It was the return of The Prodigal JAKE WARMAN. He turned up before our skipper, and well before Peter Linthwaite who lives 5 minutes away. He was tidy and but for some errant footwear was in white. He bowled beautifully, swinging it prodigiously. The ball that bowled John Langley first ball after tea would have bowled an even better player. He brings exuberance and energy, which we sometimes lack. I have been singled out for being partly to blame for the dreadful over rate, no more than 12 an hour, for dawdling between overs and discussing cloud formations with Peter, or talking smut. Jake moves with purpose, and his erudite discourse on George Carman’s drinking habits and the most boring first class cricketer ever, Chris Tavaré, elevatedthe conversation at lunch.
We struggled to get a side together, as did the NT. In the end we pinchedback Adam Jacot who was to play for them. And thank God we did.
We batted first in a 35 over game skippered again by Martin Bowden, the NT being one of this cricketing tart’s teams. We opened with Adam and Jake who had just struck two boundaries when he ran down the wicket to a short one and skied it to cover (out for 12). Christiaan came in and out, caught at point by Tony Bloom who Christiaan had hoped would let it drop harmlessly, as he had done to a similar ball last week when playing for us. Martin came in and anchored an end, although somewhat bamboozled by a good leggie. Nevertheless off the loose ones he hit three 4s, until given out LBW (19) by Jake, never an easy thing to do to your skipper.
All the while Adam had been imperious, smiting some masterful sweeps with perfect timing. He ensured the run rate was a healthy 4 an over and gave no chances in a return to scoring form. He was finally caught in the deep for 44. Our last 5 batsmen all made quick and useful runs, both Dennis (8) and Nigel (9) whacking big hits before being caught, Bird N (14) late cutting a couple, Peter (10) producing a magnificent straight drive for 4 and Theo carrying his bat for 10. The NT caught 6 catches which restricted our total to 158.
Lunch was courtesy of Martin and Lucinda, superb as always. Lucinda’s tea of trifle and fresh scones with cream and strawberries was a delight. Ladies from both teams busied themselves in the kitchen, for which many thanks. Estelle Thompson as always had her hands in the sink. An artist of distinction I asked her at lunch whether she would compromise her artistic integrity by accepting corporate cash and churning out shite. Yes, she said. If any CEOs read this she exhibits at the Purdy Hicks Gallery (www.purdyhicks.com). Incidentally, as an example of the intellectual powerhouse that is the V&A’s luncheon table, subjects during the interval ranged from the 26 types of flint found in the Chilterns, to the power of patronage in art, and Gilbert & George’s turd series of paintings. There was an awkward moment when in explaining who Jeremy Thorpe was to Jake, I mentioned that Martin Bowden had known Thorpe’s bumboy Norman Scott. The NT’s David Lumsden said I should not use such a rude word, offensive to bumboys the world over, that I was stuck in the 1950s with presumably a packet of Love Hearts and a conker in my pocket. So stimulating was the breadth of conversation that Dennis suggested we offerthe NT a draw and just talk. But others felt that playing cricket was preferable to discussing flint and excreta.
Jake and Christiaan opened the bowling, very tightly. The NT’s openers, John Langley and David Lumsden, could not master the bowling and fell behind the run rate. David was bowled by a superb ball from Christiaan, a fast leg break. Dennis got the next batsman caught behind, and then bowled Tony Bloom first ball. The NT were reeling but Mike Morris came in and smacked some big hits, threatening to plunder quick runs. But Dennis bowled a slower, shorter one which Mike skied to Nigel at cover, a very good catch that should really have been the keeper’s, if he would move. Dennis eventually had figures of 3 wickets for 15 runs off 5 overs. Not bad. Martin bowled his overs so tidily that the run rate stalled again. Jake bowled John with a pearl of a ball just after tea.
There was a brief but brave over from the ebullient Theo. Not at his physical best, he tended to land the ball at his feet where it rolled a little way down the hill. After perhaps 10 wides he was mercifully retired, suffering from a knee problem. Nigel came on to finish the over. Peter had rather more luck the other end, bowling two batsmen, one with a real peach, pitching the ball outside off and hitting middle and leg. Adam enticed a mishit that was caught by Nigel.
The final over was bowled by Dennis who had their last batsman caught by the infallible Nigel at mid on, a terrific catch taken over the shoulder, running towards the boundary. They were all out for 98. Our fifth win in a row, unprecedented. Christiaan puts it down to our being able to bat down to no. 11, most teams like the NT have perhaps 4 players who do not really bat at all.
Everybody contributed, but Adam more than most. He scored too, but he can’t really score AND listen to me talking so he asked me to shut the fuck up. He would listen to my discourse about flint later but he never did, he seemed to disappear whenever he saw me.