V&A v. Thebertons
3rd July 2010
17th July 2010
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but ADAM JACOT was absent, possibly with a ‘diplomatic’ illness. It was a little girl called Florence, playing for the Old Talbotians, who bowled Adam a few years ago. He still feels the pain. Florence must be nearly 8 now. To be bowled again would be too humiliating, even for one as composed and self-assured as Adam.

But Florence was absent too. Instead they had a boy of 10. Luckily for us he did not bowl. Their bowling was a bit average, two overs were dire, so they might have used him. He batted at the end of their innings, and popped up a catch to Dennis, which our skipper claimed to have dropped on purpose. If the catch had been dollied to Tom Bird, he would have dropped it, but not on purpose. Such was the depths of his collapse of confidence. It may be unfair to single him out as a wally in the field when there were other candidates. But he cannot have had a worse day. He first missed a skier, by misjudging the trajectory. He then did the same again. When offered a chance to redeem himself he managed to position himself correctly and to see the ball drop into his cupped hands. And out again. Then, to prove these fluffed chances were no aberration, he let a couple of balls waft pass him to the boundary. But he hit a beautiful 4 before he was out for 6.

We were rather late, again, and didn’t start until 12.20. We had a decent 10 men to their 9 and a boy, but had roped in my brother-in-law Tim Squires, who very decently agreed to play despite chronic diarrhoea. In the event the poor sod didn’t bat and didn’t bowl, but they also serve who stand around fearful of fouling themselves. He tried to make Tom feel better by dropping a simple skier, which he would have snapped up in his prime, before Doris Day was a virgin.

We batted first – by arrangement as their wicket-keeper Andrew had to leave early – in a 35-over game. Incidentally, at 65 Andrew is still the best w/k we see at Stonor, as two stumpings and two catches testified [in contrast our keeper did f*ck all].Rob and Christiaan opened, and although Rob was not particularly quick we were chugging along at about 4 an over when Christiaan was out, caught for 19. He had just smashed the straightest and most elegant of drives. In came Bowden, last week’s hero, and did not disappoint. His first on-drive was memorable, straight out of Viv Richards’manual. Rob continued to try and score [he ran briskly enough] but was stumped for a useful 23.

Enter Dennis, described by Tom as ‘the key to victory’ with his fast metronomic bowling and swashbuckling batting. Once again he swashed and buckled. His first 32 runs were all boundaries. His eventual score of 69* was flawless and chanceless, ably supported by Martin scoring at the same rate. When Martin was caught behind for 37 we were looking in OK shape. But Linthwaite, Olly Newton and Freddie Motley all went cheaply and I came in with two or so overs to go. I held up an end, while Dennis whacked boundaries, but managed a quick 17* before we reached a total of, I think, 209.Sunil Julka, who last week scored 49 for the V&A, was among their better bowlers.

Sarah came down with her excellent lunch and entirely adequate tea, for which she was heaped with praise because without her we would be buggered.

It has been a sad week for Sarah, being the anniversary of 7/7, and it was a difficult day, so we are especially – and sincerely – grateful.

We took the field in the heat of the day. Perhaps the heat explains our duff catching. We missed six catches in all, the most tricky being a one-handed attempt by Freddie at square leg. The simplest was probably a dolly to Rob at mid-off. He could be seen to panic. A look of alarm clouded his saturnine features. Then he flapped his hands about like some stage nancy boy. Then he dropped it.

Their openers did well against some accurate bowling by Freddie and Christiaan. But the wicket is so true nowadays that it is difficult to bowl teams out [especially if you drop catches]. Our fielding didn’t help. We missed run-outs, as well as catches. Olly Newton and Freddie can bend and throw, Tom can on a good day, but some of us are less agile. Dennis commented that Peter’s running is not ‘running’ in the accepted sense of the word, rather like Adam’s ‘running’ is not really running but walking stodgily though treacle. But Linthwaite caught a catch. Fielding at mid-wicket a ball from Dennis was thwacked over Peter’s head. He shut his eyes. He raised two hands. It stuck. He pretended, with the insouciance of the guilty, to be unsurprised.

But Dennis’ bowling and fielding changes produced results – nearly hitting the jackpot when their best batsman lofted a ball just wide of Christiaan at mid-on immediately after he’d been moved there. Wickets fell. De Caires bowled a proper batsman with a deceptive, slower one. Martin picked up a deserved LBW. Yet the Talbotians still had a chance with Dino, their captain, scoring a fine, quick 50. But the game turned on a ball by Linthwaite.

Coming in at no. 4 was a strong stocky batsman with two shots but very good ones –a pull and a hoick to wide mid-on [‘cow corner’ would be rude]. He batted with Dino and was scoring off the loose ball at roughly 8 an over, up with the run rate. There are two versions of what happened next:

1. Peter noticed that the batsman was prone to going well back to pull the ball to leg, so delivered a fuller length slow ball outside leg stump in order to force him back onto his stumps

2. Peter bowled a long hop which the batsman walloped but slipped and fell back on to his stumps

Either way he was out hit-wicket and, effectively, the match was over, their tale – despite flourishes – was too long. There was no possibility of their getting the runs, and they didn’t. This was our sixth or seventh win on the trot, a rare feat for an ageing team. But when you have evergreens, thoroughbreds, like Martin and Dennis you always have a chance, as long as Florence isn’t bowling.