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V&A CC v Howitzers

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 V&A XI: T.Bird (Skip),  A. Jacot, C. Jonkers, C. Kulasingam, D. Pitlarge, D. Scott, J.Arnold, J.Tetlow, L. Nieboer, M. Wright, T. Pritchard-Gordon

For those not gallant enough to brave cricket in April this was the opening game of the season. I heard reports from enduring caterer/administrator Steph Bird of cold weather/unfinished beer and match lost. The day looked safe from at least 2 of these as the V and A took on the Howitzers on a day mostly drenched in some very welcome sun. Tom Bird was skipper for the day and popped in David Pitlarge and Christy to open up, then checked the beer and wine stocks.

Our openers played watchfully before Christy was out caught mistiming a shot off what was a slightly sludgy pitch. Tetlow strolled in and fairly promptly got caught in some running confusion with David who was run out. This was by no means the first or worst of these of the day. But we’ll get to that. I went to console Joe and have a quick look at the state of the pitch. Having completed those tasks and shown off my yorker defences I humbly let through a straight one to make way for better things.

Joe did a good job of playing patiently but was unable to keep out a well pitched swinging delivery from Headley. This left us 35 – 4 with Lachlan and Jasper on the battlefield. They fought many foes – a slow pitch, even slower outfield,  variable bounce,very consistent and capable Howitzer bowling, and one other a bit for good measure. Not too many complaints from the sidelines however as these two played very well. Lachlan hit the first boundary of the day around 13 overs in and played with real authority, picking his moments nicely. Jasper ticked along nicely whilst doing his very best to avoid running 2.

These two kept it up until the very brink of lunch until, Lachlan on 49, Jasper decided this one WAS a 2 and ran Lachlan out. Clearly feeling guilty he then gifted his wicket, driving loosely to mid-off. We were in a much improved position at 105 – 6 off 25 overs at the break and Jasper was in a position as far away from Lachlan as possible. Sensible.

Steph impressed as ever with a wonderful lunch, chicken falling off the bone amidst couscous and olives. Nicky and Christiaan talked about old TV and I pretended to know what was going on. Nicky did a speech a pretended to read from some paper whilst pulling some classic anecdotes out for Howitzers and regulars to enjoy in equal measure.

With 5 overs to go we felt as if we should be able to put on a defendable total, perhaps piling on another 20 runs? In the end just another 10 (6 of those extras). While TPG was caught quickly, Tom Bird and Christiaan both got run out. Adam and Dominick took up the rear at least ensuring we saw out our overs. We set the Howitzers 116 to win.

Buckman and Braybrook were their openers, put to the test against Lachlan and Christiaan. Both bowled very economically, Lachlan with 3 maidens on the trot! It was Chirstiaan who made the breakthrough however, removing both openers, bowled and caught respectively. He then bowled their no.3 as well ending his opening spell with 3 – 6, leaving the oppo about 5 – 3 themselves!

At this stage there was talk of the Howitzers having reversed their order and the story did seem to check out somewhat. Our openers were taken off to reserve for some strength down the order and Christy and Adam came on to strut their stuff. Adam bowled wonderfully finding a tidy groove with his medium pace removing 4 and 5 respectively. Baker batted well for Howitzers making 18 but eventually Christy got his man.

This left Vella and Cheadley at the crease with the Howitzers 29 – 6. The latter had looked dangerous with the ball and in the field and the trend continued, quickly hitting their first boundary and continuing to add runs at a good rate. The V and A focused our sights on removing all of Cheadley’s partners as best we could. Dominick came on an inspired bowling change from Bird, and immediately removed Vella LBW. Christy returned and got Ryder caught behind.

Pearson came in and frustrated our bowlers keeping Cheadley company nicely. Jacot then returned and bowled with discipline to Cheadley, pushing him to run one that he missed resulting in something between a run out and a stumping. Either way he was out eventually Pearson succeeded in the final over to yet another run out. It was a low scoring but, in the end, entertaining game of cricket blessed with sunlight and tasty food. Tea was taken after the match and pints at the Golden Ball thereafter. All in all a classic day out in Stonor.