Saturday 2nd September was a day of two great sporting events. I am assured that cricketing fans across the nation were torn between attending the T20 Blast finals day, featuring Alex Hales and the like, or attending the long running V&A vs Thebertons, featuring two members of Jonkers Rare Books (or is that Jonkers Rare, Books), + 10. We were at one point thirteen, until it was agreed that there were no phantom cricketers in the changing room, and Nieboer’s tent was nowhere to be seen.
A quick pre-game chat on the green wicket soon turned into a conversation about lawn mower insurance, by the sounds of it a good game to be in, but realising where our conversation had arrived at, we promptly cut it short.
Unsure whether to bat or bowl against what looked to be a capable side, captain Jonkers wisely lost the toss and we were sent out to field, Ashcroft of Ashcroft Productions still slightly damp from lifeguard duty earlier in the week.
De Caires opened up from the eponymous de Caires End with some sharp bowling. There was even talk of a small two seater stand being erected, in order to mark his territory. With the lion’s share of runs coming through 3rd man, V&A were unlucky to concede 26 off 4 before Jonkers got the breakthrough. The wicket could have come sooner if safe-hands Emley could have held a catch at gully. De Caires was not pleased with this, but had his man in his next over, Emley taking a harder catch this time. It’s all for the cameras I’m sure.
Tom Ayling bowled superbly from the Jonkers end, and was rewarded with a wicket in his fourth over, clean bowled. Geed up from many positive words, pats on the back and high fives, Ayling immediately deleted his next victim. Clean bowled again. Fever pitch. The V&A surrounded the bat, all imitating what we have seen on the television. Realistically none of us were catching the ball from seven yards, but we crouched low nonetheless. No need. As Ayling hit the crease the Bird finger was already on its way up, 5 and a half ounces of leather and cork struck victim number three on the pad and the V&A celebrated. A hat-trick! A new hero had been found, Ashcroft sadly relegated. But there was trouble, it seemed that in fact the Bird finger may have been too keen, and victim no.3 was allowed to return to the crease after claiming a thick edge. In fairness, it was heard by many a V&A player also, if not snicko Bird. Ashcroft reinstated.
117-5 at Lunch, after some good bowling from Adam Jacot and a good catch from National Treasure Ashcroft, the V&A were in a commanding position. Sarah Jenkins once again produced a marvellous lunch of roast beef, ham, assorted salads and cheese which was enjoyed by all. A ringing glass told us to listen up, Nicky Bird recounted, in a way only Nicky Bird can, the story of Ross Ashcroft’s heroism, and awarded with great pride the False Life Ring Fashioned into a Titanic Themed Mirror Award, provided at great expense by Nick Constantine.
Rupert Morris tried to teach me how to unravel a cryptic crossword. It did not go well, the crossword remains cryptic. Run place near Manchester, and one in Kent.
There was some dispute between messrs Bird, Emley and Jonkers concerning the combination of grapes that make up champagne . I did not hear the conclusion but I believe the answer is white, seedless, although we may need to refer to the local authority in Tom Bird for the definitive answer.
V&A took to the field once more, bellies full and eager to finish the job. Unfortunately runs began to flow all too easily, and what we hoped would be a run chase of 150 soon crept towards 200, with the help of a father-son partnership (or was it competition?). Initially, Henman the younger seemingly eager to run out his father, but in a reversal of fortune, Henman Snr called his son for a single which was never on. The youngster tried to make his ground, but in vain, gallantly sacrificing his wicket.
V&A did drop catches, but were glad to have Goodliffe behind the sticks again, steady as ever and inciting fear into the opposition (and some of the V&A) with his trademark Hannibal Lecter face mask, always worth it for the, now regular, stumpings. Therbertons declared on 200 from 35. Captain Jonkers-Rare had negotiated a 70 over hybrid format, with a declaration anytime up until the 38th, but with a decent batting line up, V&A eyed the win.
Constantine went early to what looked to be a good ball, so Ashcroft was sent in sooner than expected to keep us afloat… but also fell to the handy Therbertons’ opener. Ayling stood firm, and joined by Rupert, the two steadied the ship with some gritty batting, before Morris was removed for a hard fought 11. De Caires was the next in, and between the them, Dennis and Ayling brought V&A back into the game. Some colourful shots and tremendous strikes took us to 96-3, before Ayling missed one heading for the top of the off stump. An unfortunate end to another good innings from a shockingly consistent player by V&A standards.
Cheap wickets continued to tumble before Jacot and Jonkers put a stop to it, the pair bringing us slowly closer to what was now an attractive looking draw. The last of the work was left to NPG, who played some fantastic strokes at this late stage in the game, looking good for 13*, supported by Phil Goodliffe with a steady forward defensive at the other end. And so it ended, the V&A nine wickets down with a hard fought draw, but a thoroughly enjoyable match in the early September sunshine.
I bid farewell to the V&A as they headed off to the Golden Ball for yet more free chips and alcohol. I have not heard from them since.