V&A v. Therbertons
4th July 2015
V&A v. Cricketers Club of London
18th July 2015
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V&A v. Bandits

V&A PLAYERS: Dennis De Caires, Nicky Bird, Nick Emley, Roger Smith, James Nixey, Sunil Julka [Skip], Adam Jacot, Christiaan Jonkers, Tom Bird, Ross Ashcroft, Lachlan Nieboer, Ed Knight

As usual we were 12, but I am a peripheral figure these days, due to age and – on Saturday – a nasty ear infection which causes a problem with balance, and I was happy to spend time schmoozing the tea lady. One has to get intimacy where one can these days. My present wife thinks my balance problem is caused by spending too much time with my good friends Messrs Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker. She is a hard woman. I am a peripheral figure at home too. Rupert Morris, whom I have known for 20 years or so, has never met Mrs. Bird (or Dr. Bird as I have to call her) and suspects she is an invention to disguise my gayness. But she is real all right and pretty frightening. We use different stairs and I sleep in the Gladstone Wing which is some way from her suite but I hear her shouting at the servants sometimes.

The Bandits are a very nice bunch. One of them called me Sir, recognising quality, deference I do not get at Stonor or at home. Unfortunately they had that blend of youth and ability that bode ill for our day. Sunil, our skip, won the toss and elected to bat. We opened with Adam Jacot and Nick Emley. Nick likes to build an innings. He is ideal as an anchor. But this does put pressure on other batsman to score runs. Adam, having walloped two fours, stretched for a very wide ball and played on. He deemed the triumphalism of the bowler unwarranted by this fluky dismissal, and told him so. Ross came in. Roger Smith, who was umpiring, then berated poor Nick for allowing a maiden to be bowled, which so rattled Emley that he threw his bat at the next ball, to little effect. He was run out after 15 overs for 16. He did a Captain Oates, sacrificing himself for the team because he was not scoring (not because he runs like a pudding as someone suggested). Dennis came in and scored 16 in one over. And then was caught behind. But a new chap, Ed Knight, came to the crease and while no stylist has a fine eye and together with the more elegant Ross scored briskly to make us 100 or so for 3 at lunch after 20 overs.

Sarah Jenkins catered more than adequately. She eschews avocado froth and petits four for more muscular fare. Her dog failed to turn up again, the one that shagged me all afternoon a month ago. Clearly the bastard has another leg to shag. At lunch Adam held forth on the pavilion porch, a rival to Radio Bird holding forth at the long table. I was on the District Line last week when a nutter came in and started shouting and singing My Way. At Turnham Green another nutter entered and started yelling abuse at everyone. The first nutter looked at the interloper as if to say I AM THE NUTTER IN THIS CARRIAGE SO FUCK OFF and the new nutter got out. It is bit like that with two bores banging on at Stonor, there is only room for one. Adam does not talk to me on match days as he thinks I am going to be indiscreet in print. I hear he has a lady friend. You can usually tell when a chap is in love because he loses weight and is suddenly fastidious about his personal hygiene. But Adam is not like other men.

After lunch Ed and Ross continued smiting loose ones (the bowling was pretty poor) until Ed was bowled (for 31). Tom Bird, Sunil and James Nixey (making a welcome return) all departed for 0 but Lachlan joined Ross to score a quick 15 until bowled by their opening bowler, Southgate, the pick of a poor attack. Southgate also claimed the wicket of Ross, also bowled – for an invaluable and classy 58. But the problem was our run rate, which slowed in the last 8 overs alarmingly. We looked at one point to be heading for a match-winning 220 but ended on an indifferent 188. In the last overs Roger Smith hit 3 and at the death Christiaan, at the Henley end, was given out LBW by Nick Emley in strange circumstances. There was an appeal for LBW. Umpire Emley appeared unmoved, the ball seemed to have hit the bat and anyway the Jonkers front foot was almost in Pishill. The batsmen ran. When Christiaan reached the other end Nick raised his finger. Nick is not one for hasty decisions.

They started their innings badly. Lachlan dismissed their openers cheaply, one succumbing to a brilliant juggled catch at first slip by Dennis. But their No.s 3 and 4 were limpets. Pretty quick limpets too. Crystal, their No. 3, was a truly masterful batsman while the other, Jay, was rather lucky. But they hit a 100 partnership which put them in a commanding position. However, things seemed to have turned our way when, in a brilliant over, Roger Smith, who had been grumbling audibly in the field about everything and everybody as is his wont, then put his aggression to good use and dismissed Crystal (62) and their captain Land first ball (well caught by Adam at square leg). When Ed bowled their No. 6 and Jay went (for 60) a V&A victory seemed possible but unfortunately their all-rounder Tait walloped a speedy 31 to win the match with one over to spare.

A very pleasant day with just the sort of people we like to play. One or two LBWs might have gone our way but that was my fault for telling the opposition not to give silly LBWs on this pitch. I forgot to tell Nick Emley. We retired to The Crown where we continued our learned discussions from lunch about whether a tree falling makes a noise when no-one is listening, who were the dykes backing Cliff Richard when he sang in the rain at Wimbledon in 1996; and whether the V&A should have a team-building huddle on the pitch before a game. I find it vulgar, but then I am prissy, I find high fives vulgar. Roger Smith, our captain next week, has picked up bad habits from marrying an Aussie and favours not only a huddle but a Churchillian pep talk and high fives all round. Be warned. He is a bastard when captain (even if OUR bastard). The late Peter Roebuck used a cane to beat those who failed in the field. For Spanker Smith the phrase wielding the willow has a different meaning.


Nicky Bird