A Panegyric in Prose celebrating the Gardeners' noble victory on the fourth of August, in the Year Two Thousand and Thirteen of our Lord, written in the mode of our opponents' 18th-century origins, and containing a surprising and inspiring appearance by a GREAT MAN of cricket.
Written by Mr L. Hunter-Tilney
A wind-tossed yet sunny day at Turney Road brought curious opposition. Addington 1743 have a venerable history stretching back to the date borne proudly aloft in their Name; an era at the very dawn of the game of cricket, that vernal epoch when GEORGE II reigned supreme and a fresh-faced D. Woodhouse Esq. smote the yeomanry's underarm bowling to all corners.
There could be no gainsaying the pedigree of our opponents from the quaint village of Croydon; one of whose members judged our own more prosaic origins in a Stockwell house-share in the mid-nineteen nineties to be "a bit rubbish". The sledge was as well aimed as one of Mr G. Struthers' sinistral deliveries; but behind it lay a DARK SECRET - for unlike the innocent Gardeners, or indeed the chaste Mr Struthers, a cloud of infamy hangs over Addington 1743.
The notoriety derives from their ambitious but fateful decision to field Mohammad Amir in a Surrey League Game in Two Thousand and Eleven; yea verily, the same Mohammad Amir who played for Pakistan until banned from all forms of cricket for his villainous role in the betting scandal at Lord's in Two Thousand and Ten. The muddled jurists of Addington 1743 neglected to comprehend that ALL CRICKET includes League Cricket - hence the Surrey Sinners were expelled from their League for two years, an adamic exile that led providentially to Dulwich, and a penitential friendly with our good selves.
We welcomed our fallen cricketing brethren with characteristic good will. After all, as the Rev. R. Clayton pined in his pre-match sermon, let he who is without sin bowl the first ball. At which point a dozing Mr J. Lloyd started and explained that he would love to oblige but unfortunately was not disposed to turn his arm over on the present occasion; or indeed any other that might arise - for he, Mr Lloyd, had RETIRED from bowling some many years previously.
Our leader was Captain T. Leahy, who brought enthusiasm and brio to the role. However it must be admitted that his opposite number brought an even more impressive quality to Turney Road - none other than COURTNEY WALSH; aye, the great WALSH who, bowling at fearsome pace, took Five Hundred and Nineteen Wickets for the West Indies in a career of the most immense accomplishment.
Fortuitously for our top order batsmen, who may otherwise have found a powerful rationale for dropping down the batting Line-up, the Jamaican fast bowler of legendary repute wasn't playing. instead he turned up midway through the match to salute his friend, the opposition's skipper, and have a portrait taken with young Master Edward Clayton; of which more anon.
In the meanwhile, the two sides began combat. D. Woodhouse Esq and Mr A. Offord set about negotiating the Addington attack on an oddly bifurcated pitch, two dusty grassless extremities separated by a green-top of viperish countenance. Timing was troublesome, balls either rearing up with Napoleonic pride or scuttling low like Inmates of Newgate Prison; but the batters by degrees began to assert themselves; D Woodhouse Esq cuffing balls through the off side as though dispersing errant children from his orchard; Mr Offord driving with a bat of such immaculate straightness that the Rev. Clayton, at the boundary edge, felt moved to extemporise a sermon on the subject of Matthew 5:16: "Let your Light thus shine before Men, so that they might see your upright works."
D Woodhouse Esq was out to an untypically indecisive stroke, a kerfuffled scoop to the wicketkeeper. happily Mr Offord continued with stylish imperturbability, joined by the dashing Mr J. Elliott, who struck an off-drive with customary perfection; perfect, that is, in every detail bar the five-foot orbit above the ground that delivered the ball unerringly into the fielder's hands.
Next came Mr J. Lloyd, whose bat descended like the judge's gavel; the leather ball was transported to the Boundary for Summary Punishment. The poor sphere received even sorrier treatment the next delivery, hit by the imperious Lloyd for a vast SIX over mid-wicket. But then, with an Inevitability that didn't make the dawning of the moment any less terrible, the ball got its revenge as the righteous batter aimed a haymaker at straight one that rattled the stumps.
