Hampshire League County Division One
GROGGY GUS WINS IT FOR LYMO!
Portsmouth & Southsea 256-9
Lymington II 258-8
On the stroke of 8pm and in the gathering gloom at the Sports Ground, Lymington’s Gus Mitchell became the unlikeliest of heroes as he smashed the final ball of the match to the square leg boundary to secure a dramatic two wicket victory over high flying Portsmouth & Southsea.
Several hours earlier, an exciting climax had seemed most improbable, with Lymington suffering a series of disasters that included as many as seven dropped catches and two fielders being forced off the field with injuries – including Mitchell himself who was struck in the ribs, and promising colt Josh Royan who received a nasty facial injury while bravely stopping a fiercely struck cover drive. Things definitely hit rock bottom when, after witnessing the seventh dropped catch, frustrated scoreboard operator Johnny Jumpers aimed an almighty kick at the scoreboard causing the club clock to fall off its mount and smash into several pieces on the ground. Which did at least bring back fond memories of the occasion many years ago when dear old Bob Iles hurled one of Peter Tapper’s Blue Circle Cement clocks out of the clubhouse and across the outfield because, in his own words, “I wanted to see time fly”. Back on the field, the visitors took full advantage of Lymington’s woes, not to mention their lack of fielders, and soon reached the 200 mark for the loss of just three wickets through Briggs (39), Peach (39) and top scorer Benfield (65). However, just when P&S seemed set for a huge score, Lymington’s bowlers struck back, principally through Billy Quigley who took four wickets, and Paul Macauley who, true to his Yorkshire roots, gave very little away at the death. More importantly, Lymo’s fielders suddenly remembered how to field properly – particularly Ben Howard-Allan who snared two catches, while young sub fielder Hugo Smith brought about a fine Gary Pratt-style run out. The visitors final total of 256-9 was somewhat lower than they might have hoped for in the circumstances.
Lymington skipper Ollie Kelly was bowled for a duck in the third over of his team’s reply as Lymo found runs hard to come by against some accurate P&S new ball bowling. However, Quigley (88) and Jack Roberts (52) fought back and watchfully brought Lymington back into the game, adding 125 for the second wicket. The innings, and the match, was then turned on its head by Glenn Willoughby who struck a swashbuckling half century, including two sixes onto roofs of nearby houses. With the help of cameo innings from Hugo Chandler (19) and Keiran Moors (11), Willoughby took Lymington to within 20 runs of victory before falling to Willey for 65. Further runs were whittled away before a thrilling match was about to get a whole lot more exciting. Moors’ dismissal saw a woozy Mitchell, who had spent a good deal of the Lymington innings asleep in a chair due to the powerful painkillers he’d taken, limp to the crease. The former Canford schoolboy promptly attempted a suicidal second run which saw both he and Chandler stranded in the middle of the pitch. Assuming he was the run out batsman, Mitchell wandered off back to the boundary, but after a long debate, the umpires declared that it was in fact Chandler who was run out, and a rather reluctant Mitchell had to put his pads back on and lope back to the middle. Two more run outs followed as panic set in, and the whole match came down to the final delivery with Lymington still requiring three to win with effectively the last pair at the crease. With a mighty swish, Mitchell duly despatched the ball to the fence to end a quite remarkable match.
The victory lifted Lymington above P&S into second place, but perhaps the best news of the day came later when it became clear that Josh Royan’s injury wasn’t as bad as first feared, captain Kelly reminding the youngster that the four runs he had saved by stopping the ball with his nose had effectively won Lymington the match!