Match played at Caterham School. MCC Women won the toss and elected to field. Arkadin CC 294 for 5 in 40 overs (Carter 67, Lee 61, Danson 60, Albery 2-29, Evans 2-26). MCC Women 102 all out (Gasipra 30, Woodhead 3-25). Arkadin CC won by 192 runs.
[NB: when used in this report, the expression “girls” is not intended as a sexist, generically reductive term for “women”, it is meant literally!]
In a fitting finale to what has been a superb 10th anniversary season, we welcomed the MCC Women’s Academy XIto Caterham for a 40 over “battle of the sexes”. For us it was an opportunity to expand our own cricketing horizons yet further and for the girls – a scratch group selected from the best of the home counties’ young talent as part of an MCC development programme – a chance to test their skills against an experienced* men’s club side.
Weakened slightly in their batting by the start of the WLS (Women’s Super League) on the same day, the MCC were nevertheless able to field a battery of no less than eight exceptionally talented young bowlers and a wicketkeeper as good as any Arkadin has faced in its ten year history. Thanks to patient and well-crafted innings by Cotterell(43), Lee(61) and Danson(60) and some fireworks at the end by Carter(67) Arkadin amassed an impressive 294 off their 40 overs, which ultimately proved too great a total for MCC to chase down.
This game was in many ways a contrast of styles as much as a clash of genders (and generations). The MCC players, all decked out in navy blue cricket kit with training shorts, turned up an hour and a half before the match started and were doing fielding drills in the outfield an hour before the game. A clutch of Arkadians, who had turned up just about on time, attempted to throw a ball around in some sort of emulation but were thwarted when the girls expanded the footprint of their own exercises onto the area the guys were occupying, causing this already pretty lamentable Arkadin warm-up effort to be swiftly abandoned, under protestations that it was “quite hot, anyway”.
As the captains tossed up, the contrast in attire also spoke volumes about the relative professionalism of the two sides. Conscious of the unbalanced nature of their XI, the MCC won the toss and put Arkadin into bat.
Led by their inspirational coach and manager, Danni Warren, the MCC XI were vocal in the field and the nature of some of the chatter was, it is fair to say, unprecedented to Arkadian ears. Openers Allenand Cotterell, marching to the crease full of purpose, were immediately greeted by the exclamation: “oooh, I love their caps” from the cover point area. Now, this may well have been a sincere outburst of appreciation for the very smart limited edition 10th anniversary woollen baggies provided for us by Gentlemen & Players, or it might have been an extremely disconcerting sledge homing in on our slightly silly fastidiousness…we shall perhaps never know. It was enough to unsettle Allen, whose [immaculately timed/streaky] (depending on who you ask) square cut for four was all he had to show from five overs of extremely parsimonious seam bowling. This was provided by the MCC openers Walker(a tight line seaming away) and Tyson(left arm swinging in to the right hander, possibly related to Frank ‘Typhoon’ Tyson whose raw pace and aggression terrorized the Australians down under in 1954-55).
After he and Cotterell had struggled to adapt to the slow pace of the pitch, Allentried to hoist a yorker from Walker over long off and was unceremoniously castled.
This personal catastrophe for Allenhad two beneficial side-effects for Arkadin:
1. It brought talismanic batsman Jonny Lee to the crease, and
2. It allowed the captain to get on with the business for which he was better equipped: helping Mrs Allen prepare the tea.
Lee‘s innings very nearly never got started. While not yet off the mark, he mistimed a ball from Walker so badly that it struck the back of his bat, making a sound like someone had yanked the cork out of a cheap bottle of Australian shiraz. Having had his eye on this fixture for some time, one can only begin to imagine what was going through Lee‘s mind as an absolute dolly of a catch ballooned towards cover…only to be shelled. No names, of course, but while to say that this unfortunate error decisively altered the course of the match might be an exaggeration, it was nevertheless hugely significant. Lee, supported by a highly-focused – and, it must be said, somewhat heavily perspiring – Cotterell, was then able to see Arkadin through to the half way mark, both batsmen treating the MCC attack with appropriate caution but latching onto anything short.
