After some murmurings in the week about The Cricketers Club of London having gone cold, it transpired by Friday their fixture secretary was, in fact, dead.
Over in W11, our very own match manager and captain, Lachlan Nieboer, had been neutered by some virtual auditioning in his bedsit. Fortunately, the Authors had also lost their game that Saturday and following a few late evening sweet nothings to his beloved biographer, Charlie Campbell, the cats were herded to a sunny Stonor for 11:30.
On arrival, and in the bohemian absence of any coinage, we demanded to bat first and give our talented line-up a chance of putting on a show. Emley duly obliged. Having completed 8 balls in the nets and a cigarette, he was snaffled behind – out for a royal duck. That brought Derewlany to the crease. Overcompensating for something with his new willow, he joined opener Marsh at the crease, busily sporting the floppiest of floppy Stuart Broad hats at the non-striker’s.
The Authors bowled well early doors, but our batsmen played without error, displaying an array of classy back foot and front foot drives to bring up a run-a-ball century partnership. Derewlany (63) was tactically astute in being run out by Marsh on the stroke of lunch, allowing him to tuck in without hesitancy to his own fare, eschewing Nieboer’s Nicoise or Jago’s quite magical scotch eggs. Captain Nieboer added an unappetising duck to said Nicoise just after lunch, chopping straight to backward point. Marsh, joined by a kinetic Tetlow, brought up his 50 before being dismissed shortly after, leaving the V&A 130-4 and with some work to do.
The Authors failed to capitalise though, bowling some loose stuff for Tetlow and Constantine to recover, the latter making an enterprising 21 from 10 balls. An athletic catch brought Taylor Sr. to the middle, dispatching his first ball to the boundary with great fanfare from the sidelines. After some scything cuts through backward point, Tetlow Jr (43) succumbed to an agricultural hoik in the last over, leaving just enough time for Poynter to be run out without facing a ball. Taylor Sr finished 21* and the V&A a respectable 217.
In reply, the Authors made a cautious start. Horan, usually found with a ball in his hand, had tweaked his shoulder, paving the way for Jonkers and his brilliant white trousers to settle into an opening spell up the hill. (Horan later confirmed his whiplash had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with reversing his Zipcar into a hedge outside Lower Assendon the previous week).
Assisted by Captain Nieboer, the run rate was stunted and suppressed like a dangerous pandemic (see New Zealand & Denmark). Such was the need for The Authors to spike the run rate, their opening bat chanced his arm against Adam ‘Gordon Banks’ Jacot in the slips. Jacot palmed it to Derewlany, for the bearded Aussie to throw down the stumps.
Nieboer bowled their batsman at first-drop for 1 with a bail-trimmer and the V&A were well on the way. Jacot then started hurling balls down at the new batsmen, which they didn’t much like, scoring only 12 from his 5 stylish overs. The Authors were reminded at regular intervals by Messrs. Derewlany and Emley of the required run rate. No doubt their surviving opener heard all the chatter, given he pointedly paused proceedings each time the faintest echo of Radio Bird or Tetlow frequencies ranged in from square leg.
No such issues for Phil Goodliffe though. Our keeper/scorer, too far away to lip-read “TEA AT 4:30”, bellowed 36 times from long-on to the pavilion. Bird amusingly says he often phones Goodliffe but never gets anywhere, overhearing Goodliffe on the receiver reporting back to his wife: “Nope, there’s nobody there…”.
Goodliffe joined us on field after the interval, demanding the swashbuckling (batsmen) Poynter to “aim at me” after a wayward start to what was, in the end, an excellent bowling spell of 6 overs 1 for 23. That sole dismissal brought 13 year old Felix Horsham to the crease. He was greeted to V&A men’s cricket by Emley labelling umpire Bird a “C*&T” all the way from Gully, on account that he didn’t know his left arm, over the wicket from his right arm, over the wicket. Umpire Bird retorted back that cricket was a “fucking complicated game”, but Horsham Jr. took the verbal ambience in his stride and made the game look far from complicated with bat in hand.
Taylor Sr had a bowl and was unlucky to see a catch dropped in the deep. Constantine set about his usual middle over burglaries, bowling with guile to pick up an impressive 3 for, adding to his 4 scalps the previous week. Horsham Sr made his way to the crease only to be run out after a mix up with his son, who finished 14*.
The moment of the day, though, was Horsham Jr straight driving a full fast delivery from Neiboer back over the bowler’s head for four. In fetching the ball from the long-grass, Tetlow wryly asked if he needed to stay on the boundary rope. The offer was quickly declined – with Nieboer opting to break the Sussex colt’s bat instead, with a fierce yorker just two balls later.
The Authors finished on 121 from their 35 overs and joined us at the Golden Ball. No chips or draught beer this time, but some aggressive turkeys roamed and entertained to add to the occasion. Christiaan “the turkey whisperer” Jonkers tamed them, stroking their feathers until they sat subdued on the turf. You could say “the turkeys voted for Christiaan”, but I wouldn’t, because that’d be a terrible way to end a debut match report.
by Joe Tetlow
Ed. It is worth noting for the good name of The V&A that the Nick’s Bird & Emley don’t make a habit of swearing loudly at one another on the pitch in front of juvenile opposition. However, one sympathises in this case. Bill Bryson once said “I understand cricket – what’s going on, the scoring – but I can’t understand why”. Perhaps he is on to something…