WITLESS 2004-5


Chris Evans gives us his end of term report.
Captain's Notes
Hello Mummy

            Well another term’s over at St Radegund’s and as I was jolly lucky to be Cricket captain this year, I thought I’d write to let you know how we got on.

            The choir boys of Westcott’s school didn’t give us much trouble and the Sackcloth and Ashes trophy came back to our cabinet, which was whizzo. Lashings of Ginger beer all round for that one.

            We then had a game against the oiks from Queens Comprehensive, and to make life interesting ‘Fatty’ Hill had a bet with one of their boys (2 conkers, 3 marbles and a bag of Lemon Sherbets) as to who would win. We did by jeepers, and Fatty shared all the sherbets round afterwards which made a jolly good evening.

            We had a damn good whipping from the Six Bells Grammar, but we think they’d been practising which was cheating a bit. We felt a bit better after beating the Free Press and St Vera’s schools, but were beaten again by the boys of Mill Road CB XI.

            It’s really fun mummy when a cricket game comes down to the last over, it shows two really well matched sides, and we had two of those this year. The big game against the Champion Girls’ School drifted away from us sadly in the end, but in a game against Priory, a side up from London we managed to get the runs with only a ball to spare, which was jolly exciting I have to say. I have to thank ‘Sipper’ Metcalfe for being captain that day, though I did get two hours’ detention for missing the game.

            There were two tours this year mummy, one by a few of the boys down to a Ginger Beer festival and 6-a-side tournament in Gloucestershire, and another bigger one to Vis, which is now in Croatiaaccording to my Bumper Map Book for Boys. I think they all had a spiffing time and I think thanks need to go to ‘Bunter’ Kavanagh and ‘Highball’ Haslemere for organizing that.

            Oh while we’re on about thanks, can you thank Auntie Millie for her Flapjacks and Lemon Drizzle cake, the boys loved them, and thanks to Uncle Terry and Uncle Beard for the lashing of Ginger Beer they gave us drink during the games. Thanks also to Auntie Caroline for doing the scoring when she came down to see us.

            It’s been fun to captain this year mummy, they’re a really good bunch of chaps, and I look forward next year, back in the wings as they say.

            Toodle Pip

            Evans Miner


Good clean fun from an ancient cricketing Manual.

Coaching the St. Radegund

Fatty raids his well-thumbed manual in search of tips for the boys...



A first cricket dinner attracts notice.

Court Circular


October 25: The President and Officers of the St Radegund Cricket Club hosted a First Annual Reception and Formal Dinner to mark the end of the 2003 season.

The Guests of Honour were The Right Venerable Lord Sainty of Dursley and the Lady Eleanor Sainty.

Mrs. Mary Marshall was official photographer.

Keeper Of The Privy Purse Mr. J. R. Hill and Domestic Bursar Ms. R. Shaw received the guests in the Bacon Room where Amontillado and Fino sherry was served by the College staff.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Darkness was late.

Master of the Revels Mr. D. C. Evans received the guests in the Parker Room. A Dinner of smoked salmon, roast beef and apple pie was served, accompanied by a 2001 Marsanne and a 2000 Côtes du Rhône, and followed by College Port, coffee and mints.

Mr. D. C. Evans led the speeches and after a vote of thanks presented a bottle of gin to Alderman S. J. Haslemere in recognition of his services to the Club.

The following awards were presented:

Mr. D. Shelton of the Freemasons, Mr. M. Cooper of the BMW Group, Mr. C. Metcalfe of Batley Sand and Gravel and Mr. J. R. Hill were inducted into the Order of the Gilded Waterfowl.

Señor Juan El Bow was awarded Overseas Player of the Year. In his absence the award was collected by Fiona, The Lady Coxswain.

Chief Hopper of the Brewers’ Guild Mr. R. Naisbywas honoured for being more hindrance than help. The citation read “for consistently dangling a nine gallon carrot in front of the team.”

Patron of the Sports Injuries Clinic of Addenbrooke’s Hospital Mr. J. R. Hill was awarded the Geoffrey Boycott Award for Verbal Diarrhoea in recognition of his wager in the match against Queens’ College.

