Won by 1 wicket

Eton Ramblers 238-8 (J Vitali 4-32, AP Pusinelli 2-20); Pilgrims 239-9 (CAL Leach 68, GAB Ellwood 52).

We finished the 2018 season on a high note with a tense final wicket victory against the Ramblers, in what is proving to be the most dramatic fixture in the calendar year-on-year.

The toss was lost on a glorious September’s day, but we soon had the early initiative. Alastair Pusinelli (2-20) struck with his first ball of the day, the seventh of the innings, with the opening batsman flaying his arms outside off-stump, for Max Ritchie to take the simplest of catches behind the stumps.

The metronomic James Vitali (4-32) then got in on the act, with the left arm seamer taking the other opening batsman’s edge, with Henry Rydon showing a sharp pair of hands in the slip cordon.

Two further wickets for Vitali, one bowled and another catch taken by Rydon, had the Ramblers reeling at 32/4, but they fought back strongly. E Matley (70) laid into our slower bowlers, and on a fast outfield on a baking day, it didn’t take long before the scoreboard began to tick over.

James Francis picked up an LBW to have the opposition 88/5, but this brought O Hunt (66) to the crease, who began to match his batting partner’s stroke play. The ball was now regularly going to the boundary, with the pair both reaching their half centuries and putting on 82 for the sixth wicket.

Rydon (1-52) finally cracked Hunt, who was spectacularly caught by Charlie Taylor, making up for an earlier drop off his own bowling. Vitali and Pusinelli retuned into the attack to pick up another wicket each as the Eton tail began to throw the bat.

A passive declaration finally came, with the Ramblers reaching 209 for 9 off 50 overs, leaving us with just 36 overs to try and chase down the score.

The tardy George Ellwood (52) strode out to the middle alongside Francis (13), getting us off to perfect start with four consecutive boundaries from the opening bowler. Ellwood had clearly ruffled feathers with the bowler ejected from the attack during his next over due to exceeding his beamer limit, with his replacement then suffering the same fate just two overs later. 

When Francis fell to N Harrington (6-51), we were still in a great position at 65/1, with a nice cameo from Fred Cave (26) pushing the score along. The dismissal of Ellwood didn’t really change things, with Charlie Leach (68) carrying on from where his teammate left off, with the run chase now very much on the cards.

At 171/3, the Pilgrims were very much the favourites, but as softly anticipated, the wickets did come. That score became 175/5, 205/6 and then dramatically 231/9 as Harrington ripped through the middle and lower order, angling the ball down the slope to great effect during his 14 overs. 

George Atkins (17*) managed to crawl the Pilgrims across the line, despite the loss of three wickets for no runs. Atkins was joined by number 11 batsman Vitali (5*), with the two left handers managing to nullify the slope and claim the victory.