PRESIDENT’S XI 185 for 7
CHAIRMAN’S XI 188 for 6
Chairman’s XI won the Reg Stanley Memorial Cup by 4 wickets
With rain forecast at 6pm (it actually arrived at 3:45) the delayed start while the Chair and President went through their locked-dressing-room-papal-nomination team divvying was consigning us all to the wet inevitable. The (pretty random) XIs announced – nice to see all the faces both old and new – and out we all went. The President’s batting first and fervently hoping they wouldn’t have to field with the weather forecast as it was. How miserably wrong they were.
And so, it was like going back seven or eight years. Powell and Russell opened, Grafton’s top nurdling alumni, and it was soon 31 for 0 off 10 overs. Actually, a protracted break from the game seems to have expanded Powell’s shot range as he treated us to 49 runs plundered all around the ground, before falling to a sharp catch by the Chairman himself. 50 Dark Shades of Mark Russell (he has quite a tan) was bowled by Kirk for 18. Harvey started well and then what ensued was a game within a game, as they say. Killian desperate to take his wicket, Harvey would sooner trust his most intimate body part to a lunatic with a brass-studded spanking paddle than give it to him. And while Hopkins bowled a miserly, and possibly match turning, spell of maidens from the other end, the game slowed. Tyler, back from the wilderness, soon returned to it – although he did remove Goldstraw (19) who was beginning to get in to gear. Harvey eventually fell for 37 (having been dropped off Killian courtesy of a remarkable piece of juggling by Howard Benjamin at mid-wicket). Patchett hit a brisk 15, Young 12 (14 if Bilbrough knew the laws on grounding your bat), Bilbrough 3 (minus 2 morally transferred to Young) – the latter two both victims of the resurgent Thompson. The 40 overs ended with James being ludicrously lapped by Gough and run out, 185 for 7.
Tea was a lustrous affair – laid with dexterity, precision and care. It was also notable for the President’s table musings/revelations of James on his peripatetic and lamentable school record.
If you have ever done Bronze Duke of Edinburgh in March then you will have some grasp of how it was fielding for the next two hours. Standing in a wet field, going nowhere, in pouring rain with no general game plan. That is not a criticism of President Stanley. There was a general game plan – bowl them out – but once Killian was dropped on the straight boundary by Goldstraw going for Harvey’s catch (much to the latter’s relief), the game plan unravelled. The reason being, Killian is not the ‘hit by numbers’ rotund child of six years ago. What you see now is a mature, cricketing intellectual wizard, honed under shrewd captaincy, who seldom gives more than one chance. We spilled it. We lose. Anyway, Stanley’s President’s bowled 30-odd overs with a bar of soap in an increasingly one-sided contest. Goldstraw extracted some rain induced zip from the pitch and removed Tyler (who was going like the proverbial train), Bilbrough bowled quite superbly (2 wickets for not many) and Gough, fresh from Down Under, dazzled from the top end with pace and bounce. And yet the inevitable was never really in doubt. For every three good, straight balls Harvey delivered he sent down another as a full toss to the exasperated cry of f*** as it disappeared to backward square leg. Howard Benjamin played some exquisite shots, Killian continued to taunt with another fine half-century and Ashfield applied the coup-de-grace with some belligerent blows after surviving a confident caught behind shout. Had that been a Sunday fixture against Christchurch then all hell would have broken loose, stumps inserted in rectal cavities and so forth, but it passed. The win came at a gallop as successive balls were lost in the crops and boundary outriders were seen kicking the ball over the rope, just to bring forward the sodden inevitable.
Scorecard to follow