The 100-ball innings arrives in England early - but not quite in the way the England and Wales Cricket Board envisaged

The Lynchmere lot look the part as they begin their 200th anniversary celebrations
The Lynchmere lot look the part as they begin their 200th anniversary celebrations

Lynchmere Cricket Club launched their bicentenary celebrations in the best way possible on New Year’s Day – with a fiercely fought but friendly game of cricket lasting precisely 200 balls.

Staking a claim for being the first cricketers in action in England this year, two teams of regular Lynchmere players met at the club’s picturesque ground and played a special 200-ball match, perhaps giving the England and Wales Cricket Board a taste of how this new format of cricket might work when it is rolled out next year.

In thankfully benign conditions the festively named teams, the Pigs and Blankets, opened the 200th anniversary with a ball being bowled for every year the club have existed in their current form. Lynchmere are one of the oldest clubs in the country still running and, by the look of the teams on New Year’s Day, have some of the oldest players still playing.

Umpire for the day was club president Doug Thow, dressed appropriately in top hat and cravat. He was delighted with the occasion and is looking forward to full year of celebrations of the club’s anniversary.

He said: “The game was a unique way of bringing in the New Year and celebrating the club’s bicentenary at the same time. It was played in the best Lynchmere spirit, made all the more enjoyable by the sun shining brightly. As a club we are very proud of reaching 200 not out.”

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Lynchmere CC, in its present form since 1819, were playing cricket for almost 60 years before the first Test match between England and Australia so it was fitting the club should adopt the 200-ball format before the professionals. It’s unlikely, however that the professional game will adopt the same scoring system.

The Blankets ran out comfortable winners with the massive total of 46, beating the Pigs on 12 by 34 runs. Oddly, the game’s top scorer and winner of a bottle of bubbly was Richard Saulet, who scored 17 (142 per cent of the team’s total) for the losing side.

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An intriguing scoring system was designed to ensure everyone playing had the same amount of batting and bowling time. Each wicket was punished by a loss of six runs. At one point in the game, the Pigs were on -21. Each pair batted for two ten-ball overs and everyone except the wicketkeepers bowled an over each.

This led to some odd scores with several batsmen ending on negative totals. Club stalwart David Hains managed to finish on -11 yet still made a significant contribution to his team’s victory.

Club chairman Peter ‘Harold’ Hill, not generally regarded as one of the club’s mainstream bowlers, ended his spell with figures of two wickets for -5 runs.

The game was the first of many events planned throught the year to celebrate the bicentenary.