Annual Brambles Cricket Match, Isle of Wight

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Local writer and Cowes resident Fidelis Morgan is an enthusiastic fan of the annual Brambles Cricket match:

When the full or new moon hits its perigee, usually as summer becomes autumn, the spring tide hits an annual low and at this point the dreaded Bramble Bank – a vast sandbank on which many a vessel has run aground –  is exposed for half an hour or so and becomes a sandy mini island in it own right.   At this rare moment in the tide tables, members of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Cowes based Island Sailing Club play their annual cricket match.

As the day dawns members of both clubs scramble into RIBs, tenders, sports boats — any floating thing they can find to get them out into the middle of the Solent.   Once the boats are anchored the passengers wait anxiously for the bank to show.

Brambles cricket match Isle of Wight

image005First the water ripples like lace, then small waves yip about frantically. Finally the troubled water turns to smoothly lapping waves, and slowly recedes, leaving a narrow strip of undulating sand, smack bang in the middle of one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Passengers clamber out of their boats and wade “ashore”. In a flash a drinks bar is assembled ,  the stumps are set, and the game begins.   Scoring is inaccurate and umpiring arbitrary. Barefoot players, their trousers rolled up to the knee, splash about in puddles, throw the ball randomly, never quite sure who is on their team. Deep fielding is frequently performed by children and dogs.

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Passengers on passing ferries rub their eyes and blink, then take a second look, sure that they must be in the first stages of mental bewilderment. Either that or they are witnessing something even more astonishing than the famous episode on the Sea of Galilee.

After about 40 minutes, general hollering forewarns of the encroaching sea. Hastily the scoreboard, wickets and bar are packed up, while a mass exodus of revellers splashes back to the waiting boats.   The result is a foregone conclusion as the teams take it in turns to win. Traditionally the loser offers the winner breakfast or supper, depending on the tide.

By the time the last boat motors off the waves have flooded the quondam cricket pitch and the bank is   gone – for another year anyhow.