Beard's review of the season.
Cricket in 2006 started unusually early. The great uplift of interest following the Ashes victory of 2005 ensured plenty of company at the indoor nets at Fenner’s. Enlivening the dark days of winter, polishing the reflexes, or simply working up a thirst – take your pick, and mine’s a pint of Sackcloth – the winter nets were a notable success duly celebrated with a mighty curry paid for out of leftover subs. They will continue.
A highly enjoyable “shopping” trip to India ensured that the club entered the season proper with some fine new kit and a lot of balls.
The season was full of tight matches, none closer than the soon-to-be-legendary tie against the Champion of the Thames. There was an early victory when the Village XI were narrowly beaten on a chilly May day at Barton Road. We lost close games to three Jesuan XI’s. Jesus were in the process of winning Cuppers and blessed with such depth of talent that they barely noticed when the Radegund enticed James Burberry away to work wonders in the field and long hours behind the bar.
Burbs was one of several new faces in the team this year and with Mike Evans formed a formidable seam pairing. After a couple of years of agonising losses to the Free Press, the new boys helped us to a stirring victory.
The now customary Romsey Town Sixes tournament was great fun - as usual - but this year the Radegund side confounded all sober opinion by making the semi-finals. On a similarly bibulous note, the Vera’s match was a triumph of alcohol over adversity and was hilarious to be part of.
A fine win against one London pub, the Wenlock Arms in Hackney, was balanced by a near miss against another, the Oakdale Arms, at Jesus. Games were lost against old friends – CBXI, and new – Remnants.
A Welsh wedding turned out to be a fine (and highly enjoyable) way to muzzle the feeble cricketing talent of the Rad. Our crapulent efforts were made to look pathetic by Pwllheli’s finest (and the ringer from Rajasthan) – but we were probably having more fun!
The closing match of the season was played in bucolic splendour at Newton. The usual Queen’s Head combination of fine food, good beer and great company was this year enhanced by a closely fought game and lavishly toasted victory. A fine way to end a thoroughly enjoyable season.
A Passage to India
Richard Naisby on his recent sojourn in the sub-continent
March saw Mr. and Mrs. Beard on a trip to India. Nominally a delivery journey, shopping trip and sporting pilgrimage, it also served as a somewhat belated honeymoon.
The splendid, sprawling mass that is modern Bombay was host to the Third Test of a close series between India and England. Our hotel was a pleasant seafront stroll from the huge, modern Wankhede stadium (giggle). Right on the doorstep though was a bit of cricketing history – the Brabourne stadium was redolent of the ghosts of of Edrich and Compton, Ranji and the Nawab of Pataudi. The stadium is still used and I would urge any visitor to pay a visit to its hallowed and beautiful grounds.
The Indian cricketers of tomorrow were busy on the Oval Maidan, a huge open park surrounded by the High Court and other Raj buildings. At least a hundred games were in progress simultaneously, all overlapping fielders and potential pandemonium but, this being cricket, in polite chaos.
India’s present was represented by Tendulkar’s – a restaurant owned by Sachin himself (a local boy) – bright, shiny, fluorescent and full. We gave it a miss and headed for the refined ambience of the Harbour bar of the Taj Hotel, the most splendid in India. The England team were in residence, no doubt enjoying the views of the Gate of India, and none too worried about the prices (£36 for a brace of G&T’s apiece, ouch!).
Before leaving England, Bunter had entrusted me with a copy of Witless to present to the Test Match Special team, so spying Michael Atherton (Cambridge, Lancashire and England) in the bar, I put the idea to him – first Sky, then Test Match Special. Hook, line and sinker.
Next day at the Test, I bluffed my way through security, Witless in hand, and made my way up to the Sky cabin where Athers was waiting. Witless was duly handed over with particular instructions to read the “Holy Ball of St. Radegund”. Binoculars later revealed David Gower creased up with laughter waving a slim yellow volume around the commentary box. Job done.
India is truly cricket mad. Every spare scrap of waste ground becomes a makeshift Lord’s and the long train ride to Delhi was lined with boys belting homemade balls with hand fashioned bats. Quite marvellous.
A local lad suggested Bajaj & Co for the next part of our plan. Kit in India is a fraction of the English price, so, with a full Radegund season looming, I intended to stock up. Bajaj is a veritable shop of delights – a bit like Hobbs used to be but smaller and with more kit. Suffice to say I spent a happy time selecting these pads and those gloves, bargaining away as I went, all the time the Memsahib getting more and more excited by the frantic climbing antics of the “shelf-wallah”. Surrounded by clobber, I was finally rescued from kit heaven by the missus. She needed to do some shopping of her own.