MCC’s second change bowler, Amy Price, cut an intimidating figure, mixing up her heavy, short-of-a-length stock ball with the occasional bouncer, but her propensity for doing violence was not helped by the benign pitch. Front line spinner Eva Lewis bowled a testing length and extracted just the right amount of turn to keep the batsmen honest, though she could not completely elide the odd four-ball, of which Leeand Cotterelltook full advantage. It was significant that all the bowlers, egged on by their team-mates and coach, rarely responded to a bad ball with another one straight after. (Another relative novelty in Arkadin matches and one which testified to the value of professional concentration and discipline).
After the drinks break, Leeand Cotterellset about increasing the run rate, which, coinciding as it did with the re-introduction into the attack of the pick of MCC’s bowlers, Emma Albery – an off-spinner with lively pace and impish variation – led to their demise. Cotterellwas bowled for 43 by Albery, attempting to pull a length ball and Lee was trapped leg before by the same bowler, having charged down the pitch. (One might argue that he was quite far down the wicket when it struck his pad, but faced with a loud appeal from all sections of the field, including square leg and cover-point (!) umpire Chris Pullen was persuaded and Lee, without objection, was on his way for 61).
Alberycontinued her spell from the Wall end while Dansonreplaced Cotterelland carried on where he left off, albeit with a bit more energy. This sensible batting approach, latching onto bad balls but not doing anything too silly with the good ones, paid enormous dividends. Danson was eventually stumped by Hussainoff the bowing of Ellis, having marshalled Arkadin’s chief destructors – the talented Australian duo of Tom Rischbieth and Ben Carter – as they set about the MCC attack in the last ten overs. Rischbiethprovided some lusty Gilchrist-esque strokeplay before he was well caught by Walker off the MCC’s most economical bowler Gajipra (1-18 off 5) and Carteropening his shoulders as the fielders grew weary towards the close, eventually bowled by Price after top scoring for Arkadin with 67. Crowley (grey hair) and Woodhead (no hair), unperturbed by overhearing two of the girls concluding that some of the Arkadin batsmen were “three times our age”, added the extras for a decent total of 294.
A space should be reserved in dispatches for the MCC wicketkeeper, Hussain whose speed and glovework, standing up to the quicks, were so inspirational we were almost into the sort of territory where we could have considered charging for tickets. She was also the chief suspect for another unusual sledge, greeting a mistimed lofted drive by Rischbieth with: “he’s getting excited…they usually get excited when Emma bowls”, which was either a straightforward evaluation of the off-spinner’s strategy of giving it air in order to tempt the batsmen into a false stroke, or the sort of inappropriate comment which I had spent six weeks waking up in a cold sweat worrying one of our team was going to come out with.
All in all, the first 40 overs of this match were of exceptional quality and highly entertaining for the sizeable support which had turned out. Supporters included young families with children, boys and girls who cannot have failed to be enthused by the youthful MCC XI’s performance. Tea was well deserved by all.
There was terrific work by the Arkadin tailenders, Lawson and Smith at the tea table, climbing into the clotted cream scones and strawberries and punishing anything which resembled a ham and pickle sandwich. Thanks to Charlotte for a stunning spread. Mini pork pies and pickled silverskin onions? Always a winner. I’ve just realized this is the most Alan Partridge-esque thing I have ever written.
After the break, the MCC Women, faced with the imposing target of 295, lost wickets with too much regularity, partly due to some sharp bowling by Arkadin quick Ben Carter (snaring danger woman Price to a superb one handed slip catch by Lee) but mostly because of an overly insistent appetite for scoring boundaries off deliveries which weren’t there to be hit. In other words: scoreboard pressure. Crowley (whose first over went for 9) soon settled into a nice rythmn, claiming Gajipra’swicket, whereupon Woodhead(slow left arm) and Cotterell(leg breaks) extracted some prodigious turn and tied the girls down, ramping up the run rate pressure further. It was still disappointing at times to see how cheaply the girls sold their wickets, when occupation of the crease, at least during the first ten overs, would have given them a chance to be competitive. The confidence they had deployed in the field did not seem to have migrated across to their batting (perhaps because only a small number of them were frontline batswomen). Smithbowled his usual tidy line, proving frustratingly difficult to get away. Behind the stumps, Allen– hardly Alan Knott at the best of times – was mentally absent, so distracted was he by the unfolding situation, on two occasions making no attempt whatsoever to gather the ball until it had gone past him: an excellent argument for a role as non-playing captain/administrator.
