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V&A v A Few Good Men


It was something of a perfect storm of extenuating circumstances this weekend as the Regatta descended upon Henley and the Aussies upon Lords. For the V& A this is a bit of a Christmas-and-birthday-at-once situation. Thanks to the efforts of our seasoned selectors, we ended up with an 11 a side game by Saturday morning, not including their skipper who had a motorway mishap but including this skipper, who was just very late.

By the time I arrived we were already two down after only a few overs, Tom P-G and local colt Tom Atkinson both getting caught. Obviously, I’m not totally privy to the circumstances of these wickets but TPG’s lack of willingness to talk about his caught and bowled said a lot. The often reliable and elder Pitlarge missed the opportunity for a father-son partnership getting bowled by Rupert for 2 leaving Pitlarge-the-Younger (Alex) to steady the ship alongside Tom Bird. And by golly did they! Pitlarge is clearly a quality player and played a high percentage of classical shots all the way to lunch, whilst Bird played a high percentage of classic Tom Bird shots, popping it down leg here a wollaping it to cow there. It was a joy to watch and mercifully reduced the heart rate of this debut skipper.

An enormous shout out must be given to Steph Bird for both quality and quantity of lunches provided this season. Hopefully it was something of a salve to know her other half had made a half-century that morning, as had Alex Pitlarge. The atmosphere over lunch was jovial and well-mannered as you’d expect from “A Few Good Men” and the food was excellent as you’d expect from Steph Bird. Wine was opened, Ashes were discussed, and the sun shone. All parties concerned were somewhat reluctant to get back on the pitch which at Stonor is a sign of a good lunch!

The two heroes of the morning continued as if the wine had never happened taking us through almost the full over count in confident fashion. Tom Bird eventually fell to one of our own (and yes, we’ll take the credit) as Adam Knight bowled him with a straight one. Wright popped in and played his favourite shot over the bowler’s head for four and then popped out again fairly shortly after. Jonkers came in and tried to get things going but mistimed it rather and fell for a duck.

This left new recruit Joe Turner to see off the innings with Alex Pitlarge. Sadly in cricket you don’t get a century just because you deserve one and Pitlarge ended up getting run out on the last ball for an essential and very well organised 93. We had set a more than respectable 222 to win off 35 overs. A special mention must be given to the oppo’s last minute ringer Sienna who at 10 years old was one of the most organised and athletic fielders ever to grace the fields of Stonor. She must have saved at least 80 runs down to fine leg and bowled a very competent over of medium pace. Hats off to her.

Jonkers was given the fresh nut and provided some invigorating in-swing action as usual. He bowled an extremely economical spell of 9 – 1 off four overs getting their number 2 out caught in the process. Sadly, improbably and yet inevitably he went for a catch and got hit on his injured finger a while later and had to retire hurt. Once again it fell to the offspring of the oppo to fill in and once again they were exemplary in the field.

Jacot opened from the other end and relished the chance to sling the new ball about, preceded by some mindful breaths of course. It certainly seemed to work as he got the ball moving nicely away from the bat and bowled their opener Staker with an absolute peach. He finished his spell with a maiden and seemed very happy which for Adam Jacot means it was really a very good one indeed.

They were 24 – 2 and it came time for some youth and some spin. TPG held down one end with what their batsmen called “mystery spin” whilst youth player Joe Turner charged in from the other. Their 4 and 5 Davis and Robinson stuck around for some time putting on a 50 partnership. Tom Atkinson came on to bowl some off breaks and proved to be just the ticket as he bowled Davis who was well on his way to 50. TPG took two well deserved wickets and Atkinson another to leave them at 126 – 6.

They had batting still to come as Mason came in and made a brave 20, Knight 22 and Crockenden 10. However, we had an ace up our sleeve in the form of Alex Pitlarge who can also bowl rather well. He beat the bat a number of times and looked dangerous. Enzo Nicoli put in a good stint at the death drawing Whittaker in to play a silly shot and get caught. Pitlarge clean bowled Mason and Knight to put A Few Good Men only one Good Man away from defeat and 70 odd runs short.

The resilience of their lower order took it close as they reached 184 for 9 but it seemed
somewhat inevitable that Alex Pitlarge would finish things off with another clean bowled finishing with figures of something mad like 3 – 4 off 4.1 overs. A clear man of the match performance and a definite beer in the pub from his dad.