A convivial match played in an idyllic setting and an almost timeless atmosphere.
The country house cricket scene was set: most of the opposition in jackets and ties and the IZ Hon. Sec. decked out in a club blazer so lurid it can probably be seen from space. Small boys pitching their tent in front of the scoreboard proudly sporting the Philanderers CC logo and an extended family of supporters looking like extras from Brideshead Revisited. Beyond the ground a Limousin suckler herd with diminutive looking Angus bull in attendance and pert chimneys atop Exning House visible between the many mature trees.
The only real reminder of contemporary life was that we had lost Will Wright and our opponents two players to Covid self-isolation. But, enough of that, on to the cricket.
Ed P won the toss, elected to bat and asked Will H and Mihir to open. Despite his sparkling ’21 form, Will could not overcome the dual handicaps of sleep deprivation and a hangover, failed to trouble the scorers (Emma Radford with David P on light controller) and returned to a bench for much needed R & R. The opposition soon regretted his departure as debutant Tom Bale (friend of Tom Sherwin but not an OP as advertised) was uncompromising not to say brutal in a partnership of 105 with Mihir (31). His 77 included four sixes and ten fours.
On either side of lunch and the first rain delay, the skipper (30), Ben Cross (24) and particularly the increasingly shaggy Jamie Rutt (40) maintained the momentum. George Doel struck a fierce straight six and David P remained unbeaten on a leg bye - 248 all out in 42.3 overs.
The IZ openers had to contend with the lively Sherwin and Doel combination. One survived (Sher-win 1-23) to tea with the score at 60 for 1 after 12 overs. The game was well poised with a likely total of 28 to 30 more overs available after the scheduled break and a further rain delay. After tea, however, the IZ innings faltered badly, soon declining to 117 for 7. Rory (2-33) lured one batsman with a long hop and took a balletic caught and bowled, Jamie produced a very tight spell (2-36) and Tom Bale a controlled 1 for 26. Will was now wider awake and decided to stand up to everyone. Always a threatening presence he combined with a Davidson Exocet from the boundary for a fine run out and the end seemed nigh.
The IZ tail had other ideas, however, putting on a further 50, and it took a miserly 1 for 4 from Ben and the returning Doel (1-27) to bring in their number eleven. Having started with ten men, they had managed to persuade Emma to swap her pencil for a bat. Quite unfazed by the intimidat-ing Doel and calls for Mihir to bowl, she was not out 2. Ed and Will combined with a comprehen-sive stumping and the innings was over - 168 all out in a potential 41 overs.
Although the margin of victory (80) was large, it is gratifying to note that all 22 players batted and 15 bowled; a credit to both captains.
The formal victory celebration at the end of the game
Jamie self isolating
Rob desperately seeking company