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Holkham v The Philanderers, Sunday 2nd June, Holkham Hall

Won by 8 wickets

Excited anticipation in preparation for another visit to the idyllic setting of Holkham Hall on the north Norfolk coast and the continuing defence of the Sunday unbeaten record. Will this be the day it finally comes to an end, surely not with 2 Cambridge blues in the ranks and not a Rutt to be seen this time (see The Crusaders report). Alarm bells rang on the morning of the match regarding the whereabouts of Hammond, last seen drowning his sorrows in the bottom of one of the new Tottenham beer glasses at White Hart Lane, (don’t push up the innovative valve at the bottom, as Mr H’s trousers found it comes out quicker than it fills up!) following the demise of his team in what must rank as the worst European pre-Brexit cup final, will it be the last?

The advance party gathered at the Victoria for pre-match lunch, drinks and tactics including Mr Hammond who had been found en-route at Ely station. We prepared for the start, a number of us thinking it was a 2.00 start, not 1.30, but with the venerable and distinctly lord-like Pearson Major having won the toss and inserted the Hall, we hurriedly took the field 15 mins late, minus a late-arriving Mr Gill. Heinous crimes x 3, one Free Foresters cap and 2 non-Philanderers shirts, surely fineable behaviour, if not expulsion from the Club!! The Sentencing Committee would sit later in the week!

A new opening attack, John Burnett, 8 overs straight through from the Hall end with a howling gale helping his hitherto unseen in-swingers and Hammond steaming in from the Coast end using the pitch, rather than the gale, to remove the dangerous opening batsman caught behind off a clever slower ball off cutter, followed by No 3 with a short-pitched ball taking out the very bottom of middle stump!! Panic set in amongst the opposition batting as to how they can possibly bat on this minefield and even when connection was made it proved well-nigh impossible to force the ball to the boundary across an outfield that hadn’t seen a mower, or even a herd of deer, for a few weeks!! Bowling changes included The Skipper for one over, “it’s far too windy”, Moondraker whirled away for 8 overs taking 2 wickets and plenty of byes as neither batsman nor keeper could read his googly, or more the case of a totally unpredictable pitch (keep Pimbers happy) and the ever-dependable main club allrounder Heggars bamboozling the batters with his guile and change of pace. The skipper, ever mindful of the possibility that he may have to return to the attack encouraged the troops into trying to keep the ball shiny but then proceeded to hurl the ball into the turf at Mihir’s feet.

Drinks were taken at 20 overs, coinciding with the arrival of the Fuhrer, who having chosen the wrong end was making even slower than usual progress from the car park, tacking against the strengthen westerly. Shipping in Humber, Dogger, German Bight and South Utsire had been warned.

The captain called for Deano from the Hall end and dispensing with any semblance of spin, he produced an outstanding spell of seam bowling, strangely with exactly his normal run up and action, to take 2-33. Pearson Jnr came on to bowl 4 overs of unplayable off spin, and following 2 more overs of pace from Stokesy, 2-26, the Holkham innings came to an end after the allotted 40 overs at 180 for 7.

Following the normal splendid Holkham tea the Philanderers innings opened with an Old Felstedian interloper being thrust into a top 4 otherwise of esteemed OPs including Rob Gill!! Had the match been reduced to a 20:20 it was suggested that Dodson may have a black tie dinner in London at 19.00 hours, as belying the hitherto unplayable wicket, he alongside Mel Ragnauth, making his first appearance as a club member, quickly racked up a 50 partnership in the 6th over, with Dodson’s 50 coming out of 57 (is he trying to usurp Gill) albeit that Mel had only faced 10 balls. Ragnauth treated us to various attempted laps, reverse sweeps (proper ones Pimbers) and ramps but only really succeeded in finding contact with his own helmet. Dodson, with a straight six into the wind up towards the Hall (and some bottom hand whips, not in the Persean handbook) and Ragnauth, looking the class batsman he undoubtedly is, continued passed the 100 by which time both were completely spent having run far too many 2s and 3s; the aerial route really was the only way. Dodson went for 75, followed by Gill and it was left to the Blues Bros to complete the job, with Ed P as normal playing the most stylish shots of the match but also the ugliest hoick to leg. On the boundary the Fuhrer was in full flow when, following Gill’s sledging of in-absentia Aussie Sansom possibly now residing in the US, Phil expressed a totally unrestrained opinion of non-liberal rednecks from Alabama, pretentious unelected legislative dictators in Brussels, and the fact that despite dominating the club he was unable to tour anymore due to an underpants problem, or lack of volunteers to assist; it was suggested that pads may be the answer, and not the type recently donated to Heggars and JB so that the kit bag could be peacefully laid to rest/cremated before it was condemned as a health hazard.

Back to the cricket and in the 23rd over and after a final sublime 4 from Ragnauth, another Sunday victory was secured at 181 for 2. Thanks for Holkham’s hospitality including after match at the Victoria to enjoy the local ales, however, sadly not dispensed from 2 jugs!!

Possible fines to be considered by committee: Ragnauth – Free Foresters cap E Pearson and Dean – non-Phillies shirts Dodson and Ragnauth – glove touching. (EP and MR to be commended for later pulling out of a similar manoeuvre at the last minute)

Final result: Philanderers won by 8 wickets

Holkham Hall 180-7 (Hammond 2-26, Chandraker 2-32, Dean 2-33)

Philanderers 181-2 (Dodson 75, Ragnauth 62*, E Pearson 24*)

Ed Dodson

'The view from the bowler's end'

'The Fuhrer chewing the cud with Holkham's Jon Goulding'

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