ANOTHER DANK DAY, RAIN THREATENING. I had seen this coming in the week and tried (hard) to resist captain Adam’s powers of persuasion. But he does have a way with words – and had “kept a space available” just for me. Me and the 9 other mugs he charmed, that is.
It was Father’s Day and quite a family affair. We were notionally playing the “All Sorts”, but it was more of a ‘Jacot invitational’. There were at least 6 Jacot’s in the vicinity by my count, 3 of which were playing. Nicky insulted the matriarch, concluding she must have been watching cricket for about 100 years. She’s not much older than him.
Louis, a young member of their clan, sporting long-hair and a big grin, opened up for the oppo. Swinging his bat like Charlie Gilmour on the cenotaph, he was fortunate to be reprieved on several occasions. Gilmour wasn’t so lucky. His defence of “I didn’t know it was the cenotaph, your honour” was a particularly shit defence – being the history student at Cambridge that he was.
Whilst Louis got out of jail, Max Martin – a useful local recruit of ours – picked up the first wicket, snaring Weir off his own bowling. Max, another history student, is apparently off to Sandhurst next year. A complete waste of time and money. The Stonor pitch is as good as Passchendaele – and we have radio ‘battlefield’ Bird at our disposal, or is it the other way around?
The batting was good. Even Adam couldn’t stem the flow, despite a few half-chances. They spiked our guns, sent us retreating to the long-grass and pissed on our tents. By lunch, the “All sorts” were going at a rate of 10 an over for the loss of only 1 wicket. Leftover tomato salad was scant consolation, though chatter about Lachlan’s tribulations with the opposite sex is often a reliable tonic. Woolhouse declared he had a Groucho Club anecdote, which was that he had seen Joanna Lumley there once, probably. James Dreyfus in Notting Hill springs to mind. Someone (might have been the same fellow) then mentioned the acronym “CFO” thrice in one sentence and I went inside to stare at a wall instead.
Sean Gleason unshackled himself from wicketkeeping responsibilities to bowl tidily with Jonkers after lunch. Jonkers, becalmed by some sort of ailment, bowled well off just a few paces. Picture Shane Warne, without any wickets, or Liz Hurley.
In my new role, behind the stumps, I politely enquired if Louis was approaching his century. He treated it as rhetorical, skipping down the track to bunt the ball over long-on to bring it up. First match he’s played in two years, he then said. Useful. The other chap, down in the scorebook as “A. Hood”, followed suit. His innings was chanceless. Together they put on 200 before Max, returning at the last, had Louis caught brilliantly at mid-wicket by Woolhouse. The score to chase was 256, or thereabouts.
Martin Shenfield, often a stalwart with the bat for opposing teams, looked good before he was out bowled for 7. Clayman, blessed with the voice of stardom, hit some Hollywood fours – and then was caught for 16. Woolhouse and I kept pace with the run rate, sacrificing the former’s hamstrings in the process (he has two). For the second game in a week, a runner was required. Gleason, having been gently teased for putting his kit on (box, helmet, the lot) without being given a batting position, was primed and ready to fill the void.
The bowling was energetic, but wayward, owing to the slippery conditions. We did well to punish the bad balls and at tea, hope remained, with the score about 100-2. The caffeine break failed to have its desired effect. Turns out the Jacot chap who could bat, could also bowl. It’s often the way in cricket. He did for Woolhouse (18), myself (47) and Tom Bird (13) in quick succession. Max Martin played nicely for his 26, before being stumped off a medium pacer.
Gleason (2), perhaps tired from running duties, didn’t last long – going back to a full delivery. He asked afterwards how much he should spend on a new bat. I said how much they cost, rather than the value he might derive.
The game then meandered slightly, though Jonkers insisted we only needed 12 an over, as he spanked one for 6 and muttered something about being coached by D’Oliveria at Worcestershire in his youth, whenever that was.
As the innings petered out, George Jacot (10 years old) came onto bowl from some portable stumps erected on the sodden surface. Sporting a white wristband, straw blonde hair, and a lengthy run-up, there were shades of Stuart Broad. Jonkers, on a hiding to nothing, succumbed to the young gun – attempting to mercilessly whack him out of the park.
Having earlier infused the dressing room with his giant reefer, Bowden saw out the overs with aplomb, accompanied by Adam. We fell short by a good 70 runs in the end and departed for the Golden Ball.
The landlady kindly served up leftover roast beef, wrapped in Yorkshire puddings, which pleased the crowd. Clayman then entertained us with a story about an organic turkey farm in the 80’s. He said a friend had once ordered and paid for his Christmas turkey in June – and then when he came to collect it from the farm, the farmer handed him a long knife and showed him the field. It took him over an hour to catch the smallest turkey. Christiaan, our very own turkey whisperer, looked bemused.
News filtered through that the World Test Championship had been washed out down at the Ageas Bowl. Ollie Marsh, who I have carelessly “lost to the Free Foresters”, also had his parade rained on. Trick is, play your cricket at Stonor and you’ll get a game, even if you do get battered.
by Joe Tetlow