Aarons hundred helps league winners UBCC 3rd XI to beat University of Gloucestershire 2nd XI in style. Tom Anderson reports:
Players and spectators at Coombe Dingle were bathed in sunshine on a day that saw a Charlie Aarons hundred and Bristol 3rd XI complete an unbeaten season to finish top of their league.
Bristol attacked their warm up, throwing the ball at the yellow stump with a little extra energy than in previous matches. This vigour was inspired in part due to the knowledge that for some of the players, this would be their final game of the season, that Gloucestershire 2nd XI were on a good run of form, and that a win would see Bristol become league champions.
Following the predictable winning of the toss and the popular decision to bat by Bristol’s captain Ewan Harris, his hand was crushed in an iron grip by his bear-like opposite number Carrington. The gesture might have signalled Gloucestershire’s intent, as their opening bowlers ran in hard to Harry Harding and Ludo MacLellan, removing them for 1 and 5 respectively, leaving the score 15 for 2. MacLellan was somewhat startled by a big, unprovoked send-off from the bowler, though he did apologize after the game.
In being dismissed, MacLellan dashed any hopes that Aarons may have had of squeezing in some last-minute revision for his exam the following day, for he would play a part in every ball of the remaining day’s play. His partner Bertie Lloyd concentrated hard, batting for 40 minutes before he was dismissed for 8, while James Fischer became the opening bowler’s third victim. With the score on 50 for 4, it was clear to all that Bristol needed their pair of Aarons and Fletcher to bat long, and bat long they did. Aarons especially frustrated Gloucestershire by running quick singles, showing trust in his partner and ruining a number of otherwise maiden overs. Fletcher seemed quite content to play a supporting role, leaving Aarons to hit the boundaries, but the timing and importance of his innings of 43(96) cannot be overstated.
Aarons very nearly didn’t reach his fifty when, on 49, he hit a shoulder-high full toss from the hand-crushing off spinner to long on, and ambled halfway down the wicket. He seemingly failed to notice the illegality of the delivery and the umpire’s outstretched arm, and raised his bat high above his head before flinging it to the ground in a moment of rage. The square leg umpire suggested he find a better place to stand while the throw came in, and Aarons took his advice, scampering to the non-striker’s end to beat the throw by the smallest of margins. He would be given subsequent reprieves by a couple of dropped catches from tired fielders, but was made to prove his mettle for his hundred, ignoring cramp and personal discomfort later on in his innings. His hundred was applauded by a swelling crowd of 100 or so spectators, as students about to take an exam sought a diversion from heads full of different thoughts.
After passing the milestone, and being made to run more than he would have liked by Rajat Roy—who scored a quickfire 9*—Aarons could not for much longer disregard the deterioration of his physical condition, and preparing to face the final ball of the innings, began to retch in the direction of square leg. He promptly retired hurt on 109(130) to a standing ovation. After the game, he professed a newfound desire to attend future strength and conditioning sessions.
For the players who were able to eat, tea consisted of a sweet potato curry, featuring chickpeas, butternut squash and spinach. It was broadly agreed that there was a little kick to it, enough to satisfy those partial to a curry but not so much as to deter those who have less of a heat tolerance. In any case, the curry’s accompaniment of strawberry-flavoured yoghurt was an indicator of the chef’s benevolent intentions and was appreciated by the players. A clear seven out of ten.
Having cooled down and refreshed themselves, and feeling buoyed by their total of 221, which looked quite unlikely at one stage, Bristol looked to make early inroads through James Whitehouse and Ewan Harris. Gloucestershire’s openers weren’t in any mood to play their roles conventionally, hitting away-swingers from Whitehouse down the ground for back-to-back boundaries, which was especially impressive given the speed of the outfield. Harris took the wicket of the dangerous-looking opener in his second over through a run out, and his replacement soon followed him back to the pavilion after edging one through to Harding, whose work was a strong contender for Catch of the Match. Harris took two more wickets to finish 5-0-20-3, his bowling partner Fischer added one, and after 11 overs Gloucestershire found themselves in a position similar to Bristol’s at 67 for 5, but were well ahead of the required rate.
The captain turned to spin, and Tom Anderson was brought on in an attempt to dry up the runs, and opened his account with a no ball; he failed to notice there were three men positioned outside the circle. Fortunately, he improved on his start, and found the consistent line that had been lacking in previous games. His ten over spell conceded 17 runs and included one maiden. However, while the odd chance was created, he would remain wicketless. Rajat Roy (10-2-21-2) particularly impressed, bowling his off spinners from the other end. He broke Gloucestershire’s most enduring partnership with a beautiful delivery that turned, slowing off the pitch and was hit high into the air; the captain took a smart catch out of the sun without needing a cap, but it was to be beaten by Charlie Fletcher’s version, who took his only requiring one hand.
Gloucestershire scored just 35 runs in the 17 overs between the two drinks breaks. Bristol felt the game was back in their favour, and were hungry for wickets. Further contributions came from Roy and then Harry Hickey, who deceived and outclassed the remaining batsmen with a fine display of flight and guile. Whitehouse was brought back on, and quickly mopped up the tail with two wickets to deliver a great victory, and Bristol 3s the title of Western 3A league champions for 2018.
Bath Ales MOTM: Charlie Aarons
WG Grace Stylish Player of the Match: Harry Hickey
NibNibs Perfect Catch of the Match: Charlie Fletcher
Chai Pani DOTD: Charlie Aarons
Sandwich Sandwich Wet Sandwich of the Match: Ewan Harris
Thanks should go to those who came out to support us, to the players from other Bristol teams who watched the whole game, to the Coombe Dingle staff for their hospitality this season, to the captain for his leadership and to Riley Evans for giving up his time to so excellently score for us. Macbooks are indeed superior to pencils.