The unique bucolic charm of Stanway – nestled somewhere under Snowshill Hill, adjacent to the heritage Gloucestershire Steam Railway and with a pavilion thatch that attracts a biblical pestilence of insects – it is quite some place to visit on a roasting 20th April. Having driven slowly through most of Britain’s Rambling organisation to reach the ground, all eking their precious lives away looking at some big house or other (I don’t know what the collective is for ramblers – a ‘sniper’s target’ perhaps) one had a whole winter to forget that any game involving Grafton starts 25 minutes late. It’s just written, that’s how it is.
Dribs and drabs arrived, absolutely no-one in a hurry or at least prepared to do the elementary arithmetic, that is that 80 overs (and it was nearly 90 – thank Christ) starting at 2pm or later, with shortish boundaries and fences with big gaps, with a general tardiness as everyone moved everywhere at a glacial pace – we would be completing the game in the dark. And indeed we were. Except by then it was no longer a game. So let’s be brief….
Russell (8) and Young (13) opened and waded through treacle in the sure knowledge that numbers 3 to 6 were hardly shy, and Ben Ashfield at 7 is not known for his blocking. Sure enough Killian gave a master class in controlled, safe hitting that effectively destroyed the game. His 102 (everyone actually missed the 100 come up) came off 69 balls, at which he launched another six towards Broadway and promptly retired himself on 108. Job done and quite brilliant. Meanwhile McAdam was swatting, pulling and smiting the runs at the other end, getting well-acquainted with his inside edge in the process, for a very credible 74. Probably the most memorable passage of play was that cameo from Wilcock. Killian had just retired after the first ball of the over (a six) and so Willcock opted for a one-shot policy. Playing precisely the same shot (heave between mid-wicket and long on) to all five balls of his innings, they went 4, 6, 4, miscue dot, miscue caught at point. Ashfield swished 2, Hussleby a very ‘start of season’ 29 and the rest chipped in to make a very unreachable 272-7.
Tea was taken at about 5pm and lasted an eternity. A reasonable start, only interrupted by a rare James catch (after a wicket from same) really meant that all hinged on Stanway’s Green (57) who seemed the only one likely to take this to the wire. Indeed, for an hour it was possible, but a couple of wickets as Killian (behind the stumps and whining about his wankles) rotated his bowling options meant that half way through the 40 overs the game was dead in the water. And as players started to look at the overs remaining, the time and the angle of the sun, it dawned just how long this was going to last. And that was at 128 for 4 off 25. Another 75 minutes passed. We took some wickets, they scored some runs – I can’t quite recall who or how because I’ve tried to erase it all. And still it went on as the new plan to speed things up with a futile merry-go-round of everyone bowling grenades off two paces simply resulted in no balls and wides and so we were all trapped for eternity.
MOM – Alan Powell