V&A PLAYERS: J. Tetlow (c), C. Jonkers, L. Nieboer, A. Jacot, A. Knight, C. Mounsey-Thear, C. Hunt, M. Wright, N. Emley, P. Goodliffe, N. Bird
The Thebertons are run by Tim Young QC, and named after a street in his native Islington. As he said during my luncheon peroration we have been playing each other for over 35 years or so. He was about Charlie Hunt’s age, once, but mature; you could tell he was a lawyer ‘cos he said things like ‘be that as it may’ and ‘I put it to you with respect’ but he was always modest about his cricket, with good reason.
Anyway, the ‘Thebs’ are a diverse lot nowadays. Yes, they are replete with barristers, but they have some solicitors too. Though they seem to be pretty white and gender-specific unlike ourselves with that actor chappie with dyed hair (who claims it was for a film role). We also span the generations with a 14-year old (Charlie) and Adam Jacot. Sarah Jenkins finally made it to cater – entirely acceptable fayre – which upped the age range, but she would be niftier between the wickets than me. She had ditched the filthy pâté thank God. If Covid didn’t get you her pâté would. Incidentally, someone caught me in the ladies lav (much nicer than the gents at Stonor) but it is ok ‘cos I am trans and identify for lavatorial purposes as a woman.
It rained heavily around 12.30 and we took early lunch. By that time the Thebs, who won the toss in a 35-over game, had stuttered to about 50 for 3, having at one point been 13 for 3, the damage being done by our openers Lachlan (2 wickets) and Adam Knight (a nice catch by Hunt at mid-wicket). Joe Tetlow, a wise and diplomatic skipper as befits a man in politics, took them off and brought on Charlie H, the farmer’s son (whose Dad played with us 30 years ago), and Christiaan, now bowling his less ferocious stuff because of decrepitude. However, less you sneer at the disabled, I should mention that Jonkers and Mounsey-Thear, perhaps not Usain Bolt to look at, nevertheless can also move better than myself, who some think a Bolt doppelganger.
Tetlow tried to hide me in the field but the ball found me on occasions though I did not find the ball. Having got their best batsmen out for nothing much, partly through excellent bowling, partly through the dead pitch which invites catches, I feared an early visit to the pub. But Neil Foster rode his luck (he was dropped three times) and steered the Thebs to 85 before their No. 4, Sutton, was run out through a brilliant throw from Joe and balletic footwork by Jonkers at the bowler’s end. Hunt lured a bloke called Imac into whacking a ball towards Lachlan at silly mid-off. It was going high and wide until this very no-trans athlete swooped and caught the thing, after some playful juggling. ‘Imac’ is the name of a pubic hair remover but he was no relation apparently. 95 for 5. The outfield was sodden and slow so, as Emley suggested, 100 would be an ok score. It was to be rather more, despite two wickets from Jonkers (one a fine stumping by the sprightly Phil G) and a beautiful ball from Jacot that finally bowled Neil for 51. He might have been caught by Chris on 10, and by Knight, and by Jonkers (who, however, caught a beauty in the gully off Nieboer to dismiss their No. 3). Joe Tetlow bowled at the tail-enders and cleverly mixed the menu to confuse the batsmen, a melange of no-balls and wides and full tosses so the poor batsman had no idea whether to hit the ball to the square leg boundary or over Joe’s head. The Thebs reached 151, a very respectable total. But we had batting in depth, although the pitch might intrude.
We opened with Emley – fresh from his triumphant 33* about which he was modestly reticent – and Matt Wright. The bowling was good(ish). Matt was caught for 2; Chris M-T walked in, and started to smack the ball nicely, while Emley played the anchor but square cutting with style. We stopped for tea after 15 overs (after a lot of hesitation which upset the tea lady) with the score around 30 for 1.
Tea was rather disappointing, partly ‘cos the kiddies had scoffed most of it before we got there. But there were no cucumber sandwiches, no scones and the Typhoo is a bit downmarket; Sarah says the riff-raff we get know no better. We had the usual pretentious discussions about etymology and the definition of bounder and cad. I can elucidate – a cad is a subaltern who seduces the commanding officer’s daughter. A bounder is a captain who seduces the commanding officer’s wife. At one point, I was languidly leaning on the railings when the word ‘flaneur’ was mentioned. Adam or Christiaan said it meant a sort of al fresco lounge lizard, a boulevardier perhaps, so hardly apt in my case, a man from downmarket Acton married to a woman from Birmingham. We discussed availability for the next game and there was a chorus of ‘I’ll have to get permission’ which prompted talk of who was shit scared of their missus and who wasn’t. With most, like Chris, it is a question of protracted negotiation which would make the Yalta Conference a simple deal. Frankly, I would prefer dealing with Stalin than with my wife, and now that I’m banned from Richmond Bridge Club (for cheating) I don’t need the wife to make up a four.
What happened next was crucial to the outcome of the match. Mounsey-Thear is a Director of Freud’s and helps run government PR. He was called away because of some crisis, perhaps with Boris’s randy doggy Dilyn, or a new Covid variant from Sidcup. Anyway, Joe T came in to bat in Chris’s temporary absence but was brilliantly caught when chasing a wide (for 5). Our balance was upset, and despite some fine batting from Charlie (13) – who is going to be a huge asset with his leggies and sound technique – and stalwart defence by Nick Emley (15), we stumbled. Lachlan had just hit a 4 and a 6 when he unwisely cross-batted one on middle and leg, missed and was bowled (for 14). Our very strength in batting had made us complacent. Adam Knight smacked two beautiful sixes before being adjudged LBW by umpire Emley, fairly admitted Adam. Chris returned to the fray and though he walloped a boundary his head may not have been right – the crisis with Dilyn’s legoveritis might have discombobulated him and he was caught in the deep (for 23). In the end Bird N. (9) and Goodliffe (3*) gave a masterclass in pointless batting, occupying the crease for too many overs with no hope of anything except delaying the trip to The Rainbow (the Golden Ball being closed). The V&A made 113.
Back in the pavilion I discussed religion (see below), as you do after a game where the gods had not smiled on us. They caught their catches, we dropped five. At one point Chris dropped a crucial one at deep mid-wicket and shouted ‘C*nt!’. Luckily Annette didn’t know the word, and Nick Emley couldn’t hear.
The religious topic was an old one. The only certain atheist in the world is the Pope. Because he is God’s man on earth and thus knows that God will speak to him. But God doesn’t. He is silent. Thus the Pope knows God doesn’t exist.
There is a Vatican cricket XI, incidentally, The Vatican (St Peter’s) Cricket Team, made up of priests – they’ve played The Royal Household, supped with the Queen. Next year they tour England again but if they play us do not shout ‘C*nt!’ from deep mid-wicket, mutter it quietly.
Thebertons 151-8 off 35 overs (Foster 51); V&A 113 all out (Mounsey-Thear 23, a bloke in ‘Shorts’ 3-27). Thebertons won by 38 runs