V&A v. Cricketers Club of London
18th July 2015
V&A v. Turville Park
1st August 2015
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V&A v. Jesmond Jaguars

V&A PLAYERS: Nicky Bird, Roger Smith, Christiaan Jonkers [Skip], Ed Knight, Andy Taylor, Rob Taylor, Louis Jacot, Lachlan Nieboer, Martin Bowden, Tom P-G, Nick P-G, Simon Jacot  

After the biblical deluge of Friday (minus the locusts and boils) the pitch at Stonor was miraculously playable, after a mercy dash to Lindy Stracey at Home Farm for sawdust. Once again she is Man of the Match, as she was for providing water when the pavilion was dry (burst main).

The Jaguars were nine but nine fit young butch men. No chance of running 5 to them. A token Dutchman, Wortman, hit a run although I would take ours, skipper Jonkers, on past performances. They won the toss and batted. They reached 40 without loss but Bowden came on and immediately bowled their opener with a Bowden special, a big inswinger. Tom P-G trapped their No. 3, caught at first slip by Dad, Nick P-G. Ed picked up a nice catch at shortish leg to dismiss their No. 2 (29), also off T. P-G. A neat catch behind by Andy Taylor did for their No. 4 and things looked pretty encouraging. But in came Mr Crystal who scored 50 for the Bandits three weeks ago. I pleaded with him not to do the same but he took no notice and scored 53 before being run out by Simon Jacot, who is a lot more deft in the field than his somnambulistic brother Adam. But Crystal and first Bono (No. 6 – caught and bowled L. Jacot for 22) and then Ward (No. 7 – run out for 36) had scored at 8 an over and that allowed them to reach 201. Roger Smith (0 for 44) and Ed (0 for 42) bowled six rather expensive overs, Louis (3 for 36), Martin (2 for 25) and Tom (2 for 24) bowled 8 cheaper ones. Christiaan (0 for 23 off 5) buggered his Achilles and had to rest. Age catches up with all of us, except Martin. Dropped catches might have made a difference. One bad drop by Rob Taylor followed a half chance he missed, a lapse that provoked raucous barracking by brother Andy and Tom, which had befuddled him. Andy missed a tricky leg side catch and then dropped an easy one which let Crystal off the hook.

Lunch was taken outdoors, impossible a few hours earlier. I catered. Nothing poncy. Rôti de boeuf, salades. Last week Evangelicals invaded our hallowed Stonor ground which prompted a discussion about what Fundamentalists believe in: the world is 4763 years old, gravity is a myth, Satan exists (red, forked tail), gays are an abomination – St Paul said so. Paul was a bigot of course and a bore to boot, writing endless letters to Corinthians and Romans. We wondered how he addressed the envelope. CORINTHIANS, CORINTH? Clever postman to find the right house. Or perhaps he never did, because the Corinthians never replied, nor the Romans. There is no record of them writing DEAR PAUL, THANK YOU FOR YOUR LONG BORING LETTER, FUCK OFF. Paul was the worst sort of bossyboots, the sort that loves to umpire. A fanatic who would stone you to death for sodomy. A few years ago half the V&A Cricket Club would be dead if he were around. Nick P-G opened a learned discussion about which monarchs had more bastards, English or French. The Sun King, Louis XIV, was top of the Premiership with 50 he suggested, our only contender, Charles II, was in Division 3 with about 12. When it comes to royal bastards they are top dog.

Our innings opened with Simon and Louis Jacot, father and son, and they were 34 without loss (off a spinner and a quick) when Louis was bowled for 8. Andy Taylor was well caught behind (3) but brother Rob came and with Simon striking the ball elegantly hit a 50 partnership to put us on track. At tea we were about 80 for 2.

Tea was even less poncy than lunch. Sachet de thé Tetley, gateaux de Tesco, Kit Kat. I discussed with their Dutchman the Queen and that fascist salute. She tells me she wasn’t heiling Hitler but hailing a cab. Several Jaguars asked about the Red Kite. The RSPB gives them the second highest conservation priority, amber. This means no-one can touch them and clearly the word has got around the Red Kite community because they are cocky as hell. There are about 2000 pairs in the Chilterns, most of whom come to watch the cricket at Stonor. Last Saturday a Kite perched on the roof of my car as if to say, you cannot touch me, I am protected. And he shat. Not so much as an excuse me, or do you mind terribly. Well I did mind. They may be protected, but not from a cricket ball hurled at them from 3 yards. My optimum range. To paraphrase Stalin one Kite is a thing of beauty but 4000 is a statistic and a noisy, messy one at that. Kites are immigrants from Wales and like some other immigrant groups have large families of squawking kids and vote Labour, although there is no evidence that they exploit the benefits system. I am as liberal as the next man but you have to draw the line somewhere and I draw it firmly at the Welsh border. Hadrian built his wall in the wrong place, probably a mistake by some Paddy builders who had the plans upside down. Another species crying out for culling is bicyclists, now blocking all roads around Stonor. An 80% cull would seem fair.

After tea Simon was caught (36). Nick P-G was suffering from some foul disease (he offered to show me his groin, a tempting offer I declined) which slowed him down and was run out for 4. But Ed Knight started briskly and when Rob was eventually bowled by Crystal just 3 short of 50 (2 sixes), we needed 6 an over with Roger Smith at the crease. He whacked 2 big sixes but the Jaguars had left their top bowlers Crystal and Ward for the endgame and they halted the run flow. When Ed (32) and Smith (20) were both out caught we needed 10 an over and it proved beyond the tailenders. We lost. We were 20 short.

Mr. Bowden was called to unblock the kitchen sink, which I had blocked with dishwasher salt. He unblocked it with a thing like a Swiss Army knife. He waived the call out charge as he was on premises, but frankly made a filthy mess and expected lunch and tea AND to sit with us at the same table. He then lit what looked like a huge cheroot. I am as democratic as the next man but breaking bread with ones plumber is a novelty I do not wish to repeat.

Nicky Bird