The talk in the dressing room was about Stonor suddenly bumping up the charge for the pitch to £130, and our proposal therefore to charge £15 per V&A player for a lunch day. Roger thought this would deter yoof. We will see. But, after discussion, we decided to ask the opposition for a total of £130 for their day out (with lunch included), which amounts to a bit over £12 per person. Next year, when we can give oppositions due warning, we would also charge them £15 per man. £10 per player for a tea-only afternoon is proposed.
The day was again glorious. David Maddocks – the C.A.C. captain – he of the striped blazer and commanding ways, refused the limited overs option. We agreed eventually on 20 overs after 6 o’clock. David quite understandably prefers not to lose, and the possibility of a draw was an attraction. Through an admin cock-up, we arrived with 12 but Maddocks declined our attempt to play the extra man. In future, as the home team, if we have 12 we play 12.
Rob Noble, our captain, won the toss and elected to bat. Andy and Adam started confidently against excellent bowling, particularly by their aggressive Aussie pace man, bowling from the Henley end. He bowled a succession of leg side balls which Andy suggested (to the umpire) might be considered wide even in a timed game; the bowler told him to mind his business, and ‘f*ck orf’. In the rarified world of Chatham House where Andy sits on the Council, such language is unfamiliar.
Adam was out with 29 on the board, Martin was brilliantly caught at gully first ball, but Robbie Lawson, with an elegant 29, and Andy (35) saw us safely through the lunch break, until Andy’s dismissal triggered a collapse. We were 128 for 8 and expecting an early drink in the Rainbow when Patrick Cobb joined Shaun Mayana. They batted splendidly, Shaun looking for singles and twos, and Patrick timing his drives beautifully. We reached a total of 197, their partnership of 69 having saved the day.
Dennis and Roger opened our bowling in the heat, and were as accurate and difficult to play as you would expect. Bowden got their best batsman out caught behind, and clean bowled their cocky Aussie next ball; Dennis tempted their next best batsman into a lofted drive that Robbie plucked one-handed from above and behind him, truly memorable. Shaun and Robbie bowled tightly, Patrick bowled an over of enticing donkey drops, Olly Betts, Will and Gareth all chucked a few down. Our fielding was in the main excellent.Rob has transformed himself from undisputed Duff Fielder of the Year to Most Improved Fielder. Roger Smith, so rightly critical of sloppiness and shirking in the field, strangely bottled a hardish shot along the ground, but round, hard balls do travel swiftly and can frighten the stoutest cricketer. He made amends with the most spectacular of deep catches, right on the cow corner boundary. Maddocks disputed its legitimacy but the catch was fair – if it had not been, a man of Smith’s integrity would have said so. Their innings petered out some way short of the target, with 7 wickets down. It would have been 8 if Cobb had caught a slip catch off the last ball. So…a draw, which Adam had predicted – it being ‘almost impossible to get 10 wickets on this pitch if a team shuts up shop’. It might have been a V&A victory if a few of our 10 lbw appeals had been successful. My own view, from behind the stumps, was that 7 appeals were fairly turned down.
Next week, Saturday 24 June (11.30), we are playing the London Erratics. Roger is captain. We have 9 men already. Contact N. Bird or R. Smith pronto if you want a game. By the way, the swimming pool up at the big house is a very pleasant 82 degrees. Towels are provided. ‘Swimwear’ is optional. Young women can wear nothing with some confidence, my father is quite old now and no longer unsafe.