Annual mid-Solent cricket match

In true English eccentric tradition, the annual Bramble Bank cricket match took place yesterday evening in the middle of the Solent – for once in brilliant sunshine, thanks to the unexpected Indian summer.

The glorious weather brought out the biggest crowd of spectators anyone can remember, all of whom made their way to the ‘pitch’ by boat.

The match, around 30 years old now, is played in full cricket whites – and bare feet – between teams from the Royal Southern Yacht Club from Hamble on the mainland and the Island Sailing Club from Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

The teams and their supporters each sail out from their respective bases and meet in the middle. There they wait for the last of the water to drain off so that they can set up their stumps, and a makeshift bar for the obligatory G&Ts, on a soggy patch of sand.

The match is only possible at the lowest tide of the year, when the sand is uncovered for less than an hour. This constraint means there is no time to play a match in full, so the teams take it in turns to win – and host the subsequent dinner – with 2011’s victors the Royal Southern reaching a suspiciously high score.

Star player this year was Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. He didn’t score a single run, but that wasn’t the point.

‘The fact is, this is total nonsense,’ said umpire Philip Gage, ‘and total nonsense is extremely enjoyable.’

Photo courtesy