IT WAS PISSING DOWN at 11.30 and then pissed down heavily until just after 1. We sat and thought about buggering off. Nick Pritchard-Gordon, a new recruit from Wargrave, said he had been looking on the internet at motorway cameras to glean the course and extent of incoming rain. There then followed a discourse on motorway cameras in general until Adam cried ENOUGH! And the conversation turned to weightier matters like the position of the boundary rope, and the imminent arrival of Patrick Cobb, a V&A veteran now playing for the opposition. Patrick had received a letter from our Treasurer, Rupert, to say that it would be unfair to accept his sub for the season as captains could not offer him enough games, as younger regulars took precedence. This left Pat less than gruntled. But he was diplomacy itself on the day and the hurt he felt at being told, by implication, that he was a bit old and useless was concealed. He could reasonably point out that others are a bit old and useless but get a game. He had a good game too if you omit the duck, he got two wickets and chased a ball all the way to the boundary and didn’t need to lie down afterwards.
We had an early lunch – excellent, thank you Sarah, you are wonderful (one cannot overdo the grovelling). A pitch inspection brought out the Dunkirk spirit in Rupert who said that all it needed was a bit of mopping and sawdust, and he was right.
We started at 1.30 in a 25 over game. The Catchiteers batted. And started rather well, scoring at 8 an over. They had 8 public school players under 20, who had been schooled well, the pick being Webb (50, retired) and Imlay (31). We dropped Webb 4 times. Our fielding was truly atrocious although with sudden bursts of brilliance amongst the dross. Adam was a picture of windiness. Bowden deigned to go for a couple of chances in the deep. Tom (skip) dropped a skier. Rupert found it difficult to bend. The real turkey of a miss was by new boy Nick P-G who had the easiest caught and bowled ever recorded by Wisden. To call it a dolly would be to belittle the challenge of dollies. Yet this competent cricketer managed the difficult task of dropping it with ease.
But then suddenly Jonkers tempted a batsman into a hard hoick to Adam at mid-wicket, and Adam caught the thing – in his hands which he normally protects like a concert pianist. Bowden put his sloppiness behind him and caught a hard chance at cover. Tuggy caught a catch off Pete at mid-off. Pete also lured a leg-side stumping. Jonkers enticed a snick to the keeper, caught one-handed. Bowden and De Caires got LBWs, and Jacot bowled Patrick for 0.
But it was all too late and the incompetent fielding by our elderly team had gifted them perhaps 40 extra runs. They reached 170.
We started badly. Although Adam smote two 4s he was soon caught (10). Christiaan ran himself out before facing a ball and Rupert, having got bogged down in the mire of a pitch, was caught off P. Cobb, which must have given satisfaction to the latter. But we were struggling at 3 an over when soon 12 was needed. Nick came in and out, ditto De Caires, and only Tom (33, 2 consecutive 6s, two 4s) and Martin (33*, five 4s) managed runs on the slowest of pitches, much trickier in the second innings. Archie Mayer, aged 8, batted with his Dad, Tuggy. Tuggy was a V&A stalwart for many years (20 years ago) and time has been kind to him, the evidence of good living was visible. But we fell short of the total by 49 runs. We always lose when batting second, we seem tired after a few hours wallying about the field.
But a glorious afternoon with very pleasant opposition, all the boys behaving impeccably and helping with moving furniture etc. I fear that one contributing factor in our performance was the consumption of wine at luncheon. Tom had brought a good bottle of Spanish red (13%, £25), meant for our neighbour Jeremy Paxman to taste. But he won’t because Rupert seemed to gob the lot, as he had also gobbed some white that Sarah brought. Could this indulgence be connected to his inability to hit the ball? Some substance of an exotic nature was also smoked when it looked like the game might be abandoned.
Adam criticised me for a) not mentioning my own incompetence in these reports. But I refer you to Churchill and his comment that history would be kind to him because he would write it. And b) for constantly making rude remarks about Peter Linthwaite. I am sorry about that and in future will try not to insult the effete pansy.