WITLESS 2001

 

Index

WITLESS 2002

 

The Yorkshire Sipper reflects on his season as captain of the St Radegund.

Captain's Notes

“Never read print, it spoils one's eye for the ball.” Since W. G.'s habitual advice to his players assumes a measure of proficiency in the first place, there seems no harm in recording the St Radegund's exploits on the square. This extraordinary tradition of intemperate ineptitude and underachievement is now ten years old, but not surprisingly it has taken until now for anyone to suggest that these deeds of derring-do be set down for posterity.

The season began remarkably well with three straight victories, the first over new opposition in the shape of CBXI. The scorebook's detailing of several 15-20 minute drinks breaks explains why memories are hazy, although Gavin Whichello's inexplicable predilection for exposing Dagenham cleavage is understandably etched in the minds of those on Parker's Piece that day. Back on the more familiar strip at Jesus College, a host of new talent was blooded against the fellow hosers of the Vera Lynn XIII and the whizz-kids from CCT. Hyung Joon Jun, the ‘Seoul Destroyer’, continually kept the batsmen guessing with his curveballs and sliders; and not since Dexter has The Close witnessed a cover driver to equal Liz Diamond.

Alas, the wheels predictably fell off at the end of the season as the King Street Trophy found its way back to the Champion of the Thames after an unusual twelve month absence. Defeat exacted a particularly heavy toll on Radegund stalwart Kent Stanley who, after dismissal by an unplayable Pryce-Jones and an early exit in the annual conker championship to the same, went altitude training in the Cairngorms for their impending tiddlywinks showdown. Nonetheless he, along with Rod Thomas, sits atop the tables with an average nudging two score - in contrast, by and large, to my nudging to score two.

            Of the other mainstays, one is reminded of a well-fuelled Fatty flogging the ball over the rope faster than Bunter could hurl the abuse back; of the incorruptible umpiring of ‘Stonewall’ Sam Walton -a Yorkshireman as likely to open his wallet as raise his finger; and of‘Buckets’ Barrett, whose feats in the field would have done justice to the great Wilson himself.

            But enough of the individuals. It's the spirit in the team that counts, and lord knows we've had enough of that courtesy of Gloag's,Havana Club, Richard the Beard and his eminence Bunter himself. Thanks to all those who've kept us well-oiled. The skipper's cap stays behind the bar next season, passing into the (very) safe hands of Alan Barrett. May he keep the runs flowing as swiftly as the beer!


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The Prince of Darkness recalls the origins of the King Street Trophy Match.

Memory Lame

            Desperation rather than anything else lay behind the foundation of the Rad vs. Champ fixture. Before 1992 pub cricket had truly reached its nadir in King Street. Under the knowledgeable patronage of Barry Campany, erstwhile landlord of The Champion of the Thames, a pub side of keen, enthusiastic, loyal and reliable regulars was put together. This may sound as if it was a promising start, but none of the adjectives above could compensate for the complete and utter incompetence of those involved.

I, as scorer for this lamentable eleven, had the task of chronicling the Sunday afternoon exploits of a side that did not even attempt to compete in a league of any description but contented itself with taking on, in friendlies, the second, third and veteran elevens of various hostelries and trying to limit the defeat to less than six wickets.

This is not to say the side was completely devoid of talent, but extraneous factors tended to hinder inapt ability, and come 1992 the C.O.T.T.C.C. was no longer known by that name. Embossed in gold letters on the scorebook I hawked around on Sunday afternoons was the legend ‘Psatirists C. C.’ and it doesn’t take a Yorkshire Sipper to work out that anagram. Spirits were sinking in more ways than one. Where, oh where, could a side be found to at least give the scent of a victory? Then inspiration struck – on our own doorstep! At the end of that well-trodden hundred yards, the only stretch of real estate on the planet where the clanging of a bell will make the Prince of Darkness break into a canter, lay an untapped source of drunken, cricketing inadequacy – the St Radegund. And so the gauntlet was thrown.

This may seem like a long pre-amble to what is supposed to be an account of the first match, but I feel that due deference needed to be paid to the longer history of the Rad’s noble opponents. Also, like most of those present on that infamous day, I was half cut and remember very little about it.

            To the match itself. The St. Radegund batted first and Ted Bates, of Bunter/Bates Trans-Mongolian Railway fame, and partner Humplebore set a long-standing tradition for Radegund openers by scoring 5 and 6 respectively. The team boasted more Taylors than Saville Row, one being the late, and much loved Howard, who carried his bat – a feat also achieved by the younger of the Crabb cricketing dynasty, Oliver.

