4th September 2011
17th September 2011
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A dodgy forecast suggested a truncated day at least, but in the event we were lucky, rain arrived briefly after lunch, which we fielded through, and then lovely sunshine. Actually Peter Linthwaite and I did not field in the rain. As we were 13, Peter and I opted to take our turn off the field, in the comfort of the porch. Martin (skip) had lost the toss in a 35 over game (bad omen – we lose when batting second) and Acme had elected to bat. They started horribly well, scoring at 8 an over. All might have been different if their top scorer had not been dropped at gully by Martin (tricky one) and then by Peter at short cover (not a tricky one).

Peter said at lunch that he gave up reading these match reports four years ago because he found references to his wallydom upsetting, so I can say without fear of litigation that his dropped catch was one of the worst examples of nancy-boy windiness ever witnessed. Off the first ball bowled by Jake Warman a full toss was lobbed ever so gently to Peter. He awoke, briefly, then either misjudged it or feigned to misjudge it. Anyway he dropped it and the man went on to make 50 odd. Another moment of sleepiness occurred when Peter was fielding at short third man. A snick off Richard Woolhouse caused Peter to react a full three seconds after it meandered past him on the way to the boundary. Although he will not be reading this, and nor will his missus, I will not reveal what he said about her (but she does not seem dead common to me).

Our fielding was as always pretty dire, but enlivened by occasional flashes of competence. Rob Taylor and Sean Mayana make a huge difference with their keenness and ability. We dropped a lot of catches. Sunil dropped an easy one at mid on, but caught a good one later. Adam had a nice moment when he half went for a ball at mid-wicket, as is his wont, but tripped on something and in breaking his fall stuck out an arm which miraculously stopped the ball. He then behaved as though the movement was intentional. His Mum knew different, and said so. Rupert seems to have a problem bending. He was sober this week, and I think he eschewed substances, so his excuse for the odd misfield must be age, although he once said, modestly, that he was never much cop.

Acme threatened to get 240 at one point but wickets started to fall. Robbie Lawson at point got a good run out, when he threw accurately if high to the keeper who managed to reach it and knock off the bails. Dennis did the same fielding at fine leg, with Sean taking over the gloves and doing the agile stuff (Sean later caught a fine catch behind, a skier, never easy). Rob Taylor bowled a classy batsman with a beauty, Dennis got three wickets (including a good caught and bowled) as did Jake, whose overs were mean and threatening. Off the last ball of their innings Dennis lured a catch to Tony at point, and he held it, the second he has held in two games. A pity Jane was not there to see it, but she will no doubt hear the details later. They got 208 in the end, a difficult target on an increasingly soggy wicket and outfield, after brief but quite heavy rain.

I was caterer in the absence of Sarah, again. Peter did his noble domestic bit as scullery maid. He spent most of his day either umpiring or in the kitchen. He came, he saw, he washed up. I noticed that as we sat down to lunch in the pavilion all 13 V&A players were tucking in while Acme were queuing patiently. Did not look good. Adam complained that I had underplayed his amazing catch last week, the best of his distinguished career, he said. I cannot do justice to it in words, it was a thing of beauty, the more impressive for being so unexpected.

Our innings started appallingly with the great Robbie Lawson out for 2, and the swashbuckling Richard Woolhouse for 1. Perhaps they are not natural openers. Jake Warman struggled to score. That he made it to Stonor was due to Robbie picking him up, otherwise he might have found it impossible to come down, owing to an urgent appointment with his bed. Rob Taylor, who joined him, is my neighbour. He popped round Friday night looking for a game and although it might have made us 12 or 13, I was happy to accommodate him as he is a very agreeable bloke who bats and bowls and fields. Of how many of us can one say that? Fortunately, although Jake found boundaries elusive – of his first 20 scoring shots none were boundaries – Rob did not. Of HIS first ten scoring shots there were four 4s and two 6s. But eventually Jake found his touch. Yet we were still some way behind the run-rate until Rob hit three 6s and two 4s in consecutive balls. Suddenly we were in with a chance, however remote. Acme’s captain had felt secure enough, and it should be said generous enough, to give their bit players a chance to bowl, and Jake and Rob made hay. Rob was stumped for a potentially match-winning 72 (eight 4s, five 6s). Dennis came in and hit two beautiful 4s before holing out for 21, with 18 needed off three overs and Jake still there, on 75 or so.

Tony came in to face. He scored 2 off his first ball, then a single, then Jake hit a 4. 11 were needed off the last two overs. Dot balls followed, then a single. Jake faced the last ball of the penultimate over with 9 needed to win. We needed a boundary desperately. Jake did not disappoint and whacked a straight 6. 3 were needed off the last over, bowled by their burly spinner who grunts like Steffi Graf. Tony was facing. The first ball was a dot ball. Then another. Nervous shouts of encouragement from the pavilion. Then a scrambled single. Two runs needed off two balls. Jake faced. The grunter bowled. Jake leapt down the pitch and made it a full toss and walloped it over the bowler for 4. We had won. Once again, it was an unlikely victory made possible by the bowling of Jake, Dennis and Rob, and by the pivotal innings of Rob and the timely acceleration of Jake.

A very good day. Acme had brought vociferous support, who at the finish cheered their every dot ball from the bench at the Pishill end. They had a four year old boy who looked a nifty fielder. His mum said he was good at sums too, and could bat a bit. Our Treasurer should be feeling nervous about his place.