Turville was our home for 15 years before the V&A moved to Stonor (a third of the price at the time). The ground is a quiet oasis in the Chilterns, with no VW Rally to offend the ears or bicyclists and Lycra to offend the eyes. We first played Turville Park in 1978. They were skippered by Air Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris, a distinguished wartime pilot and commander, who nevertheless sledged non-stop at first slip, where he had not the slightest chance of catching anything. He was completely useless and always was, even at Winchester in the ‘30s. His sledging was more a benign rant, terrible bollocks it was, worse than me. But he was a nice man and the team reflected his swashbuckling approach.
We were 11 on Saturday, not 12 or 13 as is our wont. They were 11. A traditional game in an idyllic setting. England at its best, puffy clouds, sun, pleasant company plus Adam Jacot, a delectable tea, a good pitch prepared by the doyen of Turville Park, John Hancock. All a far cry from the horrors of Calais, the M20, swarms of migrants in the boot of my Passat, Grexits, Jeremy Corbyn:
The world would not be in such a snarl,
Had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl.
They won the toss and batted. Rather well. Their capable openers, the Beardall brothers, put on 100 before the first wicket (there was a chance of a caught behind in the first over from Bowden, but Andy was too distant). It was dispiriting watching the ball being picked out of the corn. Then Tom P-G enticed a skier, well caught by Ed at square leg. But their No. 3, Wade, proved as good as the openers and the run fest continued. Heads dropped. Roger Smith at long off let a ball trickle through his legs for 4. Adam, bowling, promptly had him replaced by Rob Noble, which is a bit like replacing me with Rupert Morris, which happened once, the humiliation is still felt. The next ball Rob was equally wallyish and was replaced by Roger. Later I was replaced at third man by Tom, a more rational exchange. I cannot run, bend and throw like I did 50 years ago. Actually, I was piss poor then.
We played a timed game, with 2.5 hours batting for Turville, one hour for the V&A followed by 20 overs. While Turville were whacking the bowling an unreachable score of 270 loomed. But Tom P-G (7/25/2) trapped S. Beardall LBW (a bit harsh, he was a long way forward), and Roger (4/20/1) tempted young Hancock into lofting a ball towards Adam at deepish point. Adam moved. Not quickly but he moved, and one is grateful for that. When the ball seemed to be beyond him he lay down on the floor for some reason. And caught it! He pretended not to be surprised. He has just returned from Mexico with, apparently, no cross words between him and his new lady. She does not even find him irritating. A rare find.
Wade was bowled by Richard Chatterton (11/40/2) who also bowled their No. 6. But the pick of the wickets was that of a good batsman, Stockings, by Jacot (3/29/1), bowled by a beauty. Jacot is back, with new equipment too! Lovely trousers, beautiful bat, he must be trying to impress. Bowden (8/33/1) bowled a tailender with a classic inswinger, and then restricted them to only 6 off the last over. They finished on 220.
Tea was bountiful. Better than Stonor. But I miss the view of the park and the Ladies lavatory with its marble and Vermeer, and ladies. We opened with Rob Noble and Bird N, advanced from my normal position at No. 11 because, as skipper Andy Taylor said, I had done nothing, not bowled and not fielded in the conventional sense. Rob was bowled off his pads in the first over. Enter Andy, who played his normal confident game, hitting the loose one for four, and striking one memorable off drive, a thing of beauty. Meanwhile I had been smacking a few, even stroking a glance and cut from memory, and rather enjoying a straight six. We reached a century partnership, 104, when our 20 overs was to commence, with Andy 47* (8 fours) and myself 45* (7 fours, 1 six) when Andy told me that my lack of pace was costing a run a ball, so hit out or get out. I followed advice and took a blind swipe at the next delivery. DISASTER! The ball went straight up in the air and the keeper, Barnaby Bazell, and a fielder converged. And in the absence of their skip nominating a catcher, they collided with a ghastly crack of heads. The fielder lay concussed with a hideously broken nose, and Barnaby lay bleeding with a gaping gash above his eye. A&E beckoned. We debated briefly the appropriateness of continuing but there was no stomach for it. An honourable draw was declared. We retired to the Fox at Christmas Common, some to drink and forget, others to drink.
QUIZ CORNER: in the 1980 Datsun Shield Final, Alan Kourie caught Allan Lamb off Rice – Lamb c Kourie b Rice. A famous culinary entry matched only by – Cook c Mustard b Onions. Any other culinary suggestions? Not in the same league but at Turville years ago we played a pansyish Arts Council team, captained by a John Cook. They beat my V&A pansies by 180 runs. The headline in their newsletter was COOK STUFFS BIRD, which I found unamusing.