            As far as the Champ is concerned, mention must be made of Rod Thomas, who has now seen the light and switched sides. He managed, with the two openers, to knock off the vast majority of the Radegund total, while the home side proceeded, in characteristically masochistic style, to prolong a lingering death by miraculously taking seven wickets.

Nothing else can I recall. ‘Straight-Jacket’ Sam Walton, our tireless umpire, informs me that it rained and the pitch condition was recorded as “Good to Firm”. Must have been my words. I can only add that it has been a pleasure and a privilege to annotate this cricketing shambles over the years and long may it continue.

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Various match reports. First, the Sipper covers the 2001 Champ vs Rad match.

            From the Graces of Gloucestershire to the Cowdreys of Kent, the annals of the game are littered with the deeds of great cricketing dynasties. In this time-honoured tradition, the Dixons of Chesterton and the Elmers of Six Mile Bottom - with help from the equally traditional southern hemisphere import -combined to fashion a memorable victory for The Champion of the Thames over a much-fancied St Radegund side.

            Under cloudless skies, Champ helmsman N. R. Elmer elected to send his men to the crease; a wise decision as a lifeless late-season track offered very little for the Radegund quicks. Stanleymade the odd one move away without reward and even Hill, firing in from his full six foot three, struggled to generate lift. Early success was to come, however, as the ‘Stowford Express’ put one straight through opener Kitteridge, before finding an edge off A. R. Elmer which was, unusually, held by gloveman Metcalfe. This brought Roberts to the square and fresh impetus to the innings. An accomplished if unfamiliar figure, the South African showed no mercy to anything outside the line, adding 94 with N. P. Dixon (28), and putting on a quickfire 64 for the fourth wicket with ‘Pistol’ Pete Twitchett (47).

            His half-century duly compiled, Roberts' retirement heralded a procession of smaller and smaller batsmen to the crease, but any thoughts that the worst was over for the Radegund men were soon dispelled as A. C. Dixon, a veteran of 12 summers, produced an array of strokes straight from the manual to keep scorer Hesketh's pen flowing faster than his Pimm's. A change of tack was needed, and the call was answered by ‘Lofty’ Evans, whose deceptive off-breaks precipitated a relative collapse from the juniors. Tremendous work in the slips by Cooper accounted for skipper Elmer, and even a fortified Pryce Jones, flailing like Wallace at Falkirk, proved powerless. His moment was to come.

            A daunting target of 188 off 30 overs demanded some measure of aggression by the St Radegund from the outset. Ex-skipper Haslemere having fled to Genoa to escape his Welsh nemesis, Stanley was duly promoted and hit out lustily at the frontline attack. With the run rate up at around eight an over, an inspired piece of captaincy decreed the introduction of Pryce Jones. Relying as ever on the subtle variation with which he has so often bamboozled batsmen, Jones's slower ball tempted Stanley into a meaty swipe through the covers. Unknown to the Welsh Whirlwind, who had adopted the foetal position by way of evasive action, on the other end of this rocket was Roberts, who bagged the first of four crucial catches. Stanley departed for 42 amid scenes of wild euphoria.

            Hill and Thomas, consistent throughout the season, consolidated, and with the score at 113 for 3 the thought of the trophy once more adorning the Radegund shelves gave cause for concern. No fear; Thomas misjudged a run and the middle order offered a succession of ill-timed strokes to save the day, Metcalfe playing a captain's innings of 2 for the fourth successive occasion.

            The swift removal of Crabb, Evans and Whichello left a dogged Naisby, with left-hander Marshall, to see out the last couple of overs. Standing his ground resolutely after being clean bowled by a nine-year-old from the Dixon clan (proffering some tripe about two bounces), he ensured that, at 21 runs shy, we won't be needing the Brasso for another year.

*

Next, Chris Evans on this year's Veras match.

July, a wicket at Jesus, 26 players (4 of them women!), 2 bottles of Pimm’s, 2 bottles of gin and a barrel of Milton Brewery beer set the scene for this year’s Veras match. After the usual scrabbling around and dragging Fatty out of bed, a start was made pretty much on time for once: Veras lost the toss, and StRadegund to bat.

Openers of Crabbo (12) and Haslemere (18) got the innings off to a steady start, followed by Stanley smacking the ball around the field as usual (next year I’m picking Davy Jones) to an unbeaten half-century. A slight mid-order collapse brought the steadying hand of captain Sipper to the wicket. He produced a knock of 38 before being run out (who wants to claim that one, by the way?).

            Following a drinks stop of the usual pretty neat gin, Capstan Full Strength and lines of a strange white powder, the Radegund innings continued with Claire Capperauld. A smartly taken single was followed swiftly by a catch from the bowling of Whichello… and boy did he regret it!