Chris Berry then bowled three overs, the improbability of which had the effect of momentarily folding space and time into each other, such that the world stopped turning for about twenty minutes, causing a small tidal wave off the coast of Iceland and numerous landslips in Burma.
At 79 for 7, Chris Lawson was introduced, only for his first ball to be despatched into the pavilion by Ellis for six – his Tourette’s from the Paris Tour came devilishly close to re-surfacing, he strangled an expletive just in time.
But the game was pretty much up by then. A do-over was proposed and accepted, with MCC chasing 80 off 16 overs. This ended in a tie, with Gajipraanchoring the MCC innings second time around, scoring a patient, structured 30 in the teeth of a fiery spell from never-say-die Danson.
It was a fitting finale to a day which ultimately combined skill, character, novelty, enlightenment and above all, a true example one of the greatest components of the game we all love, an excellent spirit. A hugely enjoyable and worthwhile experiment, topped off with a glass of Champagne on the terrace (for those who were old enough – J20 for the rest) and talk of possible repeat experiments in the future. Fingers crossed…
Huge thanks to Danni Warren for tolerating this idea, to Chris Pullen and Mark Robson for umpiring, to Charlotte for the tea and to all the supporters who came to make it such a lovely occasion.
A sunlit Friday lunchtime in the City of London on the first day of June was the starting point for a whirlwind 3-day tour that took in the delights of Folkestone, Calais, La Defense, Le Marais, Meudon, Porte de Saint Cloud, Versailles, Bailly-Fontenay and Le Quartier Latin. All of these destinations were reached courtesy of a 2.7L Mercedes-Benz Sprinter CDI 612 and an extremely dedicated and tolerant driver called Russell whose only other defining characteristic was that he is the only upright, sentient human being to possess an IQ of zero.
Not the last laugh of the Tour. l-r: Archie Marr, Gerald Waterfall, Paul McKechnie, Chris Lawson, Julien Allen, Joe Cotterell, Shakaib Qureshi. [Photo: Zed Jameson]
Zed Jameson – our keenest player and official Tour photographer – was delivered to the rendez-vous by car two hours early, by a glamorous blonde companion who seemed quite besotted with him, until the point came where he had to introduce her to the captain and promptly forgot what her name was. By contrast Shaks, who arrived at the rendez-vous by private jet from Dubai, was still half an hour late, having bafflingly chosen to walk from the airport to save money on a taxi. A first Tour photo in the bag (taken outside Julien‘s office to the amusement of his colleagues) and we were gone.
The luxury minibus had a bit of extra space as only eight of us took the Eurotunnel. l-r: Paul, Chris, Archie, Gerald, Tom, Shaks, Julien. [Stragglers: Joe Cotterell, Alan Synnott and Ali Kashif] [Photo: Zed Jameson]
The collective excitement made the trip down to Folkestone fly by. The Headingley test match was playing on the laptop and England were doing well against Pakistan, much to Shaks‘ poorly-concealed annoyance. The first can of beer was cracked around about Spitalfields market, five minutes into the Tour. Word came through that Alan Synnott, who had spent the last three days in the white-hot belly of Hell (Disneyland Paris) was going to get to our hotel well ahead of us. Archie Marr had, shall we say, an incident involving an altercation between his bladder and Russell’s refusal to stop on the hard shoulder. The incident was resolved with an empty bottle of Proper Job, a couple of rolls of kitchen paper and much ribaldry all round.
a) the budget ice box (two black bin bags full of bags of ice from Tesco and fifty beers) melting then leaking all over the bus, thereby soaking upwards through Julien‘s canvas bag, drenching his clean change of underwear, and
b) a bit of business with an old lady at the border who just wanted an excuse to come aboard and personally search all the occupants,
things ran smoothly and before long we found ourselves on the train.
Le Couloir de l’Incertitude: l-r: Chris Lawson, Archie Marr, Julien Allen, Gerald Waterfall (batting), Tom Leach, Paul McKechnie. [Photo: Zed Jameson]
Zed – who seemed to be labouring under the misapprehension that this was a cricket tour – would be the person who consistently suggested we play cricket at any given opportunity and in every location. His first choice was inspired, as the “track” in the Eurotunnel behind our bus provided plenty of help for the seamers. Tom Leach, who had netted before the Tour, was particularly adept at finding the enormous crack on the left-hand side of the central steel corridor on a regular basis, making the ball bite and spit, thereby proving a handful for all the batsmen.
