Following a week of blistering sunshine it was to be expected that upon arrival at Lancing we were to be met with blustery winds and overcast conditions. As such, having won the toss, there was nothing to say but "we'll have a bowl”.
After a one-ball bowl off involving practically the whole team, it was decided that late call up Midshipman Mills (2005-2010) would be entrusted with the fresh seed.
Steaming in from the Pavilion End with fire in his heart and on his head, Mills launched into a barrage of well-directed attacks which had the opening pair on the back foot. One over in and the Rovers were on the prowl.
It is common knowledge that behind many a successful wicket-taking bowler lies an unsung hero in the form of the bowler at the other end who must keep the pressure on. It was with this in mind that it was thought who better to accompany the majestic Mills than a man who came into the day promising "medium pace on a line and length - nothing more and nothing less.” As such, whilst Bradley Walsh (2008-10) may not have turned out for the second team during his school days, it came to pass that on 28 May 2017 he accompanied Marco Mills in opening the bowling for the Lancing Rovers.
Unfortunately for all the dream was short-lived. Whilst Marco continued to bamboozle the batsmen, Walsh struggled to find both his line and/or length and the decision was taken to give Walsh a well-earned rest after posting figures of 2-0-0-29.
Following Walsh from the Ladywell End came one of the Rovers newest recruits, Luke Davies (2011-2016), who bowled with superb patience and was unfortunate not to pick up a wicket (finishing with figures of 5-0-0-25).
Despite Davies and Mills quashing the run rate, the Rovers had to wait until the 23rd over before the breakthrough came. It was made by another of this year’s recruits, Henry Smethurst (2011-2016), who trapped the school’s opener in front of middle. Smethurst continued to torment his recent peers and ended with figures of 8-0-1-33.
The middle overs were also frequented by Rovers regular, J Ballamy (2006-2011), who produced a fine spell of never-before-seen off spin. Bowling with Yardy-esk pace, Ballamy’s darts were incredibly effective and, despite not bagging a wicket, enabled the Rovers to race through the overs.
30 overs in and Rovers spirits were unusually high. This was owed in no small part to a level of cricket chat not often encountered by the Aylett brothers and co. Despite the constant delights of this, the school were in the process of posting a rather large score.This was until the ball was thrown to G.Welsby (2005-2010) and B.Williams (2006-2011). The pair dovetailed immediately and the results were devastating. Bowling with a teasing wobble well beyond his years, Williams was rewarded in the 37th over when he sent the stumps cartwheeling.Williams ended with fine figures of 4-0-1-15.
It was his partner in crime, G. Welsby, who was the pick of the bowlers. Ambling in from the Ladywell End, Welsby’s flight and guise was never not probing and the Lancing batsmen were at a loss from ball one. Indeed off the last ball of the innings Welsby fittingly completed the michelle pfeiffer sending the Rovers and their travelling army of fans into hysteria. Welsby’s final figures were a superb 5-0-5-27. This capped a tremendous comeback by the Rovers and the school finished on 209-9.
Special mention must also go to El Presidente who took a low edge in the slips straight on the shin early on but powered through.
Having had a good 2 and half hour break since his opening spell, I was met by a zealous Walsh at the interval. He informed me that he wished to make it up to the team and was therefore keen to open the batting. Not one to ever deter a keen cricketer I agreed to this and so, just when everyone thought they had seen the last of the Mills-Walsh combo, so the two men strode their way out to the middle. Sadly it was to be even more short-lived than the first time. Having taken his guard, Walsh steadied himself for the first ball of the innings...watched as the opening bowler bounced in towards the crease...and continued to watch as the ball swung-in late and hit him clean on the back foot square in front of middle.
Having bowled two overs for 29 runs and then getting a first baller, one would think this would lead to a window being smashed or a bat being broken, however, to Walsh’s credit he displayed an incredible degree of restraint and embraced it all with a hearty Rovers smile.
Founders Day 2017
The Rovers chase sadly never materialised to a great degree, despite Mills hitting a plucky 23, yours truly scratching 59 and H Smethurst digging in for a very patient and well-earned 18. In the end the Rovers ended up 65 runs adrift of the school.
Regardless of the result, the day was another fantastic step in the right direction for the club. Having spent a fair few hours pulling the team together, it was a real pleasure to see 11 fully fledged young Rovers enjoying their cricket together out on the glorious Lancing square. As such, a massive thank you is owed from myself, Jamie and the club to all the players making the effort to play.
Up the Rovers!