In the Clubhouse
V&A v Nomads
18th May 2022
2nd June 2022
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V&A v Invalids


V&A PLAYERS: J.Tetlow (c), N. Constantine (caterer), N. Derewlany, H.Turpie, L. Nieboer, R.Taylor, A. Smith, T. Ayling, C. Jonkers

It was clear early on that we were going to have a good day’s cricket.
The sign came midweek, when a hearty laugh, familiar to residents of the Stonor valley, echoed through the bookshop from Mr. Jonkers’s office. More often than not this indicates the arrival of a missive, in all-caps or none, from N. Bird. But mirthful message came from our caterer, Nick Constantine, who had asked for permission to go “a little over budget” for Saturday’s spread.
Now, those of us who can be a little tardy in paying our match fees, will know that our Treasurer likes to run a tight ship. But, much like Elizabeth Von Arnim’s Mr Wilkins, he “encourages thrift, except that branch of it which gets into his food”, and so the request was summarily approved.
We, and the fatted calf Constantine had singled out for the feast, were off to the races.
Our guests this week were The Invalids, a cheery bunch whose club was formed by wounded officers of the Great War. Far from being battle-scarred and limbless, they were both lithe and quorate, with eleven players to the V&A’s injury-riddled nine. Our nine was in spite of Captain Tetlow’s tireless work to recruit from a busy, injured, and holidaying squad. But if nine was enough muses for the Greeks, it might just be enough for the V&A on a sunny day in Stonor.
The toss was lost, and we were sent into bat on an emerald early season wicket. Alan Smith and Henry Turpie opened the batting, and both showed off some suave shotmaking before falling in the third and fifth overs.
The Invalids’ opening bowlers of Peters (T.) and Gilmour bowled admirably and kept scoring low. Add to this a sprightly ring field and a grassy outfield from the week’s rain, our top order, such as it was, was restricted to either heaving it to the boundary, settling for the odd single, or getting caught out in between.
Thankfully, we had Derelawny to steady the ship, who expertly picked the right delivery to despatch into the bushes and fields, hitting seven boundaries on his way to 40. In this he was joined by Lachlan, who came to the crease with the V&A floundering at 30-4 from 11 overs.
Following my dismissal earlier in the innings, I was treated to some delineations on Lachlan’s new philosophy of batting. His strokeplay in previous seasons had put one in mind of Heidegger wielding a sledgehammer, but he now plays with the ease of Sartre flicking a cigarette. Derelawny’s greatness is perhaps more reminiscent of Bertrand Russell’s elegance of analysis, but he was no less effective against a tricky period of spin bowling on a pitch that was beginning to cut up in the afternoon sun.
The sagacious duo put on a partnership of some fifty runs, which took us into the eighties, with more added when Rob Taylor came to the middle. An unlucky run out saw Rob’s wicket lost on the last ball before lunch, but we were recovered to a more competitive 100-odd for six, and had a game on.
Constantine’s spread was all it promised and more. A rumoured ten kilograms of beef had been roasted for the occasion, and a supporting cast of salads, hams and a fine cheese board were appreciated by all. As beers were shared and frivolous conversation exchanged, a figure could be spotted strolling towards the lunch table in the afternoon haze. It was Tom Bird, who insisted he was only popping by for a quick hello, but was eventually convinced to become our 10th batsman (or batter, as Jonkers would say).
Lachlan fell to the first ball after lunch, but Jonkers (9) and Tetlow (34*) advanced us towards the skipper’s notional target of 150. Bird joined Tetlow in the middle, but fell to the first ball of the final over, leaving us 146 for 9. In a great show of good sport, The Invalids allowed Tetlow to continue batting, with Bird as a runner at the non-striker’s end. This grace saw Joe add twelve runs in the inning’s final four deliveries, seeing us finish with 158 runs from our 35 overs.
Nieboer bowled our first over, charging down the hill in the slipstream of the Spitfires flying overhead. His fifth ball was a joy; a fullish delivery, with pop and carry, flying off the edge of the bat and into the hands of Jonkers at first slip with such a ferocity that the ceremonial bag of frozen peas was called for. His second over was a wicket maiden, leaving The Invalids 5 for 2 and struggling. He added a third wicket to cap a fine spell, before saving himself for the game’s latter stages.
From the other end Derelawny bowled tightly and well, claiming the important wicket of Patel who had reignited their innings with a series of boundaries. Constantine (7 overs, 1 for 12) was a fine replacement for Lachlan, and limited the chances of a rebuild. Turpie bowled a good over of off-breaks, taking a wicket on the eve of tea, thanks to some quick hands behind the stumps from Rob Taylor.
Tea was a delight, with cakes provided by both the Constantines and Annette Jacot. Indeed, so good was the sweet stuff, that players could be heard musing on quite how much cake could be taken, and not inhibit one’s performance in the field.
Whatever that limit was, the V&A, true to its spirit, probably exceeded it. The Invalids restarted the game at 81-6 with 11 overs remaining, needing seven an over to secure victory. Gilmour R. (37*) and Peters A. (46*) were quick to capitalise on an overfed team of V&A fielders, narrowing the gap to just 33 runs with six overs remaining.
Nieboer rejoined the attack and gave up a mere seven runs in his final three overs, capping a remarkable day’s play. The final over fell to Rob Taylor, who after wicket-keeping the first two-thirds of the game, had bowled from the Turville end since tea. Sixteen runs were required for victory.
Some terrific and tight deliveries from Rob constrained their scoring, leaving The Invalids requiring ten runs from the final ball to tie the game, or eleven for the victory. Gilmour was facing, and sent Taylor’s delivery into orbit on the leg side. Constantine, fearing that they might indeed run the ten runs necessary to spoil the day, hurtled down the hill from the midwicket boundary and dived to try and claim the catch. At the vital moment, alas, his hamstring pinged and the ball fell through his grasp. Two were made, and the victory was ours by eight runs, but it was a brilliant run-chase and the partnership of 71 for the unclaimed seventh wicket was an Homeric effort.
Few games genuinely go down to the wire, and this one did only thanks to sportsmanship of our guests, allowing Tetlow to bat on in our final over. But for that grace, the game would have been theirs with a handful of deliveries to spare.