Notable was the bizarrely flattering effect of batting with an indoor ball on a 100mph train 40 metres below the sea bed of the English Channel. Chris Lawson showed himself an impeccable stylist with a range of front and back foot shots, wristy flicks and Caribbean flourishes which led to his being described in advanced despatches by one somewhat optmistic observer as “comedy good”; Gerald Waterfall, whose penchant for hunting shooting and fishing had previously been sufficient to sum up the entirety of his cricket technique, suddenly unleashed immaculately-timed lofted-driven straight sixes over the minibus and into the back wall of the carriage (one such shot travelled 300m, if you take into account the speed of the train at the time). Hopes were high for the real cricket the next day.
Between Calais and Paris, as the realisation kicked in that we were actually driving 300 miles to play cricket, we settled in for:
a) more test match and beer;
b) some wine (Australian Chardonnay, stopping short of bringing French wine to France);
c) a civilized debate about who would share hotel rooms with whom (or rather who had earned the right not to share with Gerald – this turned out to be everyone, so absent Synno got the red pill);
d) a startling view of the misty blood-soaked killing fields of WW1, and
e) a brutally explicit Whatsapp narrative of Alan Synnott‘s private activities as he waited patiently for us in his hotel room at the Ibis La Defense.
Getting into the Ibis La Defense itself was no picnic and Julien had to be somewhat firm with Russell as he prepared himself to cross the river (just to come back on himself) for the fourth time, only to realize that we were circling the wrong Ibis anyway. Once at the place, we wasted no time setting off into the night. 3 Uber drivers, 3 separate attempts at mangling conversations about the French football team’s match against Italy*. We flew past The Arc de Triomphe, Concorde, The Tuileries and The Louvre, all beautifully lit up. Julien had been given a great tip for the best late night eating in Paris, in the hottest, hippest area: Le Marais. We got there at 10pm to find it buzzing…
*(this match ended 3-1 to France and by the time you read this one more time for nostalgia value, France will have won the 2018 World Cup)
Aaaaanyway, we all had a really nice time, the cocktails were good, the burgers interestingly shaped and the waiters were very accommodating. Julien decided it might be time to delegate some of the social aspects of the tour to a young and eager Zed, who had loads of good ideas, the main one being leading us on a wild goose chase through the streets of Paris at midnight and then stopping at a totally random bar, which turned out to be very pleasant. They set up a table for us outside. Archie ordered a G&T served with the tonic on the side in what looked – surprisingly appropriately – like a hospital urinal bottle. Shaks had two Mojitos which he says nearly killed him. Julien also had two Mojitos and both were completely different. The waiters were clearly making it up as they went along.
The decision as to whether to head to something called the “Licking Lizard Lounge” or something else called – equally ominously – “The Jazz Club” was taken for us by our most experienced tourist, Alan Synnott, who made clear that we were not going “annywhere” which required us to pay for entry. As we were a morass of hopeless, gibbering idiots by then, we owe Alan‘s wise head a strong debt of gratitude. I would hate to think how the next day’s cricket would have gone if we’d stayed out any longer. We were in bed by 4am.
For some reason – no doubt anxiety at having forgotten something – Julien woke at 7am and hastily found the nearest supermarket to obtain some supplies for the evening’s festivities which were to be held at our new digs: an AirBnB in Bailly-Fontenay, near Versailles. Now this factlet is important, because Julien‘s waking-time meant he had only 3 hours sleep, which at 47 with a heart condition and anger issues, is not enough. This decisively affected two things:
his eyesight and judgement as regards the type – and quantum – of supplies to buy for 10 grown men in need of a consoling drink, and
his ability to captain a cricket side, make proper decisions about declarations, keep wicket, bowl and generally keep his head together on the field.
And after breakfast and table football in the hotel (Gerald was 8-0 up against Shaks, then lost 10-8, to the immense consternation of the Indian betting authorities) we were off around Paris to Meudon, a posh suburb of South-West Paris (think Richmond-on-Thames) to pick up our 11th man: Ali Kashif, a Pakistani “batting all-rounder” who spoke Urdu, French and Spanish but very little English. [We are greatly indebted to Ali for his efforts on our behalf.]
