Lachlan was skipper and not in a good mood. For an actor, I think he would make a poor poker player. He was stressed because his father was coming to watch (the first time in 20 years), and admitted as much.
We were playing the Chelsea Arts Club, one of our oldest fixtures. Jack NB, their former captain, has a loud dog which belies its size and is almost as badly behaved as Sarah Jenkins’ hound, which is saying something. Sarah was away, as was Nicky Bird. Jasper Arnold, who is traditionally a CAC player, but has played for the V&A on occasion, provided the catering (courtesy of his mother). Traditional buffet style, with lots of pork pies, a nod to his off-spin.
A declaration game was agreed, with a maximum of 20 overs after 5:30PM. We batted first and got off to a strong start, hitting 50 off the first 10. Matt Wright looked like he was seeing it well until he was poleaxed by a straight one. Joe Tetlow played only through the offside, with drives, cuts, and thick edges. With a wry smile, he suggested the slip region was a fruitful scoring area for Kane Williamson, but that he probably played more like a Kane Williamson with Covid (i.e. not at all, as was the case that weekend at Trent Bridge). The bowler, a corpulent character, failed to understand self-deprecation.
Tetlow reached 50 and was joined by Ollie Marsh, who quickly overtook the opener, putting the CAC attack to the sword. The shot of the day was Marsh’s punch off the pads through wide mid-on, piercing two boundary riders. By lunch, the V&A had a good platform, with Marsh on 77* and Tetlow 61*. Over a fine spread, the corpulent bowler told those near him exactly how much he paid for his Porsche, that he had worked for JP Morgan, and that he hated cyclists because he couldn’t cycle, which was all very enlightening. Verbal incontinence clearly has little or no effect on body mass index, which Nicky Bird can attest to.
There were no speeches and no Henry Blofield this year (despite now being ‘honorary president’ of the V&A CC), but Lachlan’s father did his best to imitate, with salmon chords, panama hat, and an easy charm.
Marsh was out soon after lunch for 88, caught and bowled. If he’d hit 12 more runs he would have had his maiden century for the V&A, but he didn’t, and a grinning Nick Derewlany was the beneficiary. At 190-2, Derewlany came in and kept the scoreboard racing along with lofted drives. Tetlow fell for 75, bowled, attempting a dismissive swat. He was given a send off as poor as the shot, with a “take that Kane” from JP Morgan. We declared on 260 for the loss of only 3 wickets, with Derewlany 50*. The Oxford English dictionary definition of “mercy” is “compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm”.
The pitch was dry, sun hot, and the day favoured the batsmen. All year, the second innings has looked flatter and better for batting. The declaration was a good one for the game, giving CAC a chance to chase the total with an equal number of overs. Lachlan and Ben Horan got off to maidens, and bowled ok, but without penetration. With his father on the sidelines, Lachlan was overly searching for the wicket. In doing so, he overstepped the mark, both literally and metaphorically, accusing Jasper of unfairly no-balling him. Jasper and Lachlan had been to Lords together just the previous week to watch England v New Zealand, so it was hard to tell if the incandescence was feigned or sincere. But it was sincere, and Edward in Downton Abbey is still dead. Jack batted doggedly, prodding forward with an amiable grin, and putting the bad ball away. Lachlan eventually got the first wicket, dismissing Dodd for 23. Marsh bowled a tidy over of spin before tea, which was a smorgasbord of cakes topped off by warm apple strudel with cream.
The cat who got the cream, though, was Adam Jacot. Perhaps one of his best recent spells of bowling at the V&A, he swung and wobbled his way to three quick wickets after the break, bamboozling their top order, striking pads and bails alike. Jack was eventually run out for 40.
Jasper, relinquished of umpiring duties and short of runs at Stonor, entered the fray. The chatter in the field was something as bad as “the Arts Club like to draw”, as two short covers waited in prayer. Nick Stoop and Sean Gleeson paid the price, as Jasper moved to 37, before Jonkers (finally called upon) extinguished any remaining hope of a CAC victory, extracting an LBW from Jack. A chair was upended as the batsman departed, presumably believing himself not to be out. Lachlan returned to the attack as the V&A sensed victory.
Umpiring is a bit like politics at the BBC. If both sides think you’re being unfair, or biased, you’re probably doing a good job. Lachlan thought two LBW shouts were out. The umpire, in all reasonableness, didn’t.
Jonkers (mathematician, Treasurer, bowler of the season) has been given two extra wickets in the scorebook. He referred to himself this week as bowling like Jimmy Anderson, but it turns out more like Nick Derewlany. Both were his wickets, and one of which sent the bail two-thirds of the way to the boundary. It wasn’t enough though for victory, with the V&A taking 8 of the 9 wickets required to win on the day.
*by Joe Tetlow, belatedly, to avoid the game being deliberately erased from history….