The Townies have been playing us for about 15 years. The connection is Sarah Jenkins, who sold her Cornwall house to the Winters family – George Winters is the Townies’ founder. They used to come with a collection of WAGS but now, as Adam Knight commented, they are more Ws than Gs, and they have 2.8 children apiece plus 4X4s. They make a jolly crowd and their picnic lunches looked better than mine (a BLT without the L or, as it turned out, the B). Lachlan’s lunch is top-of-the-range, a colour supplement melange of goodies, healthy green stuff with some exotic kernels from a banyang tree or something. No wonder he is super fit and bowls at 80 mph. Someone said he is the thinking woman’s thesp. But he is more than that. He can bat too, and with intelligence; some of us are a bit too cavalier. Incidentally, Christiaan’s tipple a week ago was a top-of-the-range red which he scoffed with Constantine, who provided the lunch fare (beef, salad). Cost of bottle at today’s prices: £100. Nick C got the better deal. Thankfully they didn’t talk the usual bollocks about ‘raspberry notes’, as though it was a fucking symphony.
We batted first on a fabulously hot day. Nick P-G and Jago opened (very sensibly, for a bit) against sound bowling from young Charlie Hunt (son of farmer James) and Dyer. Nick was correct, and was soon timing the shot off his legs sweetly. Pity about the red beard but it is some sad attempt at preserving youth, which fails. Jago (17) hit the ball nicely – two 4s and one lovely 6 over the road – before a slight rush of blood and a top edge (off Charlie) to George W behind the sticks, who had to run a bit to catch it. P-G (19) suddenly skied one to slip, having a second before pledged ‘to stay till lunch.’ Rob T came in and was uncharacteristically subdued until caught behind off Dyer, for 6. Enter Nick D, our skip, who looked set for a big score before being bowled by James Hunt for 22. When Joe Tetlow was out for 4 we were in trouble. I had done some umpiring but otherwise fuck all really, so I busied myself talking at Christiaan until suddenly, with the collapse, he was called in to bat and I had lost my audience. But I settled down to watch Jonkers smack the bowling; the way he walked in gave confidence, Bothamesque in his swinging arms and dancing steps. He faced James Hunt, their maestro. But Jonkers has brio and technique aplenty. But not this day. Out first ball, LBW, plumb. Then the long trudge back to the pav.
With the collapse, the run rate slowed and we were no longer looking at 220 odd off our 35 overs. But Lachlan and Max Martin batted with craft. Lachlan was cautious, batting defensively for his first few overs, then walloping 4s and 6s for a valuable 36*, with 14 coming from the last over. Max scored briskly for his chanceless 28*. But we had only scored 160 on a batting wicket. Not enough? I said to anyone who would listen (not many) that it all depended on James Hunt. He could destroy us with his batting but if he was out their tail was long. James once played with us, for several seasons, as a boy and he was a great asset. But he was poached by Turville Park, the bastards.
I had a nice chat with Annette Jacot, Adam’s mum, who has not been well. Adam mentioned, in passing, that I show him less respect than his mother. And why was I rude about him and not others in the V&A in match reports? He is, I fear, an easy target with his eccentricities and stubble that make him look like a poor man’s Clint Eastwood. We discussed the need for props or gimmicks in self-promotion, how marketing is king, the product secondary. General MacArthur was nothing without his corncob pipe, Hitler would have been forgotten without his moustache, and the swastika (great logo!) – and Goebbels to do the marketing; beards made Lincoln and Castro; St Paul made Jesus into a worldwide brand. Adam Jacot’s stubble is clearly part of this process. I also looked at Jago’s pots on his phone. Go to his website, The Chelsea Potter. Genius. He even overcame the handicap of the Cardiff School of Art.
The Townies went in and it looked like Lachlan was too good for them (2 for 24 off 6). He bowled George W first ball, and their other opener for 14. Adam Knight (1 for 45 off 7) bowled their No. 3 and Nick D (1 for 19 off 5) trapped their No. 4 for 15. They were struggling. But we had an attacking field (perhaps too much so), and there were runs to be had. James Hunt and Ed Watson started upping the score. James batted with an eye on the scoreboard, merely hitting the loose one, and of course it came. We couldn’t get him out, despite tight overs from Jacot (0 for 5 off 3), Jonkers (0 for 13 off 4) and Rob Taylor (0 for 19 off 5). Joe Tetlow’s 0 for 15 off 2 might have looked better stats-wise if he’d been cheaper and got a wicket, but he didn’t. We dropped a few tricky chances; Nick P-G rued a miss in the covers that his (even) younger self might have palmed.
There was one near stumping and several confident LBW appeals but from where I was talking (at the pav) they all looked much too far forward. The turning point came when there was a confident appeal for caught behind. But neither the umpire nor batsman heard anything, or if they did it was presumed to be a thigh. So it was not out. I give credit to young umpires who stand by their convictions in the face of our persuasive appealing. I was umpiring once when Jonkers was bowling and he appealed for an LBW that was backed by all the mathematical logic you’d expect from this graduate in Sums from Lady Margaret Hall: if the ball was going to hit the stumps (as it was) it was technically ‘out’. He was right, but I hadn’t been looking. He can, however, be extremely tactful. I recently offered him, as a dealer in used books, my father’s library. He said ‘no thanks’. I asked how much it was worth. ‘Not much.’
Unfortunately (for us) Hunt and Watson batted calmly and competently and in the penultimate over needed only 6 to win, which James scored with a mighty heave to mid-wicket.
A lovely family day in the sun, with the finish undecided until the end. One wicket and we were at a long tail. As compensation for our first defeat of 2020 England won the Test. A ‘silver lining’. A phrase, as any fule kno, coined by Milton. Who went blind but failed to cash in on the marketing opportunities. Disability sells, as Nelson proved, the hottest ‘A List’ celeb of his time before he made the ultimate career move at Trafalgar, and prospered in the plaster bust market.