We’re off for some Co(a)rse WEPL Premier 2 Cricket this afternoon as ninth-placed Corse & Staunton entertain Corsham, who start the day in fourth place in the Gloucestershire/Wiltshire division. It’s a 62-mile trek from west Wiltshire to north Gloucestershire for the visitors, who’ll be looking to secure the win that will help them make up ground on the league’s top three, while the hosts will be hoping to build on last week’s edge-of-your-seat, two-run success over bottom side Marshfield and put pressure on both Painswick and Cheltenham, the teams that sit just above them in seventh and eighth.
The roadside village sign declares that Corse & Staunton has been a Chartist settlement since 1848, which is rather strange as Chartism itself pretty much died out just ten years later in 1858. Thirty-seven Christmases after the movement that aimed to gain political rights and influence for the working classes dissolved, Corse & Staunton CC was founded, meaning the club is now in its 128th year. The visitors, on the other hand, are somewhat older, celebrating their 175th anniversary this summer and it is they who elect to bowl first on an overcast, early July afternoon.
It’s a decision that bears immediate fruit, as strike bowler Carl Mumba crashes through the hosts’ top order, claiming the first four wickets to leave Corse struggling at 40-4, captain Tim Dannatt being the only batter amongst Mumba’s first four victims to reach double figures.
Te Shawn Zyun Alleyne and Adam Robson set about repairing some of the damage, urged on by a small group of Corse Ultras gathered beneath the tree at the Scout Hall end of the ground. ‘Well ran,’ offers the Lead Ultra as the batters steal a quick single. ‘Yes, well ran,’ agrees his equally grammatically-challenged mate.
Alleyne’s resistance is finally ended by Josh Stanley, though it’s Mumba who completes the catch to record a Coarse cricket five-for. The hosts are saved from any more short-term losses as the umpires take the players from the field for a second time as the clouds close in and the rain begins to fall, prompting the unfurling of an impressive tranche of black & red umbrellas in the patio area to the right of the pavilion.
On the clubhouse’s left-hand side, a score of advertising banners is neatly displayed on the high metal grill that separates the playing area from the adjacent children’s playground, giving us all the info we need to find an electrician, a builder, a University or even employment, depending on which of the placards catches your enquiring eye. Next to the playground is an area containing several pieces of gym equipment, a table tennis table and a picnic bench – indeed, it’s got everything you need for an activity room, apart from a roof.
With the rain finally ceasing, the players return to the fray, but Jack Tyrer soon departs, caught at mid-on off Joe King, before Robson is bowled by Tom Foley after striking half his team’s dozen boundaries in a 64-ball innings of 38, making him easily the home side’s top run-getter.
There is little resistance from the tail as Mumba returns to claim a proper five-for and Foley wraps up the innings following a typically miserly spell of 2-12 from his ten-over stint.
The sides mooch off to the pavilion for their between-innings tea break, Corse one run shy of a batting point and Corsham well placed to record their sixth win of the campaign.
There’s nothing coarse about the tea at C & S. Sandwiches, quiche, French bread & cheddar and a Chartist delicacy – hot, honey & mustard sausages, with flapjacks, fudge brownies and, best of all, Chocolate Rocky Road to follow. No wonder the home team prefers batting second.
Zachary Aulakh gives the hosts early hope, bowling Tom Laver with the score on fourteen, but Charley Reed and Ajay Momi move matters along to 56, before Momi’s stumps are rearranged by the first ball of Jack Freebury’s lively spell. At the same time, over in the well-maintained nets in the south-east corner of the ground, a ten-year-old all-rounder is giving his dad a lesson in the art of seam bowling. Dad, keen not to be completely usurped by his prodigal son attempts to intervene every now and again, causing Son to nod his head and smile lovingly, before ignoring every shred of well-meaning advice and carrying on regardless.
Back in the middle, following a third rain break, Reed and Jack Humphreys sail easily along, but with Corsham looking good on 85-2 off just sixteen and a bit overs, there’s a rumble of thunder, a flash of lightning, a sprinting of players for a fourth time this afternoon and a deluge of maybe not biblical proportions, but certainly Chartist ones, leaving the ground sodden and clearly dangerous for the contest to resume. This piece of Gloucestershire green is grandly called the QE2 Playing Fields and if the rain had been very much heavier, we may just have seen the great ship itself steering its way effortlessly across the outfield. There is talk of sawdust, soppers and Duckworth Lewis Stern, whatever that is, before the umpires quite rightly call time, with Corsham just forty runs shy of a more than useful points haul, while Corse are quite happy that seven points rather than a next-to-nothing return has kept them in touch with the sides just above them.
The visitors, disappointed but realistic regarding the outcome, head for their cars to begin their hour and a quarter journey back to Wiltshire, while the question master for the upcoming Summer Quiz in the neighbouring village hall makes a note or two in his little black book after hearing that we have a pair of Portsmouth-supporting umpires loitering in the clubhouse bar. ‘A murder of crows, a rabble of rats, a shiver of sharks and a horde of hamsters,’ he muses, ‘and a Fratton of Pompey supporters. Yep, there’s no doubt about it, that’ll fox ‘em.’
Corse & Staunton 124 (Adam Robson 38; Carl Mumba 5-40; Tom Foley 2-12).
Corsham 85-4 (Charley Reed 26no, Jack Humphreys 22no, Ajay Momi 22).