WITLESS 2008-9

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WITLESS 2010

 

Tom Corbin looks back at an eventful season.
 
This is your Captain speaking…

            Let them say, we played in the right spirit. That is the mark of a good season. We had a fine time on and off the field, and once in a sea kayak. We never took ourselves too seriously, but we played to the best of our abilities. I am confident that tourists and hosts alike enjoyed our fixtures and would welcome another day of St. Radegund cricket.

            The Vis, Croatia Tour in May set the tone for the season. We played efficiently but ineffectively, losing wickets early and often - and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Our hosts were marvelous; we could not have asked for a better weekend of cricket, local food and wine, and genuine friendship. I have sincere gratitude for the Sir William Hoste Cricket Club (www.viscricket.com) for making the tourists feel like we were home. We plan to return the hospitality this spring when they tour England. Pomalo.

            We didn’t set any ODI records this season, but we almost made our mark in notable conversations and publications. Space Cadet set a personal best in nearly dropped balls. Highball’s highest high ball was not quite a personal best, but brought great levity to the field. I must note that Shut Up’s dress and appearance set a high standard, as well as setting many tongues a’ waggin’. Finally, Olivier de la Bouche’s back-to-back attempts (once successful) to reverse sweep into his wicket received honorable mention in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Sportsman of the Year, Buffoonery and Light Humor category. Palermo.

            Technically, I couldn’t have asked for more in a side. We displayed spirit in and around the pub, and our footwork at the bar was textbook Radegund Cricket. With a nod to the future, I would like players to work on queueing in the off-season. I will also make myself available at the bar for pointers (and pints); although, my talents generally lie in other directions. Just don’t let your skills get rusty; I expect to see you at the pub.

            On the field, you never let me down. My expectations were simple: make a game of it for both sides, have some fun, and follow me to the pub afterwards. In return, I tried to get everyone who wanted to play on the pitch, and everyone who played a bowl or a bat. If you can’t have fun playing cricket on the Jesus pitch with your mates, there’s not much I can do for you. You made it easy to captain.

            What is it that makes Radegund Cricket so special? It’s you: all of you who are reading Witless. The locals who turn out for the fixtures to watch or play (sometimes concurrently). The wayward few who turn up for nets in January and then return to the pub to talk bollocks over pints. Those who have played for the Rad in years past, and who we’d love to see on the pitch again. Our friends down the street, across town, or overseas who we may play once a year, but who we talk about through the rest of it.

            I thank you, players, supporters, and friends - cricketers all, for your time and talents (particularly in the pub), and I look forward to another fine year of St. Radegund Cricket. It was an honor to serve as your Captain.

Captain Double Rubber (Tom Corbin)

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Bunter on cricket in the Ionian Islands.

“Primo Salvo” in Corfu

            Cricket is not only played in the Adriatic Sea, but is also well-established on the island of Corfu in north west Greece. As with Vis, cricket on Corfu owes its origins to the British who occupied the island from 1814 until 1854. The Treaty of Vienna turned the seven Ionian Islands into an independent state under British protection with Corfu as its capital.

            Corfu cricket ground is one of the loveliest in the world. Looming over one end of the ground is an imposing Venetian fortress while at the other end there is a terrace of elegant 18th-Century buildings. On one side of the pitch it is a short walk to the esplanade and the sea while on the other is the world-famous Liston, a long, covered and colonnaded French-style building. It is full of stylish cafes where the natives of Corfu town like to be seen during the early hours of the evening. It is also the perfect spot for a mid-afternoon ouzo. Sadly, the old pitch is now only used by the island’s under-18 and under-14 teams since the size of the pitch has recently been reduced to make room for a new car park… is nothing sacred, I ask you?

            The senior cricket matches now take place in a new cricket ground at Gouvia Marina, a few miles North of Corfu town.The mixed cultural heritage of the island can be heard in the language used while playing cricket here: the Corfuot name for the game itself is rendered into English as “play” But, perhaps because of the long association with the Venetians more than one term used has been lifted from Italian, so when a long hop becomes prima salvo and cricket stumps are xyla (from the Greek for “woods”) the English might feel at a loss playing their own game.

