The Casuals’ second game of the season was played at that most agreeable location, Jesus College. Just over a hundred years ago, a very young Jack Hobbs, the son of the Jesus groundsman and coach, took his first steps in the game, playing against the Jesus College Choir. 197 centuries later, he was probably the finest batsman England had ever produced. I wonder what he’d have made of the events on square earlier this afternoon. “The teas have improved,” might have been a comment that took precedent over the quality of the batting and bowling on display, though in fairness to the Camden lads, there were some remarkable moments, many of which wouldn’t be found in the index of the MCC coaching manual.
Foxy took the reins for this fixture, pulling together a side which was heavy on experience. Asked to field, he opened with Redders and Finchy. The former’s two over spell the day before had hastened the end of the league fixture, his selfless long hops helping both teams to a little longer in the Red Bull than usual. Today he was in devastating form, ruthlessly castling the Long Vac’s manager early doors. Sybil – for it is she – might well be a leader in her field of neuroscience, a starred Double First to boot, but when it comes to dealing with a dibbly dobbler, was all at sea.
The boy Fincham was soon working his way through his variations, much to the bemusement of the Long Vaccers. A wide one outside the off stump drew a sliced drive which saw our captain take off, soar (in the same way as Lancaster Bombers used to soar off the runway) and pluck the ball as it past him. A thumping return to earth sent a tremor whose aftershock should be reaching the north coast of France as you’re reading this. A sensational catch, so much so that when the same thing happened next ball, he was so distracted that he forgot to catch it. No matter. Wickets fell regularly and inevitably, so much so that Camden were in danger of bowling them out for a disappointing low total. Gerald and Martin tossed a few up with splendid rewards, the former completing an athletic caught and bowled, the latter trapping his man with an LBW so plumb that the batsman gave himself out. Aussie Nick Green capped a good day in the field with a semi-fiery spell but the Victor Ladorum belongs to Finchy, whose new slower slow ball almost defies description. It’s slow enough to catch the batsman in at least two minds, quite possible more. During its agonising flight, the recipient has time to weigh up both sides of the Brexit debate, consider switching his energy supplier, wonder whether he’d left the gas on and finally remember where he’d left his second best cap – you know, that one with the really cool brim. Yes that one. Meanwhile, the ball has descended, missed the blade but bounced off the handle, thence to several parts of the body before apologetically rolling into the base of the stump and nudging off a reluctant bail. Still, it gave him a nice little three-for and gave him the chance along with Gerald to lead the boys from the field.
140 to win on a belting wicket and speedy outfield. So how come the Casuals found themselves at 60 odd for five? True, they were finding new and daring ways to get themselves out so I suppose they were simply running out of creative ways to return to cool of the pav when Redders and Ali got together. Redfern took a liking to bowling, launching two meaty sixes into the neighbouring Court, while Ali dusted off the cobwebs with some nice drives to the boundary to see Camden home with plenty of overs to spare.
Excellent captaincy from Foxy, who at one point took pains to change the off side field to contain your correspondent, Robbo, Gerald and Martin. “Right, that’s the oldest off side field in the history of Camden,” he remarked and with an aggregate north of 225 years, he was probably right. Decent, friendly opposition and a truly tip top tea, plus sunshine, a thatched pavilion and a stunning college backdrop. Another plus was the fact that the Long Vaccers record their matches digitally so you can read the score card here: https://camden.play-cricket.com/website/results/4013038