Mr. R. J. Thomas of the Professional Snooker Association received the Award for Fielding Excellence in recognition of his tobacco and ball juggling skills.

Mr. J. Aspden of no fixed boat club took the Mercury award for his speed between the wickets.

Mr. Steve Bartlett of Osteoporosis Research was awarded Player of the Year.

Sir Jock Dawson of the Highland Racqueteers was presented with the Order of the Garter by Princess Caroline of Ewers, on behalf of the Sisters of the Livre Rouge.

The following elections were made:

His Excellency Mr. T. Kavanagh was re-elected to the Office of Club President unopposed.

Mr. S. J. Haslemere was re-elected to the Office of Club Secretary unopposed.

Mr. J. R. Hill was re-elected to the Office of Club Treasurer with some dissension.

Club President Mr. T. Kavanagh actually managed to say a few words.

The High Sheriff of Vis, Mr. C. Metcalfe gave an amusing talk with slideshow on the Summer Tour to Croatia. Mr. O. Crabb of the Convicts Club gave an exhibition of mimicry, impersonating Comrade Isaac Brows (Order of V. I. Lenin) with aplomb.

Mr. R. J. Thomas was announced as Club Captain (Wearer of the Golden Tassel) and presented Mr. D. C. Evans with an inscribed tankard in recognition of his efforts over the past year.

Mr. C. Metcalfe held a whip round for the College staff.

The party processed to Jesus College at the invitation of Mr. R. Forest, Mr. R. C. Hegarty and Mr. N. P. H. King, thence to the St. Radegund Public House, where Mr. J. Dawson hosted a liqueur tasting evening.

The guests were treated to a display of native arts and ritual dancing from the Old Spot Bacon Slicing Apprentice Boys, members of the lost tribe of Axminster.

Debutantes Dr. E. Haslemere and Ms. J. Sainty performed the Limoncillo with High Dudgeon and sur la table dancing.

A telegram was read in honour of Mr. G. Marshall’s 23rd Birthday.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Darkness was very late.

An apology to Miss E. Diamond: the Hue Word Anagram Award was not awarded this year.



A cricket widow gets a look in.
No Balls

Cricket as seen by the fairer sex...

            Those curmudgeonly St Radegund misogynists who reinforce the common stereotype of the cricket widow slaving away over a hot crossword, oblivious while her husband bakes in the middle are deluding themselves. Contrary to popular myth, we women do understand. Sometimes. And after several seasons of watching the game, cricket actually starts to make some kind of sense.

            This much I know. Cricket has a long and venerable tradition bound up with notions of Englishness. It was, after all, a game won and lost on the playing fields ofWaterloo, so it’s no wonder that English men are so eager to be sent onto the field of battle for pointless objectives.

            The game’s origins can be traced back to that fateful day when Captain Webb (this was in the days before he swam the Channel) picked up the ball and ran with it at Rugby School. The Laws of Cricket soon followed, scribbled on the back of a handkerchief at the Royal & Ancient, and it was here that the scoring system evolved: there is no point, only a run.

            Over the years cricket has come to embody aspects of the English class system, its greatest moment of crisis occurring over the issue of professionalism, which led to a century old feud between the paid players of the northern League code and the amateur southern Union that still smoulders today. At the same time it has evolved some curious practices and obscure jargon that still bemuses some. Allow me to elucidate.

            The teams come in ‘elevenses’ (which is confusing because they take tea in the afternoon).. The eleven players per side sometimes call upon a ‘twelfth man’. This shadowy figure is shrouded in mystery– a guess is he might be Harry Lime…

            The term ‘stumps and bails’ derives from the game’s agricultural origins where, before the introduction of the modern wickets, the land-owning classes would aim the ball at dwarves holding straw bales aloft.

            A team who performs very badly may be asked to ‘follow on’. WHY? Just concede for God’s sake, instead of making the afternoon draw on even longer! It may very well be that the full five-day match is called a ‘Test’, but watching the St. Radegund often feels like a Test too: of the spectator’s stamina and will to live.

