Cricket appears to be the sacrificial lamb of sport in the modern age. Preference is given to footer, above all else, and the whole ‘vector of disease’ nonsense has done real damage to the chances of Boris Johnson retaining his status as Vice-President of the club. I bet there’s a lot more VD among footer players, and even politicians, than cricketers – we keep ourselves nice, even in the grips of a global pandemic. Don’t believe me? Just look at how manicured Mr. Jonkers’ beard is. He also wears a blazer on match day.
It was bloody good to be back and even better to do it against one of our more cherished opposition XI’s. The V&A have a long and occasionally feisty history with the Jags (last season’s fixture was one of the greats!) and they’re always up for it. Or at least seven of them were. At the toss neither team had an XI and Mounsey-Thear was due to bat at 6 and bowl for both teams. Two of Adam Chataway’s squad were in gridlock on the M4. Something about a car on fire. Jonkers, our first skipper of the 2020 season, mercilessly sent them in and the instruction was ‘no quarter.’ Actually, he didn’t say that, but in his hirsute state he does look like a character out of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels, so it seems apt.
There was an arresting moment as the V&A took to the field. Coming up the valley, the throaty warble of a Hawker Hurricane (we know) and Mustang (we think) greeted the players. It was all very ‘Land of Hope & Glory’, until Nicky reminded us that a local aerobatics enthusiast had crashed his plane in a field nearby during a game in 2019. That shut us up.
Horan and Mounsey-Thear opened the bowling. Everything seemed fine. The odd ball kept a trifle low but the fact that there was a wicket at all is a testimony to the good work of Nigel Allsop et al. We are much obliged to them, and especially to Nigel for his extremely detailed guidelines to keep us all safe and well. No one spat on the ball and hand-sanitizer is a wonderful conduit for reverse swing. Smiles all round!
The Jags started promisingly, with Chataway (10) and Ziegler (16) watchfully rotating the strike until Mounsey struck, dismissing the latter. Max Martin, a new addition to the V&A roster, then removed Chataway on the 7th ball of his first over. The off-side axis of Derewlany, Tetlow, Nieboer and Constantine all agreed that he’d done a Flintoff. Max is, I suspect, everything that ‘Big Fred’ was not: young, fit and clean of liver. This sets him apart from most of the V&A too, mind you. Mounsey then struck again, and the good start had become precarious at 33-3 off 10. Burton-Brown (17) and Eccles (19) got into their work against a brutal barrage from Nieboer.
At lunch the score was 65-3, with 22 overs bowled. As usual, the odd drop in the slips and the odd fumble in the outfield added colour to an otherwise gradual procession around the yard-arm. Everything was right with the world.
Usually, the interlude is Bacchanalian. However, with everyone bringing their own vittles, this was not the case. Nieboer did share some melon around though and that looked very appealing. Jonkers pepped up the thirsty with something sparkling from down the road. Radio Bird was busy with Adam Jacot. Phil Goodliffe turned his hearing-aids off, which was wise. Tetlow banged on about how much he hates Joe Root.
When the innings resumed, the wheels fell off quite suddenly. A mix up between the batsmen and some sharp work from Derewlany in the deep led to both men stranded in the middle of the wicket. Decent glovework from Poynter to remove the bails. In came Mounsey (23) who cut loose early, pulling the ball with elan to the boundary on several occasions. Constantine did Eccles in the air and Poynter had him stumped. Derewlany bowled Christey (2) before Mounsey clipped Constantine to midwicket, where a sprawling Tetlow took a smart catch low to his right. Jennings (0) got a good one, and Jonte Bowsfiled (1) had his wicket somewhat burgled by a rank long hop that he towed to Cow. ‘Village!’ I hear you cry. And Village it most certainly was. The two Jaguars of burning car/ gridlock fame batted at 10 and 11, seeing their side through to 111-9 from their 35 after five hours in the car. A touch light on the scoreboard, perhaps.
Tetlow (26) and Knight (0) opened for the V&A. Knight was triggered early by Nieboer. Sloping away from the wicket, the recalcitrant Knight suggested it may have hit him on the box (and thus nowhere near the stumps) but a cold beer and the joy of the outdoors soon calmed him down. Poynter (65) arrived at the crease and middled his first ball. And his second. And his third. In fact, in the 28 deliveries it took him to reach 51* he middled just about everything and the game was virtually over. Tetlow proved an able companion to the swashbuckling Poynter and accumulated well at the other end. When Poynter was dismissed, bowled by Jennings*, twenty three runs were required, with twenty one overs to spare. Derewlany (16*) scored quickly, Tetlow fell on his sword, and Nieboer (0*) ran a three for Derewlany and didn’t face a ball.
The Golden Ball beckoned many of us. No chips (their kitchen is closed) but they have a very quaint ordering system: through the hatch window by the bar. The sun shone, Derewlany & Tetlow regaled us with tales of their bonkers landlady in Montpellier who used to time them in the showers, and Jonkers and self discussed the merits of New & Lingwood linen shirts. His was forest green.
Normal service has been resumed.
*Actually caught on the boundary, giving his innings away to allow others to bat. [Ed.]