Cricket's annual one-day funathon when the optimistic minors take on the somewhat anxious majors produced an impish performance from Lincolnshire. Not many amateurs dismiss professionals within 60 overs, but they did.
Only an innings of 87 from 83 balls by Andrew Symonds, the man of the match who hit four sixes and nine fours, lifted Gloucestershire at a well appointed ground steeped in history, where W G Grace, an illustrious county forebear, once trod.
Sleaford have played at the London Road headquarters for at least 162 years. Even the club cannot pinpoint a specific date. This was another golden day in their history, illuminated by the 24-year-old Neil Gill, an electrical contractor from Bradford, returning 4 for 44, Lincolnshire's best return in the competition's history. He also held a towering catch and ran out Jonathan Lewis, backing up too far, off his own bowling.
Gill, who plays for Windhill in the Bradford League, bowled fast left arm and troubled Gloucestershire with the support of a ridge which must have reminded Jack Russell, England's saviour at Lord's, of the one situated a considerable distance south; Courtney Walsh still opted to bowl from the opposite end, down the hill.
A crowd of 2,000 applauded Russell all the way to the crease before he took root at 121 for 4. Another day, another challenge, met with the firm Russell handshake.
Russell found an ally in Martyn Ball, who later clutched the catch of the match, a hot one at backward point to dismiss Mark Fell, Lincolnshire's captain.
This is the yearly jamboree of the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker, whose closest touch to playing against big names is the newsprint scoreboard. Fell, a former Nottinghamshire batsman, is loosely termed a florist, working in the family business, but offered a distinct touch of flower power in a defiant innings of 31 before being fifth out at 62.
Anthony Towse and Simon Oakes also added to the respectability zone, sharing an eighth-wicket partnership of 49. Other definitive performances were few but those of the Sleaford back-up crew could not be underestimated. No one, apart from weekend bar staff, receives any payment.
This special day when the professionals meet the amateurs is a salutary reminder of their own origins and genial Gloucestershire loved every minute of it.Reuse content