There is something to be said about Village Cricket. I accept the fact that both Farnham and Croydon, the home of the Old Whitgiftians, are towns.
But both the style of play and the scene of the action in Farnham, with a castle shrouded in vibrant green trees as a backdrop, have a distinctly village-like feel about them.
On the day in question, the May 31, 2008, the sun was shining and thus a small, but noticeable, gathering of spectators had assembled to watch the match between the Farnham second XI and the Old Whitgiftians second XI.
So this wasn’t Lords, and it wasn't first-class, but the match was still engaging.
Old Whitgiftians, winning the toss, opted to field first, despite at this level of cricket, a win batting first being worth more in league points than a win batting second.
The thing that perhaps struck the casual spectator was the apparent age gap between the two teams—the Farnham team comprising mainly under-20s, with the Old Whitgiftians, perhaps, more likely to be in their late 30s, or early 40s.
This age-difference was perhaps what motivated the ‘older’ team to go first, knowing that their legs may not be able to last an innings batting, followed by a tiring, hot afternoon session fielding.
Ben Ungaretti, opening the Farnham innings, seemed unmovable at the crease as he exploited the older fielding legs of the Old Whitgiftians and made 65 before being caught out by Simon Hill, off a bowl from Raj Chatwal, who was on his way to a 5-66.
The other highlight of the Farnham innings was a solid 34 by James Crutcher—who would eventually be out LBW, again bowled by Chatwal. The hosts’ innings ended on a useful 180 from 42.4 overs.
The Old Whitgiftians’ top order failed to bite the same way that Farnham’s did. Sham Malik, first in the batting order, got out for a duck and his partner Ian Walters managed a measly nine—both were caught by Crutcher.
The slow start, with the run rate at first averaging around two an over, was mainly due to some blisteringly fast bowling from James Cameron, who eventually made 5-38 and Matt Peacock, on his way to 2-30.
Highlights in the Old Whitgiftians’ innings came from Alistair Shackman (22), Gareth Clarke (44), and Trevor Clarke (22), who all made the most of the short boundary towards the leg-side of the Farnham Park End.
Ultimately though, with five batsmen out for a duck, this was never to be the Old Whitgiftians’ day. Their innings ended on 138 from 50.2 overs.
The result leaves Farnham’s second XI on level points with second place team, Malden Wanderers in the Surrey second XI Division 1. For the Old Whitgiftians, things are not so great.
They remain rooted to the bottom of the table with no points from their four games and demotion to division two looks more and more likely.
So, in the coming months for the Old Whitgiftians, “is it cowardly to pray for rain?”