            By the way, I have occasionally overheard the Captain threaten to bring ‘the spinners’ on after tea, but in all my years of watching cricket have yet to be entertained by an ageing folk group. If anyone can explain this then I’d be very grateful.

            This much I definitely know: Ms. Thorne makes exceedingly good cakes, and the answer to 1 Down is…

‘The Mem’


Back page fun.

Letters to the Editor

The postman empties his sack on the Editor's desk...

Dear Sir

I am writing in high dudgeon regarding the unseemly slur against my good friend James Hill. At no time in the scurrilous confinement of Lord Archer was Fatty other than a close personal friend to her ladyship, the ‘fragrant’ Mary.

To refer to him as ‘Love Bitch’ and ‘Gimp’ is to ignore his service to this country during the recent colonial troubles.


Col. Cynthia Payne (ret.)

P.S. Fondest to Jugs


Dear Lavinia & Daisy

The news of the invasion of our motherland of Croatia by these St. Radegunddogs of Capitalism is all we talk of in the cafés. Your prompt work will surely be rewarded with a martyr’s death. Those Hinglish pigs who dream of glory on our island have not met with I, Ivan the beast of the Balkans.

Here is the Plan:

1. Capture ‘The ‘Sipper’: he will be as a child to lure, as his appetites are well known to us. He is as a truffle to a pig for a well-upholstered woman. Dress as a strumpet and be powdered and scented of lilac and Old P.

2. Trust not the Haslemere for he is as the wind.

3. Tamper not with he they call the 'Bunter' as he has passed this way before and still owes me for a prawn and lettuce bun, no tomato, (and he'll be perfect as a young Sidney Greenstreet. should we sell the film rights to Hollywood).

4. Your disguise as Pod and Geoff is quite perfect but beware the sultry Diamond she has ways that can make a grown man weep.

5. Mater is quite well by the way and thanks you for the Chutney.

Yours truly

Tito Von Totty

P.S. Fondest to Jugs.



I would like complaining. Am language student visit nice country learn English. Mister Sean he say go drink in nice bar St Radegund, so go in but big red-faced man in bar make buy copy magazine Witless, say up yours Tojo. No like cricket anyway, and book is one staple missing. Am angry refund.

Col. Yuan Huang Lo (ret.)

P.S. Fondant Jugs


Dear Sir,

I am writing to you as the last bastion of decency in these benighted times. It has come to my attention that several of the supposed cricketers in the current St Radegund XI are considering ‘Pre-Season Nets’!The very phrase has the whining sound of our antipodean cousins. Surely if a stiff drink and a hey nonnie no was good enough for dear old Uncle Alison, then it should be more than sufficient for that lily-livered, good for nothing collection of footpads and Teddy Boys that now represent the finest ale house east of the Punjab to Paddington line.

Yours in apoplexy

Col. Edward Bear (ret.)

P.S. Fondest to Jugs.


Dear Sirs

I would like to complain in the strongest possible sense about the racist misrepresentation of Orientals in your magazine. I have travelled for many years in the Far East and found the people there to be courteous, obedient and comparatively inexpensive. In fact I have recently returned from Thailand with a new bride, and when you think it's only a hundred years since we were killing the blighters during the Boxer Rebellion, I think you'll agree we've all come a long way.

Yours empirically

Col. I. Brows (ret.)

P.S. Fondest to Jugs.

Witless welcomes contributions from all sections of the community regardless of gender, race, age or sexual orientation. No experience necessary, no correspondence returned and the judges’ decision is final. - Ed.


A selection of match reports. A first game against Westcott House...

            In the beginning was the word, and the word was God. “Brush the flies off it” sayeth He, and lo, with the tolling of a bell began the exodus from the garden of earthly delights to the dustbowl of Parker's Piece.

            Thus began, in time-honoured fashion, another season's campaign with the Rad's rabble of nonconformists pitted against the corrective moral rectitude of Westcott House in the form of a twenty-over thrash.

