New approach makes up the numbers

Normandy Cricket Club has no motto on its club badge, but “where there’s a will, there’s a way” might make a suitable epithet after its inventive approach to fulfilling a Surrey League Trust fixture against neighbouring Stoke D’Abernon.

With Normandy’s Sunday senior side struggling for numbers, the Trust fixture – an under 21 affair to promote the development of clubs’ youth players – looked threatened when the team was left with just seven players. But, rather than cancel the game altogether, team manager Dave Walter approached Stoke to concede, but also ask if there was any chance of borrowing three players to make sure a match could still go ahead.

Stoke accepted the offer to get the game on, and all who took part enjoyed a terrifically tense finish. Stoke posted a respectable 199 for 7 from their 40 overs, and with Normandy’s makeshift team struggling at 143 for 9 with just seven overs remaining, the game seemed pretty much wrapped up.

Then out strode Walter, filling in at 11. No ordinary 11, though – Dave has posted 4,000-plus runs for Normandy. Joining opener Andrew McPherson, who made an unbeaten 127 – all the more impressive given the the next-highest score was 14 from ‘borrowed’ Andrew Cooke – Normandy’s last-wicket pair inched them home to a memorable victory with five balls to spare.

For Walter, it was vindication of his efforts to make sure the youngsters didn’t miss out: “This game looked lost on at least three separate occasions; Saturday afternoon when we only had 15 players for two matches, after 14 overs of the Stoke innings, when they were 90 for 1 and after 33 overs of ours when we were 143-9.

“While we officially conceded the match, it was a tremendous advert for Trust cricket played in a wonderful spirit and the youngsters involved can only have benefited from being part of it. Cricket was the winner.”