Adam was on skipper duties and carrying his responsibility with a gravity and focus akin to his preparation routine before each ball bowled. The effort required by skipper to muster a team at this time of year when holidays are starting and fewer regulars are available for selection can leave one somewhat sanguine. It usually means calling in favours and running an indiscriminate dragnet across the growing V&A contact list.
All became apparent in the team sheet. Two father-and-son combinations and Wayland appearing for his first game of the season having been caught in the dragnet. Another tell was the number of arriving V&A players appearing at the door of the visitors changing room with an expression of uncertainty that they might have been directed to the wrong place given they recognised nobody donning their whites. This followed by the numerous introductions and efforts by all to try and remember teammate names. A scratch rabble with mix of quality and dross. A skipper’s nightmare.
Our hosts declared it would be a timed game with the team batting first getting two and a half hours before declaring and breaking for tea. Tea was simple but effective – the lemon drizzle and Victoria sponge far outshining the ham and cucumber sandwiches. The team batting second would get an hour’s play plus 20 overs to respond.
The V&A batted first on a clay wicket that was rock hard and looked like a good batting strip – Knight (18) having played for TPCC a couple weeks before with inside information concurred, giving the batters some confidence walking out. Conversation then went onto agriculture, pig farming and land.
Hayley (10) and Pitlarge Snr (10) made a start against a brisk, if variable opening attack. Derewlany (74) in at three needed to steady the ship after losing Hayley with 39 runs on the board and Pitlarge Jnr for a duck. He did so with Knight, both having to watch the ball carefully, particularly when facing at the Sainsbury end where bowlers were getting a few low skidders and some sharp bounce on a length. When Hunt Jnr. entered the bowling attack with medium paced leg-break getting good turn and mixing it up with a well disguised googly it got even trickier with Knight eventually succumbing to LBW with one that went on.
Scott-Ram Jnr. then settled in and held up an end well allowing Derewlany to take a more aggressive approach as the time was running out and the V&A really needed to set at least 200 for there to be a game. The baked outfield was dry and hard and anything hit between fielders tended to find the boundary. Derewlany eventually fell to Hunt Jnr., going after a slower more flighted ball that crept under the bat and either hit the top of middle and leg or was caught by the keeper who broke the stumps. After some uncertainty it was decided that he was bowled. No third umpire to review.
With Derewlany out, TPCC kindly obliged by giving some of their lesser bowlers a go. Unfortunately the V&A didn’t gorge itself as much as it should have on the buffet that was served up, but wickets continued to fall. Wayland (21) biffed a few in the last couple of overs before being run out by Jonkers (3) on the penultimate ball. V&A declared at 199-9.
The bowling performance by the V&A was somewhat of a curate’s egg. Openers Derewlany and Jonkers both took a few overs to find their line and length yet, with a firm breeze and cloud overhead, there was swing to be had. The first wicket fell to Derewlany in his second over, but alas after that we didn’t see any more fall till the TPCC had 181 runs on the scoreboard. Opener Bucknell (60) and a class century from Hunt Jnr (105) broke the back of the run chase. Commendations have to go to Jonkers, Derewlany, Knight and Pitlarge Jnr. for holding up very disciplined and tight bowling spells through the first changes and Knight particularly deserved more for his efforts. Wayland came on at the second change and proceeded to return the favour to the oppo and serve up a buffet to the two batsmen who were well set and duly obliged. Decisive, but somewhat begrudging, captaincy from Jacot brought Stoop on sooner than expected yielding the wicket of Hunt Jnr., who by this stage was picking his spot at will with good footwork and the exuberance of youth. A Stoop ball with wobble and swing eventually trapped him LBW as he tried to pull to square leg following a field change that forced him to find a new line to the boundary. Hayley did a fine job keeping wicket, taking a nasty one in the jaw that needed some running repairs. Fielding by the V&A was otherwise much like the conversation: agricultural. Dropped catches in the closing overs and a number of boundaries that could / should have been fielded meant that the TPCC reached the target of 200 in the final over with just 4 wickets down.
Post-match food was handmade pizza served from a horsebox towed by a landrover. Agricultural to the end.
by Andrew Wayland