            Alas, it being the first Saturday of the sixth month, regular scorer Hesketh preferred not to put pen to parchment but rather to watch a few nags trot round a field in Epsom, and without our scribe's fine hand we were left with a scorebook harder to decipher than the Dead Sea Scrolls.

            And it came to pass that Westcott openers Langley and Clarke did seek to smite the St Radegund opening attack under the heat of a blazing sun. Fatty Hill, with throat as dry as the Negev desert and a brow as salty as Lot's wife’s backside, began a spell of bowling just as arid, though it fell to the Saracen Bin Laden to reap what he had sowed, with sound line and length causing Langley to hole out to mid-on where Whitney, fresh from his crusades in Spain, made no mistake. Any thoughts that this might herald a new dawn in the field for the Rad proved not so much prophetic as pathetic, with both opening bowlers contriving to drop dollies thereafter, much to the amusement of team-mates and bemusement of Japanese tourists.

            No matter; new skipper ‘Lily’ Evans – ‘yea, he is the lily of the field, for he toileth not nor doth he spin’ - called for the untried talents of Aspden to break the deadlock. In garb not dissimilar to a hospital porter, he clinically cut a swathe through the opposition by first removing top scorer Clarke. And Clarke begat Tyson, who begat Dyson, who offered a sharp diving chance to Metcalfe's right which, miracle of miracles, was bagged by the gloveman. Evans himself got in on the act with cunning use of his corpulent frame to take a rebound catch -in spite of murmurings from the Westcott camp that contact with fielding equipment constitutes five extras.

            In the absence of Justin Fairhall and his proven ability to feed five thousand with a fish and a couple of loaves, the two sides ascetically restricted themselves to the product of press and still, as the St Radegund tacticians mused on how best to overcome a modest Westcott total of 70 for 6. And lo, the assault was spearheaded by the David and Goliath combination of Shelton and Naisby, though the latter struggled to find a rhythm and was soon bowled offering a shot of philistine proportions. Much was expected of Hill after a good deal of off-season "training" but, all fire and brimstone, he smote the cherry with such ferocity that mid-wicket had no time to get out of the way. Ever seeking the golden calf, he instead worshiped at the altar of the golden duck.

            A steadying hand was called for, and yea, verily, there's none steadier than ‘Stonewall’ Shelton who ground out forty hard-earned runs with returnee Rob Watson to home in on the Westcott total. The coup de grace came with Metcalfe creaming a couple over long on, interspersed by a rare streaky single from the evergreen Steve "Methuselah" Bartlett, ensuring another tasteless bauble collects dust on top of the stereo for the next twelve months. There endeth the lesson.

‘The Yorkshire Sipper’


... a Wodehousian take on the Queens' College game...

            “By heavens,” I exclaimed leaping from my bed, bright and early, another sober night’s sleep equipping me to face the day. By eleven a.m. I had completed my training and dined on lettuce and quince, as recommended by my nutritionist. The sun was most definitely wearing its finest millinery and my chums had promised me a game of cricket. With my kit bag over my shoulder I sallied forth toward the most hospitable little tavern in the whole of Cambridge. Eventually I pressed on to the St Radegund.On entering its portals a sight to warm the cockles of this most cynical of ancient hearts greeted my jaded old eyes. There stood before me an array of athletes to rival any in the nation. Their lithe bodies spoke well of their abstemious habits and Spartan life style: Fats himself looked pale and gaunt as he bent over his first ‘Apple Juice’ of the day.

            Our passage to the field of battle was organised into a three wave attack by Lt. Haslemere: cycles for the young and fit, a people carrier for Evans and the rear guard a unit of heavily armoured men needed to press gang an eleventh. Hegarty2, having been duped into believing that the coast was clear by the departing taxi, was captured by the loitering heavies.

            Now a chap needs to be on his mettle. Barton Road, bathed in sunshine, is a charming setting and after fumbling about organizing kit and tying ones laces or selecting the racing pages and settling down with a glass, it is easy to think that the afternoon’s entertainment will take care of itself. However, there is the small matter of a wager of £100 and the chance to continue the season’s undefeated run. The Captain having won the toss we batted first. Well, Hegarty2 and Fats did with me at three, so the last to leave the pub first to bat? Could this be that most terrifying of pub cricket demons: a Captain with a strategy?

