I am a great fan of Henry Turpie. Although he has never captained the V&A before he is clearly an experienced skipper, and doesn’t flap or lose focus or get upset by some arse talking bollocks behind the wicket like Emley or me. Actually, neither of us were playing, my athleticism wasn’t needed as we were quorate and Emley sent a text at 11.30 a.m. to say he’d been herded by diversions into the car park at Heathrow’s Term. 3 and so – ‘fuck it, am fucking off to fucking Wiltshire’. You can always tell a Cambridge man by his command of English. Perhaps Emley picked up his patois doing porridge. Jonkers learnt more useful things like picking locks. Turpie had none of my advantages of birth. He went to a grim boarding school in Dorset, with Baz and Jago, but he remained uncorrupted. They had girls at Bryanston which started a lifelong interest. Adam noted, with unwonted surprise, that he is a superlative batsman and ‘should go up the order’. Indeed.
We batted first in a 35-over game – on a pitch which misbehaved, though it got better when the oppo batted. It was the lifter that disconcerted. We were soon in trouble. Jonkers looked great walking in and swinging his arms like Botham but not so great when he was out second ball, adjudged LBW by umpire Rob Taylor, fresh from his wedding in Cork. It was a brave decision. Jonkers is a big man in every sense, and fleet of foot, and doesn’t like umpires who give him out for technicalities like the ball was going to hit the wicket. My umpiring has always been based on three factors – Is the batsman bigger than me? Do I owe him money? Would we be in trouble if he was out?
In came Constantine and out went Constantine, attempting a wallop to leg but getting a top edge. 0 for 2. Oh dear. But there was resistance from new batsman Nick Derewlany, playing in vomit green boots, and opener Shaun Chande. But just after smacking a nice boundary to the pavilion Chande was magnificently caught (for 10) repeating the smack. Legends caught some superb catches and only missed a couple of slip chances.
We were struggling at 32 for 3. Their bowling was excellent; on a wicket where it shot and leapt it was sometimes unnerving. But Nick D, an Australian by birth but quite couth, and Andy Jones (No 5) – suffering from alcohol abuse – stopped the rot until Jones (11) was bowled by their star man Petty (4 for 25). We were 55 for 4 with some of our best batsmen sitting in the pavilion blaming the pitch or their hangover (I counted five hangovers, testament to ill-discipline – before match days I eschew drink and would refuse the tea lady if she threatened my focus). But Nick D and incoming batsman Rob Taylor began a fight back. Nick is more classical than Rob, whose masterpiece is the hook, at its best Sobers-like, at its worst a blind swipe before the trudge to the pav. This time it worked brilliantly, and when Taylor was finally out caught for 31, and Nick bowled for 24, the rate was much more respectable. But we were 120 for 6 and, as the skipper said, hoping for 150 at best, not enough. However, encouraged by his fellows, the modest Turpie, down to bat at No. 11, put himself in – and what a difference he made! In just two overs, with the steady Matt Wright, they put on 30 runs which turned the innings round. If the change bowlers were less than venomous the pitch was still playful, so their devastation was the more impressive. Turpie hit five 4s and a 6 before being caught for 44. In the end we scored an unlikely 181, with a late flurry from Matt (31*) and Tetlow, whose physical state was clear from his dark glasses, pallor and trembling hands.
Lunch was the usual fayre, butch stuff from me (filet de boeuf rôti à la Morrison’s, budget chicken thighs) and poncey salads with Greek things from Nick Constantine. Mention must be made of the beautiful cakes cooked by Lizzi Constantine, and her Mary Poppins act in the kitchen where everything is cleaned and put away magically. I fear certain V&A players let themselves down by descending into scatology – a discussion about snarging, which is the name for bicycle seat sniffing. Or worse. I come down hard on such things and rarely succumb to such indulgence. My father game me sound advice as to how to conduct myself in life – ‘Never cheat at cards or write on lavatory walls unless it is absolutely necessary.’ We celebrated Rob’s wedding at luncheon with Sainsbury’s discount champagne – none the worse for being on offer. Rob had survived his stag night, free from grannygrams, tasers, a night in the cells and similar japes (unlike his brother). He is still married.
We opened our bowling with Tetlow and Andy Jones. I have alleged previously that Tetlow bowls ‘shite’ sometimes. I think this unfair. Many balls land on the pitch, or quite close to it. Against the Legends he was almost as accurate as Lachlan, only occasionally sending a ball to Berkshire. The first wicket was a bizarre run-out. The ball was hit to Jacot at mid-off, a safe run you might have thought. The batsman did. But Tetlow intervened, grabbed the ball, rushed towards the stumps and threw the ball from ten feet and dislodged a bail. However, the batsman dismissed didn’t look to me like a major threat and they soon settled into a nice rhythm, although scoring a little under the run rate. Their opener, Coulthurst, was an elegant batsman and began to hit boundaries, alarmingly. He was supported by Ogram, until his stumps were wrecked by a ferocious ball from Tetlow. Then Cope came in, a solid stroke player, unfazed by Jonkers’ two overs, Jacot’s accuracy, Constantine’s offies or Horan’s pace. They were 140 for 4 and having upped the rate were coasting. Or so I thought. I said so to Annette, but she was walking round the boundary. When she got back she told me how she went out with Ted Dexter, our late President, when she was 20. But Adam is definitely not Ted’s son, you can tell from his batting.
Odds on a Legends win were shortening when Turpie put Derewlany on. What an inspired change!
First Derewlany bowled Cope (39); then he had their No. 5, Spriggs, nicely caught by our skip; then he lured their No. 6, Koj, into skying one to Wright, the keeper. Legends soon needed 28 off 4 overs. 7 an over is not daunting. Not when their man Coulthurst is in command. But a quicker one from Nick D seemed to glance Coulthurst’s glove or bat. An appeal. The umpire hesitated. Did the batsman, he enquired, perchance snick it? A pause. Mr Coulthurst pondered the question. And walked. A gent. In the last two overs the Legends needed 9 an over. With Nick bowling, against tail enders it was unlikely. There was a run-out. I wasn’t watching (not tension, merely distracted by 7 Down in the Telegraph Crossword). In the last over 15 were needed. Possible? No. They reached 173, 9 short of victory. What a game!
We went to The Rainbow afterwards and I canoodled with Jean, mine hostess. Just like old times. But my hair is grey and hers is bright red for some reason. I used to play darts until asked to desist after I tried for double top but hit a pork pie. A minor problem of direction. Tetlow would sympathise.
V&A: 181 for 8 (Derewlany 24; R. Taylor 31; Turpie 44; Wright 31*; Pettle 4 for 25). LEGENDS: 173 for 7 (Coulthurst 46; Cope 39; Derewlany 4 for 15)