Rachel announced that she was looking for a Tiffin tin, which I understood to be an item of “gentleman’s protection,” but is apparently an Indian type of lunchbox. So I was almost right. The Test match? A glorious and memorable England victory to top off a truly special journey.
This unprecedentedly early-season fixture for the St. Radegund came about due to a late cancellation in the Jesus fixture calendar, and we were fortunate to secure a game on one of the pleasantest afternoons of Spring, with The Close looking at its finest and the Chapel Choir serenading players and spectators alike. Indeed the heady combination of Richard’s summer ale, cricket, and Vaughan Williams threw this writer into an unusual mood…
1. Barba virumque cano
Beards, and a man I sing, who, forc’d by fate,
And haughty Bunter’s unrelenting hate,
Expell’d and exil’d, left the Radegund door,
Long labours, both with bat and ball he bore.
(Except with bat, for just one did he score).
2. Aenaisby wins royal favour
Arrived with beer, he turn’d with pious haste,
And Jesus Captain Newby he embrac’d,
Beside the track he flipped the coin with grace,
As England’s Queen stood fix’d upon the face:
‘We’ll have a knock,’ quoth he, ‘and you can chase.’
3. Timeo Jesuae et dona ferentes
By destiny compelled, and in despair,
Had Newby planned a ruse to win the war,
With wiles disguised he had a player giv’n,
One seeming to be able to play cricket.
Alas, he bowled too short, and lost his wicket.
4. Two mighty warriors battle in the middle
Then haughty Lewis in the lists appears,
40 he smites, his bat ferocious bears,
Will Tatchell too the weighty willow wields,
And loud applauses echo thro’ the fields.
‘til both retire; whence Highball quickly yields.
5. Further deception does for the tail-end
Oh, wretched we, enthralled by spinners’ pow’r,
Gave Boulden and Hussain a happy hour.
Three apiece they took, this dev’lish pair,
Ball moving off the pitch and in the air.
At 145 all out the game’s still there.
Somewhat refreshed, a more promising spell was enjoyed as the combined Aussie attack of Will and Jesus ringer Ed Morgan did for Grads Captain Loxam. His was an especially important wicket as he was shortly afterward persuaded to take the field, where he turned in a sterling, if treasonous, performance at backward point. Indeed, his lightning work to run-out Ian Evans left Jesus 117-4, and with little expected of the lower order the game seemed within our grasp. Unfortunately, though, a confident partnership was built by Robinson and Boulden for the fifth wicket, and Loxam’s catch of the latter for 21 from Nick Snape’s bowling came a little too late in the day. Finally all that remained was for the skipper to selflessly offer up a sacrificial Welshman with a deep-set frown of determination and a deeper-set field, against whom Jesus nurdled the three singles required for victory. Not that the result mattered after a drink or two.
(with apologies to John Dryden for taking his canonical translation and turning it into doggerel)
The previous day having seen England’s cricketing XI put to the sword (again) by Sri Lanka and the Eng-er-lund Soccerball team dismissed from the World Cup of Soccerball it fell to the Radegund, in searing heat, to restore the spirits of the nation with a fine display of athleticism and sportsmanship on a green swarth somewhere in smelly London. Or, failing that, they might at least raise a smile by falling over amusingly in the outfield from time to time.
On arrival, Cap’n Beard immediately demonstrated his leadership skills by hunting down the opposition and the pitch (the work of less than an hour) and then swiftly losing the toss. Unsurprisingly, given the prevailing mad dog and Englishman-friendly conditions, the Wenlock preferred that the Rad field first. This they did, however, with surprising adequacy. Wickets fell with pleasing regularity, runs were scarce and acts of incompetence in the outfield were notable by their absence save for Mr. Gange exerting himself slightly and, in so doing, bringing about the demise of a borrowed pair of Ollie’s trousers. The resulting tear (“from arsehole to knee,” as the man himself so eloquently described it) no doubt provided welcome ventilation. Rumours that the real Rad side had been abducted by aliens and incongruously replaced by cricketers might well have gained credence were it not for the giveaway reaction of the team to the arrival of a gaggle of girls from Ipanema at the boundary’s edge.
Any observer unfamiliar with the unshakeable high-mindedness of the Rad team might have mistakenly deemed them to be ogling lecherously but I trust that you, gentle reader, know better. It may well be that gazes lingered upon the fair maidens for longer than would usually be deemed gentlemanly but if this were so it was only the better to appreciate the delicate play of light in that particular region of the park. Several of the team were additionally intrigued by the striking resemblance one of the young ladies had to the great Dr Carmita Abdo, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sao Paolo. Could it indeed be Dr Abdo herself, with a brace of highly qualified assistants, perhaps here to research her forthcoming paper on the psychology of sporting mediocrity? Needless to say, the thrilling possibility of being in close proximity to such great intellects was highly distracting to the Rad, but through great strength of will they managed to retain sufficient concentration to restrict The Wenlock to a modest total of 84 for 9 from their 25 overs.