Walking about in our smart blue tour shirts in Meudon, we were spotted by numerous locals and wished “bonne chance” as well as by some giggling girls (I really don’t see what’s so funny) and a contingent from the opposition driving past in a Renault Clio, whose first thought was apparently “these guys look a bit young”. Zed took a few snaps of Meudon then at midday we were off to the game.
The Standard Athletic Club is a 130 year old cricket club set up by English expatriates in 1890. In the 1900 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, France lost to Great Britain in the final of the cricket (the only time cricket has featured in the Games) and 15 of the people on the field were from the Standard Athletic Club. We were honoured to be playing them, and their facility – recently opened to French members and featuring clay court tennis – was stunning. Things were looking up even further when Joe arrived, having Eurostarred it from London, not just on time, but beforethe start of play.
Match report – morning session: Arkadin won the toss and batted first. Shaks and Ali opened the batting and looked comfortable but boundaries were hard to come by, owing to the pitch having been mowed on Tuesday and the outfield’s grass being long and wet. Ali departed swinging and Joe came to the crease, playing immaculately but hitting only singles as the outfield claimed all solid strikes for itself (and Shaks wasn’t running twos, let alone threes). Chris – another stylist – came in at 4 after Shaks had departed for 28 and he played some beautiful looking drives and cuts, not one of which made contact with the ball. He reverted to just hitting it after that and duly got going. Early season rustiness was apparent in everyone. Gerald tried to take his pads off so he wouldn’t have to bat before lunch, but Chris duly jinxed that idea by succumbing with three balls to go and the umpire didn’t take the players off, so Gerald had to go in and extravagantly leave half an over of spin. 92 for 3 at lunch. Slow going, but we were ready for our fillet of salmon and tagliatelle lunch with oodles of rosé wine.
A generous welcoming speech from SAC captain Alastair Thomas ended with a toast to the Queen (a 130 year old tradition at the club).
Match report – post-lunch session: There was a significant rosé-driven uptick in the scoring rate as Gerald blazed away, Joe found his slogging straps, Tom injected a bit of speed and energy then Paul, Archie and Zed (all of whom were disgruntled at being shoved down the order, presumably believing that the top nine people could all bat at number 3) came in and smote a few very valuable boundaries, including sixes from Archie and Gerald and a huge, potentially litigious six over mid-wicket by Zed which bounced just sort of a French family playing tennis with their children on the lawn. Julien and Alan never bothered to get changed into their whites, as the overs were elapsing (we took nearly 45 of them to get to 177). A declaration seemed polite as the grass wasn’t going to get any shorter and we would be leaving the opposition less than 40 overs to bat (and more to the point, less than 40 overs to dismiss them). Had skipper Julien known only two of the SAC team would ever actually bat, he would have left them 15 overs to get 250. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. Here are some superb long lens photos by Zed of the Arkadin batsmen (except Shaks and Paul, because Zed was umpiring when Shaks was batting and later decided to take no photos of Paul batting as he secretly despises him).
The Arkadin fielding performance was skilful and enthusiastic, especially Tom Leach, who scampered and scurried like a sex panther (see tours passim) and the bowling attack (which consisted of everyone except Joe and Tom) was brave, dedicated, resourceful, hungry, relentlessly committed and almost wholly ineffective. Julien grew dildo hands, missed a stumping and a catch in one over from Shaks then took Shaks off in disgust, telling him he was “posing no threat to the batsmen”; then he threw what’s known as a “wicketeeping strop”, hurling the gloves and pads to the ground, ordering Joe to put them on, in the wholly mistaken belief that this would improve matters.
There was some general disgruntledness from players who were bowled against their will, or weren’t bowled enough, or had to watch others bowling who were terrible, or were told to keep wicket when they wanted to bowl, or thought they were better than everyone else (despite the book showing that in terms of the team’s requirement of getting ten wickets, it was very hard to make any meaningful distinction between them). Generally nothing much went right because – in stark contrast to almost everything else that happened on Tour – when it came to the cricket, we didn’t have one scintilla of good fortune.
SAC scored 178 for 0 with 4 overs to spare, one of them (Todhi) got a ton to a ripple of muted applause from his team mates who had spent all afternoon watching him instead of batting themselves and at the end of the day we had been well and truly stuffed. Only an al fresco barbecue meal in a rose garden laced with rosé, followed by a wild trip to Porte de Saint Cloud to score 4000 bottles of beer and 250 bottles of wine and then an entire night spent bonding (ostensibly over the exhumation and autopsy of the cricketing calamity that had just occurred) would suffice to compensate for our distress. Luckily, this is exactly what the next twelve hours had in store.
