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V&A v Turville Park


V&A XI: T.Walsh (Skip), A.Jacot, J.Tetlow, J.Arnold, J.Munroe, A.Knight, B.Horan, P.Bridge, N.Scott-Ram, V.Walsh, G.Winters

With the holiday season upon us, and short of a few regulars, I was delighted to receive the call up from Adam J to play for the V&A, as did a couple of my Town & Country regulars, Tom Walsh and Pete Bridge, along with Tom’s eldest son, Vincent. I think that Adam was probably after the very capable bowling and batting of my youngest Barnaby, who has the scalps of a few notable V&A regulars in recent years (no names!), but with Barnaby away, the V&A had to make do with second best.

I played my first game for the V&A over 20 years ago, probably in the last century in fact (Nicky will know the exact date no doubt), when a touring V&A side were down in Cornwall seeing our great old family friends and V&A stalwarts, the Jenkins.  I happened to be on holiday, and I was drafted in for the match with my brother and father. We took on the Trengilly Wartha Inn, Constantine. I only remember a few things from that match, we played in a farmer’s field with very small boundaries, I was given out LBW (by my brother I think…) to the landlord for a duck and my father hit a six over the hedge, just missing my mother who had nipped behind the hedge to answer the call of nature.  

I was regaling this story to Jack Munroe who as we took to the field told me that he also had a received a call-up, after 15 years or so of ‘V&A retirement’, having been a regular in the days when Nicky, Martin B, Dennis and many others were in their full prime. ‘Impressive’ I said, ‘persuasive Adam’, he said!

Midweek and the omens were not good with rain forecast and chat of a ‘pitch inspection’ on Saturday morning.  However, as we arrived at an unusually later meet time of 1pm, the sun broke through, and we were set for one of those beautiful ‘Stonor days.’ 

Having had to take a slight detour and drop by ‘Jonkers Rare Books’ to pick up the match ball from Christiaan (watch out Henley Sports), sadly another notable absentee having to work, our skips and host for the day Tom Walsh arrived. A couple of us had been at the Walsh’s the night before. Wonderful hosts, delicious food and high-quality wine. I wasn’t convinced that the bottle of Madeira was needed at 11pm, but it certainly seemed to help that evening as we took on his bowling machine at full tilt in the near dark, warming up for the next day.

There was chat of a toss being made, but no one made it over the boundary rope and with our opponents Turville Park down to 9¼ players, there was a mini committee meeting to decide who would do what. The ¼ was James Hunt.  Many of you know James well.  Local farmer who lives in Stonor and who Nicky quite often refers to ‘the one that got away’ with the V&A having missed their opportunity to recruit him many years ago.  

James is now a regular for Turville Park and also turns out for my T&C team when we play the V&A, ‘always up for taking on the V&A’ as someone said… James is a very good cricketer who when in full flow can do a lot of damage to teams and is worth at least 2 players. However, James was unusually distracted and was looking at his ‘weather app’ a lot as the toss negotiations were going on. 

“Sorry guys I’ve got to go” he suddenly announced. “The weather looks better than forecast and I need to take this window and get the harvest done.”  The Turville skips, realising that one of his best players was about to leave, quickly asked if they could bat and told James that he would open.  Walsh agreed, Turville to bat, 35 overs aside with ‘High Tea’ between the innings, and that was that.

After a debate in the home changing room as to who would keep wicket, apparently two had volunteered, we took to the field with me in the gloves desperately trying find the other missing volunteer. Opening the bowling was young Vincent Walsh. Hunt was clearly in a hurry to get on with the harvesting as he took the first over for 13, which included a huge six over cow corner towards Stonor Park. A harsh way to treat a 12-year-old, I reminded him from behind the stumps. There was no need to worry though as Walsh had his revenge in his very next over where Hunt trying to repeat the shot top edged it sending it a mile up into the sky.  Realising that I was the closest to it, and with my heart racing, I set off before steadying myself and with great relief the ball fell into the gloves and with the danger that was Hunt, heading back to the changing rooms with a ‘bazball 19’ off only a handful of balls. “Like Bairstow taking Smith yesterday” someone said of my catch, very kind but nothing like…

Before their third bat had reached the wicket, ironically also a ‘Smith’ (A not S), Hunt was already in his Land Rover, possibly still in his pads, and racing off back to the farm and his Combine Harvester, his day of cricket done. 

