Nick Bird (above, headless) holding the 2006 Fixture Card with its cover featuring Sir Garry Sobers, who is seated with Ted Dexter at a Hilton Hotel function. Ted seemed a bit confused and didn't recall his status as our President, but it was late and the evening had been convivial.
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V&A v. The Bushmen

In the Clubhouse

V&A PLAYERS:V&A Players: R. Taylor (c), O. Marsh, A. Jacot, N. Derewlany, J. Tetlow, L. Nieboer, T. Bird, V. Grantham, T. Grantham, B. Horan, T. Pritchard-Gordon, N. Bird (12th Man)


Match reports are tricky. The rules are to be complimentary of the opposition; the tea lady; Stonor CC; and to say whatever you like about your teammates. The outstanding player on the day is usually exempt from writing them, for fear they will do their triumph a disservice, either by underplaying or overstating their contribution. Lachlan rarely gets offered the job. It is best left to someone who is a) reliably going to write the match report, and b) is worth reading. Hearing impediment, blindness and memory loss are no barrier, as Nicky Bird can attest to.


Ollie Marsh was meant to be writing this report, but he’s an accountant by trade, so it wouldn’t have been worth his time or ours (especially when we already have a scorebook). If it’s any consolation to Ollie, if not the expectant V&A, Jonkers still hasn’t filed his match report for the final fixture of the 2021 season. It is certainly not for me to recount it now, but as someone who played in that match and scored a fast 42* at the death to almost win it, it is tempting to mention it.


As for the BBC Bushmen, our opponents in this curtain-raiser, they are a club of 80 years and had at least one octogenarian in their ranks (as if to prove it). The V&A, on the other hand, had a strong youthful side out, if only numbering 10 players. On winning the toss, skipper Rob Taylor put Messrs. Tom Bird and Vin Grantham into bat. Grantham never recovered from the harsh changing room insinuation that he ‘only possessed one shot’ (a square cut) and was duly dismissed for nought, bowled. Tom Bird struck the ball nicely. His customary hoik across the line, mixed with a few MCC approved strokes, brought him 32 before he was out caught.


Derewlany, normally a slow starter, got going with a four and didn’t relent. He was kindly dropped in the 20’s and the Bushmen paid for it – the Australian sending the ball into the outback at every opportunity. Joined by V&A batsman of the year, Ollie Marsh, the two looked imperious. It would have been a tough ask for any opposition, but for a team missing four of their best players and with a portion of their attack fasting for Ramadan, the V&A took advantage. By lunch, the score was 180-2 with Derewlany on 98*. Only Nick Constantine has bettered that feat (apparently). Tom Bird planted a magnum of Reisling on the table. Steph Bird served up a heavy lunch of potatoes and something which looked like beef wellington (but wasn’t). And Nicky Bird made an ominous speech, promising to live forever.


After the interval, Derewlany reached his maiden V&A century with a four through extra cover, helmetless, raising his bat and kissing the badge. Much like his date the night before. Ollie Marsh reached his half century, water is wet, the earth is round etc. etc.


Michael Cockerell, a brilliant documentary maker and journalist, who has interviewed the last ten British Prime Ministers, was brought on to break the deadlock. And he did the trick, being hit for so many sixes that our green-shoed Aussie was forced, by embarrassment, to retire on 130*. Marsh then missed a straight one (62), almost certainly mentally encumbered by the match report he’d committed to write. Lachlan defended well (22*). But the boundaries kept coming, as new batsman Tetlow (48*) brought out the reverse sweep, 3-Wood, and precocious edge through fourth slip, to take the V&A past 300, finishing on 305-3. Not to detract at all from the innings, but the pitch was the best it’s been in years: flat, true, wormcast free.


Into the field our troops went, with Rob Taylor behind the stumps. Theo Grantham is now very tall, looks like a bowler, and bowls like one (7-0-24-1). He took the first wicket, the batsman edging it onto his own off-stump. Grantham Snr would have had it in the slips, so he tells us. There was a lot of chuntering and excitement early on. Derewlany was rehearsing his usual commentary about falcons, teasing Marsh for not being able to catch, and telling anyone who would listen that “Ben Horan has got his veneers on”, owing to the brilliant white shoes he was sporting. Horan was good (7-0-24-0). Derewlany was quieter after missing a catch.


Theo could have had a second, but Tetlow ignored his own premonition and dropped a tough chance diving forwards at cover. The ball was hit out of shape, but Adam Jacot still made it do the talking, tying down an end. He got his reward, and Tetlow his reprieve, snaffling a catch at mid-off. Vin Grantham, it transpires, is akin to Dan Lawrence in bowling style, twirling and spitting the ball out to rip.Theo commented that his father looked more like Rahkeem Cornwall (West Indian spinner, obese, 143 kg). He took a wicket.


Lachlan, the (now older) gentleman that he is (40*), bowled off a reduced run-up. He knocked over two of their middle order batsmen (6-1-12-2). He could have had more but was let down behind the stumps (by Nick ‘catch of the year’ Derewlany). After failing to register an award last season, expect a strong showing from Lachlan this year. They say life starts at nought.


Rob Taylor, free of the gloves (which he mostly ignored in favour of his chest) found himself with a half-chance at square leg. He threw down the stumps fiercely to leave the Bushmen ailing on less than 100, with only a few overs to go. Ollie Marsh took a catch at deep mid-off to make Rob Taylor’s day sweeter. The final pair batted out the overs and looked good, with Bajaj scoring nicely. Martin Shenfield (a colleague of Nick Derewlany’s) was solid and perhaps wasted at number 8 for the opposition, with the match gone.


We’re yet to hear if Nick has been sacked for gloating at work, but you couldn’t possibly blame him. It was a fine innings and a match-defining one. Better still for him, I’ve had to write it up.


By Joe Tetlow 30/04/2022