CRICKET: Memorable annual tour day for Willoughby

Willoughby and Matching Green in Essex
Willoughby and Matching Green in Essex

Four-wicket victory at Matching Green in Essex

Tour Match

Matching Green CC v Willoughby CC

Matching Green 235 for 7

Willoughby 237 for 6

Willoughby won by 4 wickets

A truly wonderful day in the Essex countryside saw Willoughby record a victory on their annual Tour Day although cricket and the new friendships both clubs have made were the true winners.

The two clubs have a mutual connection in that the late Dick Anderson played for both clubs, moving up to Willoughby from Matching Green in the 1970 and serving WCC with some distinction as a fine all-rounder and club member until his sad passing a few years ago. Conditions could not have been more perfect for the visitor’s arrival as clear skies and sunshine greeted the idyllic setting of the host’s ground set on the village green with two ponds set either side of the square leg boundaries.

An unexpected lunch on arrival set the tone for the wonderful hospitality throughout the day which saw the hosts go into bat first and face up to the opening bowling attack pairing of birthday boy Justin Hanks and Jake Quinney, the latter taking out opener Figg and the host’s number three Jeffrey.

However MG’s other opener 15 year old Ollie Hartnell survived the opening attack and those that followed to build a fine innings and demonstrate why he is so well regarded in those parts; retiring after making his maiden century for the club with his 103 not out including 20 boundaries; six in succession off WCC’s Saturday 1st team captain!

Thereafter Willoughby managed to apply the brakes a little on the run rate; 13 year old youngsters Nirmay Patel impressing with two wickets from his six overs, until some late hitting from the host’s skipper Simon Hartnell with 41 not out took Matching Green to an imposing total of 235 for 6 off their 35 overs.

If lunch was excellent, tea was something else and an extended break for a sumptuous mid-innings feast was the prelude to a steady if initially patient response from Willoughby. Ashley Rayner in at number three upped the ante and retired on reaching another half century, which then saw James Andrews nudge his way to his maiden 50 for the club, also retiring in the process.

A quick fire 19 from Ben Hollis and a more sedate 23 from Ryan Perry (who later somehow managed to find himself in the River Stort) edged Willoughby through the mid-100 mark before Mark Fell took the visitors within sight of the target. He departed for 21 when looking likely to see matters to a conclusion, but Patel joined Quinney (18 not out) at the crease and they saw Willoughby to the total required with nine balls to spare.

An excellent game of cricket rounded a superb day and epitomised everything good about Sunday cricket particularly as both clubs' up and coming talent showed their potential to an appreciative audience.

A huge thanks to everyone at Matching Green for their truly wonderful hospitality; we look forward to returning the favour next year. A big thank you also to the players and non-playing travelling support from Willoughby for their efforts in also making it a trip that will live long in the memory.