WITLESS 2010

WITLESS 2008-9

Index

WIITLESS 2011

 

A summary of the 2009 early-season tour to St Vincent & the Grenadines...

Pie-Throwers of the Caribbean

            Motley indeed was the crew that took the Queen’s shilling and boarded Capt. Branson’s charter to the Caribbean. Let us savour the manifest now in all its splendiferous diversity: Bunter, Wilson, Matthew, Lewis, Lawlor-Anderson, Whitney, Bass, Haslemere, Dawson, Naisby, Haire, Free, Barham. Free? Barham? BARHAM? I kid you not. Quite how the Royal Mail or Cambridge’s legal wheels didn’t grind to a halt while we were away is anyone’s guess. That, though, was Cambridge’s problem and for twelve sunkissed (interrupted by heavy downpours) days we simply didn’t give a toss.

            One glance at the tour’s Fixtures and Results on page five, dear reader, and you could be forgiven for thinking that such a carefree attitude also extended to the cricket. You’d be wrong, though. The unvarnished truth is that we were outclassed. Or, in plane English, while our opponents sipped champagne in Upper First, we were rotting away in Cattle.

            It’s not that we didn’t try. We made a promising enough start in our first game against Manicou C. C. In spite of losing Lewis after three balls, Wilson and Whitney scored freely to take the score to 29. Then, four balls into the sixth over, the heavens opened and didn’t close again for an hour and a half. Match abandoned.

            Three days later we tried again against a Bequia Cricket Association President’s XI. Batting first they made 142 off 14 overs, and would certainly have scored more were it not for a barnstorming display of pace bowling from Beard, and a rare haul of 5 for 28. Jah D bagged 3 for 26 from 3 overs, but Jetlag was unlucky to run into some classy batting from Stay and Jamal and went wicketless. And yours truly? Wretched bowling. No excuses. Piss poor.

            The collective batting effort was, with a few notable exceptions, woeful. Positives first. Lewis played a measured innings of 27, taking few risks and despatching anything wayward to the boundary. Jack took revenge for having his bowling carted by hitting the ball onto the roof of the neighbouring school, and Beard played a defiant cameo as the wickets fell around him. There were ducks for Bass, Dawson, Haire, Whitney and Haslemere (these last two both golden). Comic relief came in the person of Russell Free, who went out to bat last and survived ten balls and the loss of his box mid-swipe, to much hilarity. His score of one run, when it finally came, was celebrated enthusiastically.

            The weather gods intervened again to wash out our eagerly-anticipated match against The Graduates, a team from the whaling community of La Pompe, which left us with a hastily-arranged fixture on Mustique in which to salvage some pride. Here, Jah D played a bedrock innings of 35 in draining heat, but few of his team mates stuck around long enough to offer any support, and the score only just managed to crawl into three figures as the innings ended.

            It was never likely to be enough. The Mustique Executives openers, Charles and Palmer took the score into the high seventies before the St Radegund could claim a wicket, yours truly only partly redeeming his earlier bowling display after another bout of the yips. There were to be no five-wicket heroics on this occasion, but the antics of the local match commentator over the PA system kept the mood light ("Ricky Nesbitt come into bowl") as the batsmen wrought havoc on the bowling attack, and reached their target with the loss of only one wicket.

Highball

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Fun at the expense of all round local hero, Jack-Lawlor Anderson.

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And fun at the expense of American former skipper, Tom Corbin.

Tom’s Batting Masterclass

Our big-hitting opening batsman* shares his insights on how to produce the match-winning shots.

 

1. Preparation

 

With his eyes fixed on the ball, Tom leans in with the front shoulder. The front foot and a bent front knee form the base of the shot. Note that the batsman’s head is level at all times. As the bowler releases the ball Tom raises his bat. At the same time, he moves his left foot to the line of off stump, then takes a stride forward with his right foot to the pitch of the ball. He is now ready to play the shot.

2. Execution

Tom’s weight is now transferred directly over the ball. His head is level with the front knee and his back foot is raised up on the toes. The bat accelerates vertically and contact is made with the eyes directly under the ball. The bat accelerates through a straight path, with the wrists relaxing and the face of the bat pointing to the sky. A textbook off drive.

*Er, are you sure you’ve got pictures of the right Tom here? – Ed.

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A first tour to Cambridge from some old friends.

Welcome Visitors

            They came, they saw, and I’m afraid to say, they conquered. Our friends from the Croatian island of Vis marked their first official tour of England with a couple of games at Jesus College over a weekend in late May. Bunter had been fretting for weeks about the wisdom of scheduling back-to-back fixtures for the visitors, worried that the rain gods would have the final say. Happily for all concerned, the Croatians managed to bring a touch of Adriatic weather with them. Few among the touring party – particularly those expat players born in the UK – and none of the Rad players who would normally find themselves shivering and avoiding the downpour at the Romsey six-a-side competition, could believe they were sitting outside the Rad in shirtsleeves on a Bank Holiday. Strange days.

