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V&A v Bacchus XI

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Saturday 6th August saw a new opposition debut at Stonor as the V&A had the absolute pleasure of hosting the Bacchus XI. Youthful, charming, and bringing a certain glamour with them as there were a couple more X chromosomes on the pitch than the reactionaries of the V&A are accustomed to. Bacchus, as we all know, is the Roman god of agriculture and wine. Associated with drama and the theatre he is often depicted accompanied by priapic satyrs and delicate nymphs. How fitting that Lachlan was selected, and that Nick C was making his post injury come back appearance.

Patrick, the Bacchus skipper, got the trowel out early stressing they really were mainly here for the wine (and nymphs) and were not a strong side. Apparently, they had recently been thrashed by a school team, although it wasn’t made clear if it was a boys school. Rob T, our fecund skipper, therefore, didn’t bother with a toss and it was agreed the V&A would bat. Grantham and Hayley were pushed down the pavilion steps to open proceedings. The first over exceeded expectation, no wicket and even a run or two scored however just as I thought I might remember how to bat an injudicious slash at a short wide ball only yielded a fine feather to the keeper and Grantham was back to get changed into his umpiring kit early. Joe Tetlow came in at three, an injured shoulder means “The ginger fire” was selected as a batsman, and he soon set about the bowling swiftly moving to 20, before he was undone by the capricious Stonor pitch. Sun baked, rock hard and bouncy for the most part there still lurk some bowling G-spots to find and, much to his annoyance, Joe was bowled by a short pitched, ankle high shooter. The first bowling change brought about the usual “Bowler’s name? …….. Pardon?” etc which was eventually settled by Jonkers, doing an early stint in the umpire’s coat, with a sonorous “Mills, as in dark satanic”. As he turned back to take up his position you could tell from his smile, he was rather pleased with that one. 

Next up was Niam Scott-Ram just at the start of what was to prove a very good day for him. He and Hayley, doing what an opener should do, batted correctly, and kept the score moving before Hayley was bowled for 20. Enter Constantino, who had been regaling all with the gory details of his recent injury, one hand bandaged he appeared to be in a hurry. In Bairstowesque fashion he assaulted the Bacchus bowling attack and should be charged not with actual, but grievous bodily harm. The youthful Bacchus remained in good humour in the face of the onslaught and fielded well. The term “good arm” is very often overused, sometimes to try and con the opposition that there is no quick single to Grantham, however it is worth noting that the aforementioned Dark Satanic Mills possessed and absolute howitzer; drawing first gasps, and then roars of approval from the pavilion after comfortably clearing the square from the bushes at long off down by the road. The assault continued, Niam did his bit rotating the strike until he was bowled three overs before lunch, bringing forth Nieboer to prod out the last few balls before the interval. 156-4 off 24 overs at Lunch.

Catering was provided by Chez de Boinod and was of the highest quality. The tables were moved into relative shade and an excellent luncheon was enjoyed with our convivial guests. Not quite bacchanalia however suitable quantities of wine and beer were consumed whilst Constantine, smoking like a kleptomaniac beagle, moaned about his hangover and the agonies of suturing a split web space. 

Upon the resumption of play there was no respite for the Bacchus XI. Constantine continued to brutalise the bowling and now Lachlan was joining in too. Eventually Tino did hole out for 78 but this only brought Alex Pitlarge (or Pilchard as the score book says) to the party. Lachlan finished on 74*, Alex on 14* and the score 278 off the 35 overs. 122 off the eleven overs after lunch. 

The Bacchus set to their task with commendable optimism. Mills opened and can obviously bat as well throw like a mortar. Three boundaries off the club treasurer’s first over and the game was on. Larkin at the other end, possibly still reeling from the mauling of his bowling by Constantine (4-0-53-0), struggled to keep up the pace and the mountain started to get steeper. Christiaan recovered from his first over to bowl tidily whilst Alex Pitlarge bowled with pace and accuracy picking up two wickets. The second with a superb catch from the diminutive Niam. Fielding at backward point the ball looked for all the world as if it was over him when he leapt, pointing with his right hand, the lustrous mullet highlighted by the afternoon sun, and, at full stretch, with the very tips of fingers, grasped the ball in his left hand. A catch of the season contender. Jacot and then Constantine came on first and second change with Niam replacing Adam (exhausted by his expert exertions catering) soon after. Niam’s day just got better and better, a wicket with his first ball and dismissing the dangerous Mills straight after tea. He finished with 3-24 off his six overs, and a smile as wide as the Cheddar Gorge. With Mills gone the mountain now seemed precipitous, if not unsurmountable. Still the Bacchus toiled on with good humour. Constantine could have two wickets but for a moment of pure V&A quality. The chatty chappie from the theatre (Hamilton) came into bat determined to taunt the leg side with catchable chances that were all placed just out of reach. He eventually misjudged, spooning a straightforward caught and bowled back to Tino. There was a loud and commendably confident call of “MINE!” from mid-off as Robin Hayley hurtled in, clipping Nick’s ankles just as the ball was about to nestle in his hands. The ball went to ground and, on the first day of the premiership season, with both sets of studs showing, this for me was a straight red. 

Captain Rob rang the changes bowling Grantham (finishing with three wickets) and then Hayley. Lachlan took two stunning catches, one to save Rob’s blushes gathering from the keeper’s gloves and then a diving second grab off Grantham. Reduced to nine down finally, Rob brought on Nieboer. This was the smiley, relaxed 2022 version of Lachlan who opted for gentle flight and spin rather than pace and aggression. I’m not sure if it was the lure of opening time at the Golden Ball, or the fact his last ball had been slapped, like a ginger stepchild, to the long on boundary, but the experiment lasted six balls. Keeper back, long run up and one, full, straight ball was all that was needed to bring proceedings to a close. 

Congratulations to Rob on his well-managed captaincy.  A fine day, the most agreeable guests and excellent catering, all led to a most enjoyable day. We adjourned to the Golden Orchid for a well-deserved beer. 

By Vin Grantham