            Hegarty2 whirled elegantly and on several occasions came jolly close to hitting the ball, and extras accumulated the runs at a rate only slowed by Fatty regularly hitting the ball through the hedge. Eventually Hegarty2 (13) was bamboozled by a straight delivery and the crowd were able to delight in the sight of your beloved scribe running a three. It was too much: Fatty (47) accidentally middled a shot and was dismissed by his ‘bet’ noir Alex Page.

            The next few overs were a blur. The athletic Alex caught Steve Haslemere for 3. Then my own dismissal (14) LBW: a decision whose Machiavellian brilliance rivals that of a Chess Master, and revealed the genius of a Bartlett brain in action: apparently I was ‘plum’, which strikes me as hardly a valid reason. Ho hum.

            Enter the mighty Sipper (29) who, after a brief period of playing himself in (i.e. missing), played with such agricultural panache that French lorry drivers were in readiness to blockade the popping crease. Joined first by Forrest (31*) who employed the surprise tactic of batting and then Heggarty1 (9*), our innings closed on 205 and tea was well and truly taken.

            The powerful pairing of Fatty and Hegarty1 opened the bowling attack. Fatty got the opening bat LBW Hegarty1 toiled to no avail. It was then the God-like wisdom of Steve ‘The Seer’ Bartlett was revealed. It was decided that by pointless clapping and the shouting of non-sequiturs things might change. A cracking cry of ‘Radio Rentals!’ followed by ‘Lets put something big in the larder!’unhinged batsman and umpire alike and the second of five, yes five L.B.Ws was given. Bartlett’s ploy had borne fruit.

            As Bartlett (2.5o 0m 8r 3w) and Bobby prepared to demolish the exposed middle order disaster struck. In a moment of youthful exuberance Steve B. attempted ‘fielding’. His knee made contact with the ground and, despite the gentle touch of the sultry physic, he had to be given temporary respite and wasreplaced in the attack by the dashing figure of R. Thomas, Esq. (4o 1m 23r 2w). Meanwhile the Captain’s display in the Covers reminded us that injuries are not only caused by the ball but by trying too hard to stop it.

            Now here is a conflict: as a player some of the game’s mysteries should remain just that and three fat figs to Yellow journalistic practices. A tactical discussion between bowler and wicket keeper over the lemonade produced a double wicket maiden, including two-thirds of Sipper’s catches in just 3 balls! Two wickets were bad enough but a maiden was too much, so time to change the bowling again.

            After a fascinating spell by the redoubtable Dave Shelton the champagne moment arrived. Jon ‘The Man Who Ate Jonty Rhodes’ Dawson swooped on an off drive and returned it to Hegarty2’s trembling hands for a run out! For the St.Radegund this was rarer than ptarmigan teeth. JD had struck like honey from a spoon. Bartlett’s return and a flighty spell from Evans saw us home.

            I will skip lightly over the embarrassing saga of Jazz legend ‘Fats Wallet’ and suggest, dear reader, you missed a day filled with wonder.

R. J. ‘Plum’ Thomas


... that year's Veras match...

            Under new management. After last year’s debâcle, the incoming Verasskipper privately promised a closer game this year, and boy did we get it: the two teams provided a nail-biter that went right down to the wire, with the outcome only decided in the last over of the day.

