By Geoff Young
I woke up at around 3 a.m on the morning of our historic fixture having had a nightmare. The dream consisted of me batting without pads (I’d left them in the car and had run out of time to put them on). Steve Theobald (our illustrious VP and umpire) was batting at the other end and he promptly ran me out. Cue startled and sweaty consciousness as I awoke from this terror.
Six hours later I was first to arrive at the ‘Home of Cricket’ under blue skies and a fresh westerly breeze. The wicket was being tended to lovingly by the Lord’s ground-staff, and the ‘super-soaker’ was parked on the damp outfield ready to do its best to remove several puddles from the lush turf.
Deano soon arrived and we wandered off down St John’s Wood road for some much needed nourishment. As my lanky batting partner ordered his ‘posh’ breakfast (Scrambled egg and Salmon) I plumped for something a bit more traditional and artery-hardening. Soon the rest of the boys arrived with news that Hollywood and Pettet were crawling their way across town and had abandoned ideas of a café-style breakfast choosing the drive-thru’ option somewhere in deepest Isleworth.
The 10.45 start time was put back to a post-lunch 1pm start and a 40 over game. Thankfully Von Flick had barked some orders at the hierarchy and a hastily organised Lord’s tour ensued and so we spent a pleasant hour or so following the footsteps of our heroes through the hallowed halls of the finest cricket pavilion known to man.
Lunch consisted of chickens that had been reared in Chernobyl filling even the heartiest of appetites. Jonny A. went back for seconds…
Chris duly lost the toss but the erstwhile Cross Arrows skipper (Ex England cricketer and MCC stalwart John Stephenson) selected to field first, much to our worried surprise. On hearing the news I immediately lost my appetite and ran to my car to ensure my pads weren’t wedged between the back seat and the dog bed.
JG and I opened the batting and I managed to negotiate the first ball so not to suffer the ignominy of walking back to the changing room at 1.01pm. We put on 30 before I ‘snuck off’ to the decent seamer Harry Thompson for 12. Not what I had in mind but I did manage to cream one through extra cover for 4. As Jack and I met mid-pitch for the post-over chat I said I’d have been happy to die right there and then. Dead perhaps, but forever 8 not out at Lord’s.
Stu joined Jack and they put on 50odd before Derry missed a straight one and went for a solid 19. Mikey (in the form of his life following his 160 against Teddington Town in the last game of the season), hit the ball with confidence before falling for 30. Chris entered the fray with 8 overs remaining. He had sacrificed his usual position to bat lower down the order, and lasted one ball. The nightmare most of us had experienced the night before befell our captain. Harsh.
JG had moved quietly into the 90s but a forced pull through mid-wicket off the leg spinner was his downfall as it turned and hit off stump. Now if you had offered any of us 91 before the game we’d have bitten your proverbial hand off, but as is the way with us cricketers, Jack was gutted. The table in our dressing room felt the force of his frustration. I suspect he may have broken a toe in the proceedings, but if I’m honest, I don’t really blame him. The team photo that was taken some 30 minutes after this event shows the most miserable man in Christendom (pictured front right).
Deano (19*), Josh and Pigs scrambled, biffed and smote their way to a respectable 195-6 off our 40 overs.
As Matt had hoped (and no doubt dreamed), Jem opened the batting for the hosts, but he survived the first over with no real dramas. DJ had looked nervous warming up, fearing a ‘Royal Ascot’ moment where his first delivery would pitch about 3 and a half inches from his right toe, only to bounce a few more times before dribbling rather pathetically towards the batsman. Thankfully it came out beautifully, swung in and hit our illustrious Chairman on the front foot, smack in front. The appeal could be heard back in Bagshot as we went up as one and screamed our enthusiasm to the umpire, one Mr Stephen Theobald. I suspect he was dreading this moment. The video, filmed by a watching Roomie has become an internet sensation. Almost everyone on the planet, including a 14 year old Indian boy in deepest Tamil Nadu, agreed it was out. Steve felt otherwise and shook his head. After a beer or two he did admit later that it was ‘very close’. Quite possibly the understatement of the century…
If I’m honest few of us believed it would cost us very much, such is the form of our MCC man, and a few balls later Matt got him to prod at an out-swinger and Jack made no mistake.
Dan came in, but it is never easy batting against your ‘own’ bowling, mainly for fear of getting out, and he too edged one behind off DJ for 8. Clearly they had mixed up the line-up to give people a game, as their opening bat would probably slot in our 3rd XI somewhere between Iain Hedley and Santosh Mandal. Matt didn’t care as he finally bowled the hapless opener claiming his 500th ‘first XI’ wicket for the BCC. Timely and apt that he followed a certain Mr Jimmy Anderson in claiming a major landmark at the home of cricket just a few days after the England legend. OK, so there were only about 60 people there to witness it, but we didn’t care.
At 39-4 on paper it looked as though they were in trouble, but they had saved the best of their batting to numbers 5 and 6, both of whom completed half centuries turning the game on its head. Jonny and Josh, two of our best, suffered the worst of it as the left-hander in particular hit the ball sumptuously to all parts.
Chris turned to Deano (yes it was THAT desperate) and the just-for-men-sponsored-ex-minor-public-school-boy lured him into a false shot and bowled him. With 10 overs remaining they only required 40 to win, but thanks to Deano’s miserly 5-0-15-1 it was the 39th over before the skipper hit the winning runs.
The result was very much secondary to a day that all of us will remember with the greatest of affection for a very long time.
Updated 10:51 - 1 Oct 2017 by Stuart Derry