V&A v Turville Park
5th August 2023
V&A CC v. Raedarii CC
21st August 2023
Show all

V&A CC v Howitzers (tour)

conington 23

V&A XI: T.Bird (Skip),  J.Tetlow, J.Arnold, R. Taylor, N. Constantine, L. Nieboer, B.Horan, N. Scott-Ram (jnr), N.Scott-Ram (snr), M. Terblanche, O. Nieboer

There are two Coningtons near Peterborough, and I found the wrong one. I gave Joe and Nick Constantine a lift and they weren’t too impressed. We drove around the lanes of a scrubby village and asked yokels for the cricket pitch. ‘No idea’ was the stock answer and I thought them moronic not to know their most picturesque spot. ‘It’s by the church. Opposite the manor house,’ I said. Blank, stupid looks. ‘Mark Braid is the owner.’ Who? Then a bloke said – ‘You might mean the other Conington.’ Fuck.

So we were late. We were 13 for 0 when we arrived with Jasper and Marc looking comfortable against goodish bowling on a flat pitch. But Marc, a very good batsman indeed, contrived to nick a fastish ball to the armpit of a bemused first slip. Out. Enter Lachlan who looked set for a good score but played back to an 11-year old boy and was bowled for 5. Embarrassing. The boy, however, was at least 4 foot, unlike the girl who once bowled Adam Jacot. 

I sat with Ben Horan and discussed weighty issues while he scored (he found my chatter ‘distracting’ apparently, and at one point requested silence). We discussed my friend Simon G’s novel theory on why Hitler killed himself in the bunker. Hitler had been watching Bambi, the Disney film, and was terribly upset by Bambi’s mother’s death. On top of the imminent German defeat this unhinged him (Hitler, not Simon). Simon had read it on the net and thus it must be true. I do not jest. Simon is also a flat-earther so he is quite ‘alternative’. He believes in conspiracies. ‘Louis Armstrong never walked on the moon.’ He might have meant Neil. He could get quite confused. ‘Dinosaurs were wiped out by haemorrhoids,’ he claimed. He might have meant asteroids. 

Arnold was stroking steadily when – with an eye on the stuttering score – he charged down the wicket and was stumped for 31. Later, he left early for the ballet. You would not have thought this butch bloke a balletomane but looks deceive – I myself, though clearly built like a brick privy, enjoy watching chaps in tights pirouetting. 

Tetlow did not quite shine as he did last year in this fixture (with two sixes to win the match). The need to slog undid him and he was bowled for 10. 

Our run rate was dire and when Oscar Nieboer (12) – a great cutter of the ball – was caught off the boy bowler we seemed destined for a pretty miserable total. 

Rob Taylor can be majestic. Or out. Against the Howitzers he was majestic. Awesome. Hooks and pulls and sweeps – power and elegance – ‘like a schooner’ someone swooned. ‘Isn’t that what you drink sherry out of?’ said an oaf.

Nick Constantine, who got a pair here last year, was also imperious: more classical, straighter, but no less effective. They saved the day with a partnership of about 80, of over a run a ball. Nick was caught in the deep for 43, and Rob caught and bowled for 42. They had saved the day, both as a match and spectacle. 

Heavy rain had interrupted play but pitch covers were rushed on and play was resumed. At Stonor we would have been washed out. Our innings eventually fizzled out. Tom Bird (3) scored a run on the off (a freak occurrence, like a Liz Truss witticism), and then succumbed to a sneaky ball on the wicket and was most unfairly bowled. He returned to the bosom of his family in the gazebo, where Steff provided cakes and goodies galore. Nick S-R was out for a duck, and Ben and Niam were both not out, 5* and 2* respectfully. 

We finished on 165. A target Tom thought impossible when we were 36 for 4 or so after 11 overs. 

It was a Nieboer family outing, as well as a Bird clan outing. Mrs N brought cakes and ale to supplement Steph’s offering. We were both amused by Lachlan’s new Zapata moustache (inspired by Brando) but made polite noises of approval. The Howitzers came with two proper umpires, black trousers and all. I heard someone say – ‘Thank God N. Bird doesn’t have to umpire and talk bollocks at square leg.’ At tea we discussed A.I. The Howitzers’ brainy scorer, and Nick S-R who is very brainy too, know all about such stuff. ‘Could A.I. give me a short essay on the Battle of the Somme, with jokes and nudity included?’ Yes. With jokes. But not the ‘inappropriate content’. 

Their innings started well for them. And bode ill for us. Our total was good, but hardly insurmountable. But we had Lachlan (his brother sometimes calls him ‘Lockers’ which he doesn’t like). And other fine bowlers. 

They were 40 or so without loss and going nicely when it was Nick C who struck, bowling their No. 2 for 11. Skipper Tom Bird persisted with a 5-man slip cordon until they started to score too freely. Then Rob Taylor nonchalantly caught and bowled their No. 3 – also for 11- and it looked like we had a chance. But Mehta (No. 4) and Holloway (No. 1) were smiting the ball ferociously. Until we had a breakthrough. Rob Taylor bowled Holloway (for 42) and Terblanche bowled Mehta (27). And then Rob – taking over the gloves from the tutu-loving Arnold – got a smart stumping. 

Unfortunately, Joe Tetlow, a brilliant fielder (mostly) managed to drop two (yes, two) catches in the deep and although the rate required was 8 or so an over, it was within their reach. 

But then something strange and magical happened. I watched the closing minutes with Steph Bird and Mrs Nieboer. We needed a wicket. Badly. Lachlan strode in to bowl. Rob T crouched behind the sticks. I said: ‘Lachan will get a wicket.’ And he did! The batsman nicked a faster one high to Rob’s right, and we all looked towards the boundary. But bugger me! Rob palmed the thing! One of the greatest catches ever seen. A few balls later I repeated my prediction. ‘Lachlan will get a wicket.’ Another victim! Ben Horan caught a catch in the deep to show Tetlow how it’s done (you put your hands together). Steph was aghast. ‘Do it again,’ she pleaded. So I did. ‘He’ll bowl him,’ I said. And Lachlan did. Blimey! Uncanny. They were all out for 144. We had won. Which didn’t seem likely hours before, or when I was in the wrong Conington.

By Nicky Bird

*Mark Braid and the Howitzers, and Mrs. Braid (Caroline), are wonderful, generous hosts, not only providing kosher umpires but also scrumptious teas and craft beers and – at the end – pizza! And they have an electronic scoreboard. It is parked on the far side of the field, and has lots of flashing lights. It worked for a bit. Unlike the clock at Stonor. This report, by the way, has not been written by ChatBot or it would be free from ‘unsafe content’. And, unlike our clock, accurate.