V&A XI: J. Tetlow (C), C. Jonkers, J. Arnold, C. Kulasingham, L. Nieboer, D.Scott, N. Scott-Ram, A. Jacot, R. Taylor, N. Constantine, D. Unadkat
The Legends, as their name suggests, are a team that seek to aspire and leave a legacy that
can be handed down through the generations. Playing only twice a year this seems like
something of a tall order, but who am I to question the deeper tides of human endeavour.
Memories struggled to recall previous results and thoughts quickly turned to more serious
matters such as what was on the menu for lunch.
Under the skilled leadership of Joe Tetlow, V&A elected to field and the opening salvos from
Lachlan Nieboer and Christiaan Jonkers were textbook in their execution as under cloudy
skies and a damp outfield the Legends openers struggled to reach the boundary. Rarely has
there been such spirited and concentrated appealing by V&A, as time after time bat
engaged with pad, yet the umpires remained resolute in their decisions of not out. Lachlan
was seen appealing to the non-existent DRS and asking for replays, and several moments of
pure theatre remained fixed in my mind as first, Christiaan won the appeal of the day. As
the ball thudded into the pad he was seen tearing down the pitch, arms outstretched and
turning imploringly on bended knee to the umpire shouting to the heavens. If there had
been judges, it would have been awarded a resounding 10. It would also have passed
muster in any professional cricket setting.
Christiaan also supplied a second sublime moment as late on his spell, he launched himself
to the left for an improbable catch. As he soared gracefully over the hallowed turf, there
was an exquisite moment of quantum uncertainty, not dissimilar to Schrodinger’s Cat, when
there was an array of possible outcomes. Would he make the catch one-handed or with
both hands and if so, could he finish with a triple summersault with a tuck pike before
landing effortlessly on the ground. In that moment of quantum uncertainty as Christiaan
glided through the air towards the speeding ball, the whole V&A team dared to dream. Alas,
as quantum chaos suddenly made an untimely intervention, and forward momentum
transitioned into downward plummeting, it was not to be, as the probable turned into a
singularity of disappointment, and the ball flew past and Christian made landfall. However,
while his landing was maybe a tad less elegant than his launch, any self-respecting judge
would have given him a 9.5. Ultimately, both Lachlan and Christiaan were rewarded for their
excellent spells as the Legends openers Coulhurst (5) and Campbell (12) departed with less
than 30 on the board after 10 overs.
It was at this point that Joe turned to his spinners and first off was Nick Constantine’s off
spin followed by Dhillon’s leg spin. The Legends numbers 3 and 4, A.C. Baillie (22) and Henry
(21) started steadily, before becoming more fluent on a slow pitch. In the end, though, both
fell to the leg spin of Dhillon. A fifth wicket fell just before lunch and the teams adjourned
with the sun pushing through the clouds.
Lunch was an excellent affair in the true V&A tradition with Nick C providing a centrepiece
of wonderful beef, salads, jacket potatoes and cheese, ably supported by further supplies
from Christiaan. Under the emerging sun, the downpours and cancelled games became a
distant memory, while the conversation turned to such weighty matters as educational
reform and the charms of Sri Lanka. Adam Jacot ably acted as master of ceremonies,
welcoming the Legends, and then offering a heartfelt toast for a swift recovery for Nicky
Bird who is in hospital and could not be with us. Nicky’s shrewd assessment of the state of
the game was sorely missed throughout, although we await his report on the state of the
NHS with eager anticipation.
It is often said in football, reflecting a deep level of intellectual intuition honed over
generations, that it is a game of two halves. I am constantly reminded of the sheer brilliance
of this observation as the mantra is sung out game after game through the timeless march
of pundits. And yet for once, the same could be said of cricket and in particular this game.
While the morning was overcast and damp, with runs hard to come by, the afternoon was
the opposite, sunny with a plethora of runs, showcasing the true magic of the Stonor
countryside. The pitch had dried out and the outfield was smoother. Hegel, in his deep
analysis of thesis and antithesis, would have been hard pressed to find a better example of
the dialectic at work and play. But back to more serious matters. The V&A’s secret weapon,
Dominic Scott, was unleashed immediately after lunch and claimed a wicket. As the years
rolled back, line and length found, each ball arcing slowly to its predetermined apogee –
both batters and fielders were mesmerised.
It was at this point that the game changed gear, as runs started to flow freely, spearheaded
by the excellent batting of Spriggs who made an excellent 71, clubbing a mixture of 4s and
6s to far flung parts of the field. He was ably supported by A.R. Baillie (12). Ball searches in
the undergrowth became the norm and as several bowlers came under the cosh, Rob Taylor
was heard to comment that he hadn’t bowled badly. The murmur of assent through the
V&A ranks was all that was needed to return Rob to his normal state of steady equilibrium.
Special mention should be made of the excellent bowling by Christie who returned figures
of 1 for 13 off 6 overs, and Lachlan who ended up with 3 for 8 off 6 overs. There were also
two excellent catches in the deep by Christiaan who showed that he had plenty left in the
locker after his earlier cameos, while Adam Jacot also claimed 2 wickets. The Legends closed
their innings on 184 for 9, which given they had been 5 for 90 before lunch was a more than
handy score. Special mention must also go to Jasper for a solid performance behind the
stumps in the light of some challenging bowling.
The art of captaincy is a subtle and at times lonely occupation, but Joe’s decision in sending
out Jasper Arnold and Nick Constantine was a stroke of genius. Boundaries flowed freely
from the start and within 8 overs the partnership had passed 50. While Jasper cut and
pulled with his usual aplomb, Nick C hammered the ball to all parts of the ground,
showcasing crisp driving with strong shots to leg and off. At drinks, after 12 overs, Nick C
was on 53* and Jasper on 33* with the score on 89. It was at this point that Jasper was
heard to say let’s get the partnership to a 100 that things took a surprising turn and I
wondered whether such a statement had in some way angered the cricketing deities. I know
that Jasper would never brook such a thought, but I did wonder whether the quantum
uncertainty surrounding Christiaan’s earlier exploits had in some way affected Jasper,
reflecting the cause and effect of the butterfly in the Amazon. Looking to hook, Jasper
missed a rising ball as it connected with his head, which brought his innings to an abrupt
end. Fortunately, the injury was not serious and a further V&A stalwart avoided the tender
ministrations of a hospital visit.
Enter the Skipper Joe T, who was determined to carry on the good work, and when the first
wicket fell for 113, with Nick C making an excellent 68, Lachlan strode to the crease.
Murmurs of dream team and such like could be heard under the breath and the question
was whether there would be any further dramas were dashed as both batsmen set about
their task of hitting the remaining 71 runs with calmness and aplomb. Joe (46*) closed out
the run chase with a 6 and Lachlan finished with 34* with 25 overs completed. The final tally
with a win by 9 wickets reflected an excellent batting display and disappointment for the
After retiring to the pub, I did further muse on the spirit of the Legends and it was clear that
their good nature, competitiveness and camaraderie was something that shone through,
and provided an excellent day’s cricket. We all agreed that such a fixture would continue to
be a legend in the making that would be handed down through the generations, as exploits
with bat and ball would continue to be celebrated. For me this was V&A cricket at its best
where the boundary between the spirit of cricket and competitiveness is navigated under
sunny skies and beautiful countryside.
By Nick Scott-Ram