Before beginning this report, the author would like to extend his deepest apologies to Messrs. Emley, Jones & Tetlow who have been waiting an entire week to see their names in lights. I beg your collective indulgence.
The Royal Household haven’t had a fixture against the V&A for a jolly long time. Traditionally based at Frogmore (Windsor way, near some sort of castle apparently) where opposition are invited to attend (Queenie included, I might add) – it has not been forthcoming. I suspect one of the V&A from days of yore used a fish knife for the salad, or something. However, with the Royal Parks closed to make sure HRH doesn’t catch Covid from the great unwashed, the Household are homeless and it was our pleasure to host them.
A timed game had been agreed in advance, a format favoured by traditionalists of the sport who enjoy the nuance of a winning, losing or indeed ‘honourable’ draw. The toss was won by the V&A and the Household were invited to bat first on a wicket that, despite another inclement week of weather, looked like a proper wicket should! Chapeau to the groundsman for laying the foundations for what turned out to be something of a run fest.
Tetlow charged in down the hill and bowled with pace and guile. He has a sprightly, bounding approach to the crease which is a joy to watch. His accuracy (once a source of great amusement to a few of our number, and of great consternation to Phil Goodliffe behind the sticks) has markedly improved. I should think he’ll be leading wicket taker come the end of the season. Jones charged in up the hill from the other end. A man who is constantly putting his body on the line for the V&A cause: he fields the ball with his shins and kneecaps, catches with his chest, and will bowl a 12 ball over so that those around him need not exert themselves. It’s just a shame that wides count for the opposition.
Lawson and Maxfield batted well as a pair after Tetlow dismissed Skirrow. When Maxfield was dismissed by self with the score at 104 for 2 from 16 overs the Household held the upper hand. Jonkers, with his new tweakers, kept the rate at bay and both Andrew Wayland and Adam Jacot threatened the middle order. A late flurry of wickets curtailed the innings and, after slapping the ball about with aplomb, captain Crofts declared their innings on 207-8 from 38 overs. It is worth noting that the V&A top scored in this innings, offering 56 extras to the opposition, including 40 wides. That must be a record, I should think.
Lunch was a rather jolly affair. Dear Leader, Nicky Bird, regaled the table with a tale about Prince Philip being rather rude about colonial art whilst within earshot of both Nicky and the artist. Annette Jacot, our most dedicated spectator, was very kind about my salads and Nicky once again provided a perfectly rare joint of cold roast beef, and all the beer. He gets the butch bits of catering, upon his insistence.
The V&A required 208 to win and the feted pairing of Poynter and Pritchard-Gordon took to the crease. Poynter is a man in fine form this season. He is a fluent and effortless striker of the ball when he gets going but has added an element of moderation to his innings of late, much to the joy of various V&A skippers. NPG gave up much of the strike and added a few runs to his average for the season. Tetlow fell cheaply to the Household’s excellent spinner, which brought Emley to the crease to partner Poynter with the score at 34-2 from 10.
Nick Emley has been threatening to retire from cricket for as long as I’ve known him. However, he is spry in the field and covers the ground faster than V&A members half his age. He still puts bad balls away to the boundary, too. But above all, he suits a timed game. His 33* from 89 balls included some glorious cuts, clips and drives and anchored the V&A innings, enabling us to set up a late charge for victory. He also lingered at the crease for well over two hours, which is quite some effort on a very warm day. Don’t give up yet, Nick!
I ran past a good one, which brought Jones to the crease. We joked (after he was dismissed, naturally) that he actually started his innings with Net -22 because of all the aforementioned wides, but his 62 (off just 46 deliveries) was a joy to behold and he very nearly took us over the line. The term ‘seeing it like a football’ comes to mind. Four towering sixes, clearing fielders with yards to spare, punctuated an innings of classy stroke-play and brutal hitting.
The game had changed; with a handful of overs remaining the chase looked less likely by the minute. It was time to drop anchor and bat for the draw. Jonkers, ever the man for a crisis, fell to the spin of Turner in the final over. Wayland did the same two balls later, but Jacot thrust his front pad down the wicket twice to secure the draw.
Honours even, and with the game played in a truly convivial spirit, we all repaired to the Golden Boules for pints and chips. A special mention must go to Rory, the umpire, who stood at both ends for every over of both innings and dealt each team stern warnings with impartiality and sand. Top man. We’ll call it an Honourable Draw.
The Royal Household CC 207-8 dec. (Lawson 45, Constantine 27-2, Wayland 28-2); V&A 172-7 (Jones 62, Poynter 52, Turner 34-5)