This week the V&A hosted the Wine Trade. They were captained by Ed. Ed is from the Christiaan school of cricket and wears a white shirt along with the traditional whites. That is as far as the similarities go.
Ed prefers a Charles Tyrwhitt number, whereas Christiaan is more of a TM Lewin man (echoing the decades’ old debate experienced throughout the professional services industry). I am personally ambivalent and wait for the best deal. For those that are interested, you can pick up 4 shirts for £139 at Charles Tyrwhitt at the moment and 4 for £140 in T M Lewin. I remember when I first started working it was 4 shirts for £120. Talk about inflation.
Both teams were saved a raw vegan lunch (my wheelhouse) by Sarah Jenkins. Other staples were also preserved. Nick wore horrendous green shoes (which should be put in the bin), Lachlan batted 6 (where he belongs), and Sarah’s lunch and tea were terrific. The highlight was the banana bread. Absolutely superb with a cup of tea and the dull tones of Radio Nicky playing in the background. Incidentally, a certain player, who will not be named, thought it was apple bread. They ought never to be given catering duty.
The emails between captains remarked on how hot it had been recently, and that anything more than 35 overs would see players dropping like flies. It was a wise call. The heat was akin to the Sahara. Ed won the toss and decided to bat on a pitch that can only be described as the M40 (a road).
With the game set to begin, out strode the V&A’s very own Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, Jonkers (7-0-22-0) and Beebor* (5-0-8-3). They got into their work quickly, with Beebor working his magic and striking in his first and fourth overs. Christiaan bowled tightly, causing problems with the nagging length the V&A faithful have come to expect. There are few things as glorious as seeing Beebor stride to the crease, hairband perfectly positioned, tan impeccable and action honed. He didn’t quite reach 100% but then again, there weren’t any so and so’s in the Wine Trade, so he was not required to.
After 8 overs of tying the Wine Trade in knots, Jimmy and Broady were taken off and replaced with the young guns of the team: Alex Pitlarge (7-0-43-0), son of David, took over from Christiaan. I for one, am very jealous of the summer ahead for Alex. According to David, Alex has a talent for making friends whose houses just happen to be in the best spots, including Spain, Greece and France. Hammersmith wasn’t mentioned. He plans to visit as many as possible before heading off to University, along with many games for the V&A (I hope at least, as he was a great addition). Alex bowled very tidily, attacking the stumps at every opportunity. Helped by David at mid-on, a kind of Eoin Morgan to Mark Wood relationship, he kept the scoring down.
Alex was followed in quick succession by Max Martin (4.1-0-8-2). Max, like Alex, has a summer off before making his next move, I believe he is off to Sandhurst. He is tremendous bowler, with a great action and has a talent for making the batsmen play. He certainly upset the glasses of The Wine Trade, getting instant reward for his line and length. A wicket with his third ball of the day.
With Lunch fast approaching, I decided to bowl (7-1-22-4) an over, which was previously described by Christiaan as “dross”, to see if I could tweak out a wicket. The Wine Trade batsmen dismissed the fast darts and lunch was served. After the Wine Trade had sufficiently hydrated themselves and the V&A with some gorgeous wine, we trotted out for the second half of their innings.
With a bit of luck, I took the first wicket after lunch with an absolute ripper (if I say so myself) Gary Lyon would be proud. Flight and guile bamboozled the batsman. The ball went above the batsman’s eyeline, before dropping onto the pitch, like something out of the 2005 Ashes, before spinning through the open gate to take out middle stump. Of course, there will be varying accounts of this wicket from those watching , but this is my report so that’s how it went.
The Wine Trade kept putting up firm resistance, with P. Mallinson holding one end, Concert and Tacchi took the attack to the V&A, taking the total up to 142 off 31 overs. A good total, but one the V&A are easily capable of chasing.
Out strode the Nick (0) and David (29), the V&A’s take on the Charge of the Light Brigade, not to be confused with the lightweight brigade of the recent Conservative government. Ed and a teammate, who interestingly decided to cycle to Stonor, opened the bowling. Both full steam ahead.
Nick, uncharacteristically, got out after facing just three balls. Back in the shed, he quickly remarked that this was lowest score he had ever made on a cricket pitch in his life (alright big gun). Didn’t bowl, dropped two catches, missed a run out and out for a duck. Is this a case of class is temporary and form is permanent?
Next in was Matt Wright (9). He took to the Wine Trade with a couple of textbook boundaries before being bowled with a ball that swung away and cut back, not a bad way to go. Out came Andrew (10), my guest for the day. He had mentioned in the car to Stonor that he hadn’t been in better form which was an exciting prospect. Andrew, to tell the truth was rather hungover after seeing Sam Fender the night before. He needed the time in the field to freshen up and sweat the lager out of his system. Like Matt, Andrew got off to a great start, before trying to slog sweep a yorker on middle stump. Maybe the hangover hadn’t worn off after all.
It was left to David and me (56) to take back the momentum. David batted like a prime Michael Atherton, think South Africa 1995, keeping out the good balls and rotating strike at every opportunity. Luckily, the Wine Trade at this point had exhausted their seamers so on came two of their spinners. They were from a different school of thought to most other spinners and decided to bowl slow and short. I tucked into this with glee and quickly raced to 50. David, seeing the slogging at the other ended, decided it was time to up the ante. This was his downfall. In the end he chipped a simple catch to a Wine Trade fielder trying to hit the ball over mid-off.
In walks Beebor (17*). When he finally got strike, he made quick work of their bowlers, flashing the blade to all they could throw at him. It looked an assured win was coming for the V&A. The cricketing gods thought otherwise. Seeing the glory awaiting, I tried to win it with sixes. Instead, I chipped a simple catch to midwicket. In walks Max (0). He lasted 3 balls, middle stump out of the ground. Jonkers (0)
was next. Short and wide, Jonkers tried to hoik it over point, but only succeeded in finding the fielder Out. At this point the Wine Trade were brimming with confidence . A lot of chatter around the new bat. “will the V&A choke again?” Alex (3) was next. Unphased. Ice running through his veins. Could he be our saviour?
It turned out he could. He confidently guided the ball through cover for a quick single. The Wine Trade, heart beating, saw an opportunity for a run out. The ball missed by inches but that was enough. Beebor and Alex strode through for two more to win the game with overs to play.
The beauty of a 35 overs game is that regardless of whether the overs are used or not, there is always time for a quick pint for us London folk. The Wine Trade joined us at the local. A lot was spoken about. From cycling into work, use of the government cycle-to-work scheme clearly, to the pro’s and con’s of Test Cricket (surely there are only pro’s…).
All-in-all a great day out, with a very friendly oppo. A special thank you to Ed for bringing some champagne for the MOTM award. A second thank you for giving it to me.
*For those not present, Lachlan Neiboer (a tricky name to grasp, and the Wine Trade failed) should from this day forward be referred to as Logan Beebor instead.
**By Ollie Marsh