conington 23
V&A CC v Howitzers (tour)
13th August 2023
V&A v Stonor CC
31st August 2023
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V&A CC v. Raedarii CC


V&A XI: C. Jonkers (c), A. Jacot, T. Bird, N. Derewlany, J. Arnold, Juni, C. Kulasingham, I. Sarif, R. Hayley, L. Nieboer, Ranjith




When Colin Cowdrey faced the Aussie paceman Jeff Thomson in his last innings, the conversation went like this –

Cowdrey: Good morning. Mr. Thomson, I believe. My name is Cowdrey, pleased to make your acquaintance.

Thommo: That shit cuts no ice with me, Fatso. Now piss off.

I mentioned this exchange at lunch because – apart from it being exactly as old as our club – it typifies two cultures, that of the venerable MCC, patrician and courteous, and that of the Brave New World of sledging and swearing. Faded flannels v lurex. Raedarii CC (‘coachmen’ in Latin) are very much old school, polite and helpful. They cleared their dishes. Said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and called me ‘Sir’. Their charming skipper, Rupert Baddock, even emailed to ask whether it was true that our dress code demanded jackets and cravats for luncheon. I fear that the reality of our presence, and attire, was a disappointment – apart from our skipper Christiaan Jonkers, whose nice clean trousers and language always impress. But he is not a snob and married a girl from Middlesborough, once he had deciphered her patois.

We played a 35-over game, and batted first on a glorious day, with only the tents of the Craft Fair in the park marring the view. Our openers, Robin Hayley and a new chap, Juni (who Jasper had roped in), began slowly against good bowling, particularly from Merryman. Juni is technically sound but found the dead pitch tricky. Robin was caught for 4 and Jasper strode in. His first ball was a freak. It pitched outside leg, turned violently, and jumped up and nicked the bat. He was caught behind. We were 20 or so for 2 off 10 overs. We needed quick runs. Enter Nick Derewlany, and his lime green shoes, which must have appalled the traditionalists of Raedarii. Nick’s first stroke went for 4. He looked imperious. But then came a turning point. He was dropped – by the otherwise immaculate keeper – when on 18. Bad mistake. Nick then began an assault on the bowling, which was mostly tight, which turned our innings.

With Juni flashing the odd boundary, Nick soon passed 50 – with some immense sixes. He was eventually well caught in the deep for 68. Lunch was courtesy of Steph Bird (as was a scrumptious tea). Reliable as always. Pasta, pesto, chicken, garlic bread… the impeccable Raedarii waited for me to help myself and sit down before enjoying the feast. They turned out to be a diverse team, both Oxford AND Cambridge. Mostly in the wine trade. Sarah Jenkins, having just announced her retirement from catering after 40 years, turned up with a big cake for tea. If you fuck off – and get a hugely expensive present on the occasion of your fucking off – you should give it back.

We discussed tastelessness. In 1990 there was a TV sitcom that aired for one episode called ‘Heil Honey I’m Home!’ The ‘joke’ is that Hitler and Eva Braun live next door to a Jewish couple, Arny and Rosa Goldenstein. Adolf doesn’t get on with Arny. Ho ho. How on earth did it get made? The conversation moved on to Dumb Britain. Robin said that a recent answer to the question ‘what was Hitler’s first name?’ was ‘Heil’.

Jonkers is nowadays perplexed by University Challenge as it’s about women artists and Coleen Rooney (‘who she?’) and social media. ‘Tok Tik and things like that.’ Not wanting to seem elitist, I shared some Christmas mas cracker questions. The audience was unbelievably dumb. What do you call a chap from Tipperary with 400 girlfriends? A farmer. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world? Mt. Everest. Why do we know Hitler was a good golfer? He only needed one shot in the bunker.

After lunch we progressed rather slowly to an eventual total of 179, with Juni (66*) opening up towards the end with some fluent shots. Ranjith (5), Tom Bird (8) and Nieboer (2) all went cheaply. Christy was 2*. Raedarii’s fielding was superb, particularly their throwing. I umpired. They treated me with respect – I am not used to this sort of thing when umpiring…

I am normally called a wanker.

Merryman was the pick of their bowlers, with three maidens, one wicketmaiden, 2 for 12. Unusually for teams at Stonor, and rather unfairly, they had no old gits, no passengers, all could walk unaided and none showed signs of cognitive impairment. Raedarii’s innings started very slowly – because of excellent bowling by Jonkers and Nieboer. ‘Lachlan was too good for them,’ said Christiaan. I watched with Annette Jacot and her view was that Lachlan should ‘aim for middle and off, pitch it up and the wickets will tumble’. How right she was.

Their opener Vint was bowled for a duck, and their keeper, D. Osbourne (his twin was also playing), was bowled for 8. These were good batsmen. They did not have a surplus. But Raedarii had hope while Merryman, a sound bat as well as bowler, was at the crease. Christy came on and promptly bowled Jones and Bolton in successive overs. Yet Merryman remained and while he and a good stroke player, Turner, were smacking the ball they still had a chance. Until Christy dismissed Turner for 22. Despite some dropped catches by Jonkers (who made amends by catching their No. 9 off Jacot), Raedarii stuttered to a total of 113.

Well beaten. But on another day, if their star players had withstood Lachlan, it could have been different.

Ottilie Bird, aged 4, was a lot smarter than grown-ups at the cracker quiz. What do you call a chicken crossing the road? Poultry in motion. While her daddy was batting, she and Mrs. Bird were colouring a picture of St Basil’s. They were still colouring when he was out. Frankly, you can colour St Basil’s any day, but blink and you might miss a Tom Bird innings.