As both the V&A and the Jesmond Jaguars descended on Stonor, cloud cover had gathered in the humid air. Google tells me that Jesmond is an “upscale suburb” in Newcastle, with “posh clothing boutiques and cafes” and “chic cocktail bars” (the Roundhay of Newcastle but without any future Conservative party leader to tarnish its reputation). For a moment I thought it an honour to have a team travel so far, from such a seemingly utopian place to play the humble V&A. I then learnt that none of the team actually live in Newcastle, and they just happened to go to university there and play rugby together.
This disappointment set aside, Christiaan’s (7-1-40-1) eyes lit up at a chance to start off the bowling in the cloudy conditions, after we either won or lost the toss. He started a tidy spell, with his first five overs going for only 15. In his second spell he was able to continue what was a remarkably fruitful day of LBWs for the V&A attack, getting his revenge on a couple of boundaries earlier in the over by Eccles. He was, it must also be noted, dispatched to the boundary by Adam Jacot, selflessly playing for the Jaguars, on what was the final ball of the innings. Christiaan claimed a lack of intent by Lachlan at cow as the cause, Lachlan disagreed, and I simply relay the facts. It is for the reader to decide whether or not enough heart and soul was put into stopping Adam from finishing 4*, a strike rate of 200 lining him up nicely for the Hundred.
Lachlan had started off at the other end by bringing a bit of Perth to Stonor. Rob was forced to make some good takes by his head as edges flew over the cordon (damage was minimised following an inspired move of fine leg to third man by the skipper). Frankly, having stood amongst the three slips and a gully in a cordon reminiscent of England bowling at Kingston in 2004, there was a universal consensus that any edges would be subject to evasive action rather than catching attempts. Luckily, then, in Lachlan’s final over the catch went to David at mid-off. He showed his ‘experience’ by holding on to a hard hit and allowing Lachlan to take a more than deserved wicket as a reward for his toils, as well as dismissing Lewis who looked well set on 41. It was fine opening spell of hostile bowling, although whether that can properly account for the Dukes ball splitting open within a dozen overs is open to question. Kookaburra’s marketing team would have had a field day if they had been present.
Max (7-0-45-2) followed Christiaan. He apparently wants to become a Coldstream guard after Sandhurst and, despite a clear explanation, I still don’t quite know what that means, but apparently they have some very good dinners (smart thinking there by Max). His second spell was particularly effective. Christiaan held onto a catch for the first of Max’s two wickets before David took another sharp one at point (this meant David had now taken as many catches that day as he’d dropped off my bowling this year – talk about fatherly love).
I (7-0-33-1) had picked up from Max between spells with the luck of a lunch break halfway through. I thought it was luck until I saw what today’s tea lady, Chris Mounsey-Thear, had prepared for us. The pork was flavourful with some wonderfully crackly crackling on the outside, and I knew it was a truly classy showing when I saw balsamic vinegar carefully drizzled over the mozzarella. Some particularly good beer for a cricket lunch too meant that I felt somewhat less lithe than usual going out to bowl after this. Nevertheless, a little nibble off the seam meant one ball straightened up into the pad of Trailer (32) – more generosity by the Jags’ umpires who earned the respect of V&A bowlers by actually giving LBWs, often a rare treat in these games.
Ollie (7-1-27-2) proved that the rest of us, all seamers, were wasting our time by getting all hot and sweaty in our attempts to curtail the Jaguars. Firing in his off spin at a pace that puts my “medium quick-ish” to shame off just a couple of steps, he was able to bowl Butterworth, who was dangerously well set on 43 and trying to accelerate at the end of the innings.
The Jags batsmen the ball cleanly; our bowling was, however, persistent at least, and, ultimately, did well to hold the Jags to 194/6 off 35.
Robin Hayley (1)) kicked off the V&A response by characteristically taking guard by hammering the ground with one of the bails – thankfully for those watching, that is where the likeness between Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Robin both starts and ends. David Pitlarge (38) was at the other end. Robin was unfortunately bowled playing over the ball early on.
The scorecard helpfully tells me that, following this, Nick Derewlaney (88*) started his innings at 15.41. He and David stuck in for a while at this point, though the scorecard reveals slightly different strike rates. The odd elegant cover drive and pull by David would mean that a comparison to Chris Tavaré may be uncharitable, though I think Ollie’s compliments from a couple of weeks back go perhaps a bit too far.
Tea came around (as good as the lunch – with thanks again to Chris – and Nick and David were both well set. Following the break, the scorecard shows a flurry of fours by Nick as he sought to keep pushing up an average which, as I understand, is currently above 100. It also shows David – c&b Jacot. Maybe he should have held back on the tea.
Rob Taylor (2) came in and was given an LBW which was, he claims, marginal to say the least. Nick kept pushing on despite the wickets falling around him and there was a moment where the century genuinely seemed on . At that point, Ollie seemed to get his eye in, racing his way to 34*, carrying the V&A home to victory, savaging Trail for four fours in a row ultimately to seal the fate of a deserved, though unrealised, century. A towering six by Nick sealed the deal and left the V&A 194/5 off 30.1 after a competitive and thoroughly enjoyable day’s cricket.
By Alex Pitlarge