Anthony McGowan and Jonathan Wilson stride out purposelessly

v Fonthill at Fonthill

Fonthill must be one of the most beautiful grounds in the land, and in glancing sunlight and crisp shadow has more than a hint of majesty about it, too. After a morning in repose, Clough/Wilson sprang yet another injury at the slip cradle, a split nail adding to the list, but he bravely soldiered to the middle as Authors took first use of a pitch that slopes more dramatically even than Lord’s.

An excellent spell from opening bowler Dean, rolling in like Darren Stevens from the far end and sliding the ball disconcertingly across the stumps, had the Authors on the rack at 35-5. Hogg, beard trimmed square after the winter’s growth, and Campbell, short-shirted and rig out despite the chill, rebuilt, putting on fifty before Hogg yielded. The skipper blazed on to a fine unbeaten half century, the total rounded out to a competitive 137 by some beefy hitting courtesy of Duff and Beckman.

After a tea fit for the surroundings, the Authors’ opening pair of Beckman and the roaring Lion Holland steamed in, making the new Duke talk the language of wickets. A brace for Beckman and then three for Holland, including the now traditional youth team player outfoxed by the old dog, had the hosts on the rack.

That they couldn’t quite steady up had something to do with a nightmare run of injuries, including a muscle tear and then a very unfortunate deflection into the mouth that prompted the somehow comical sight of the fielding side on hands and knees conducting a forensic but futile search for a missing crown.

A battling 22, sans tooth, from Major and a well struck 25 from Roberts held up the Authors’ victory push, but a thoroughly enjoyable and hard-fought game came to a conclusion in a flurry thanks to the spin of Duff, Hogg and, at the death, Thacker.

The Authors remain blessed to find such a glorious and warm early season welcome in deepest Wiltshire.

Authors CC 137-7 (Campbell 53*, Hogg 19) beat Fonthill Park CC 81 all out (Holland 3-16, Duff 3-21, Beckman 2-15) by 56 runs.

Rathbones moment: Tom Holland’s rip-snorter that took the edge and was duly snaffled.