Just the thought of what happened next is making me exhausted, so I will let Zed’s instamatic tell some of the story as best it can….
I want to wish you all a very happy Christmas and the best of health and prosperity for the New Year 2018.
Next year sees our 10th anniversary, which is a proud achievement for any serious wandering cricket club these days and I’m delighted to say we have some exciting plans to celebrate it.
We have a fixture lined up against The MCC Women’s Academy, which is a team made up of the most promising female players in the country – all on track for England – on Saturday 21st July at Caterham. This was organized with the kind help of Danni Warren, head of Middlesex cricket and MCC women. I am very much looking forward to hearing your Facebook boasts about our margin of victory. This will be a public event with some activities and possibly some sponsorship, so please bring all your families so they can watch you very much beat – and not at all lose to – the girls.
We are also in the process of organizing a Tour to Paris, France with two fixtures lined up. More to come on this. In the meantime our fixtures against KPMG and Clayesmore are safe as well as a trip to Highclere for those in the mood for Earl-based antics. A magnificent season in prospect.
No season-closing dinner this year, but instead a season opener in May 2018. Watch this space!
Here is a photo of an Ashes cricket party in happier times. Decent effort John Crawley and Ray Illingworth, I must say. Not so much Angus Fraser. And Hick and DeFreitas really should have considered covering up a bit more.
And for our Antipodean friends, a touching exchange of presents from two extremely popular legends of the game.
Match played at Dulwich Sports Ground, Turney Road, Dulwich. Rest of the World won the toss and elected to field. British & Irish Lions – 110 all out (Norris 24, Smith A 30, Lee 20, Freedlander 3-12, Price 2-8). Rest of the World – 101 all out (Barker 31, Qureshi 28, Smith 2-4). British & Irish Lionswon by 10 runs. Man of the Match: Anthony Smith.
A delightful combination of slate grey skies and a somewhat tetchy groundsman awaited us at the Dulwich Sports Ground at 6pm as we arrived. As the rain came down, Chuckle brothers Joe Cotterell and Tom Cotterell (both Gloucestershire) arrived late, the latter looking like a bedraggled puppy who was wondering what the Hell he had agreed to turn up for.
When the covers finally came off at 6.45, the pitch was dry and the Rest of the World took the field, with Lions debutant (and local boy) Simon Norris (Northants) clipping Cape Town’s Matt Friedlander (RSA) through the off side with some ease (though he did play and miss a number of his 75mph deliveries too), while Hampshire’s normally laconic Gerald Waterfall opened his shoulders from the other end against Durban’s Mark Price (RSA) cudgeling four boundaries in two overs. Price snared his man, though, pouching a skier of his own bowling as Waterfall tried one too many shots. This brought Joe Cotterell gingerly to the crease, muttering to anyone who could get within earshot something to the effect of: “can the Saffer not bowl, please?” seemingly ignorant of the fact that ROW’s first three bowlers were all Saffers. The third, Zed Jameson – also on debut – was spanked for a big six by Norris but almost immediately struck back, snaring him for 24, caught by Marr (Aus) in the ring.
Then a very fine piece of cricket saw the end of Cotterell: an outswinger from Price (Arkadin’s most capped front-line bowler) took a thick edge (Cotterell did well to reach it, considering he wasn’t actually sure who he was at the time) and Barker pouched the regulation slip catch, to his evident glee. Regrettably for the ROW this brought Surrey’s Anthony Smith to the crease. Smith had arrived at the ground first that evening, wearing the original Arkadin hoodie and a limited edition original Arkadin cap (of which there are only five still in existence) but which hadn’t been dusted down since 2014. Promptness and proper attire were not Anthony’s only attributes on show that evening. He stroked a six over long on with consummate ease, amidst a flotilla of firmly struck fours all around the wicket, with Marr his principal victim. When questioned about his cricket by the fielders, Smith just looked wide-eyed and said he hadn’t played for two years and didn’t know what was happening. Which wasn’t remotely annoying. He eventually retired for 25. He was supported in his endeavours by Essex’s Danny Buttleman, one of the few players involved in the game who understood that there were runs everywhere and that as it was fifteen overs a side, it was probably a good idea to take them. Lions skipper Jonathan Lee replaced Smith and looked fairly imperious, tucking into Trent Smith and Marr until a magical over from Friedlander accounted for Lee, Buttleman and Slone (first ball) all bowled with their stumps out of the ground. Slone looked particularly forlorn as he often wont to do during cricket matches, but the deliveries in question would have done for pretty much anyone on the field that day: it was a magical piece of cricket which left everyone on the Rest of the World team wondering aloud what would have happened to the Lions innings if Friedlander had bowled at the stumps in his first two overs. The last pair for the Lions, seen-it-all-before old pros Gloucesterhire’s Tom Cotterell and Leinster’s Alan Synnott saw the innings through before Arnfield bowled Synnott with a pearl and a brief return cameo from Smith ended when he was castled all ends up by Barker for 30 (almost as if someone up there somewhere was granting Barker his every wish).
