Ship Inn 2017

Elie Beach

The third and final day of the Festival saw the Ship resting skipper Bucknall and ever-present Murdoch, and Bodger only getting involved having answered a late call for a replacement. Club Vice Captain Steve Hunter took charge on the beach for the first time, and he steered the Ship to a safe victory, though not without a few nervous moments on the way.

With the Borderers allowing the Ship first use of the wicket, skipper put himself in right at the start, and he and Billy Milroy made steady progress against some tight bowling from Oli Farr and Richard Thomson. Farr’s in-swinging yorkers of last year were just about kept out, but the introduction of Max Adam saw Hunter play an uncharacteristic loose shot which was very well taken by Campbell Fraser. Tubby Turnbull strode to the crease and he and Milroy in possibly their 100th stand for the Ship safely guided the team to the brink of 50. 47 for 1 off 9, a good solid start for Hunter’s men. But then it all unravelled. A full bunger from Max Adam saw Tubby hit on the foot, then the ball bounced up and was caught by young Jonty Fraser behind the sticks. It was (and remains) unclear what the loud appeal was specifically for, but umpire Smith had seen enough to raise his finger and I can relate that the scorebook gives it out as caught. An unhappy Tubby.

Billy followed the next over, well bowled by visiting skipper Julian Blake, and two balls later Pete Smith was also clean bowled by Blake. 50 for 4, skipper Hunter was looking somewhat nervy on the sea wall. In fact we were all nervy, as Ed “hopelessly out of form but full of class” Anderson walked to the crease like Marie Antoinette to the guillotine. A horrible mistimed pull, could have gone anywhere off the gloves, but the angry fist pump that Anderson brandished to bring up his first run in three innings slightly settled everyone’s nerves. Surely he and Williams would now make some proper hay. Well, up to a point, Lord Hunter. Anderson scratched his way to 2, then played himself into a bit of form with two sumptuous boundaries. But then an ambitious appeal from Farr for a spinning leg break that hit Anderson five yards down the track on the front foot was given out by Smith again. The home team were not amused, and Anderson was left crest-fallen. And averaging 4.33 for the festival. Sponsor Boyd promised briefly and then perished. And then for the second day in a row Williams made a good start but then got out, giving catching practice to Johnson.

Some progress had been made, but at 89 for 7 and (with all respect to what was to follow) no recognised leading batsmen to come, the home skipper was looking mightily uncomfortable. Jamie Robertson swished and thrashed and was surely not going to last long. Steve Walker had already announced that this would be his penultimate season playing for the Ship * , so surely he wasn’t going to get many either.

(* Steve Walker also announced his desire to continue his involvement with the Ship in an umpiring capacity. In a random survey of two players at the end of the innings, a Mr Anderson and a Mr Turnbull, 100% of respondents gave their whole-hearted support to an addition to the umpire’s panel).

So, these two weren’t going to set he scoreboard alight, were they? Well, do you know, bit by bit, they did. The bowlers failed to make one last breakthrough, chances were missed, and slowly but surely these two put on a partnership. 19 singles between them, but also a 6 each, and they both moved into the 20s. The partnership had gone past 40, and the Ship to 130, when Walker was the first to go, hopelessly run out by his batting partner in a tragicomic moment. The guilt-ridden Robertson finally got a move on, hitting a 4 and a 6 off Campbell’s next over but then being amusingly stumped next ball. The end of a fine contribution, even if not the prettiest, but he and Walker had put on vital late runs. Keen went very quickly, leaving Bodger and Mennie to make some small but much-needed polishing of their averages. (Though you can’t put lipstick on a pig). The Ship had made a maximum – 147. Certainly way below what Hunter would have wanted at the start, but a lot better than it had looked at 68 for 5 or at 89 for 7.

A quick glance at the scorebook at tea-time told Hunter that there were wickets to be had, and so it proved as first ball of the innings Paul Bodger cleaned out Henry Strouts. But Harry was then joined by Neil Johnson, the latter taking a shining to Jamie Keen in particular, and in short order the visitors were 34 for 1. At which point skipper turned to that old walrus Steve Walker, who roared in like he was 25 again and took a wicket in each of his three overs, thanks to a safe catch from skipper and two good ones from Williams. The wicket of Johnson proved the pivotal one. The Farr family each went for a couple, and Miller and Thompson (sounds more like an Edinburgh wine bar than a cricketing partnership) got 10 each and briefly stemmed the tide before falling to the old-timers Turnbull and Smith. The rest of the Borderers’ batting clattered to a conclusion, and skipper Blake arrived to administer the last rites. The Borderers had two partnership s of 34 and 22, but their other 9 wickets (12-a-side) raised only 24 runs, and ultimately the visitors came up short. And with the tide rushing in, that was maybe no bad thing.

The Borderers proved themselves excellent guests once again, and though their normal sartorial standards were let down by their late replacement Brian Miller and his chum, they proved themselves fine chaps both on and off the field. Skipper Hunter was a releived and pleased man at the end, and everyone was delighted to see Steve “Breaking Bad” Walker deservedly scoop the Man of the Match award from our festival sponsors Edinburgh Gin.

Our thanks to Neil Boyd and Edinburgh Gin, to the Borderers, and to everyone involved in the marathon that is the Beach Cricket Festival. A chance to recharge the batteries before a double-header in two week’s time.