Life’s a beach for Ship Inn cricketers

The Ship Inn play their matches on the beach in front of the pub. Pic by George McLuskie.
The Ship Inn play their matches on the beach in front of the pub. Pic by George McLuskie.
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The Ship Inn opened their 2019 season with a close-run victory against the Borderers.

With three balls left of a tense encounter, Ship Inn captain Iain Murdoch claimed the wicket of the Borderers skipper Julian Blake, stumped while attempting a boundary-clearing hit.

The home team won by nine runs, and the large crowd who had enjoyed the sunny weather, albeit with a cold easterly wind to remind folks this was May in Fife and not July in the West Indies, went home having seen 60 overs of good, close-fought cricket.

The club famously plays its games on the beach in front of the Ship Inn itself.

The first game of the season is always an interesting one at Elie – the winter storms constantly reshape the beach, and the ground staff had plenty of work to do digging, rolling and shaping to produce what in the end was an excellent cricket wicket.

And there are not many official cricket games in the world played on a beach, and even fewer where the opposition arrive by boat, as the Borderers did here.

See a gallery of pictures from the event: In pictures: First game of the season for Fife cricket team that plays on a beach

After the home team won the toss and elected to bat first, the Ship Inn batsmen all promised much but individually failed to deliver.

Lots of scores in the high teens and twenties – Anderson (25) and Smith (23) the top-scorers.

The Borderers bowled tightly and fielded well – their average age was 10 years below the Ship’s and this clearly showed.

Wickets were shared out among them all with Blake (2 for 13) and James (2 for 15) the pick of the Borderers attack.

The Ship’s total of 164 never looked like being quite enough against a clearly strong Borderers side.

In reply, the Borderers started well, and were 70 for 1 at the halfway stage, marginally behind the run rate but with plenty of wickets in hand.

The midway drinks interval revitalised the Ship, and the prized wicket of Jeffreys for an excellent 45 was claimed by the Ship’s New Zealand cricketer Jeremy Williams, and Steve Hunter claimed two other victims.

The Borderers kept at it, however, and with six overs to go the result could still go either way.

Then Anderson, who had bowled tightly earlier in his spell, produced a remarkable turnaround, claiming a hat trick, three opposition batsmen all bowled off-stump to three successive deliveries.

From 6 down to 9 down in three balls, and the Ship looked nearly home.

A last wicket stand threatened to bring victory in the final over for the visitors, until Milroy’s lightning gloves achieved the match-winning stumping.

A hat-trick, a sunny day, a home win against good opposition, and a buzzing Sunday crowd.

On days like this it is easy to see why there are few better places in the world to watch cricket than the East Neuk of Fife.