            Bunter met the Hoste team at Luton Airport on the Friday night and rode shotgun with Sol in the trusty ARU minibus back to Cambridge. After dropping their gear at the Clarry and Westcott House, they descended on the Radegund to try our traditional English ale before stepping out to sample the fleshpots of Cambridge. I don’t remember too much about the evening, but it all seemed to pass off without serious incident, a far cry from our first night when the Rad went to Vis in 2003!

            The Highgate Taverners, who rolled up to the Rad on the Saturday for that afternoon’s fixture, seemed affable enough sorts and they got stuck into the beer with little prompting. The weekend had succeeded in attracting a distinguished visitor to The Close, none other than Capt. Sir William Hoste’s great, great grand-niece Dorothy, who had taken a cricket side over to Vis to play the year before (the story will be covered in Wisden 2011*).

            Against Highgate, the Visitors showed they weren’t just here for the beer, as they proceeded to put on 129 in 30 overs, thanks to solid performances from guest player, Zagreb C.C.’s Jasen Butković (41) and our old sparring partner Antonio ‘Jessop’ Lipanović (31), before bowling out Highgate for 80, with the most junior tourist, Blaž Svilličić, taking 3-25. Clearly the Rad would have their work cut out for them. And so it proved the next day.

            Attempts to hamper the Vis team’s progress by getting its resident Yorkshireman (yes, I know what you’re thinking: they get everywhere!) and danger man Craig Wear paralytic on the eve of their match against the Rad came to naught (it didn’t work on Vis last year, and it didn’t this time round). We would be facing a full strength Vis team augmented by a couple of members of Craig’s family, and so Weeble put out the strongest side available. 

            The Rad won the toss and elected to bat. Ollie, resplendent in his Baron Samedi top hat (I forget why) perished early doors, falling to Butković, but Lewis and The Sipper held firm with 30 runs apiece, and given able support from Bubbles to take the score onto a fairly respectable 83 for 2 at the first drinks break. It was a pity neither Tom nor Chris had been able to go on to make a big score as when play resumed the Rad fell prey to its traditional nemesis, the post-drinks break batting collapse.

            To be fair to the Vis boys, they did bowl very well, with Lipanović the pick of the bunch with a stunning return of 4 for 14. The Rad middle order, though, hardly covered itself in glory: JD 0, Bread Of 0, Double Rubber 0. There was token resistance from Weeble and Wilson, but 12 from 37 balls from the latter was pretty stolid stuff, even by his standards. This left Beard and Highball with rather too much to do and precious few overs in which to do it. The Rad innings ended on a fairly uninspiring 127, which I reckoned at the time was at least 30 runs light of a challenging target.

            And so it proved. Even a couple of quick wickets from Beard’s hostile first spell which left the visitors reeling on 0 for 2 couldn’t stem the tide. Craig hit a majestic 50 not out, well over half of which score came from boundaries, and even with Lipanović back in the pavilion without troubling the scorers, with Jasen still to bat it, was obvious Hoste had plenty in reserve. Skipper Rob Dumančić and Ben Heywood successfully made the run chase with bags to spare. 

            So it was a case of played two, won two for the visitors. They repaired to Headquarters for more quaffage, before heading back to the Clarry for a farewell steak supper. Young Blaž declared he didn’t want to leave Cambridge and promptly vaulted the wall of the Clarry. It really had been a flying visit but it was great to see them again and try to repay some of their hospitality. Talk of a return visit to Vis some time does not seem too idle, but we’ll certainly have to take a good team along.

Highball

*it wasn't. -Ed.

*

A memorable afternoon in the Vera's match.

Friday Prayers

            A balmy July day at The Close, a couple of stiffeners at base camp, and an industrial supply of mother's ruin, ice and lime for fortification during the change of ends. Truly the gods did smile on all concerned as the great and the good of Radegund cricket made ready for the twelfth annual tribute to the juniper berry that is the Vera’s game, the last under the aegis of the doyen of the Friday night gargle. 

            Take seven former captains, and two measures of domestic rivalry, mixed with a dash of German (Frau Breezenblock). Muddle one large American with Sackcloth, and put in a large, cheap Scotch (J. Dawson). Finish with a twist of Wodehouse (courtesy of the delightfully-monickered Sybil Stackpoole and Hugo Ralinovski-Hoare). Drench liberally with London Pride and leave to stand in the sun for four hours. That's right, dear reader, we're not talking Bradman's Invincibles here.

