“Might I Trouble You For a Match?”

THE SOCIETY VERSUS THE GOLD BATS OF THE P.G.WODEHOUSE SOCIETY 

England played Panama at football in Russia and won, England played Australia at cricket and won, Lewis Hamilton drove a Grand Prix and won – but in a sun-drenched corner of England, the Society cricket XI (well, IX, then X and then eventually XI!) didn’t actually win.

What wonders were on offer at West Wycombe on Sunday 24th June: sparrow hawks soared, red kites ranged and immediately after the lunch interval a young roe deer careered within the pitch markers from long-on to third man. Butterflies and bees fluttered and buzzed and a horse insistently neighed from the direction of the mansion of the Dashwood family. The sun beat down relentlessly, our player Mark Smith was shocked upon his upper thigh as he climbed an electric fence to field a ball and your reporter (umpire) had to hurl himself to the ground with half-a-second to go before being brained by a pull from another of our players as the game played out in the late, baking, afternoon.

Well, yes: there was some fine cricket played. The Wodehouseans scored 214 -3 (excluding one of their batsmen who kindly retired after scoring a half-century). They had a solid opening partnership of 65 (ended by a splendid catch by Andrew Levinson), and their second wicket fell at 100. But many fours were struck, and extras mounted as the ball travelled quickly across the outfield. Charles Miller had not expected to play, but his expert lob (underarm) bowling claimed the third wicket after a languorous luncheon break, at which point the Gold Bats declared.

The blazing sunshine did not put off the Society stalwarts, and a 52-run opening partnership between Robert Stone and Vaughan van der Linde initially boded well. But some quite excellent bowling, both fast and spin, by the Golds gradually eroded the Society’s batting line-up. The ‘one fixed point’ was Ed Hamill, who finished not out with 78 most attractively scored runs.

Maybe the kites were in fact vultures, scenting an ultimately dignified, yet definite, defeat – by 45 runs. But – hey – we are still one ahead overall in victories after 18 years of contest.

Congratulations, as ever, to the Society team’s inspiring captain, Peter Horrocks – who had a nightmare of a task this year putting together a full team (including an intriguing message from Marseilles at 2 o’clock on Sunday morning!)

NICK UTECHIN

Thanks to Rebecca Kilby-Smith for the photographs. You can see more photos of the Victorian Cricket Match on the Society’s Flickr gallery at https://www.flickr.com/photos/shsl/albums/72157697942165124/with/42993369022/ – or click on “Gallery” above.

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