Saturday, 7th September saw the residents of the quiet village of Stonor awake earlier than normal to the noise of a 1950’s Stother and Pitt Roller. P Goodliffe had arrived at the break of dawn and sat astride the machine with the sole purpose of ensuring the wicket was the flattest this side of Chennai 2016. This was greatly appreciated, although a few of the V&A stalwarts had to quickly rethink their standard “that one kept low” reasoning while walking back to the pavilion with looks of disbelief on their faces.
Cups of tea finished, boundaries placed, and the majority of the V&A arrived, discussions moved on to the opposition. While a lovely bunch of chaps, the Times team of last year weren’t the strongest among the wandering troupes on the V&A fixture list. This allowed captain L. Nieboer, pencil in hand, the freedom to move around the batting line up allowing younger players time in the middle with the more senior members. The new blood could learn things like patience, how to turn down a quick single, chatting to umpires, aching joints and the other highly prized skills of the weekend cricketer.
The opposition arrived muttering something about road closures, cranes, diversions and other things that should never get in the way of a 35 over cricket match. The toss involved an agreement that the V&A should have a bat first. The team radio was tuned in to the Ashes and the spectators settled in for a great, slightly blustery day of cricket.
A great start for the Times saw their opening bowler conceding a single run in the first over. The second over was not as successful and consisted of a few more than the customary six balls. Fifteen off the first two soon became fifty off the first five. Runs came at such regularity and quantity that it was decided that fifty would be a fine score for forced retirement. The V&A openers were revelling in P Goodliffe’s early morning pitch work with N Constantine racing to his fifty and C Jonkers (38) looking very comfortable until an excellent ball was introduced to the top of his off stump. The Times, after a few early bowling changes settled on a pair and the run rate decreased slightly. N Emley, after surviving an early LBW appeal, made the most of the conditions with a well deserved 24. Newcomer to the team C Smith (33), took a boundary and a single to get his eye in and followed it up with a varied selection of the maximum and some beautifully placed fours. Lunch was called at precisely 13:30.
Lunch: Instead of opening a Thesaurus to the pages that contain the words “delicious”, “succulent” and “fucking tasty”, this writer has decided to cut and paste a review for the meal found on Tripadvisor.
V&A Cricket Club at Stonor CC (Oxfordshire RG9 6HF)
Well Good Lunch Innit.
Yeah booi, bare wicked food. I is a cricket fan and I is a eating fan, and I got bare hectic on bofe. Well lush beef, the animal kind, not the kind between Wiley and Drake. Salads wiff bean tings that is more banging dan a new pair Nike Airmax 2 (the ones with the white laces). Chung tomato salads bringing up the five a day. Brap! Brap! Brap to da chef.
Lady Birtwistle-Fothergill (47, St Reatham)
Lunch discussions swayed from a list on how to get banned in the wine trade to the best way to forge the Dutch Masters to whether it is possible to shoot a deer from a distance of 800 feet. There were also the usual lesser refined moments with multiple apologies being offered to the more easily offended that were caught in the crossfire of an animated story involving a German publication and its very specific gentleman target market.
Back on the field, the expected post-lunch fall of wickets was once again witnessed. M Bowden, who arrived sporting a decent attempt as a Village Person (tight shirt, tight jeans and tight jacket) played, in complete contrast to his outfit, with a very straight bat, to get to 22. At the end of the 35 overs V&A had amassed 235-8 at a solid 6.7 an over. Happy with the score, V&A swiftly took to the field in order to drop a few warm up catches.
Kavanagh, six foot seven and but looking as if he had shaved twice in his life, took on the responsibility of the new ball. The fear experienced by the batsman was only matched by the amazement of the V&A. First; Maiden. Second; Maiden. Third; Double wicket. Fourth; Maiden. Fifth; Maiden. Sixth; Double wicket maiden. At this stage the mutterings from the opposition became more vocal, which even apologies for his talent couldn’t quieten. Captain Nieboer had to change the bowler before the mutterings turned into rumblings. If Kavanagh was clearly the pick of the bowlers, then the pick of the appeallers was even more cleary A Jacot. A lovely ball just outside the off stump saw the batsman play a solid defensive, resulting in a thick outside edge and the ball scampering away to point. The lone appeal by one A Jacot scattered the deer relaxing in the manor grounds and unsettled several Red Kites. Tea was called with the Times far behind the required rate and showing no sign that the win was going to be attempted.
Again, a fantastic selection of sweets was on offer. V&A with the advantage, were happy enough with the situation to turn their attention to the Ashes playing through the team radio while the selection of cakes and biscuits digested. Unfortunately, this plan was scuppered due to the single outlet being commandeered for use by the dishwasher. J Boycott OBE [or possibly his better known relative G Boycott (ed.)] suitably silenced, some of the senior V&A members took it upon themselves to carry on where Jeffers left off discussing why cricket was better in the 50’s and 60’s. Fielding was rapidly resumed.
The rest of the game was as expected with 9 bowlers being used by the V&A and the Times never really being in it. After 35, the Times finished on 134-7, 101 short of the first innings total and a relatively straight forward win for the home team. Hands were shaken, benches were put away, match fees paid and the Crown was decided as the pub of choice where the opposition tried in vain to lure our strike bowler to join the ragmen.