V&A v. Turville Park
1st August 2015
V&A v. The Silk Boudoir
15th August 2015
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V&A v. Legends XI

V&A PLAYERS: Nicky Bird [Skip], Roger Smith, Christiaan Jonkers, Andy Taylor, Rob Taylor, William Patterson, Nick Emley, Martin Bowden, Tom P-G, Nick P-G, Adam Jacot, Rob Noble

After the horrific ending to last week’s match at Turville, it was nice to return to the serenity of Stonor, with no blood on the pitch. Stonor is more Quentin Crisp than Quentin Tarantino. And it was nice to see the Kites. I have been lambasted for being rude about them, calling them Welsh migrants, sponging off our road kills. I am sorry I was off message. We should reach out and engage with them. The V&A champions diversity in the best tradition of multicultural cricket. Kites are welcome. As are bicyclists and Lycra and all who attend the Chiltern Crafts Show later this month who will discover (as their website declares) – THE VERY BEST IN UNUSUAL AND INSPIRING HANDMADE CRAFTS (actually, this is a lie, corn dollies are neither unusual nor inspiring).

There was one horror at Turville that I omitted to report, a horror worse than the violent ending. A huddle. Yes, before the match we were, all eleven of us, standing in a circle around our skipper. I feared that any moment arms would be linked, a pep talk ensue (possibly invoking God), ending in high fives. None of that shite with me as captain.

We were oversubscribed and had to give Louis Jacot to the opposition. Roger suggested we give them a duffer but I could find no obvious candidates. He disagreed. I skippered until we fielded when I sat sucking up to the tea lady, Martin Bowden taking over the captaincy. After tea, however, Rob said his hamstring was buggered so I took his place, despite dodgy knees, the result of excessive running while batting at Turville. We played a 35 over game in glorious sunshine.

It was very much a family day, with the Noble and Jacot families out in force. Some Jacots had come from Canada and one, Dan, was pressed into fielding for the Legends and, when Tom P-G was wounded attempting a catch, subbing for us. He done good. Rob and his nephew William opened our innings (I won the toss and batted) in a 50 partnership. Rob, with his missus, sister and mum watching, was a revelation, driving with abandon, scoring three successive 4s, unusual for this grafter. Rob and William scored at 5 an over until William was bowled by Louis and Rob run out, his hamstring not up to the quick single. Enter the Taylor brothers. And what fun they had. Andy plundered some indifferent bowling to score 88 (twelve 4s, two 6s) before running himself out; Rob Taylor hit 55 (eight 4s, one 6) before being caught in the deep. Their century partnership made our big total of 243 possible. It is the first time two brothers have both scored over 50. At the end there were brief cameos from Adam, Christiaan, Martin and Nick Emley, notable for one of the best catches seen at Stonor to dismiss Adam, a one-handed dive to reach a ball that was zooming low to the boundary.

Lunch was a Sarah special, her trademark beef and salads. The talk my end of the table was about the injunction concerning the identity of the mystery celebrity who has been having an affair with a famous married sportsman. Wayne Rooney and Ulrika Johnson were proposed until someone said Ulrika was too young. Mr Rooney plunders the granny market. I mentioned that I was looking for a younger woman, in the 40-50 age bracket, to seem me out and the wording of the small ad was discussed. How honest should one be? Should I mention the snoring, drinking and weight problem? Annette said perhaps I should mention being married but I thought this an unnecessary detail.

We opened our bowling with Christiaan and Roger. They bowled nicely but without success. Their No. 1 was a classy Aussie left-hander and was soon walloping the ball around the ground. Martin came on and immediately bowled their No. 2. But this brought a Mr Hyde to the wicket, a fine sportsman; a scratch golfer and excellent footballer (he had run out Andy with a well-aimed kick). He whacked balls all over the park, some straight, some to cow corner, but such was the variety of his hitting that field placings were tricky. Despite his run fest they still needed 10 an over at tea with 15 overs left, and Christiaan said they were doomed. But, with five over to go, and needing over 12 an over, all changed in a trice. Hyde hit Martin for three identical and successive sixes. But Hyde had been missed or dropped FIVE times. A tricky catch behind and stumping, a rather easier skier to Tom, another he might have snaffled in the deep, a caught and bowled that Martin failed to gather. Then came two defining moments. With three overs to go and Hyde the only man able to win the game, he hit a ball to Adam at deep mid wicket. The sun was behind him. The ball plopped into his hands. And out again. Oh dear. Come the last over they needed 7 to win. Martin bowled. The second ball was hit straight to Rob Taylor on the mid wicket boundary. A certain single. But Hyde called for a second run. He dashed towards the keeper. Rob through to his brother behind the stumps, Hyde was two yards short when the ball arrived. But Andy took his eye off it and they ran three. Hyde hit the winning boundary with two balls left.

They deserved to win. We deserved to lose. Rob Taylor with 7-40-4 was the pick of our bowlers, and Roger (7-29-0) the most economical. But it was a wonderful day with nearly 500 runs scored. The beer in the Crown was welcome. I asked Roger, who was buying, for a large Scotch but he refused rather curtly. He has a funny way umpiring as well. He turns down appeals not with a shake of the head or a sonorous NO, but with a resonant FUCK OFF!