V&A vs. The Invalids CC
23rd May 2021
V&A V T&C XI, 2021
V&A v Town & Country XI
7th June 2021
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V&A and Jesmond Jaguars vs. Star XI


It being a bank holiday weekend we were short and our opposition, Jesmond Jaguars, were too; so we combined and found a very nice team to play against, Star of Hackney. Many of this mostly Sikh team were new to village cricket and the vagaries of our pitch, but revelled in the view and the kites and the hens in the Golden Ball. They may not have revelled in my chatter in the pub but they got it anyway and laughed at my joke(s). I do not get that sort of politeness, however forced, at home. My present wife is quite rude and says my throat problem is entirely caused by talking bollocks.

Chris Mounsey-Thear made the day. He it was who found the Star XI; AND he made the fabulous lunch of all manner of meats and salads. When I got there at 10.45 he was busy chopping and cooking and stuffing the mushrooms. He has a wife and two girls to support too, and he has suffered endless meetings with Dominic Cummings, who he reports is not as nice as he looks.

While Chris the cuisinier ponced about, Adam Chataway, the Jags’ tactful captain, skippered the combined XI. In a 35-over game Star batted first. Almost immediately their two openers, Singh D. and Singh S. were out, one bowled by Jonkers C. and the other run out. On the touchline I muttered to Constantine M. that ‘this is going to be awkward, we look a bit too good’ but I reckoned without Adam Chataway’s mastery of the delicate situation. He put on two ‘occasional’ bowlers. Not ‘shite’ exactly, just a bit less than terrifying. It is a rum game when Jonkers is taken off for being too good.

Adam’s ruse worked, and Star started to make a real game of it. In fact, Singh L. (62) and Dillon (73*) walloped us for over 100 runs, until Mounsey came from the kitchen to bowl Dillon. Eccles got their last two batsmen out cheaply and they finished their 35 overs on 170. With a slow outfield that was not a bad score. Our only mistake was a rather strange botched catch by Nick P-G. A skier went to him at long on. He positioned himself perfectly. The ball plopped into his cupped hands. And then fell harmlessly to the floor. Funny how you can do everything right and then fuck up.

Luncheon was taken outside and was perfection. At one stage a kite swooped and flew off with some pork crackling nestling on Singh, D.’s plate (kites are non-denominational, they eat pork, ham and fish on Fridays) which he said does not happen often in Hackney. Funnily enough, a kite has never been known to pinch Sarah Jenkins’ pâté.

Annette Jacot came with her crossword. Before lunch she witnessed her boy Adam catch a really tricky one (diving forward). Or she would have witnessed it if she’d been looking. So I filled her in on the details so she could bluff. At my table over lunch we did a bit of Bashir bashing, and then moved on to whether trans men have periods and whether you can have a phantom hangover like a phantom pregnancy. As well as agreeing that Judas Iscariot gets a bad press, like Cummings, and maybe should write his own version of events.

After lunch we opened with Henry Turpie and the Jags’ Taylor, who was out cheaply for 3. In walked Traill, a Jags’ stalwart. Both he and Turpie batted beautifully to put on about 100 until Sunny bowled Traill who had just made 50, and was unselfishly allowing someone else to have a swipe, the victory now seemingly assured. Turpie had said to me, while I was umpiring, ‘we’re going to win this quite easily’.  And so it seemed, particularly when the ageless Chataway smacked a few. But Henry T – on 45 – whacked a tremendous drive straight into the bowler’s hands, and Zegler was bowled by Sunny for 9 and we were 133 for 4. Watching from the boundary I was reminded of England middle order collapses and wondered if we were prone to these jitters. But we had batting a-plenty, surely. In walked the mighty Nick Constantine. And promptly skied one to the keeper. Out for 0. His Dad was not impressed. Nor was his brother, there to watch him bat. But we had Jacot, a wily campaigner. He came out and asked Jonkers, the umpire, what he should do. ‘Block the one on the wicket and smack the loose one, we only need 4 an over.’ So he did just that. Or rather he smacked the one on the wicket, missed it and was bowled (for 0). Nick P-G is your man in a crisis and is nippy between the sticks. He called for a quick single, was sent scurrying back and was run out. We were suddenly 134 for 8.  But in came Mounsey-Thear, and hit the ball with precision and blocked the straight one. We were cruising.

Then came the pivotal moment. Chris let a widish ball go through to the keeper. There was a pause. Chis ambled out and prodded the turf. The keeper threw down the bails and appealed excitedly. Howzat??!! Other joined in, as if aware that the portly diminutive figure of Mounsey-Thear was the only thing stopping an unlikely win. The umpire hesitated. But Chris did not. At the same time as the finger went up so Mounsey walked out, with a cheery nod to the keeper. It was in best tradition of International Diplomacy and avoided any possible rancour. Umpire Jonkers thought some pressure had been put on an uncertain umpire and told Star so – but in his most umpompous manner. Let no man say he reminds them of Capt Mainwaring. Poor Jonkers buggered a muscle bending down and was hors de combat most of the day. Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn, but there are exceptions. Age has fucked my knees.

Our last two men, Eccles and Sat, needed about 27 in three overs. It was not to be, Sat was bowled by Raj, their skip, for 6. We were all out for 135.

Defeat from the jaws of victory. But a really good day with lovely opposition who drove 3.5 hours to get to us. In the pub we enjoyed the chips, and Raj and his mates enjoyed the chickens looking authentically free range. One of them said that in Hackney chickens come shrink wrapped.