CHOBHAM served up the perfect performance on Sunday – sending their Australian guests home empty handed during their very own rendition of the Ashes.
The inaugural match, created to commemorate the enduring relationship Chobham share with Oz-based Helensburgh Cricket Club, was a thriller, John Goldsmith’s brave XI vanquishing the men from down under in the type of fashion the national squad will be looking to replicate in the Ashes tests later this month.
And their prize was almost a carbon copy of the trophy England will be foraging for as well, a replica urn carved from and containing the dusty remains of an old walnut tree that used to occupy Chobham’s outfield. Around 300 people descended on the club’s High Street ground to witness Chobham’s 57-run win.
Club skipper Jon Allen was overjoyed to have triumphed in the first-ever meeting of the two teams, but says the occasion itself meant more to those involved than the outcome.
He explained: “We were fairly comfortable in the end but it was all about getting them over here, getting out and enjoying the sun.
“Who knows when we’ll get to play another game!”
The fixture has been a year in the making and comes off the back of a series of transfers of over-seas players who come to England to hone their skills. The current foreign import comes in the shape of Mitchell McCrae, but the relationship began to grow years before his arrival at the start of the summer.
Allen explained: “Around eight years ago we had a couple of players come over from Helensburgh and they were the ones who first raised the subject of a tour match.”
“It takes time to build this type of relationship and we’ve benefited from staying in touch with just one club.
“You build a reputation and returning players recommend you to others at the club.
“This match has taken around a year to organise and ties in with the
Aussie boys coming over for a few weeks to watch England versus Australia in the test matches. “That’s how we’ve got Mitchell and he has been a real asset for the club so far this season.”
And it was the Aussie, playing for his natural enemy who got the ball rolling on a memorable day.
McCrae hasn’t seen too much of the sun he is traditionally used to when playing back home, but on Sunday the warm weather pierced the clouds and he went about his business with relish.
He bullied his way to 41 but would have to share the limelight with young Alex Orme, who really came to the English side’s rescue. After McCrae was dismissed, the hosts began to wobble, and slid to a nervous-looking 60-5.
But in came Orme, his defiance stunning the Australians, who were powerless as he hit 63 in rapid fashion.
His assured knock moved John Goldsmith’s XI into the driving seat, eventually posting a commendable target of 200 to win. Then came steady cricket from Helensburgh, who shipped three wickets to the in-form Kerr Franklin.
And their shortcomings with the bat proved costly, the hosts strutting out winners by nearly 60 runs with five overs to spare.
Delighted Allen said: “It was good to get one over on them and it was nice to have created the urn as well – it made the game quite realistic.”