            But with the pressure off, the Vera’s game never fails to give our merry brood the chance to shine in the most unexpected of ways. Witness ‘Stonewall’ Shelton, for instance, known to one and all for his granite-like immovability from the crease with bat in hand, yet here producing a spell of unwavering penetration to claim three top order Rad scalps, including, perversely, the removal of Myfanwy three times in as many balls. Truly a hard man to get rid of! 

            But as Celts go, surely there is none more irrepressible than the redoubtable D. Christopher Evans Esq. His unerringly accurate slow right arm round proved too tempting by half for Messrs Crabb and Bass, but this was a mere hors d'oeuvre. Perhaps it's all those years standing off from the ruck, in order to be first to the second breakdown. Perhaps it was peerless reading of the game, having just retrieved a lustily-struck blow from Rad dangerman Lewis, which went straight back over the bowler's head in the vague direction of St Neots. Perhaps it was general gormlessness or loss of interest. But there stood our man foursquare on the boundary rope when, next delivery, another howitzer was launched skyward courtesy of Lewis's railway sleeper. Such situations reduce most of us mortals to quivering wrecks – all that time to think, to overcorrect, to concoct excuses for the inevitable – but not our Lofty. An utterly insouciant cupping of the hands, and the cherry disappeared into his corpulent frontage like a cannonball into a sherry trifle. ¡Olé!

            Honourable Rad mentions? Stand up John Lawrence Aspden! Confucius, he say, “you can't polish a turd”, and yet here is our captain-to-be, on the eve of his big four-o (sorry mate!), retiring undefeated after delivering a masterclass in timing off the front foot. Let's hope the added weight of the skipper's cap doesn't compromise his cavalier strokeplay.

            Given a target of 156 to win, the Veras’ cause was not helped at half-time, as some avuncular playfighting between Barry Grieveson and young tyro Hugo had near-tragic ramifications. Doubtless inspired by Hulk Hogan's legendary body splash off the top rope in Wrestlemania: Smackdown IV, Hugo planted a piledriver of an elbow into the supine Grieveson's gonads. Resolutely refusing to be swayed by the resulting gales of laughter, our Barry chose to keep his own counsel by adopting a silent, tearful pose with backside in the air reminiscent of Ahmadinejad at Friday prayers. Hugo, of too tender an age to fully appreciate the utterly debilitating impact of such a manoeuvre, gambolled carefree to his station at extra cover for the resumption of hostilities.

            In reply, the Veras’ top three of Haslemere, Caines and Harling helped themselves against a slightly wayward bowling attack. Notwithstanding the subsequent mini-collapse precipitated by some running between the sticks worthy of Space Cadet Aspden in his pomp, the ship was steadied by the late middle order. The ever-consistent Burbs nevertheless continued to probe, especially having been dispatched through cover point for four by your humble correspondent (more luck than management, need I say?) In the words of Stanley Holloway, it were plain to see t'lion didn't like it. The paceman was minded to unleash a volley of chin music of buttockclenching ferocity.

            And yet the result was never in doubt, for, as is fast becoming traditional, the batsmen were offered the light (too good?), and took it with the scores tied. Oh, and at much the same time Barry finally succeeded in inhaling, just prior to the onset of unconsciousness.

The Sipper

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A Scottish touring side pays a call...

For A Few Dollars More

            Now normally when you’re sitting there having your first drink of the day after a two-day bender, seeing pink elephants is normal, but blue men was a new one on me. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Scroll back two days to Friday night, closing time; there’s still no sign of the Dollar touring team and by now even I’m getting nervous, when five or six VERY large Scotsman pile into the Radegund, and try and get a drink. They’re here, thank God for that, but then Shut Up and Evans look at each other and think, “Hell, look at the size of them!” So we do what any sensible man does and do our best to get ‘em hammered (thanks, Tim).

            Saturday was the 1Spatial game, which you lot aren’t interested in, but it was during this we realised this was not a bad side. Pace bowlers that could get as much lift as one of Jugs’s best push-up numbers, even on the Jesus wicket, and top notch batsmen to boot... Oh dear. Even worse, we discovered they didn’t like Beard’s beer so the usual tactic of getting them hammered was doomed – doomed I tell you.

            So dawned a Sunday morning with your author a lot worse for wear and cursing whoever decided a quaich of Metaxa was a good idea, and wondering how many of them would be in the Parkside Hilton after Shut Up took them down to Cambar. A very rusty looking Humph turned up after spending the night in chains and as I mentioned, one chap was also clad head to toe in blue. They have strange traditions up north.

            Now you may have noticed so far I’ve avoided any mention of the cricket, well there’s a good reason for that. Not only did we lose badly, but even after asking around, nobody can actually remember anything about the game! So let’s see what we can make up. Aspden and Lewis got us going fairly steadily after skip left after 2 balls. Aspden went with the score on 29, but then it went all to pot really, with it going from 29-1 off 9 to 40-6 off 12... Eventually it came down to Page (18) and Beard (16) to put together a tail to bring us to 94 all out off 19 (and we complained about them asking for only a 25 over game...)

