Damp action at the Brambles Bank cricket match. Picture by Christian Beasley.
"QUINTESSENTIALLY English madness on a beautiful summer’s evening" — the words of Royal Southern Yacht Club team captain Mark 'Tommo’ Tomson was as good a description of the Bramble Bank cricket match as you would find.
Played this year in conditions most generously described as 'moist’, the Hamble club emerged triumphant over arch rivals the Cowes-based Island Sailing Club — it being their turn to win the annual mid-Solent encounter under the umpiring of Philip Gage.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, a regular member of the team over the past five or six years, said: "It’s the best performance I’ve ever had."
It was one also enjoyed by hundreds of spectators, who gathered at the Bank to watch the match.
As the two teams prepared for their watery encounter, another epic cricketing encounter, the Ashes, was clearly colouring some tactical decisions.
"We went out there and assessed the wicket," said Tommo, a 15-year veteran of the match, seven as captain.
"We won the toss so put the opposition in to bat and we bowled very well. We got a bit of reverse swing with all the moisture in the air — they found that tricky and really didn’t score many runs.
"My men went in to bat and batted with true gusto and spirit, a bit like the Australians at The Oval. Then we had Sir Robin coming in at the tail end and we really hammered them — 318 runs to their paltry 60."
The instigation of the event is credited to Cowes yacht designer Uffa Fox, though precise historical details are thin on the ground. Suffice to say the Royal Southern took up the cudgels more than 30 years ago in an event which is now a summer fixture.