V&A v. Legends XI
8th August 2015
V&A v. The Authors XI
29th August 2015
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V&A v. The Silk Boudoir

V&A PLAYERS: Nick P-G [Skip], L Nieboer, N Bird, R Morris, R Smith, A Fraser, R Ashcroft, R Taylor, A Taylor, A Jacot, S Julka

The game was played on VJ Day. Andy Fraser, who works for Mitsubishi, took time off from his professional duties to endure the unendurable and suffer what is insufferable (as Hirohito put it) and play at Stonor, despite age and infirmity. As it turned out he missed nothing in the slips. But it has come to a pretty pass when I can outrun him in the field. Rupert Morris, however, with two dropped catches, made him look spry. On the way to Stonor, Rupert had been reliving the triumph of his two recent catches, and declaring he was a shoe in for Fielder of the Year. Hubris, nemesis. At one point he loped after a ball that stopped on the boundary. The batsmen ran four anyway.

This was a Pritchard-Gordon day. Tom P-G, the opposition captain, had heroically put together a team of young (under 25) athletes. Nick P-G had rescued a game that had seemed a non-starter, and skippered our side of gnarled old pros (and a sprinkling of yoof). Cathy P-G catered. Brilliantly. Lunch and tea were superb. She is a saint and as I need someone to see me out and she is in my target age range I would pop the question but I have given Helena Bonham-Carter first pick. Anyway, it is bad for team spirit to poach wives, it can lead to loss of form.

Tom, who captained with authority, won the toss and put us in. We started disastrously. After 7 overs they had caught four good catches, dropped four easy ones (Rupert was dropped twice), and we were 17 for 4! Only Rupert (12), eventually caught, and Andy Taylor (20) scored useful runs. When Andy was out caught (the soggy pitch was partly to blame) we were 38 for 5. Nick P-G promoted himself up the order to stop the rot. He was caught for nought. Ross came in and things looked decidedly better, and when he was joined by Fraser, albeit hampered by Achilles problems, they seemed settled with Ross hitting 4s and a huge 6 to the distant boundaries. But when Fraser called for a runner we knew trouble beckoned. Ross went for a single, the runner (Sunil) ran, Andy who was looking the wrong way shouted NO, Sunil wavered, Ross wavered and turned back. Too late. Ross (35) did not seem pleased with this turn of events.

But all was not lost. Adam came in and thrilled his sprightly Mum who looked up from solving the Times brainy crossword to see her boy score four 4s in a thrilling 21, before he was caught in the deep by T P-G of all people. Almost immediately Fraser was predictably run out for 12 (which included two classic 4s). At the death Sunil smacked three quick boundaries for 16*. We finished on 148, off 38 overs, in a game that offered three results: win, draw or lose. Under the rules the Boudoir XI had 32 overs to beat us. Their bowling had been both good (E Grantham 7-22-1; K Dominic 4-8-4) and ropey. Simba caught two excellent catches. And dropped 4.

At lunch Roger complained that I was indiscreet in these match reports (presumably about his telling me to fuck off when I asked for a double whisky), so I will not mention anything about Adam and his new lady friend. Incidentally, she is coming to Stonor next Sunday and Adam will want us to behave, so please, no filth, no talk about dogging. I upset Annette Jacot by suggesting she might be a member of Phyllis Court Club in Henley. She took this as some wisecrack about her age because the Club is mainly for old biddies. But as the average age is 108 and she looks half that she would actually flatter the demography. I banged on about Fanny Craddock for some reason, and her drunken, hen-pecked husband Johnny. That is the role I play with the wife except I do the cooking. But she barks and I drink. Nick P-G recalled Johnny admiring the baking skills of his missus and turning to the camera and saying: May all your doughnuts look like Fannys.

The Boudoir XI fielded with the exuberance and fitness of youth. Would they have the batting skills to withstand our professional attack? Well, yes and no. In Hayden (28) in particular, who plays for Henley 2nd XI, they had a fine batsman (missed by Nick P-G off his first ball from Sunil), but a lack of coaching in the others showed, although E. Grantham (15) had a good eye. Rob Taylor trapped their opener LBW, controversially. The umpire was removed instantly. And then a remarkable catch at forward short leg by Lachlan off Rob dismissed Dominic, their No. 2. Phillips (16) looked secure until Roger got him LBW. Hayden was crucially caught behind off Sunil, and when Lachlan enticed catches to Ross to dismiss E. Grantham and Leicester, and then bowled Tom P-G (10) and H. Grantham (0), it looked inevitable that we would win. We had not helped ourselves by lackadaisical fielding and dropped catches (by Lachlan of all people, as well as Rupert). I myself was not Jonty in the field, my reactions dulled by age and Mr Fraser at first slip. Andy once took a fancy (after strong drink) to Claire Short (in a taxi). Even my tastes are not that catholic.

The target was soon beyond them but with the last pair in they needed to survive 18 balls to draw. Rob and Roger bowled, Nick deeming it unfair to unleash the fury of Lachlan at tailenders. It is tricky dismissing batsmen who block. They blocked magnificently. They survived. It was a draw, much deserved by our young opposition.

We went to The Crown. There was the usual wedding party. The beautiful bride appeared. Top of the range. I told her so. I offered her the best of luck. She said she was going to need it. She was so lovely I offered to marry her, which was silly really as she was clearly off the menu. But though vulgar I may be, at least I know how to tuck my shirt in unlike the frightful oik she had just married. But he was a BIG frightful oik and seemed to overhear so I legged it, or rather, with my knees, hobbled quickly away to do dinner and enjoy some light Muscadet and hen-pecking.


Nicky Bird