Spring in Wiltshire, winter still in the bones of the earth, and beneath Chilmark’s grand hill, the Authors, pasty and blinking in the low evening light. Before them, more evidence that the great circle of life had turned. Old friends’ Chilmark CC’s youth policy had produced its new generation, raw enough that the name ‘Tom Holland’ meant little more to them than a cinematic superhero with half a billion Twitter followers.
The real thing had undergone a regeneration of its own. He barely mentions it, but Holland had rehabbed from an Achilles twang that threatened a career already extended beyond Jimmy Anderson proportions. Now, here he was again, ready for the arena. Across the dressing room, Jonathan Wilson, the only man who’d got the memo about arriving dressed as a character from one of your books: he’d picked Brian Clough.
As so often, these two great stalwarts of Authors cricket found their worlds turning in opposite directions. Wilson brought the bad news that he faces shoulder surgery in June to counter an injury of unknown magnitude. Until he’s fixed up, bowling is off the agenda. And yet, as also so often, the weekend was to orbit around our two opposing stars.
Chilmark produced a glowing orange orb of their own for the Authors’ first dig of the year, alas not the sun, but the next best thing at 6pm on an early May evening: a Duke’s of the kind used for day-night Test cricket. Wilson strode to the crease in the company of Matt Thacker to face the opening salvoes. Last year, Thacker had perished in a doomed attempt to hit the season’s first delivery for six. This time he allowed it to pass by off stump, but his onslaught was not long delayed. The next cracked from his bat through mid-on; the fourth flew high over point and dropped, CLR-style, beyond a boundary.
Chilmark’s youth had the ball swinging and zipping, that mysterious orange cherry skittering down the slope to good effect. Wilson countered with some rapier thrusts, his knock capped with successive boundaries slipped surgically through third man with the timing of peak-era Ian Bell. His 24 was the top score in an innings of 122, respectable enough in the face of one of the stronger attacks we’ll see this term.
A ten-wicket defeat with seven overs to spare was comprehensive, but less one-sided than it appears, some good overs from Campbell, Hogg and Holland seen off by an impressive opening pair of Max Allen and Wiltshire’s Young Player of the Season, Jack Steadman, who has blossomed into a batsman of some power and touch.
Authors CC 122-8 (Wilson 24, Thacker 21, Owen 17) lost to Chilmark 128-0 (Steadman 58*) by 10 wickets.
Rathbones moment: Jonathan Wilson for his consecutive, greebled boundaries