V&A v A Few Good Men
4th July 2023
Sarah Jenkins’ retirement
1st August 2023
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V&A v Jesmond Jaguars

ollie unabombers

V&A XI: O. Marsh (C), B. Marsh, N. Derewlany, C. Knight, A. Jacot, T. Bird, J. Arnold, J. Waddington, D. Pitlarge, A. Pitlarge

I’ve written one match report for the V&A prior to this. Funnily enough, it was for our game against the Jesmond Jaguars last year. Writing our match report for this fixture is swiftly becoming a yearly tradition. If you don’t yet know what Jesmond is, and want to change that, you can go back to that report. Jesmond was well summarised by one person as being ‘not a bad’ postcode to be in in Newcastle. The Jags played rugby together at university.

The game was initially delayed by some pretty torrential rain. The power went out multiple times in the Stonor pavilion. The dogs were deeply displeased. The children were scared. Steph reported leaks. Nevertheless, this was a chance for the first game of one hand one bounce I’ve seen in the Stonor pavilion. The rubber matting in the home changing room created deep cracks for bowlers to exploit, along with vicious turn, and the size of the room made for a tough job fielding. Not someone to hold back on the day, this even saw Ben go under the lid before play had even started.

The rain died down soon enough so we went out to play, despite a slightly muddy pitch. I opened up from one end and saw my front foot slide a foot on the first ball – some sawdust soon fixed that. Charlie Knight, yet to take his GCSEs, opened up at the other end and soon got dismissed one of their openers . The more he bowled, the more accurate he became, and his testing line and length proved economical (he ended with figures of 2-23, or thereabouts. Though I forgot to take a photo of the scorebook).

At the other end, I was initially denied a plumb LBW, at least in my view. Opinions varied on this. Critically the umpire’s did. In any event, the Jags’ bat proceeded to kick an even straighter, fuller, one next ball to leave them two down.

It’s at this point that a scorecard would be useful to remind myself in what order everything happened. I shall try my best.

Adam took over from my end and, for the second week in a row, managed to bowl someone with a ball he believed worthy of a wicket. “It was a good ball” being his own description should tell you everything you need to know. It was a seed. The Jags’ captain, Adam Chataway, said on more than one occasion it was the best he had ever seen Adam bowl.

At some point about then we took lunch. Nicky said something about Boodles and public schools. He also referred to ancient Latin graffiti apparently visible at CMT’s old school coupling a character called Christophorus with an autoerotic theme.  A better classical analogy for CMT that day would have been the labours of Hercules. Thanks to his labours, the rest of us enjoyed an excellent lunch that he had prepared, despite having to deal with the Stonor pavilion having been a cross between a nursery and the X-Factor. The extremes of the V&A’s youth policy had taken much enjoyment from the karaoke microphone that had fascinated Nicky the week before. Funnily enough, later, Tom was particularly eager to umpire (as Steph noted).

After lunch the benefits of the changing room warm up were seen. Ollie had set a very Bazball field, where Nick and Ben loomed from a short cover and short extra. The Jags’ bat drilled it at Nick – he did a brilliant job of getting a hand to it first, then pushing it up into the air where Charlie stayed brilliantly focused on the ball and dived to take it. A sure contender for catch of the season, but , unusually, two would have to share it for the same catch.

The Jags number 5 (roughly) then settled in to put some much needed runs on the board for them. Jasper and Joe took over, taking care of these middle overs where one of the Jags did his best impression of Harry Brook off Joe’s bowling, spooning a short ball up to point.

As the Jags innings came to a close, Ollie (having bowled some darts around lunchtime) came back on along with me. sing his height (which apparently does not run in the family) to get some life out of the pitch he was able to get a Jag to nick off to Nick behind the stumps. I took another as their batsmen tried to go big but only made it to extra cover, where Charlie was waiting for another catch, this time for his sole account. This left us a chase of (I think) 169. Or maybe it was 176. Something like that.

The exact figure we needed was made somewhat redundant by Ben’s – it leaves the batting innings needing quite a brief description. His brother had brought Bazball to the field, and, appropriately, Ben followed with the bat. I think two balls were lost due to his striking. There were a lot of boundaries. Some of the hitting was immensely powerful. Fielders were often redundant. These fielders included a man at long on, one at cow, and another between them. Somewhat thanks to the Jags’ rather poor catching, Ben brought up a quick ton that meant the Jags were never really in the game.

David, my dad, did not take quite the same approach at the other end. As I promised in the car back, however, I will eschew last year’s comparison to Chris Tavaré. He still took his usual measured approach to batting, but after a few overs started getting a few to go to the boundary as well. A couple of late cuts were nice, as was one sweep which even gave him a four up the hill. He took a few knocks in the early overs, though I still think the Jags could have left a brighter purple bruise had they tried. Hopefully my bank account will be all the better for this description, if not for triggering him when he kicked one where he claims – not for the first time – to have been ‘quite far down’ .

By the time James was in, the match was close to dead. He played a particularly nice drive through point, and more generally showed that the England team at the Lawyers’ World Cup in Sri Lanka this year will be following the test team’s Bazball approach. The Jags seemed to remember at this point that if you catch the ball on the full the batsman is out, and that sadly did for James on the first chance he offered . If only the Jags had remembered that earlier.

Nick, came in at four, resisted almost all temptations to knock off the winning runs unselfishly blocked most things coming his way. Ben could hence bring up his ton, and he carried the V&A over the line for an eight-wicket victory.

Nick’s parents joined us at the Golden Ball after the game, having come all the way from Australia for this match. They were just coming off the back of a grand tour of Europe, going from the volcanoes of Iceland to the coasts of Italy. A great ton by a tall young man from London at Stonor was an idyllic end to their tour. Just a shame it wasn’t their son.