            The former Australian captain Kim Hughes (he who cried after Ian Botham’s heroics in the 1981 Ashes series) once hit a mighty six right over the gardens and into the moat surrounding the Old Venetian fortress. Some hit! When David Gower was once asked where he had enjoyed playing the most, his immediate reply was: “It has to be Corfu.”

            During the early seventies, your good Bunter played against Corfu for the Commonwealth XI of Athens. His score was a golden duck. Not much chance of disturbing the real ducks in the fortress moat that day, then?


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Richard Naisby on a rare win against Jesus Graduates.

63 Degrees of Separation

            Ah, mid-August at the Close. A time of sultry afternoons, full fat teas and a thorough kicking at the hands of the usual mob of Jesuan Graduates. This is the normal, inevitable path of the Radegund cricketers’ life, performed since Time Immemorial, onwards to the end of Time. Like the changing of the seasons, the motion of the tides and the stench of Tim’s rowing kit; some things remain constant, eternal and everlasting.

            Philosophers, poets, and sports scientists have all argued over the reasons for the natural supremacy of the Jesuan Graduate over the Radegund “athlete”. Mostly, the arguments come down to: they are younger, fitter, better at batting, more skilful at bowling, infinitely more agile in the field, don’t smoke, barely drink, aren’t carrying 40-year-old injuries, have a concentration span slightly longer than a gnat, lack an overwhelming interest in cloud morphology at inappropriate times, are better looking, are not American, oh, and they can catch a cricket ball.

            Thus, the natural Radegund advantages of: being quite hairy, and um, err that’s about it, are slightly overwhelmed. So we always lose. Heavily, embarrassingly, toe-curlingly badly.

            And so to this year’s thrashing. Things looked promising at the start as the Graduates side showed a depressing lack of imagination in the choice of surnames (always an important factor in a limited overs match, this) with fully 3/11ths of the side called Williamson or Wilkinson (or somesuch – the scorebook for this match is somewhat sparse!). Advantage Radegund, especially as in Jack we had a player with two surnames of his own and with Weeble also playing, a decisive advantage in Christian names too (not to mention weight).

            The Old Firm of Lewis and Crabb got the Radegund off to a cracking start amassing a formidable first wicket partnership of 85 runs. (At this point all sensible observers would sniff a Rad collapse in the offing – how perceptive of you dear reader!). Crushy contributed a couple of lusty blows and Aspden chipped in with hitherto unsuspected power (and dare I say it grace) – until the inevitable run out. The undoubted highlight of the Rad innings was languid flick for six by Jack off a ball which, had he missed it, would at least have guaranteed the pub a new counter-tenor next season.

            The scorebook faithfully records the damage wreaked by one Williamson, P. who, bowling Right Arm Round (out of the sun, in other words), destroyed the Radegund tail with splendid figures of two overs, five for five. Rad all out for 132. Which might have been a mistake. The last of his hapless, blinded victims was your humble correspondent. And I was a bit miffed.

            Bowling round (what’s sauce for the goose, etc.) and frankly narked, Beard accounted for both blinking openers and with Highball dismissing the dangerous Macnaghter for a blob, the Jesuan middle order was exposed rather earlier than might have been expected.

            What happened next is probably unique in Radegund annals. A series of inspired captaincy decisions (told you it was unique!) saw the Radegund bowl and field like cricketers. A love-struck Page took a brace of c&b’s, then an inspired Jack conjured the skipper a couple of eminently droppable catches which hero of the hour snaffled with a certain amount of Yankee disdain.

            Ollie and Beard combined to deliver the coup-de-grace with a well worked run out and the slaughter was complete. Grads All Out for 69.

            Jesus Graduates were no longer Top Nation and history comes to an end. Early finish, time for beer!

            Gentlemen, fear next year!

Beard

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The Greatest Innings Ever?

A look back at some classic batting performances courtesy of the latest “wagon wheel” technology
 


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