Between innings it fell to young Tom Lewis (a particularly avid follower of the latest developments in the world of Psychiatric research) to bravely approach the aforementioned ladies and discover that in fact they were not highly qualified Brazilian academics at all. It was only as this disappointing news sank in that the Rad XI noticed for the first time, with great surprise, that the young ladies were clad only in the skimpiest of bathing costumes. I feel sure you can imagine how concerned they were that their previous attentions might thus have been quite horribly misconstrued as altogether baser in origin than was actually the case. These fears, fortunately, proved groundless and furthermore the good ladies sportingly allowed the players to commemorate the occasion by posing with the team for the photograph that accompanies this report. Any similarity you may discern between the assembled sportsmen and a pack of slavering cartoon wolves is entirely the work of your own twisted imagination.
Tearing themselves away from their new friends, the Rad then batted with an adequacy possibly even greater than that they had brought to their fielding. Openers Tom and Ollie (top scorer with 38) knocked off the bulk of the modest target, Highball contributed a solid unbeaten dozen and Stonewall, with instructions from Beard to “swing the bat a bit” so as to end things quickly, took several days to each 3 not out. And if the Rad’s comfortable victory perhaps owed a little to the inexperience of the opposing side (a Wenlock fielder, in the latter stages, was heard to enquire “how many more points do they need now?”) it was nevertheless well deserved.
Goodbye, Mr. Sips
The St Radegund under-40 first eleven ended another indifferent season with the traditional annual school outing to the playing fields of Newton. Mr. Kavanagh ticked everyone off the register except young Evans D. C., who had a note from matron saying he was excused from games with a sore knee.
In spite of heavy training the night before, no-one was sick on the minibus and we arrived at The Queen's Head well in time for tuck and lashings and lashings of beer. House captain Naisby R. T. marshaled the boys, and off we all toddled to the ground except Hoskins J. A. L., who had forgotten his kit so had to stay behind for detention with Mr. Thomas until 3 o'clock.
As usual the cows had turned up to watch, though one of them obviously recognized Hill J. R. and remembered receiving “six of the best” on her backside last year, so led the herd in a rapid exodus towards Fowlmere. Fortunately this time there was no sign of the randy bullock whose intentions last year led to several awkward questions in biology lessons.
Mr. Short, Master-in-charge of the opposition, very kindly provided the boys with nine gallons of refreshment and in spite of this they still managed to start upon the arrival of Metcalfe C. just twenty minutes late. From the outset, it was clear that both teams had enjoyed “lunch” as the Newton openers struggled to put bat to ball and the St Radegund fielders struggled to keep ball in hand. Eventually, the experience of Haslemere S. J. showed and both batsmen were removed in quick succession. His teammates would do well to emulate his application, particularly the early lights-out the night before match day. The remainder of the opposition offered little resistance and school mascot Lawlor-Anderson J. A. made amends for an earlier howler by holding on to a brace of catches, surpassed only by Crabb O. S. D. who bagged three superb efforts, leaving the St Radegund only 99 to win.
Lewis T. H. is a popular boy amongst his classmates but suffers from serious discipline problems. When, oh when, will he realise that playing yourself in does not constitute swatting the first ball across the line to midwicket? Too flashy by half. Naisby R. T. fared little better, and incidentally as head boy he really should know that facial hair is only permitted if neat and tidy.
Luckily the school has a real prospect in Hill JR, who managed to combine cultured stroke play with a bucolic hoick over long off to retire on 32. He is therefore to be re-awarded the Sandeman trophy at this year's speech day. Nevertheless, he should not rest on his laurels. In particular, he enjoys his school dinner far too much and consequently his running between the wickets makes Lady McCartney look sharp.
Metcalfe C. really must try harder. Drops his catches, drops his aitches, drops his guts. A change in attitude is required. In contrast, we are sorry to lose Evans M. J., whose well-judged 24 not out complemented a miserly return with the ball of 3 for 10. Let's hope he hops on the school bus from Royston next year to give the oppo some more chin music.
Finally Thorne M. C. L. is a pleasure to watch, and her development has been followed with interest. However she must keep her mind on the job in hand. There has been far too much fraternising with Hoskins J. A. L. of late, and if this continues she could find herself in another club altogether.
A rare victory then, to round off this year's campaign. Let's hope for more of the same from the class of 2007!
St Radegund public house, 129 King Street. Cambridge CB1 1LD. Tel: 01223 311794