Rabbie Burns surely had borders cricket in mind when he penned his famous line “The best laid plans of Mice and Mando gang aft agley.” For Manderston had assembled a mighty team, studded with powerful batsmen, for their match on Sunday against the Borderers. The Borderers are an itinerant team who play games over a huge area on both sides of the border, drawing their players from an equally wide ranging pool. Several of this week's side often play for Manderston, adding to the fun and confusion, as did the presence of two visiting San Franciscans being introduced to this most British of sports.
Manderston's plan was simple, but cunning: bat for 40 overs and amass a huge total, then bowl the Borderers out and go home early. Only the very last part of the plan survived contact with reality as the visitors astutely counter-plotted by packing their team at the last minute with youthful vigour and skill from assorted cricketing countries.
The plan began to unravel as early as the fourth over when opener Stephen Scott was bowled for a duck, followed rapidly by Manderston captain Iain Sim, trying an ambitious stroke on his second ball only to be comprehensively castled. Bowler M. Barr finished on 4 overs, 2 for 17, a creditable performance. At the other end L. Baird was tidy, with 4 overs for 15 runs. Duncan Sim (19) and 'Foxy' Walsh (9) steadied the innings for a while before both were out to W. Townsend (2 for 20), again both to rash shots. Hayden Martin and Jim Hickey, both playing for the first time this year, then gave hope and impetous to the innings with a partnership worth 58.
However first Hickey (25) went, caught by George Farr at the wicket off F. Barr (1 for 16); then Ritchie had Martin stumped for an entertaining 36. Ritchie is a slow left arm bowler of mature years and cheerful disposition, who admits that he doesn't particularly expect to take wickets; however, he snared another quite soon. Jamie Lindsay, last of the recognised batsmen, hit three powerful fours off one over, but in attempting another, managed to pick out the only fielder, Robbie Thomson, for several acres and was well caught. At this point the plan had gone about as agley as it could possibly manage.
The Manderston tailenders battled valiantly but all made mistakes and gifted Ritchie the last few wickets and the memorable figures of 6 overs, 5 for 28. “I haven't taken 5 wickets since I was twelve!” he commented later, justifiably pleased with his performance, an inspiration to all aging spin bowlers everywhere. Henry Strouts's catch to dismiss Daniel Richards was heartstopping, matching his superb effort in the slips for Manderston the previous weekend. Manderston had only compiled a disappointing 128 and were all out in just 30 overs.
Interviewed at the interval, our American spectators were puzzled but enthusiastic. They were impressed by the friendliness and good humour in which the game was played; but what really caught their imagination was a sport in which a large meal was laid on at the half way stage. “Much better than hamburgers at baseball!” commented one, tucking into the vast array of sandwiches and cakes.
After these much needed refreshments, the Borderers began their reply. Dave Ebner (0 for 10 off 6 overs) and Daniel Richards (1 for 20) started brilliantly, the latter taking a wicket in his second over before a run had been scored. However, his next over was probably decisive; after a hard chance was shelled at slip, the Manderston captain dropped a sitter in the covers. E. McNeil then went on to top score with 48, in a long partnership with M. Barr (41).
Eddy Richards (2 for 33), in imitation of his opposite number Ritchie, was brought on and after a couple of expensive overs found his range and prised out McNeil, well caught by Martin, followed immediately by a stumping by Walsh. At this point though the score had risen to 90, and although Martin and D. Sim bowled well, taking a further wicket each, it was too late and George Farr (25 not out) and W. Townsend (6 not out) were content to chip away at the total. The last over was somewhat farcical with no fewer than three spiraling catches dropped; it would not have affected the result but was perhaps symptomatic of the rather sloppy Manderston fielding.
Next time, the cunning plan needs to be backed up by some application. Still, on this occasion, the Borderers were worthy winners and Richard Thomson to be commended for his sporting captaincy. The game was such a great advert that when your correspondent left the ground, our American visitors had borrowed pads, bat and ball and were trying it out for themselves.
- H Strouts
- E McNeill
- M Barr
- F Barr
- G Farr
- W Townsend
- L Baird
- J Ritchie
- G Aitchison (wk)
- R D M Thomson
- R I Thomson