            Anna Mitchell, also making her debut, put in a striking innings of 11 from bowling so bad that the umpire on occasions had to call a no-ball before the bowler had even released the ball. By now the tedium of looking for the ball in the long grass and periods of ten minutes between drinks took its toll on all the players, culminating in Whichello being sent off by his own captain for wandering off to get a drink every few minutes.

The innings came to a merciful end on 190 for 10 from 35 overs. Tea consisted of the usual sarnies (thanks Liz), Pimm’s, lots of beer and the rest of the gin, and (in spite of all efforts on my part to declare and go down the pub) the Veras innings eventually got under way. Andy Whitmore made his usual good start, scoring 18 before ‘Buckets’ Barrett took one of his spectacular catches, though Richard the Beard and Whichello could only contribute a golden duck each at the other end. Evans failed to help much, getting only 11 before being bowled by Fatty (I knew I’d regret bowling him in the first innings. Still I got more than him).

Anna Zakrisson-Plogander (3) and Liz Diamond continued the female batting line-up. An unsteady start, with dreadful bowling again contributing to a spate of no-balls, left Liz facing the bowling of the ‘Lightning Lancastrian’, Haslemere. After a few range finders Diamond dollied a catch back to the bowler, who promptly dropped it (butterfingers). Kent Stanley, backing up, was unlucky to trip over his own shoelace and accidentally managed to tap the ball thirty yards to the boundary. With his averages going down the pan, Steve sent the next ball down with a bit more force, but was driven away gracefully by Diamond to the off side for another 4. Shot of the season.

Sparkes (25) meanwhile produced the only sizeable innings of the Veras team, which was skittled out for a total of 130, the main wicket taker at this point being ‘Oddjob’ Jun from the Hesketh Korean Cricketing Institute, with 2 for 14 from 2.

The usual match autopsy took place after in the pub, and if you think I can remember the men/women of the match, Red Stripemoment etc., you’ve got another thing coming. Resolution for next year: to win the toss, and not have a neat gin drinks stop.

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And finally, Highball takes a look at the Grads vs Rad fixture.

            Four games in and with three wins to their name, the good ship St Radegund was blown off course in the second ever match against Jesus College Graduates. Asked to make 195 to win, the Radegund were restricted to 103 for 8 from their 35 overs, a result almost predictably similar to last year’s.

            Metcalfe won the toss but with Jesus captain Ken Eames claiming a shortage of players at the agreed starting time, Sipper graciously put them in. With thick cloud cover the ball swung from the outset and the visitors had the upper hand in the early overs, with Stanley and Naisby restricting Smith and Sparks to 18 from the first eight overs. Fairhall, defying the effects of a whole day’s drinking the day before, was particularly impressive at mid-wicket and gave the phrase ‘tight fielding’ a whole new dimension.

            After the openers departed it was occasional Radegundian Maurice Walmsley who emphasized the gulf in class between the two sides with an unbeaten 52; his contribution made all the more depressing by the fact that he was a potential ringer for both teams. Once he got going, the Radegund were heading for the rocks. 

            Eames typically ran his partners hard for his 39, but attempted one run too many driving to Thomas at short mid-on and ran himself out.

            Of the bowlers, the returning Crabb was the pick, though 4 wickets for 45 off 7 suggested rustiness. With the ball chewed up by a bone dry pitch and no longer swinging, Thomas and Haslemere struggled in vain for a breakthrough, and Jesus finished their allotted overs with the loss of only seven wickets.

            Fine drizzle towards the end of the innings slowed down the outfield and threatened to make a difficult target even harder to get, but the Radegund went about holing themselves below the water line with aplomb. Cooper went for a golden. Stanley managed seven in short order before being bowled by a straight one. Tomlinson, with too much of the Holy Spirit in him from the night before, failed to offer much of a shot and departed first ball too. Haslemere tried to play himself in, but was done through the gate. Eleven for four from six overs left the St Radegund staring into the abyss.

            Jesus had a requested a substitute fielder from the visitors’ ranks and, in an amazing breach of cricketing etiquette, Eames brought on Jun ‘The Aluminium Bowler’, to turn his arm against his skipper. Metcalfe scored his customary two singles, one of which was converted into a five thanks to an overthrow before being comprehensively bowled by the wily Korean.

            The ship was steadied by Thomas (18) and Whichello (19), with the latter in particular a model of stoic resistance, none more so than when he took one of Grime’s lifters right in the small change. Crabb and Naisby at least had the consolation of denying the home side all the wickets, remaining unbeaten with Fairhall still to bat. The ship sails on.

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St Radegund public house, 129 King Street. Cambridge CB1 1LD. Tel: 01223 311794