            Evans as usual lost the toss but much to his surprise, given the bright green wicket, the Verasbatted first and opened with the accomplished (well, in the gin-drinking stakes anyway) pairing of Haslemere and the Prince of Darkness. Against Mini Cooper’s bowling the latter displayed all the footwork of a clockwork fairy with a broken mainspring and, though he survived a classic Teflon moment behind the stumps, departed without score. J.D. was having no truck with running up and down the pitch, so promptly swatted everything to the boundary. At the other end Haslemere was labouring a bit, and looked to up the tempo. Whitney sent down a low, straight one that deserved more respect than a wild heave and before you could say ‘Ole!’ the skipper was back in the pavilion. Charlie Stephenson didn’t get going, and J.D. eventually went for 37, L.B.W. toAspden, right after the first drinks break for Veras, funnily enough.A strong attacking field was set for Madame Cyn, with bids for Short Leg running to six bob at one point. It was Fatty who eventually did for the debutante he had spent precious hours coaching, to his eternal shame. Rattan plundered 31 runs and with Rule and Edmunds helped the Veras score along to a semi-respectable 125 for 5. The fielding was generally sharp: Rodders memorably stopped the ball on the boundary while rolling a fag and didn’t spill a shred of baccy, and Fatty gave a Masterclass in trying to stop the ball with the face, but The Spaniard did drop a catch. It could happen to anyone, Coach.

            The abundant and delicious tea was gobbled down by grateful players and spectators alike: a wide-eyed Hesketh loaded up his plate like an East End urchin at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet. Fully sated, the St Radegund came out to bat. Rodders and Ollie (35) put on fifty for the first wicket, with the junior Crabb pulling some beautiful shots to the leg side. Cllr. Howell wasn’t exactly‘conservative’ in his first over, but did manage to break the partnership. Shelton followed, stumped, and the introduction of Russell Woolf (4 for 6) precipitated a mid-order collapse, accounting for Ollie, Fatty and Sipper, and Evans with a run out. Only Liz D. showed any resistance in the face of improving Verasfielding (stand up Justin Fairhall and Charlie Farquharson-Roberts!) and outscored a number of her supposed peers.

            With the Rad innings in disarray Steve Bartlett produced a magnificently patient innings that stopped the rot, but as Aspden was run out and Mini skied one to Charlie F.-R., the tension mounted. Needing six off the last over and with Bartlett tiring, it was left to The Spaniard to stroke a beautiful leg glance off Dawson to the pavilion boundary to score the winning runs. The crowd erupted in acclaim, and Bartlett’s unbeaten innings of 36 rightly earned him the Man of the Match award.

            Back at the pub the party got down to a seventies’ disco beat, with Barry White making his Rad debut (which just goes to show you have to be dead to get played in there), and as the Veras skipper took his leave he looked over his shoulder to see the ladies tossing Hesketh’s broken body around like a rag doll, and decided to call it a day. But what a day!



...the second of two games against CBXI...

            The Close has been host to some unusual cricketing sights over the centuries but rarely can it have witnessed such a group of shambling, crapulent wrecks as constituted the St Radegund XI. The week between matches had seen the dissolute sporting core of the Rad messing about on the river. Blades had been won and toasted but at what cost to the finely honed reactions of the Radegund Corinthians?

            Matters got off to a good start when Dai Laughing won the toss. The first over wasn’t a disaster either… Bartlett and Shelton combined to score a carefree three runs. Unfortunately, this brought Flack into the attack and the wheels began to come off the chariot. Shelton was bowled by a straight one, bringing Ollie Crabb to the crease. At this point the CBXItwelfth man came into play – in the guise of the “neutral” umpire AJ (No.5 bat in the first game of the rubber). Ollie was given out lbw to a ball that would have gone on to hit middle and square leg umpire. There was no doubt about Haslemere, bowled Oliver for a solitary run. Mini Cooper and Steve Bartlett scratched about for valuable runs but batting never looked easy. When Bartlett holed out to Oliver off Edmunds, the Rad were reduced to 29 for 4. This rapidly became 35 for 6 as Sipper swiped an ugly stroke to cow and the Beard missed a straight one from Acheson. Fatty launched into some entertaining heaves (including a memorable six) and added 20 with Mini. However, Acheson was bowling well and the straight one proved too good for Cooper (12). John Aspden strode to the crease like the free-scoring Colossus he is and proceeded to smite the bowling to all parts of the square in a scintillating innings of two (off only 37 balls). Fatty missed the customary straight ball from Acheson.