Like the South Sea Bubble, the Gardeners' innings proceeded to suffer a mysterious and distressing collapse. A succession of proud strokemakers - capt. Leahy, Messrs Struthers and Rogowski - returned to the boundary's edge looking baffled. Mr Offord's fine Innings ended when he was caught three runs short of a deserved half century; cricket once again proving herself to be as delectable yet capricious a mistress as all the venuses of Covent Garden.
The Rev Clayton and Sir Hugo Nisbett (Bart.) tried to repair the damage, both batting with due attention. The Reverend advanced a series of persuasive cover drives as though engaged in careful scholarship. Sir Hugo withheld his usual jousting blade in favour of pragmatic nudges and nurdles. At the Reverend's departure, the present correspondent, Mr L Hunter-Tilney of Grub Street, waved his bat uselessly like a man trying to injure a fly; then the selfless Mr R. Navratil ran himself out on the last ball. Thus the Gardeners limped rather than strode to a moderate total of One Hundred and Seventy-Two.
After a bonhomous repast for tea, Addington 1743 opened their Innings. Both openers were capable, but neither could free themselves from accurate spells of bowling from Messrs Navratil and Struthers. The delicate balance between bat and ball, a see-saw not unlike BRITANNIA's constitutional checks between crown and parliament, continued until the first change bowlers entered the fray.
Sir Hugo made the first breakthrough, Mr Lloyd behind the stumps taking the first of three catches: an impressive display of glove work from the part-time 'keeper. Meanwhile the Rev. Clayton stifled the batters with balls of nagging rectitude, bowling the opposition's finest batter for thirty-three.
At drinks, as we quaffed our orange cordials, a tall fellow with a familiar phiz was espied at the boundary. It was the great WALSH! The Reverend Clayton joined the fast bowler at the rope, toting young Master Edward in his arms (the estimable Mrs L. Clayton having a pressing purpose to visit the pavilion at that moment). A portrait dispatched with the use of a new-fangled Light Box contraption was duly made of Master Edward and the great WALSH, to the infant's bemusement and his reverend parent's great Joy.
Our esteemed leader Capt. Leahy decided it would be mete to bowl himself in the great WALSH's presence, and promptly proved the justness of his judgment by taking a wicket - the batsman driving a ball that Mr Elliott at silly mid-off plucked as nonchalantly from the air as though reaching for a bottle of Port.
Next Mr Hunter-Tilney, in honour of the visiting dignitary, bowled off his Long run; all 15 Yards of it. The ball descended at pace; Mr Lloyd, behind the stumps, leapt this way and that like an acrobat at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Not so much "chin music" as a midriff melody put paid to the nervous young batter, who edged behind. Was it our correspondent's fertile imagination, or might he have heard a West Indian-inflected cry of "Bowler!" from the general vicinity of the great WALSH at the boundary's edge?
Whatever the truth, historians will accurately record that Addington 1743 proceeded to give up the ghost. Capt. Leahy mesmerised a succession of muddled batters with his Left-arm Spin, including a sharp stumping by Mr Lloyd. Messrs Struthers and Hunter-Tilney also struck. Addington 1743's skipper put up doughty resistance; but his friend, the great WALSH knew that the number was up, exiting Turney Road before the match ended. He had inspired the wrong team to victory - the Gardeners!
Thus, in the Thirty-seventh over of their innings, Addington 1743 were bowled out for One Hundred and Forty-One runs. The Reverend Clayton, infant-less once more with the return of the delightful Mrs Clayton to her viewing point with young Master Edward, took the final wicket. A most enjoyable afternoon of cricket had been conducted in the perfect spirit of amity between the two teams.
The day was also notable for a spirited discussion over tea about the relative merits of Battenberg cake
and Bakewell Tart. The learned dispute prompted a magisterial Intervention from Mr Lloyd in favour of Bakewell Tart, and an ardent statement of affection in contradistinction from the passionate Mr Rogowski; to whit, that he, Mr Rogowski, would be prepared to "experiment with my sexuality for a slice of Battenburg"; a phrase that might have been uttered by Goethe's turbulent young hero, Werther, in the novel recounting his adventures that appeared thirty-one years after Addington 1743 opened their account, and two hundred and twenty-one years before we, the Gardeners Cricket Club, opened ours.
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Jamie Elliot (life)
Rob Navratil (life)
Hugo Nisbet (life)
David Woodhouse (life)
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