Bilton Grange v Cryptics Cricket Club on Sun 19 May 2024 at TBC
Cryptics Cricket Club Lost Bilton Grange XI won by 6 wickets

Match report As it transpired, the first game of the season was essentially a repeat of the inaugural fixture for the Club against a Bilton Grange XI, nearly 114 years ago to the day!
And what a fitting day it was to celebrate the School's 150th Anniversary.
Following on from the Cryptics' Centenary game against Bilton Grange Masters in 2010, the School kindly invited the Club to return and play against an Invitation XI to celebrate their milestone. The Bilton Grange Invitation XI comprised of masters, parents and old boys.
The players were welcomed at the pavilion with tea, coffee and bacon rolls, a very well received mid-morning snack after the journey to the School, located in the lovely town of Dunchurch, on the outskirts of Rugby in Warwickshire.
The ground was in excellent condition, and the staff had worked hard to prepare for such a prestigious occasion. The team ventured to the middle to inspect the immaculate looking square. Attention was drawn immediately to the wicket that was marked out for U13 cricket, but extended to the purposes of this adult game. On a "good length" on the 22yard wicket were 3 stump holes from the junior wicket! The bowlers did get excited, each imagining the wicket-taking possibilities by landing a delivery on that spot.
With the sun shining, and players all keen to get started, the Captains met in the middle. The game was agreed to be a slightly shortened version, and was set to be a 25 over contest. On winning the toss, the Cryptics elected to bat first.
Mike Stafford and Jamie Firth opened the innings, and played watchfully, not really knowing how the wicket would play. A couple of boundaries were struck, to get the scoreboard going, but then disaster for Stafford, as a shortish delivery, stopped, popped and caught the outside edge of his bat and went through to the keeper (14-1). Enter Sasha Barras, who played tentatively against a decent opening attack. The opening bowlers were seen off after 6 overs with a modest 21runs on the scoreboard. After the double bowling change, Firth struck some lusty blows to increase the run rate, with 19 runs scored in the next over. Barras (S) picked up in the next over, and having seen off 10 balls got off the mark with a maximum (6). He and Firth proceeded to play fluently, and punishing the balls that dropped short or strayed off line. Firth reached his half century in 34 balls. He then changed gear and struck a couple of mighty blows. Meanwhile, Barras (S) calmly cruised through the forties with consecutive boundaries to reach his 50 (36 balls). Firth reached his maiden Cryptic hundred with a further 6, taking just 18 balls to score the second 50 runs. He graciously retired (the partnership was of 166 runs) to bring James Hope to the middle, who could sadly not maintain the momentum, and could only manage a single before hitting the ball in the air to mid-on for a straight forward catch. Mitesh Bhimjiyani came to the wicket full of intent to keep the impetus going, but alas, on his second ball he did not grasp the slowness of the bowling and succeeded only in lobbing the ball up to mid-off, giving Tim Day a double wicket maiden. Marcus Ward came to the crease, and faced a difficult start with some accurate bowling. He ably supported Barras (S) who continued to plunder the bowling, taking a further 35 runs off the remaining balls. Having agreed on a 25 over game, there was a few minutes remaining prior to the scheduled luncheon interval, and so a further over was bowled. Sadly for Barras (S) the extra balls was not sufficient for him to score the requisite runs that would have seen him reach his century - he scored a 66 ball 98 runs. 223 for 3 was the final score posted.
After a slightly extended break with much conversation and a chance to review a very fine display of archive material that had been brought out of storage for the occasion, play resumed.
Having arrived at the ground with 12 players (11 plus an umpire), and then collaring the services of Chris Barras, the once retired specialist wicket-keeper who was there to spectate, there was a slight dilemma in providing everyone a full game. The Cryptics were under no illusion that 223 was not going to be an easy target to defend, especially given the depth of batting in the host's team, and the fact that the wicket was not showing any sign of wear or anything that might assist the bowlers in the second innings! Opening the bowling was Bhimjiyani and Ward (M) with medium pace. Nobes and King started the Bilton Grange innings, and soon had the Cryptic fielders retrieving balls from over the ropes. In the third over, King got a bit excited and drove hard, but straight back at Bhimjiyani for a sharp return catch. Nobes plundered the bowlers, and found a particular liking to Ward's bowling. The first 50 was reached at the end of the fifth over. Paul Massey was brought on to bowl, and his first over finished with a wicket - a powerful drive from Nobes (50), which never got above head height (and which would probably have cleared the ropes on the full) - found the hands of Ward (C) at mid-on. All players felt the sting of leather on flesh! Despite an economical last over (conceding a single run) Ward (M) was replaced by Anton Madzarevic to take pace off the ball. Unfortunately, the batsmen (Robards and Bevin) took a bit of a liking to the off-spin at both ends, and the Cryptics total was eroded rather too quickly! Robards reached his 50 in 28 balls, and Bevin reached his (26 balls), but immediately holed out to Ward (C) inches inside the boundary at deep mid-on. Gregory was not waiting around, taking 18 runs from, what turned out to be Massey's final over. Nick Hodgson and Ned Bishop-Harper came on rather too late in the innings to have any impact on the game, other than to bring about the retirement of Robards. Enter Felix Barras, teacher at Bilton Grange, and son of Chris Barras and brother of Sasha. He played some classic drives during his short time at the crease. The final over was bowled by Bishop-Harper, and with the scores level, a wide was conceded to give the home side victory in 20 overs. A win for Bilton Grange Invitation XI by 6 wickets.
There followed a cream tea and a celebratory beer. Jamie Firth and Sash Barras were both presented with specially commissioned bottles of red wine as rewards for their excellent innings. There followed speeches from Mark Tovey, the Bilton Grange Invitation XI Captain, who presented the Cryptics with a 150th Anniversary banner, and Ed Montague (President) responded by thanking the School for the invitation and wishing them well for the remainder of their celebratory year. He presented a Cryptics tie to his opposite number. He recounted an amusing story (provided by David Fawcus) of Harold Fawcus, son of John Fawcus (Club founder) who was Headmaster at the School: "As a fairly young schoolboy, Harold played in an adult fixture against the Bilton Grange Masters. He went out to bat and standing as umpire was the fairly new school gardener called Haywood. Haywood was hoping he would not have to make a difficult decision that might jeopardise his new job. Early in his innings Harold was hit plumb on the pad in front of his stumps. There was a loud appeal all round, then a pause while Haywood considered his options. Eventually he said, “Not out, he 'it it." Then the keeper danced about with ball in gloves and further appealing for the catch. After further thought, Haywood said confidently "not out, he missed it”.