            So teas and the usual Milton nerve bracer and off we went. Well we got close. As they say on Vis, they won by 4 runs. Sadly they were only for 6. Pick of the bunch, Beard for a fine 4 wicket haul for only 17 and JLA for his 2 for 28 off 5, which gave us some hope as the top order tumbled, but Humph (now chainless) and Arnold sat in the middle and saw them safely home.

            So, the evening came. More quaichs of Metaxa (Oh God), the tapping of a third barrel of cider for the weekend, and an annoyed phone call from Jesus asking where their sign was. Ah the joys of a cricket tour without the wives. So that was it. The morning after they left, the sign mysteriously re-appeared where their bus was parked and the Rad inherited a set of chains. Will anybody write a book about the tour? I doubt it but if they enjoyed themselves as much as we enjoyed having them down here, then all’s well with the world, and roll on the return visit.

Bread Of

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Our final game of the season.

Whammy, thwack, ka-pow and kerplunk

            A glorious summer’s day, the meeting of two of Cambridge’s premier pubs on the field of combat, a well-laden tea table, a barrel of Beard’s finest and a seemingly unassailable lead at the Oval: not quite the same scenario as the muchlamented George Best, but the author for one was tempted to ask: “Where did it all go wrong?” 

            Eagle maintained his 100% tossing record and elected to bat: a brave decision with an enormous tea on the horizon, but still it was dashed hot to field. A new dynamic duo were to kick start the Rad innings with Steven Haslemere and Tim Harling sent in to give it some big licks. Sadly for Tim, Rob Short produced a snorting delivery to rattle the stumps and usher in the mighty Boosh. Whirling his Jumbo with some vigour, an initially watchful Crabb set about the bowling with gusto. Highball, having seen off some lively stuff from the QH’s opening attack, joined the party but, having cracked successive fours, the red mist descended and the divine wind was clean bowled.

            Next in was stand-in skipper Lewis. With the Radegund’s junior development squad looking on, he was told to entertain. Having just settled in alongside a booming Crabb, disaster struck and Ollie holed out going for glory in a fine cameo with three memorable boundaries. Eleven overs down and with a solid 40 on the board, the armoured bears of the team – Corbin and Townsend – were exposed. Could they produce the flashing sabre of a Trott or Gayle? Townsend was first to try and although brimming with intent an enforced layoff had blunted some of his early-season form. All too soon, Keyworth had produced an excellent ball to send him back to the welcoming arms of Helen and the courgette-laden pavilion. Following skipper’s instructions Corbin swaggered out to the middle with the gait of a man who was not going to be found wanting for properly considered big-match hydration.

            Whammy, thwack, ka-pow and kerplunk and are a few words which cannot adequately encapsulate Tom’s swashbuckling approach to batting. Sadly for an expectant crowd, 12 balls into the pyrotechnics Tom was trapped lbw for 6 by the excellent Keyworth. Enter the action man of the team fresh or should that be stiff from his recent running, swimming and cycling foolishness. Thankfully for Eagle, a retirement was reached before too much running was required with the impish Jack. His fifty had come at just better than a run a ball and Jack continued the onslaught with 17 from 19 balls. A belligerent Downing was brilliantly run out off the last ball with a quick flash of John Aspden and Nesbitt into the bargain.

            A decent total, surely, with a heavy tea to slow the Head. Burberry was certainly in unforgiving mood, clean bowling Mayo with a vicious inswinger firstball. Short and Canning seemed intent on resistance but both were accounted for once they had staggered to double figures. Beard shivered Short’s timbers and a resurgent Highball, fresh from his batting heroics, had Canning caught early in his spell. Aspinall entered the fray and looked capable of taking the game away from the Radegund side. Beard in particular took some punishment but Highball kept the scoring pegged back before claiming the vital breakthrough, Aspinall caught by Jack for a blazing 35. Highball also had Mitton early to finish with a mighty good spell of 5 overs, 3 wickets for 15. Support came from all quarters. Jack was the crazy horse of the attack, throwing a good deal of chaff into the mix but also producing two wicket-taking jaffas. A sprawling catch by Eagle to a nick of a genuine outswinger almost smacked of proper cricket, though the unfortunate batsman had been softened up somewhat by a throat-high beamer.

            Ollie and John Aspden offered a steadier mix of delivery, confusing the batsman with the odd stinker to complement the more conventional. Two to John one to Ollie is probably best described as 3 in tandem for a pair who dovetailed well to bring home a well -earned Radegund win. 

            A day of good spirited cricket finished in usual manner with Aspinall and Lewis completing the usual down downs. A fine end to a wonderful season.

Eagle

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