THE Barry Wanderers Cricket Club has hosted a special Current XI v Old Boys XI match in memory of founder Mike Ashton.
As more than 70 people gathered at Hayes Point, there was, of course, one familiar face missing; Mike would have loved an occasion like this. Old and new faces came together to celebrate the life of the big man who lived and breathed Barry Wanderers for over 40 years.
Befitting the occasion, the sun shone, with current chairman Chris Barnes paying tribute to "Ashy" and being followed by a minute's round of applause. Inside the pavilion laid a host of memorabilia for which he was famed and a newly-erected captain's board. The official unveiling of a Mike Ashton bench was commemorated by Ron Durose and Elwyn Toozer, while other long-standing players, Gerry Richards and Tony Swannick, paid their respects by sitting on the bench on which they shared many hours of interaction.
The game itself was set on the backdrop of individual introductions by Chris Barnes, some less favourable than others, but all taken in the good spirit intended.
Captain of the Old Boys Jamie Keir elected to field. The wicket was well prepared and even the recent rain could not detract from what would be an absorbing contest. Peter “Sooty” Coleman and Luke Denning opened the batting with Alan Morris and Allen Mansfield opening the bowling.
Denning was caught early by the sharp reflexes of Alan Hopes. Tom Ridgwell, returning to the fore after recovering from a broken finger in April took a while to get going on what was a slow wicket but Ridgwell and Coleman took the score along to 40 before the latter fell to a superb delivery from Adam Walsh. Ridgwell departed soon after for 11 as he was caught by Andrew Ferguson off the bowling of Ben Collins.
One of Ashy’s closest friends of over 40 years strode to the wicket in what would have been a bitter sweet moment for Elwyn Toozer. Elwyn was looking to up the scoring rate but, unfortunately, found Ben Collins at cover who took the catch and departed for four. Coming in at 5 was Mark Ellis, making his first appearance of the season. He had been given the order to nudge and nurdle and occupy the crease and, with the sizeable frame of Jonny Hill at the other end, this was always going to be entertaining.
Unfortunately for the baying crowd, the entertainment was to be at his expense as Jonny ran himself out like a dog. Hitting a ball sweetly and straight to cover, the athletic Adam Walsh simply swooped the ball up and hurled it to wicketkeeper Lanagan. Jonny had, by this stage, set off like the proverbial train (albeit a steam one). Ellis, correctly judging that there was no run to be, had sent him back and, as Hill turned around, the transport had now turned into a tanker and he was left stranded without a paddle and a shoe. The assembled throng were left highly amused as he hobbled up the wicket to collect his abandoned footwear and departed for a two-ball duck.
Ellis and Bowles battled stoically against tight bowling from Walsh and Morris with the occasional boundary releasing the pressure. Ellis departed caught behind for 17 before Wolfenden rallied with a quickfire 12 and the ever reliable Barnes chipped in for a belligerent 19. Dan Bowles top scored with 25 for the Present XI to post a slightly below par 126 for nine off 43 overs.
The tea break allowed everyone to catch their breath and Wanderers old and young mingled to renew acquaintances, recollect stories and enjoy the top quality food that was on display including a magnificent cake that "Ashy" would have enjoyed.
It was now the turn of the Old Boys to get out in the middle and seasoned veterans Lawrence Williams and Scott McLucas had the privilege of opening the batting against young guns Alun "Wonky Trolley" Wade and Peter "Becksy" Beckett. The opening bowlers battled away diligently but the experience of the opening pair meant that the Old Boys got off to a solid start, with 39 off 13 overs.
As often happens, a change of bowling did the trick and McLucas was bowled by "all rounder" Hill in his first over. Hill then had the Old Boys in further trouble by claiming a double wicket maiden and having Lawrence Williams lbwfor 19 and then Hopes going for a big shot and being caught at mid on by Bowles for a duck.
Glanmor Williams and Andrew Ferguson were paired together to stem the tide and get the innings back on track. This they did, with Glan producing four glorious shots all resulting in boundaries. It was a beauty of a ball from Bowles that managed to get through Glan's defences and a late inswinger had Colin Rowlands who looked in the mood before succumbing to the Anglo Welsh Australian. Bowles swung the game for the present Wanderers XI with a demon spell of four for seven off six overs.
Ellis and his dibbly dobbly bowling accounted for the dangerous Lanagan (six), with Coleman producing the catch of the day on the boundary. Ferguson departed for a fine 16 which led to Keir entering the fray to be greeted by banter from all around the wicket, being the most recent Old Boy having only transferred his allegiance to Lisvane this year. The banter didn’t last for long as Keir departed for a two-ball duck with Bowles providing another pearler of a ball and Keir's middle stump being dismantled.
With Ben Collins being controversially bowled by a full toss by Luke Denning, the rearguard set in with the Old Boys settling for a timed draw. Ashy would have now been in his element by thrusting his pad down the wicket in stubborn resistance. He was not one to give his wicket away cheaply and incumbents of this duty on this day were Adam Walsh and Alan Morris who dutifully saw out the last five overs with minimal fuss.
It was pleasing to see that the last ball of this timed match was despatched for six by Walsh, with the Old Boys ending what had been a thoroughly entertaining and pleasant encounter on 119 for nine off 43 overs with the game resulting in a timed draw.
As everyone shook hands and celebrated a successful memorial day, the scene at Hayes Point was one of remembrance and recollection of a man who gave his all for Barry Wanderers and will never be forgotten.
I am sure Ashy would have been proud of the efforts made by everyone from tea ladies, groundsmen, committee members, players and supporters to play and watch the game in the way he would have wanted.
CURRENT BARRY WANDERERS XI:126-9 off 43 overs (C Barnes 19, P Coleman 19, M Ellis 17; B Collins 2-14, A Walsh 2-21, A Mansfield 2-22)
BARRY WANDERERS OLD BOYS: 119-9 off 43 overs (L Williams 19, G Williams 16, A Ferguson 16; D Bowles 4-7, J Hill 3-23)
RIP ASHY 1949-2013.