Battle celebrates 275 years of cricket

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The crowd at George Meadow on Sunday was treated to a wonderful spectacle as Battle celebrated a remarkable 275 years of recorded cricket in the town.

The players were taken back in time to 1738 as the Gentlemen of Battle took on the Gentlemen of Eastbourne in a tight and thrilling match that was settled on the last bowl of the afternoon.

The Gentlemen of Battle in the field against the Gentlemen of Eastbourne at George Meadow on Sunday. Picture by Tony Coombes Photography (eh32301f)

The Gentlemen of Battle in the field against the Gentlemen of Eastbourne at George Meadow on Sunday. Picture by Tony Coombes Photography (eh32301f)

The game re-created the first match between the two sides on or near Bourne Place in Eastbourne which Eastbourne won by four wickets. It was played in clothing of the period and under abridged laws from the 18th century where an over was called after four balls, regardless of whether there was a no ball, and there were no wides.

Two stumps were used with the batsmen not wearing pads and the bowlers bowling underarm. Overseen by Stephen Lloyd MP, Eastbourne batted first and rattled up 269-7 from 58 four-ball overs.

Alex Pollard hit 45 and Adam Blackburn 25 at the top of the order before John Tomsett (47), Kye Phillips (44) and Hugh Turnbull (49) continued to pile on the runs in the middle. Six different Battle bowlers claimed a wicket each and there was a splendid catch from Jo Carthew.

After a sumptuous tea courtesy of the Haffenden sisters, Battle began the run chase with Stuart Reeves (59 retired not out) and Steve Lucent (29) hitting aggressively.

Outstanding contributions from Steve Huggins (52 retired not out) and Leigh Tullett (52) saw the game swing into Battle’s favour, but it all came down to the last ball which Tim Dudgeon smote over the head of his Eastbourne counterpart Simon Hoadley, attaining a further ‘four notches’ to win the game with 21 not out.

Special thanks go to Fancy Pants of Battle and BLOG for the supply of costumes, The Bull Inn for supplying refreshments and to all who came along to lend their support.

See Friday’s Battle Observer for a picture special from Battle’s big day.