'They say the sound of leather on willow is the best in the world', remarked the captain of the P. G. Wodehouse Society cricket team, which plays under the name of The Gold Bats. 'But to my mind, that's the finest', he concluded, as the popping of a champagne cork echoed across the quintessentially English cricket pitch in West Wycombe at about 1.15 pm. on Sunday 22nd June.
This is the spirit in which these games are played between our Society and the Wodehouseians – and it was a delight that a game was actually played under mostly glorious sunshine, for the last three fixtures were washed out. After the last match, on 20th June 2010, the Sherlock Holmes Society stood ahead in the stakes, with three wins to two for the Gold Bats – and four draws.
Your correspondent chose not to play this year – but nevertheless was inveigled into umpiring, with the redoubtable Murray Hedgcock at the other end.
The Gold Bats batted first and acquitted themselves well: their opening batsman retired on reaching his 50 and steady progress was achieved, interrupted by thrilling moments for the Society. Three wickets were taken by our captain, Peter Horrocks, with his devilish under-arm bowling, and stunning catches were taken by Ben Levinson (off a Wodehouse wide) and Robert Stone. The GBs declared 45 minutes before tea on 225-9 – their opener having been permitted to return for a couple of overs.
An initial scoring error excitingly offered the Society the intriguing chance of winning by scoring exactly 221 runs. Some thought there was a chance of a run charge, but, in truth, there was never going to be time to win (stumps in this fixture are historically drawn at or about 6 pm.) and a most honourable draw was the result – the Society having scored a solid 121-5 at the close.
So, we are still ahead!
It was a lovely day, taken seriously by those on the field of play and in relaxed fashion by the spectators. Not many members chose to take advantage of the Buckinghamshire sun – despite the fact that we constantly publicise it as being one of the Society's social highlights and costs precisely nothing. But those who did come will surely remember it with a smile.
Let us hope for just such good weather in a year's time.