New to our fixture list, the Bruern Abbey Staff XI won the toss and put us in to bat. We opened with two of our three Tims, House and Riley. Two Middleton Stoney members opened the bowling for Bruern Abbey. James Mitchell bowled fast in two spells, one of 4 overs, the other a single over. Sathya Vadivale bowled at the other end in two spells of 7 overs each. Can you guess which of these two was the opposition captain?
Eventually, Sathya gave way to John Floyd who made the breakthrough when he bowled Tim Riley for an accomplished 40. Sathya returned to take the next wicket, of hard-hitting Jay Mumtaz, LBW for 37. Tim House then accelerated towards the glory of a century on his season’s debut and a debut on the new honours boards which he has introduced to the club, but was bowled by Sathya for 93.
Tim’s three towering sixes were highlights of our innings. Other striking features included the excellent ground fielding of Bruern Abbey, especially the throwing in from the boundary by the two young women who came to watch and stepped in to play so well. A couple of catches were dropped by the visitors, well, by one visitor, but a caught and bowled by S Kulkarni in the last over before tea was the first catch on our ground this season, no catches having been taken in last week’s match.
When we were 194 for 2, some voices called for an early declaration to put Bruern Abbey in for a few overs before tea. Instead, we collapsed to 209 for 9 declared as the remaining batsmen tried to hit out in the few minutes available to them. Of the next seven batsmen, only Nick Moorman at number 4 made double figures, and then only just. The next six (Matt Dipple, Paul Wordsworth, Marc Swan, Tim Cranston, Asif Kamal and David Lewis) did not make double figures between them, but then they were having a go from their very first (and in one case only) ball. S Kulkarni took 4 for 47 in his 12 overs, the other three being clean bowled. Sathya’s 4 for 56 included 2 LBWs and 2 bowled.
James Mitchell whinged through much of the innings about what he saw as the curmudgeonly attitude of the umpires for the first two hours, David Lewis and myself, to giving LBWs. Tim Cranston had kept the score-book all through that time but when Tim Riley and Jay Mumtaz took over the umpiring duties, Tim Cranston and David Lewis padded up and I took over the score-book, resolved to declare in the unlikely event that I was needed to bat. Out on the pitch, however, there was uproar when I tried to declare with one ball to go before tea, rather than pad up and face what would have been Kulkarni’s hat-trick ball, or, let’s face it, what would have been Kulkarni’s hat-trick.
In scenes reminiscent of the House of Commons, an attempt was made to wrest control by backbenchers, in this setting spurred on by the leader of the opposition, Sathya Jeremy Corbyn Vadivale, with Tim Riley as Umpire Speaker John Bercow and Tim Cranston, initially at the non-striker’s end, playing the part of Yvette Cooper. The Tims between them amended the proper order of proceedings so that Tim Cranston faced that last ball, averting the hat-trick and a constitutional crisis. The scorebook was later completed by another hand to record my innings as Did Not Bat although some were arguing that I was Nought Not In.
If I had gone to get ready, it would have delayed the magnificent tea made and served by Tim and Lucy House, plus I could have been timed out and there still would not have been a hat-trick. One alternative would have been to have umpired with my pads on, or for one or two other players to have come out to umpire or gone in to the scorebox. Bruern Abbey showed no such concern about being timed out, especially when their numbers 8, 9 and 10 eventually came out to bat. Mind you, not all of our players had glued themselves, à la Extinction Rebellion, to a bench. Asif Kamal and Marc Swan distinguished themselves in three ways. First, they brought out drinks at the request of Bruern Abbey on a cold afternoon. Second, they had a busy time pushing the sight-screen ball by ball as Kulkarni bowled round the wicket to Tim House but over the wicket to Tim Riley and Jay Mumtaz, all right-handers. Third, Asif hit Sathya for a thumping boundary and Marc got off the mark by hitting Sathya back over his head.
Some of those not playing on the day also took the initiative with Mike Simpson kindly umpiring throughout the Bruern Abbey innings and the club chairman Peter Van de Kerkhof joining him for the finale. Bruern Abbey opened with Tim Butcher and John Floyd, so the first ball of the innings was bowled by one Tim to another with the ball smacking into the gloves of a third Tim. Tim Cranston found the edge for Nick Moorman to take a sharp catch low down at first slip, our first catch of the year. Asif Kamal bowled well but it was David Lewis who took the next wicket, LBW. Their number 3, the all-rounder Kulkarni, scored a rapid 38 before he skied a delivery from Matt Dipple and was well caught at mid-off by Jay Mumtaz. Nick Moorman went to the top of the catching list with a caught and bowled. Matt Dipple joined Jack Morris, who took three wickets last week, at the head of the race to most wickets by bowling Martin Moore, well known to us at Middleton Stoney, and trapping James Mitchell LBW. James seemed less keen on umpires giving LBWs than he had been before tea. For his next trick, Matt combined well with Tim Riley for a run out.
A long pause ensued, so long that it went beyond being a pause to become a fully-fledged hiatus. Then Sathya Vadivale emerged as Bruern Abbey’s number 8, limping slowly to the crease, his gait affected perhaps by bowling all those overs. By ‘to the crease’, I mean exactly that, to but not behind the line. Sathya held that position for another age, this time while we celebrated his wicket, neatly stumped by Tim Riley off the bowling of Paul Wordsworth. The umpire, Mike Simpson, had spotted that Sathya’s back foot was not behind the front crease, which meant he was out.
Emily Coyle stood well within the crease and withstood a variety of bowling for several overs while the last batsman, Jim Watson, scored a lively 31 not out. We tried various options until, with seven overs to go, Tim House bowled Emily and the match was won. Six of our eight bowlers had taken wickets.
Marc Swan ran the barbecue, assisted by Rona Hickman. Tim Cranston ran the bar, assisted by Rosie Cranston. Bruern Abbey contributed a splendid array of salads to the feast, as they contributed a diversity of talents to the match. The game was played in the right spirit, apart from the kerfuffle over my declaration, sorry, and it would be a pleasure to host Bruern Abbey in future seasons. Many thanks to Sathya and Jim for arranging the fixture. Among some accomplished and experienced cricketers, the two young women E Coyle and S Jaycomb were not, I suspect, the only ones making their cricketing debuts but the young men press-ganged into playing a new sport also looked the part. The Bruern Abbey team’s kit ranged from highlights of the combined collections of the Moore and Vadivale families through to the snazziest shirt from the school’s recent Sri Lankan tour, modelled by Sathya. The champagne moment went to Emily for her sparkling debut.