CRICKET REPORT West Wycombe, 28th June 2009
Next year, this famous cricket fixture celebrates its 10th anniversary and the Society team was determined to pull its socks – and, indeed, every other possible piece of apparel – up, to see if we could try and gain our second proper victory (there was a washout a few years ago which we have some reason to claim as a win, but this is not the time or place to renew old hurts which must surely be felt by the Wodehouseians!).
Readers, we did!
Your correspondent, who had hitherto played in all previous matches, had declared himself unavailable for this year for quite reasonable ankle reasons. This meant nothing to our captain, Peter Horrocks, who called me to the colours the evening before when someone dropped out. And as we gathered at that most idyllic of grounds at West Wycombe – the ground for all our games – it quickly became apparent that yet another Man of Sherlock was not going to be present. Luckily, the ‘Gold Bats’ – the Wodehouse team – were one short as well, so it was easy to decide immediately – even under the Rules of 1895 by which we have to abide – that this would be a 10-a-side game (no need for Moriarty-style mathematics to work that one out!)
There was, however, another gap to be filled. Over the last decade, the P.G.Wodehouse Society has provided both umpires for this game; but on the day, only the redoubtable Murray Hedgcock was present and correct. In a mad moment some months earlier, David Jones (our new Membership Secretary, of course), had been heard to say that if there ever were to be an umpiring gap, he knew what to do. He little thought….
And so as the sun beat down, the humidity level surged and the rest of Buckinghamshire went to sleep, the great tradition of allowing the ‘Gold Bats’ to bat first was maintained and battle lines were drawn.
This, for us, was easy, for recent Society recruitment (yes, I promise!) has eased in three members whose names will forever be immortalised on the cricketing roll of honour after their actions this day (please pick up that allusion!). Our new Chairman has two nephews, Robert and Edward Hamill. Joining us also was George Gross, still at university and treating this game as his first Society meeting.
At lunch, the ‘Gold Bats’ were 100-3, two wickets having been taken by Hamill, R. This was, in historical terms, par for the course.
I hate to give secrets away, but George Gross was given a glass – just one – of a reasonably good white Burgundy during the hour-long lunch break. When the Society took to the field again and Mr. Horrocks gave him the ball, he took the fullest advantage possible and with speedy off-spin, took 4 wickets for but 6 runs. Crucially, he bowled our Wodehousian nemesis, Chris Read, for one run. This is a man who in past matches has only needed a very few balls to get himself set, before hammering the attack.
And so we found ourselves in the extraordinary position of having dismissed the opposition for 135, well before tea. We are used to things going massively wrong at this point (normally we can’t bat!); but somehow there was a different feel about what might be achieved this year.
The story is simply told: after a couple of alarms and excursions, Edward Hamill set about the bowling with a style and panache that carried him over the tea break and deep into the final session and garnered him 76 runs, before an LBW decision that by then did not matter. Who else was vital? His brother Robert, unbeaten on 36, struck the winning run at about 5.15 – a time when the Society’s team has normally retreated into disaster control. We won by five wickets.
Urgent moves are already being made to ensure that our new young sportsmen are guaranteed to play next year.
It would be remiss of me not to point out the three catches taken by our redoubtable wicket keeper Andrew Levinson – one taken at silly mid on (work it out for yourselves!)