Hambledon Vets snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

Hambledon's ageing stalwarts dusted off their whites and managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Findon Veterans at Ridge Meadow yesterday.

Despite losing three key players in the week leading up to the now annual 40-over fixture - Mike Donaldson (arm injury while practising), Phil Campbell (foot through scaffolding while thatching) and Adrian Magrath (no reason) - Hambledon's vets set a reasonable target of 155 all out on a slow, low pitch.

Much was expected of openers - and younger members of team - Jamie Lewis and Jon Burdekin only for Lewis (12) to get bowled after a rush of blood and Burdy (19) playing over the top of a pea-shooter.

An unexpected promotion in the batting order to number three for Phil Tusler was met with an equally unexpected top score of 35 from the gradually greying 50-year-old 2nd XI skipper.

Martyn Shinn (19) provided solid support as the score reached 80-2 in 22 overs and Mark Wingham rolled back the years with a cracking heave to the boundary before he creaked down the wicket, missed a full toss and was stumped.

With only one of the last seven in the order making double figures, it was left to find of the season Mark Le Clercq to hit a quick-fire 30 before he was inexplicably bowled off his box in one of the more comical dismissals of the season.

Hambledon's 155 looked more than enough as Steve Toogood (2-8) and Alistair Gibson (3-20) reduced Findon to 31-5.

A bizarre run-out with the ball cannoning off wicket keeper Martyn Shinn's shins onto the stumps and two wickets from all-rounder Le Clercq had Findon in even deeper trouble at 50-7, 75-8 and 115-9.

Unfortunately, the Don's hadn't bargained on Findon reversing their batting order as first Cox (30) and, more importantly, captain Simon Legge led the fightback.

Legge, who smashed the Hambledon attack to all parts with a fantastic century in the inaugural fixture last year, once again ruined the game for Hambledon as he hit an unbeaten 68, including a 40 run last wicket partnership, to seal a one wicket win.

The Dons trapsed off disappointed but undetered and with only one injury (Mark Wingham - hamstring), with skipper Le Clercq vowing to rouse the ageing troops for revenge next year.