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V&A v The Refreshers


V&A PLAYERS:  M Bowden (capt), A Taylor, L Nieboer, N Constantine, A Jacot, C Jonkers, N Emley, A Jones, E Nicoli, R Ashcroft, N Sethi.  Umpires: R Morris, N Bird 

A new fixture for us which got off to a bad start with the opposition fielding a mere 8 players and blaming both RyanAir and hangovers. In order to even things up, we lent them Nichal Sethi: recent recruits to the V&A are often bullied into playing for the opposition or, if they stay in our side, they have to field at forward short leg. We didn’t play our standard game (35 overs per side) but one designed to make the most of the day (first team bats for 2.5 hours, second team gets 1 hour and 20 overs). In the circumstances, it was decided that the V&A would bat first. The Refreshers are a team of barristers, but very decent company indeed. Their skipper had defended Stokes. Rather successfully. If you are involved in a pub brawl he is your man (not Stokes, the lawyer).

Ashcroft and Taylor opened to extremely tight and accurate bowling from Burton and Kavanagh. The pitch (better prepared than any this season) allowed for significant movement off the seam and through the air. In such tricky circumstances, Ashcroft and Taylor played carefully and constructively leaving us unbeaten for just over a 100 at lunch (beautifully prepared by Lucinda and Martin B). After lunch, Taylor departed for a fine 52 to be followed shortly by an unfortunately run-out Nieboer for 7, bringing Constantine to the crease who contributed an attractive 28*. Our major innings came from Ashcroft who remained unbeaten for a masterful 102 not out, his second century in a prolific season. The V&A innings closed at 219 for 2. Of the 36 overs we faced, all but 2 of them came from three bowlers – such are the deprivations caused by RyanAir.

The Refreshers lost two early wickets for only 2 runs, their opener Willatt being bowled by a pearl from Nieboer, angled in at pace and moving off the seam to strike off stump. Our man Sethi (who also undertook wicket keeping duties for the opposition) made a neat 11 before Jonkers got him, leaving the Refreshers at 24 for 3. They were 38 for 4 and 44 for 5 and we thought the game was ours. But Burton managed the tail impeccably, scoring 60 not out and marshalling his companions away from the strike. There were great efforts from Nieboer (2 for 36 off 9), Jonkers (3 for 18 off 4), Constantine (2 for 34 off 7) and an age defying spell from Nicoli (his age is almost the sum of the other three) who leaked only four runs off his 6 overs. Bowden bowled the last over (and possibly should have brought himself on before) but it was defended stoically; the game ended in an exciting draw, The Refreshers making 138 for 7. A draw in our favour perhaps, but it was a pity we couldn’t have finished them off.

You will note that this match report focuses, for once, on cricket rather than Arts & Culture or in V&A parlance, Stravinsky, Freud and Dogging.

Nick Emley

NICKY BIRD writes:

In last week’s match report Rupert Morris refers to Annette Jacot waking up from slumbering over the brainy Telegraph crossword to be assailed by some smut from Radio Bird (myself). Actually, what happened was that while I was telling an interesting story about dogging or Degas, I had seen her head slump on the table and naturally assumed she was dead. A good way to go, I mused; she had just completed the crossword for the first time. My initial reaction was to tell her son Adam who was batting; but I realised the news might ruin his concentration, he can be quite flaky like that. So I thought it best to wait till the end of his innings. My tact and good taste were misplaced however as she had actually nodded off in the middle of my tale. Strange but true. She must have dozed for a good 30 minutes, so missed some, but by no means all, of my saga.