A final note… on John Fawcus' passing in 1949, and in recognition of his encouragement of all school games, the Cricket Ground was increased in size with a suitable inscribed tablet in the old 1st XI pavilion which was commemorated during a special Cricket match between Cryptics CC & Old Biltonian Cricket Club during the Coronation celebrations in 1953. It may have been increased in size then, but based on the game's sixes tally, it is definitely not big enough in 2024... Cryptics 18, Bilton Grange Invitation XI 17.

PS Not one bowler landed the ball on the three stump holes!!!

Cryptics Cricket Club Cryptics Batting
Player Name RunsMB4s6sSRCtStRo
3w 7b  
for 3 wickets
Mike Stafford ct J Evans b H Harrison 9 2
Jamie Firth Retired Out  100 9 9
Sasha Barras Not Out  98 8 9
James Hope ct F Barras b T Day 1
Mitesh Bhimjiyani ct C Robards b T Day 0
Marcus Ward Not Out  4
Chris Ward   2
Anton Madzarevic  
Ned Bishop Harper  
Paul Massey  
Nicholas Hodgson  

Bilton Grange Bowling

Player nameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
H Harrison3.001100.003.67
S Bevin3.001000.003.33
E King3.003800.0012.67
T Day3.00020.000.00
M Tovey3.002100.007.00
G Jones2.00700.003.50

Bilton Grange Batting
Player name RMB4s6sSR
for 4 wickets
224 (2.0 overs)
N Nobes ct C Barras b P Massey 50 4 6
E King ct & b M Bhimjiyani 8 2
C Robards Retired Out  63 8 3
S Bevin ct C Ward b P Massey 50 4 5
R Gregory Not Out  33 4 2
F Barras Not Out  14 1 1
M Tovey  
G Jones  
J Evans  
H Harrison  
T Day  

Cryptics Cricket Club Cryptics Bowling

Player NameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
Mitesh Bhimjiyani3.0019119.006.33
Marcus Ward4.005000.0012.50
Paul Massey6.0067233.5011.17
Anton Madzarevic4.005300.0013.25
Nicholas Hodgson2.002100.0010.50
Ned Bishop Harper2.001300.006.50

  • Umpire :
  • Scorer :
    Paul Armstrong
Photos and video of Bilton Grange v Cryptics Cricket Club on Sun 19 May 2024 at TBC

List of Bilton Grange v Cryptics matches

With results

Bilton Grange bowling

Cryptics innings


Cryptics batting


In between innings

Firth and Barras

166 run partnership

Seasoned cricketers

Messrs Barras and Hodgson

Glorious outfield

Pitch cam

Bilton Grange 1stXI Pavilion

Pitch cam

Bilton Grange 1st XI Cricket Pavilion

Bilton Grange Prep School