Cricket was not made easy this week as the Saturday weather forecast wavered throughout along with the list of names on the team sheet. Effervescent skipper Joe Tetlow powered on admirably regardless, taking on double duty as skipper and caterer, with a willing bunch (of 9) in tow.
Our opposition, hailing from Battersea, returned to Stonor no doubt with proud memories of a victory last season. What we were lacking in numbers we hoped to make up for in (relative) quality.
Due to our low numbers and some possible early departures, Tetlow informed us he was hoping to bowl to avoid costly gaps in the field later on. He then returned from the ceremonial toss in the middle proffering a straight but slightly unwelcome batting motion.
Adam Jacot was quick to encourage Joe not to play the humble captain and bat where he wanted and quite rightly he put himself at 1 with myself joining to eye up their opening attack. We were watchful from one end, where Silverman was slinging some decent pace and bounce on occasion, while Joe keenly dispatched Johnson into the offside for a couple of fours at the other. He was then bowled for 12 by Johnson, as one ball held up in the pitch (let’s say) on a good length and hit the top of off. Christiaan, umpiring at the time, later offered some gentle technical advice at the Golden Ball, which was politely declined.
Nichal Sethi strolled in next, despite a brief case of mistaken identity in the run up to the game, and seemed destined for some first-innings-of-the-season fortune. He and I saw out their openers together and, feeling relieved, I was promptly bowled by menacing first change Sheperdson, making 21 runs. As Nich continued to knock it about with increasing confidence, Rob Taylor joined in for some fun and boundaries started to flow somewhat.
Lunch was taken inside due to the rather gloomy weather, and consumed with customary gusto by all. Tetlow outdid himself with both quality and quantity on the spread. Meanwhile, Jacot filled in on compère duties in Nicky’s absence. Nick Stoop was heard commenting that the applause was longer than the speech which Adam probably didn’t hear.
Rob fell for 13 after lunch (quite possibly more) and Lachlan came bounding out with an energy found only by eating two lunches. The rest of us simply sat back and enjoyed ourselves from that point, Sethi and Nieboer taking us from 98/3 to 230/3 after 35 overs with some style, making 109 and 59 not out respectively. Quite rightly Sethi received a warm guard of honour on return to the pavilion, shocking us all with the news that this was his maiden century. Such events give this batsmen hope.
Jonkers and Jacot were bristling to get in the game at this stage and opened up the bowling with the Bandits chasing 231 to win. Jacot showed grit, poise and skill to bowl out his full allocation of overs after getting hit about in the first couple. Once he found his rhythm it was a lesson in line and length. Jonkers at the other end looked dangerous, beating the bat a number of times but without success. I said to a certain thespian first slip that I rather liked Christiaan as an opening bowler. “Better not tell him, stick it in the match report.”
Their opening pair were looking handy indeed and it took some diligent pace from Lachlan, running in off a truncated approach, to make a breakthrough, bowling Sheperdson for 31. Lachlan was nursing a bruised heel. It was clear it was no day for wickets and Joe Tetlow, the most energetic man on any cricket field, smartly orchestrated us in an increasingly wet environment, clear that saving runs was paramount. Stoop and Sean Gleason bowled a vital spell after tea keeping runs tight and Stoop took a well deserved wicket as Crystal (44) was caught begrudgingly by a Bandit kindly helping out the field.
As the rain increased in intensity and Lang (88) showed no signs of getting out, things were tight at the end but Taylor managed to somehow grip the ball enough to bowl some off breaks to close out the game with Lachlan keeping the Bandits guessing from the other end.
At close they made 210, no mean feat in the conditions, and a good win for the V and A. Both sides felt a visit to the Golden Ball was in order to celebrate the game of cricket and English spirit in the face of adverse weather. I choose not to remember the rain and instead to think of Nichal Sethi hitting their opening bowler for six over the pavilion boundary and Rob Taylor rushing to get the camera as Sethi was welcomed home. The man of the match was unmistakably Nichal Sethi.
*By Matthew Wright, edited by Joe Tetlow