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V&A v Legends XI

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 C. Mounsey-Thear (Skip), L. Nieboer, Leo Nieboer, J. Tetlow, R. Taylor, N. Bird (12th man), C. Jonkers, Nick Scott Ram (13th  man), Niam Scott Ram, M. Wright, T. P-G, A. Jacot, N. Scott-Dalgliesh 

Chris M-T did everything in this 35-over game. He raised the team, captained, catered. And he did everything with his customary tact and aplomb. You don’t get histrionics from a top PR man. And, said Christiaan, ‘he captained very astutely.’ A bowling change was key. 

No man is a hero to his valet but that is the valet’s fault. Mrs. M-T may not appreciate the jewel she lives with, the beauty of his bowling and run-up, his roast pork, his massive hook. 

The track was green but the ground was still brown. Around 12.30 it pissed down but stopped and then was dry. Batting was easier in the afternoon but we batted first, opening with young Leo Nieboer (nephew of the more famous Lachlan) and an old Jags mate of Chris M-T’s, a super batsman, Nick Scott-Dalgliesh. The bowling was good(ish) but the batsmen were soon 50 for no wicket, with S-D plundering the opening over of Matt Symonds (Legends’ skip) for 18. Leo lacked technical proficiency but his eye compensated and he smote some beauties with power. He, like his uncle, does not adopt that silly British habit of self-deprecation, of false modesty, an affectation my missus says is my fatal weakness (one of many). Both openers were out just before lunch (Nick S-D for 45, Leo for 34). Tetlow strode in to be followed by Matt Wright, looking lean but not particularly mean. Almost immediately Tetlow was struck by a ball in the balls. For some reason this seems to elicit Benny Hill-style mirth; it is the stuff of Donald McGill seaside humour but the reality is pain, excruciating pain, as I know when this happens at home. Tetlow looked pretty dead. 

I was umpiring. I suggested it was time for lunch and repair, but Tetlow could hardly move and for him dejeuner sur l’herbes seemed to beckon. However, after lunch he returned to bat, and smote a couple of fours but was (mercifully) out (for 19) with an x-ray on his testes to follow.

There was a flurry of runs from Chris and Rob (both also got 19) and Niam (20*) came in and looked stylish but the run rate dropped a bit and in the end we rather petered out for 180. Not really adequate. Some of the bowling might have been punished. 

Tea was superb. Apparently. I did not partake because I fucked off to look after my grandchild. But I still had time to chat to Lachlan’s Dad and to deliver my lunchtime homily. The sermon was about how to survive as a cricket team for nearly 50 years. 1. Do not interfere with other players’ WAGS 2. If you do, don’t do it in the pavilion. [I have caught an unnamed V&A player in the home changing room with someone he didn’t ought to be with.] One team we used to play fell apart because of such behaviour. At Stonor, I saw the offended party try and hit the adulterer with a car jack. 

My banter with Mr Nieboer Snr was hampered by the acoustics in the pavilion, where lunch was served. The repartee went something like this –

MR NIEBOER SNR: Was your father in the dessert?

ME: Desert? 

MR NIEBOER SNR: No, I had some cheese.

The openers for the Legends looked competent. But their No. I was beautifully caught by Rob at point off a Christiaan Jonkers longhop, and another wicket followed courtesy of Lachlan (caught behind). Nieboer Snr and I reckoned Lachlan was bowling too short and wide, it might intimidate but the batsmen weren’t good enough to get a snick and the ball careered over the sticks when missed. Jonkers heard our moans and thought us a bit pansy; he hates batsmen being mollycoddled. 

Chris M-T came on and picked up a wicket and the Legends found themselves 40 for 3, but rallied. One tragi-comic moment came – as it often does – from Adam Jacot de Boinod. A ball was lofted into the outfield. Tom P-G was there, nicely positioned, but so was Adam, although he needed to run backwards. Adam called ‘MINE!’ The inevitable happened. He dropped it. Poor Adam looked sheepish; but anyone can fuck up like this. Adam is prone to these mishaps and should be inured to embarrassment by now.  

Their No 2 scored freely. He looked a ‘no-hoper’ according to an astute judge but went on to hit 87, until bowled by Christiaan. He was dropped several times, once by M-T (‘not an easy catch to drop’ – Jonkers). 

Rob bowled nicely and so did Tom P-G (although his loose ones were punished). Thankfully we had a proper keeper in Matt Wright and he made a difference. Legends XI appeared at one point to be coasting, the run rate of 7 was feasible.  But then two things happened. Matt Symonds came on to bat, having modestly put himself down the order. He is elegant and accomplished. He stroked Rob high to the boundary. Leo was underneath. He was nerveless, He caught it without a tremor. Then Chris made a crucial bowling change. With eight overs to go he brought back Lachlan, just as they were in sight of our total. Lachlan’s two overs were maidens! That meant Legends now needed 12 or so an over and it was beyond them. In the end they were 15 short of our modest total. 

Legends XI are alumni of Oundle and Leeds University. I told one of the Legends that we had a chap who went to Oundle, Vin Grantham. ‘Was he the man who caught that running catch last year?’ he asked. ‘I was not there,’ I said, ‘but no.’

By Nicky Bird