Then disaster struck for the Rest of the World, in the shape of Anthony Smith and Gerald Waterfall‘s fucking dibbly-dobbly swing bowling which tore the absolute throat out of the Rest of the World’s top order. First, big-hitting danger man Archie Marr, bowled clean for 0, then Waterfall induced an edge from “we-expected-a-bit-more” Friedlander (14 first class matches for Boland and Cambridge UCCE, scoring 81 against Eastern Province at Port Elizabeth) for another duck, well held by Lions gloveman Norris. Smith’s second (and ROW’s third duck) was Adelaide’s Trent Smith, caught behind as well; it was 5 for 3 and the British & Irish Lions had complete command of the game. At the other end, patiently watching his companions surrender, was Shaks Qureshi. He’d sat in the Pakistani cabinet for two years (Minister of Finance and Industry for the People’s Party), so he’d seen a fair few catastrophes and wasn’t minded to panic. He continued to nurdle the bowling around until he felt it was time to open up, whereupon he duly did, despatching Synnott for six over long on and cuffing Slone to the square leg boundary in successive balls.
Watchful Australian left-hander Arnfield played a fine supporting role and while ROW were always behind the eight-ball, this pair kept them in touch. Lusty hitting from Berry, Price and particularly Jameson (with a massive six over long off, arguably shot of the day in a crowded field)took us within 36 of the total as Arkadin co-founders Barker and Allen were united at the crease in a seemingly lost cause. Barker then smashed thirteen off the first (his Durham university colleagues Lee and Cotterell J had come in for above average punishment) and all of a sudden Lions skipper Lee‘s complexion started to seem a bit paler. But it was too much to ask; and frankly the Lions were too good, particularly in the field with Buttleman and Tom Cotterell excelling. Despite some comic antics at the end with Norris – impeccable with the gloves up to that point – dropping Allen then not running him out (as he was so certain of his demise he had walked) the ROW fell ten short. A mention for one superlative piece of cricket amongst many: the catch by Synnott to get rid of Berry, as remarkable for the dexterity shown by the catcher as for the celebration by the bowler, Slone, who behaved like he had just strangled a murderous paedophile, putting an end to his reign of terror.
A convivial evening then was brought to a close with a barbecue and three bottles of Alfred Gratien Champagne as well as lashings of beer. Some old acquaintances were renewed and new ones made. We mourned absent friends, Nick Pontt, Ben Clark and others. A few memories of Arkadin trips of old (Oxford, Eton, Clayesmore) were rekindled and we made our way into the night.
Gentlemen of Arkadin
Our itinerary for our Dorset trip two weeks today (Wednesday 12th July):
Congregate at the Heston Blumenthal Popham Little Chef (Drayton, Barton Stacey SO21 3NF) at the mouth of the A303 for Olympic Breakfasts.
Leave for Clayesmore School, Iwerne Minster, Blandford DT11 8LL
Match against The Clayesmore Cormorants CC starts. We bat first and knock up 300. Then we roll their sorry west country arses. Exceptional lunch and tea are both served on the lawn.
Match ends. Rendez-vous at the Talbot Arms after a brief Champagne presentation.
Accommodation has been made available at Devine Boarding House, Iwerne Minster DT11 8NF. So far, myself, Joe, Paul, Chris and Gerry have said we are staying over. Please shout if you would like to stay over and I will get you a bed.
Golf at Ashley Wood GC at 10.10am: Julien, Joe, Chris, Paul already signed up. Anyone else, let me know.