Me: “Hello mate”
Cressey: “Hi mate, where are you?”
Me: “Errr…. [looks out window] somewhere near Clapton”
Cressey: “Oh, in an Uber?”
Cressey: “Great, I am about to send you the details of a sports shop, can you go there and buy stumps”
Many a Village skipper has bemoaned the Club Kit, our very own, very real version of The Luggage (“half suitcase, half homicidal maniac”) but one solution to the problem posed by its weighty weight is most certainly not to abandon the six poles when we are the home team. To be fair to the popular brand of rum, it is not the first time this has happened. Village Elders convened on the WhatsApp to agree that this is at least the third time that some hapless sod has been dispatched post haste to get wood for the greater good.
This detour for retail therapy on top of a knackered train blocking the entire middle bit of the orange line meant that the game was already underway when your correspondent arrived at fortress Parliament Hill, somewhat sweaty, breathy and springy pole in hand.
I was relieved, because the Village were batting first (it’s so safe to assume that Olly lost the toss and was inserted that I am not even going to check) in front of metal stumps and this season, with Graham opening, you have to be quick or you will miss it. Just in the nick of time! Out caught for three. A high score for the season? I did check this one on the stats page, which shows Potty’s high score this season is 35 which may suggest that the website needs as much attention as his batting. (9.33 since you ask)
Much Better Things Were Happening At The Other End, which also happens to be the title of Matt Hancock’s upcoming autobiography. There was no awkward fumbling around as James de Mellow went about his work, cashing in some husband points in exchange for RUNS. There was a slight mishap when a beautifully timed hook shot fell just short of the boundary but more importantly straight into the hands of a perfectly placed fielder, who shelled it good. In many games, this moment could have turned out to be a game-changer. In this particular one, maybe not so much.
Other people scored runs: Morgs got a good 18 and Abs got a good 19 before both were done with PH classics. Honourable mention to Cressey, also cashing in husband points (don’t @ me) in exchange for RUNS, with a solid 50 before being out the very next ball leaning on the accelerator towards the end.
But this innings was all about three individuals.
Firstly JdM compiled an excellent knock from the top of the order, very composed and watchful whilst also explosive at times, hitting one bowler straight back over his head for a beautiful maximum down the ground. Gorgeous. An excellent 91, proper “platform” stuff.
Secondly TdW whom, after nearly six years of trying to explain to the Dutch public why the British hate them so much that we are willing to blow up our access to our most important market whilst our leaders blow up their marriages so that they can titillate their mistresses with a flash of blue passport whilst desperately licking out jars of Vegemite to stave off the Delta variant, is throwing in the towel. Tim’s contribution to the club has been massive, epitomised by his organising of our Amsterdam tour and the strangest night since 9/11. A pleasure to be with, an absolute gentleman, he will be hugely missed as he returns to the motherland. Hopefully somehow we will see him gracing news screens sporting the Village tie once again in the future. This was Tim’s last proper Village game with the beers and Troj Trolling T20 still to come.
Thirdly BdBoomBoom as a late substitute into the Village team for the day was also cashing in serious amounts of husband points for RUNS in front of his wife and kids as he climbed into the death bowling. Bilal pumped 23 runs, 22 of which were in boundaries (he must have wanted to keep the strike) including three brutal sixes of the kind that only Bilal can hit.
But wait! There’s more!!
Whilst Bilal’s husband credit is clearly excellent, it is also finite. He had negotiated driving the family home at a reasonable hour for little people and therefore needed to bowl in a hurry. So he cleaned up Som and he cleaned up Ben. He pinned Rob and he pinned Ash. He could also have had a run out off his bowling, but presumably because these do not count to the bowler, Bilal instead stood beside the stumps as an excellent throw came in from Eklavya and sort of waved the ball through.
Perhaps in search of a 5-fer, perhaps pushing his credit envelope, Bilal was found to be going into his overdraft in terms of overs half way through his alleged ninth and was therefore hooked on instruction of the scorer, promptly turning left in his run up and kept going all the way off the park and into the car. 8 overs (9 overs? 8.3 overs? 7 overs? Who knows!) four excellent wickets and only 17 runs.
At this stage in the report I should include some other important facts.
Firstly, Village had set the oppo 234 to win, which looked slightly above par on a wicket that was tricky at times but not unplayable, as demonstrated by James’ excellent knock.
Secondly, Stoke Newington are a fully fledged cricket club with four senior teams, juniors, and all that. We were playing their thirds I believe and as is often the case, there were children. We know about children. We have seen them before. Mercifully, despite bowling very well, the three children had not taken any Village scalps. Special mention to their spinner, who was clearly a bit nervous and still learning his game, but was able on occasion to land it and turn it up the hill in a way that frankly should not be possible.
Thirdly, Louse was not available for this game.
So it was yours truly that was brought on to replace Bilal mid run up, an agreement was made with the oppo to strike the three extra balls from the book and have a full over bowling at the kids, conceding a boundary in the process. In the second over Pitcher boosted his chances of this year’s bowling prize rather cheaply and in the third person, cleaning up the remaining three wickets.
Bowling from the other end Archit did well, 6-2-10-2 which also included getting one to go up the slope and into the stumps, the other a juggled catch by a slightly fortunate Potty at gully off a genuine edge. Troj got one, with the wrong ‘un, he was happy.
As the match had finished sooner than advertised several Villagers dashed down excitedly to The Vine for The Sesh and The Euros, featuring Wales and Italy amongst others. News broke of Hancock’s resignation which threatened to ruin Tim’s night in front of the voetbal; never before have I seen a grown man so despondent at the demise of an A. A. Milne character but fortunately for our Dutch correspondent the call from his editor never came. The ratio was poor as the skipper ordered in a table of starters early doors followed by full blown mains all round later on. No puddings though as the chef had annoyingly clocked off.