At the Pishill end, Adam Knight, the pick of our bowlers on the day, was bowling a great line and length and getting the ball to move a lot. The run rate slowed as result, with Walsh Junior also now bowling a great line. It wasn’t long before Knight got his reward clean bowling their other opener for 10 with a ball that move away and took his off stump. Their number 4 followed shortly after, plumb LBW to Knight for 2, followed by their number 5 for only 4 runs, caught by Tetlow at short mid-on, off Jacot after a cunning tactical fielding change by Walsh the ball before. 

As drinks came, welcome in the rather lovely sunshine, I had managed to find the other volunteer keeper, Jasper Arnold, and gladly handed over the pads and gloves to him. Things were looking rosy for the V&A with Turville at 70ish at the halfway mark and four wickets down.

To be honest, when I look at the scorecard, I’m not quite sure what happened after then. Maybe missing the usual lunch break and the hour’s rest with some rare roast beef and fine claret had affected the V&A, and Turville’s cunning tactic of a late start had worked. Who knows, but it all became rather lethargic and stop/start.  Their number 3 was still there and by now was pushing the ball around and with the other youngsters, managing to run lots of twos on the slow outfield, something we struggled with later.  

The score began to accelerate, and all hopes of having a total of 140ish to chase rapidly evaporated. With everyone bar our two keepers having a bowl, so 9 in total, the last three wickets all fell to catches off the bowling of Pete Bridge, Jack Munroe and Nick Scott-Ram. Ben Horan was threatening and our most economical bowler, but sadly went unrewarded and I shelled a difficult (honest) diving chance off Tetlow at fly slip off his rather ‘interesting’ bowling. Their number 3 finished 76 not out and somehow, we’d let Turville get to 173 for 7. With 76 their top score and James Hunt’s ‘5 ball’ 19 the next best, I’m not quite sure how it had happened, but they had no ducks (more on that shortly) and all bats had contributed, so the V&A needed 174 for victory.

‘High Tea’ courtesy of Tom and his wife Marina, was delicious and covered just about every base that a cricket tea should do, from egg sandwiches to sausage rolls, to chocolate brownies and even a Victoria Sponge cake.

Arnold and Munroe opened and for a while it looked encouraging with some nice shots being played around the park against some very rapid bowling from the youthful Montgomery and Henry, C. Munroe fell first, caught behind off Henry for four and we were 16 for 1.  Tom Walsh joined Arnold at the crease and with boundaries flowing the V&A quicky advanced to 50+. 


Henry, C was replaced by Henry, N (I’m assuming his father!), a slow left arm around the wicket. The temptation for Walsh was too much and trying to cut he played on, gone for 17. Another ‘slow’ had been introduced at the Pishill end and the accurate and frustrating bowling on a deteriorating pitch was the perfect tactic. 

The run rate that had started at 5 an over, had already crept up to 7+ as Tetlow joined Arnold at the crease. It was an unusually quiet start from Tetlow as he knew how important he was to a V&A run chase. At the other end Arnold continued to play with swagger before frustratingly he top edged one and was gone caught for a very decent 40.

Sadly things went rapidly downhill from here for the V&A with bats 5,6 & 7 (no names!) all falling for ducks to the Henry father & son ‘double act’, with two falling for exactly the same trick of trying to hit Henry C over deep midwicket, only to hole out to the man who had been positioned perfectly for just such a shot.  

Tetlow, rapidly running out of partners, and with the run rate now approaching 9 an over, opened up and tried to keep the strike. Vincent Walsh was the only one to put up some resistance with 9 including a lovely cover drive. Sadly, once he was gone, there followed a run out and two more ducks from numbers 9 & 10, and that was that, well beaten and some 50 runs short. Tetlow finished on a very respectable 35 not out, but the Henry ‘father & son’ double act had done the damage finishing with 7 wickets between them. 

So, sadly it wasn’t to be. We’d had our chances, but we’d let them get away with the bat and our batting had disintegrated with 5 ducks being inexcusable, albeit credit should go to Turville’s 5 man bowling attack and in particular the Henry duo.

Reflecting afterwards with a pint in pub garden of The Golden Ball, I was reminded how much everyone had been involved on the day with us bowling 9 different players, the other two keeping, and everyone having a bat. As Marina commented looking around the table, “you’re quite an eclectic mix, aren’t you?”  “That’s the V&A” I replied, “and is why we all love playing for them.”