A more perfect evening for a game of cricket would have been hard to imagine, as the Philanderers gathered in the familiar surroundings of Fitzwilliam College sports ground to play the unfamiliar CBXI. Our opponents were indeed an unknown quantity, and wishing to take no chances with the season’s playing record our great leader had assembled a strong side, with youth more in evidence than usual for a midweek game, to bolster the customary experience (messrs Pelham, Siddle and Coteman between them boasted more than 150 years of experience of Club cricket).
Dressing room banter for some reason turned to the matter of wicket keepers who also bowled. Charlie confessed that he had never bowled a single over, “not even for Philanderers”, a matter that our great leader surely needs to address. The mouth-watering prospect of Charlie Pelham opening the bowling with John Burnett would surely draw a large crowd.
A format of 15 eight-ball overs having been agreed by skipper George Pearson, it was the CBXI who batted first. The game began unpromisingly for Philanderers as the CBXI took 16 off Tom Sherwin’s perfectly tidy opening over, including successive hits for 4 and 6 to the cover boundary. At the other end, Hugo White’s first salvo received similarly robust treatment, and very briefly it seemed that Philanderers might be chasing300. But as line and length tightened the CBXI batsmen were gradually pegged back. Tom (1/31) had his revenge by taking out his aggressor’s middle stump with a beauty, Hugo (1/29) soon trapped the next batsmen LBW, and almost immediately CBXI went 3 down as Henry Campbell swept in and delivered a precision throw from cover for Charlie to whip off the bails for a run-out. Gerald Coteman (0/25) came on to bowl his offies and repeatedly fooled the aggressive intentions of the batsmen with his guileful, teasing flight, while at the other end George Pearson (3/20) bamboozled them with his late inswing, and Henry Campbell (2/25) provided admirable pacy, death bowling though it was with a well disguised slower ball that he took one of his wickets.
A final total of 136/9 looked very gettable on the excellent track Dave Norman had provided, and even more so as Rob Gill and Paul Leary opened the Phils innings with their customary aggression. The arrival of the ice cream van proved Rob’s undoing, as he threw his wicket away attempting an injudicious slog, apparently prioritising a visit to Mr Whippy over his batting responsibilities. At the other end Paul continued to thrash the bowling with a succession of stylish shots to all corners, most notably successive straight sixes over the fielder’s head on a long boundary. He was well supported by Ed Dodson (22) and Tim Middleton (15) who in their different styles smote the ball lustily and kept the score moving along merrily, until Tim perished with Phils 2 short of victory. Paul, who finished with 72 not out, suddenly discovered his forward defensive and generously allowed your geriatric correspondent to get in the game and stroke the winning run, Phils ending on 137/3.
And so a thoroughly enjoyable game played in a good spirit against friendly opposition reached a very satisfactory conclusion. But our great leader is not so easily gratified, and for all I know he may still be sitting in the dressing room wearing a look of thunder and bemoaning the fact that no fewer than 8 of his first choice XI to play Flycatchers at the end of the month are instead turning out in matches to mark Doug Collard’s retirement from the Perse. You have been warned!
A necessary Addendum - Not only is the Great Leader still in the changing room, rather than Ken’s rather quaint dressing room, bemoaning the mass defection of many quality players from the Flycatchers’ fixture to celebrate Doug’s mere 37 years service at the Perse but that bemoaning came after the principle bemoaning - eight ball overs, I ask you. Even the Aussies eventually realised they were riduculous. Goodness were they common practice John Burnett would have been forced into retirement years ago through exhaustion. God intended an over to contain half a dozen balls and anyone practicing the occult 8 ball version from now on will face the wrath of the club’s disciplinary committee and believe me Saudi Arabia’s judicial system would be preferable.
The Great Leader