The end of the 2020 cricket season came with an almighty flourish as over 200 people – socially distanced of course – came to a sun drenched Loperwood Park for this much anticipated President’s Day clash between the club 1st XI and a team of Calmore Sports Legends.
It was a game that matched the occasion. A game that could have gone either way right to the very last but Tom Pegler, using all of the experience that saw him honoured by the club for his five decades worth of 1st XI cricket at the post match presentations, couldn’t hit Dan Croft’s final delivery for four which would have tied the game.
But this wasn’t just about the cricket on the park, albeit the 1st XI won by three runs. The victory was celebrated long and hard, a tough victory over a team of club veterans who still showed all of their class and ability in spades. In fact, when the President’s XI reached 169-5 chasing the 1st XI’s 224, they needed just 56 to win in nine overs and had Tom Pegler and Charlie Freeston at the crease and James Hibberd, Martin Kellaway and Mark Boston still to come.
The 1st XI weren’t going to roll over meekly and skipper Mark Lavelle returned – bowling his left-arm spin rather than the medium-pace he opened the bowling with – and brought “Yorkshireman Trophy” winner Ben Perry, James Manning and Dan Croft into the attack for the final nine overs.
On winning the toss, the 1st XI chose to bat first but soon lost Matt Taylor to a sensational caught and bowled from Paul Cass and young Max Bailey was bowled by Charlie Freeston to leave them 21-2 in the seventh over.
However, Ben Johns, who had not long arrived on the ground straight from work, was hastily throwing his pads on and, alongside Will Brewster, steadied things with 50 run stand in ten overs before the former was trapped leg before by Cass for 14 – Cass closing with impressive figures of 2-38.
Going quietly about his business was Brewster and he found a trusty allay in Ben Fisher, playing his first game back at Loperwood since making his first-class debut for Oxford University in the Varsity match last weekend and the pair resisted all that the President’s XI bowlers could throw at them as they put on 117 for the fourth wicket to put them firmly in the driving seat.
But Fisher’s dismissal for 42 off 58 balls to Mark Boston – the first of four stumpings for former 1st XI captain Martin Kellaway behind the sticks – started something of a collapse. Boston, who was rolling back the years on his first game at Loperwood in 10 years, found plenty of turn on his way to 2-45 from eight overs – removing Yannick de Mezieres Lepervanche two balls later.
The key wicket came shortly afterwards and it was one which was greeted with sighs of disappointment from the packed sidelines as Will Brewster had batted superbly, hitting 17 of the 27 innings fours, but just one run short of a deserved century, he lofted Clive Surry into the outfield to the safe hands of Nigel Hill at deep mid-wicket and he went for 99 in just 91 balls.
Surry claimed 3-31 as the 1st XI lost seven wickets for 36 to be removed for 224 in their 40 overs.
The chase got off to a brisk start but the top three were all back in the pavilion with just 30 on the board after 5.2 overs and Lavelle snared Dave Brandes (1) and Croft picked up Cass (4) and Hill (18). Dave Rouse thrashed an entertaining 38 from 27 balls with two sixes onto Piper’s Bank and six fours but it was looking like the 1st XI were in complete control as the President’s XI slipped to 73-4 in the 13th over – certainly up with the rate but losing wickets.
It needed two steady heads and they got them with Surry being joined by Pegler. Surry, who didn’t hit a boundary until his 33rd ball and had scored just five in his previous 32 and Pegler were content to push back Perry and Manning to put themselves into a good position to push on late on and they did just that as their stand went onto 86 from 108 balls.
It was Surry’s removal in the 31st over, bowled by de Mezieres Lepervanche for 47 from 79 balls that ushered in skipper Lavelle taking things much more seriously as Pegler was standing firm and had great support from Freeston and James Hibberd against the potent regular 1st XI bowling attack.
The target was brought down to 25 off the last four overs but they conceded just two boundaries with James Manning bowling two overs for just six as the President’s side struggled to get over the line. It came down to 13 to win off the last over but Pegler and Boston managed nine and the 1st XI claimed the tense victory.
And that was that. The 2020 season completed, the strangest of all seasons but the club were delighted to see so many people present. Players and supporters covering seven decades of Calmore Sports cricket, friends, families, old and young, those returning to the club following many seasons away and those who call Loperwood Park home.
It was a magnificent day. It was the President’s Day. It showed just what a fantastic club Calmore Sports is.