V&A v London Desperados CC
16th May 2023
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28th May 2023
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V&A v. The Ageing Rock Stars XI (ARSE)


V&A XI: J. Tetlow (c), T. Bird, D. de Caires, N. Constantine, S. Constantine, A. Jacot, R. Taylor, L. Nieboer, D. Pitlarge, C. Malhotra, M. Wright (wk), N. Bird (12th Man)


Summer seems to have finally arrived at Stonor. The smell of freshly mown grass has replaced the heavy, damp air that has blighted the early season and the wicket is beginning to lose its evergreen hue. There was, and I hope you can believe this, sunshine! I don’t know who is bribing who up there – but keep it going.

The Ageing Rock Stars XI (ARSE, for short, as they were all very keen to point out) are an assemblage of the Old Wimbledonians who are ‘even older’ apparently. I shan’t pass judgement on the age bit, but I didn’t spot any rockstars of note. But I am young and ignorant of these things. Would I recognise a member of Status Quo in the street? No. But their keeper was a dead ringer for Phil Collins.

Skipper Tetlow lost the toss and we were stuck in the field for the much vaunted return of our Bajan Bomber, Dennis de Caires, who steamed in down the hill from The de Caires End. Something of an ageing rockstar in V&A circles, he’s the only quick I know who bowls in tortoise-shell sunglasses and two jumpers when the sun’s out. Tres chic. Tres chaud. Nieboer opened alongside, up the hill and into the wind, in a selfless gesture of age before beauty and had the ball talking from the off, expertly extracting pace and bounce out of a wicket that is still coming out of hibernation.

Runs were scarce, with a couple of chances failing to go to hand early on. But to their credit the Rock Star openers Evans and Gardner rode their luck and saw off the opening salvo. With the change to Jacot and Malhotra, and with their eyes firmly in the score began to accumulate with Gardner taking on the role of aggressor. Suddenly, the score was 101-0. With cries of “The wine is open” wafting over the outfield from the boundary, Tetlow turned to spin (pun very much intended) and was rewarded when Taylor took a remarkably sharp caught and bowled chance on the stroke of lunch.

We lunched in the glorious sunshine on fare lovingly prepared by Chairman, 12th Man and Tea Lady Nicky Bird. His usual filet de boeuf, cold cuts and tomato salads were washed down with the contents of his cellar. Apparently his grandchildren have started messing with the Cotes du Rhone too frequently for his wife’s liking, so it has been donated to quench the rather considerable thirsts of the V&A and guests alike. We discussed the fact that Nicky’s broadcasts on Radio Bird (if you know, you know) have taken a modern, woke-ish, sentiment in recent times. Homosexuality in the Renaissance used to feature. Now its all about gender politics and harrassment in the workplace. He saves his opinions on group sex for Boodles.

With honours even and belly’s full, we returned to the field to close the innings. Constantine dismissed Brogden LBW shortly after the resumption, and the field spread. Davies took the attack to the bowling and the score climbed to 167. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. BAck for a spot of death bowling, de Caires dismissed Davies when the ball was skied to Pitlarge, who took a marvellous catch under a swirling high ball. Did he surprise himself? Perhaps. Two balls later and de Caires had bowled Gardner for a very well made 76.

172 for 4, after 35 overs, and it was our turn with the willow. Pitlarge and Malhotra opened for the V&A and got the innings off to a solid start with fluid stroke play on both sides of the wicket. Pitlarge fell LBW to the bowling of Sherlock which brought Constantine to the crease. Malhotra then fell to that absolutely nightmarish mode of dismissal: run out at the non-striker’s end after a straight drive from Nick Constantine was deflected by the bowlers fingertips onto the stumps. Freak-ish things seem to be happening this season, but it was a pity.

That brought Taylor to the crease and the pair quickly accelerated the run rate with some lusty blows, wrestling the initiative away from what had been a solid opening spell by the Rock Stars. Sixes were hit, singles were few, and then Constantine clipped the ball straight to the man at mid-wicket for a brisk 36. 62-3, and in strode the dynamic Tom Bird, who provided an able foil to Taylor and the two batted together well for a time. Bird claims to have but one shot. This is modest. It turns out he has at least two, which he demonstrated with aplomb on the way to his 35 runs.

Seb Constantine punished one very good ball to the boundary, but was bowled by a well directed yorker shortly after. Nieboer played some lovely strokes, including a divine lofted drive back over the bowlers head into the long grass before he fell LBW. Taylor remained, bringing up his half century, before knocking the cover off one straight to the keeper for a very measured and mature 60. 159-7 and suddenly things looked a bit edgy… but ever the man for a crisis, Tetlow sauntered to the wicket and saw us home with ease, ably supported by de Caires (who still finds the boundary with ease). With the scores level, Dennis lofted the ball over the infield and that was that. Crisis averted. The V&A winning streak remains, thus far, in tact.

We assembled in the Golden Bollock for the first time this season. It’s under new management and the delightful Priya was very accommodating. As were The Rock Stars who certainly drink like they know a thing or two about life on the road. A marvellous day and a marvellous new opposition to add to our roster. We look forward to welcoming them back. We play Les Invalides next. Head down, nothing silly…