            Aspden contrived to be caught by CJ off Acheson (clearly a mix up in the field prevented the run out). Evans concluded the shambles with his usual duck (second ball this time), clubbing an off-drive that Flack pounced on with a one-handed diving catch worthy of the champagne moment. St Radegund all out for 79.

            At this point the experienced cricketer smiles thinly and points to the perils of a clearly tricky pitch, and how chasing small totals is notoriously difficult. Suffice to say that the Rad’s bowling effort (attack seems like too strong a word) was deposited to various distant parts ofJesus College. All three bowlers were unlucky with the umpiring (AJ again!) but truly the day belonged to Reid: his unbeaten, less-than-run-a-ball fifty finished off the game in a scant half-hour. Well played CBXI, less training needed Rad!

...and a heroic effort against the Priory Arms.

‘There's a breathless hush in The Close tonight,

One more required from two balls of spin,

With Bartlett to face, and Dawson stage right,

Both of them lame and the last men in.’

            Forgive the cumbersome reworking of Newbolt's ‘Vitai Lampada’; rarely do the St. Radegund's finest rise to the dizzy heights of mediocrity, let alone turn in a performance to stir the poetic muse. And yet it is no exaggeration to say that the final domestic game of the season against the South London tourists provided the most dramatic finish in living memory. That said, how good is your memory after a barrel of Pegasus?

            The task seemed formidable from the outset, as the combatants sized one another up from opposing trenches in the Rad: our battle-weary boys grimly conducting post-mortems on the heavy bombardment of Saturday night, oiling dry throats and nursing sore heads; the enemy troops young, fit and ready for action, despite Bunter's best efforts to sabotage their generals' campaign the night before. First blood to enemy commander Hugh Stevens -winning the toss on the hottest day on record. No surprise, then, that he condemned the St Radegund rank and file to an afternoon's toil in the field.

            Bin Laden bravely led the charge with the ball to no avail, exhausted by the infernal heat after a three-over assault. Time for the tactical nous of wily veteran Steve Bartlett, who made significant gains in seeing off both openers with his beguiling spin. Honours even after ten overs - at 45 for three the Rad foot soldiers dug in for the long haul. Alas, the Priory's cavalry arrived in the form of the middle order, with Norwell offering back-up to the belligerent Walsh, whose rapid-fire 33 contained successive sixes off a shell-shocked Dawson Snr. Brief respite followed as Walsh shot himself in the foot with a mix-up between the wickets, though Miles, his front-line replacement, put the visitors firmly in the ascendancy with a classy unbeaten fifty.

            A special mention in dispatches to quondam general Haslemere for two breakthroughs against the top order, and full military honours to Bartlett who gave no quarter in returning remarkable figures of 4 for 5 from six.

            A hundred and sixty-four for victory was always asking a lot of the Rad irregulars, particularly under heavy fire from the Priory quicks. Indeed, to say that the first few Rad men over the top offered little in the way of resistance is more than charitable, as a familiar combination of rashness and ineptitude left the home side reeling desperately at 56 for eight.

            Enter Bartlett to join ranks with Bin Laden at the front. Between draining glasses and topping up tans, the onlookers failed to notice that what seemed a token wag of the tail was in fact to make a match of it. The best rearguard action since Rorke's Drift saw 57 added in quick time before Bin Laden bought it. On trudged a wounded Jock Dawson. Surely, with both of the Old Contemptibles barely able to hobble a run, and fifty-odd still needed, another heroic failure? Not a bit of it. More of the same for a further seven overs as gradually the Rad dared to think the unthinkable. And yet, what should have been our proudest moment owed more to a Whitehall farce. Dawson clobbered the winning boundary with four balls to spare – cue pitch invasion, euphoric semi-naked victory jig from Sipper, tearful embrace between batsmen. Only the fielder seemed aware that the ball hadn’t actually crossed the rope –cue fed faces and utter pandemonium as two arthritic knees and a knackered hamstring struggled to make their ground. Two agonizing dot balls ensued before Bartlett finally delivered the killer blow to complete the greatest comeback since Lazarus. Never has so much been owed by so many to so few!

The Yorkshire Sipper


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