrighton and Ben's brother James both set, the first few overs after lunch would prove crucial in determining what sort of total the Templars would have to chase. Sadly, there were no immediate breakthroughs until Wrighton finally gave it away eyeing up a ton. Further wickets fell as the Flashmen looked to accelerate prior to a declaration, including Anthony taking a very sharp caught and bowled chance to dismiss Ladd-Gibbon Snr for 47, with the opposition closing on 273 for 9. 

In reply, Cossins and MTR opened for the Templars hoping to improve on a disastrous start in the corresponding fixture last year which saw both Cossins and Tom Wilson trapped in front to the first two balls of Ladd-Gibbon Snr's opening over. Sadly, although Cossins negated the opening over, he was again adjudged LBW in the third over having yet to open his total.  

Jamie Hirst joined MTR with Hirst playing the role of the aggressor whilst MTR resolutely defended. And the pair looked to have seen the Templars safely through to tea until in the final over before the break, Hirst hit the ball straight to point and called his partner through for a suicidal single. Fast as MTR's scurrying trotters were shifting, this was no match for the awaiting clutches and subsequent exocet arm of Ladd-Gibbon and MTR was still metres short when the bails were removed.  

After tea, Hulbert and Hirst batted sensibly and with Hirst dealing predominantly in boundaries, the possible equation come the final 20 overs being called from 5:30pm looked achievable if optimistic. However, with the need to keep up with the rate, Hirst ran past one from off-spinner Olds to be stumped for 45. Katakey was soon undone by variable bounce from Henderson to be bowled and suddenly the Flashmen looked firm favourites for the win. The situation looked ever bleaker when Hulbert fell victim to another Ladd-Gibbon run out, this time being sent back by Rowling having hit it straight to James at mid-off.   

As the game entered the last 20 overs, the Templars still required a further 200 at the easy to calculate 10 an over. Young and Rowling chanced their arms to score a few boundaries off the spinners but were struggling to score sufficient runs from the seamers at the other end. Both perished to catches when trying to force the pace to the right-arm round offerings of Western-Kaye for 29 and 31 respectively. The tailenders continued to land the odd lusty blow but in truth the required run rate had long since passed achievability. However with little to be gained for batting out for a draw, all batsmen were given licence to enjoy themselves and go for their shots, something typified in the way the game finished with Angus Blayney launching seamer Connolly for a big six towards the statue of George before snicking behind to the very next delivery. 

An enjoyable game if an undesirable result with the Templars ending up falling about 80 runs short. It was particularly heartening to see four relatively recent leavers (Young, Hulbert, Selby-Lowndes and Ulmann) in the Templars side, all of whom performed creditably and have surely put themselves in contention for the Cricketer Cup squad. 

Next up is the match against the School on Speech Day a week on Saturday 27 May.