“Let them play cricket.” A bit of droll bourgeoiserie heard, perchance, around the time of La Révolution? Only the eagerly-awaited publication of Captain Tom's debut will tell. Until then the Gardeners could bask in the reflected glory of Dave Dubya's prize-winning tome (two prizes, one is reliably informed, with a potential all-conquering hat trick still to be adjudicated) and welcome an altogether different sort of French dignitary – véritablement, c'est le Chancelier après tout! – back to picturesque Gallery Fields. Surely, if une révolution anglaise were to rise up and topple this great nation's leadership, to the manor born and all that, one suspects it jolly well won't be rising up in Dulwich.
Of course, accidents will happen and Le Chancelier will take a three-fer from time to time, too! And so Gallery Fields – or Chumps Élysées, © Sperling, E. 2022 – hosted a very enjoyable season-opener, Gardeners v Lawnmowers, two teams with much in common. Consider these startling similarities:
This begs the obvious question: is it more desirable to do the lady gardening in Dulwich or to mow an unruly lawn in Lewisham? It’s a theological grey area, undoubtedly, but I digress.
Continuing the double-entendres… Tom lost the toss but got off (to a good start) anyway – he got his wish as Lawnmowers
opted to bat in the bright springtime sunshine. Tasty and Paddy took the new ball and were both on the money straight away, good lines, good lengths. Tasty decapitated the
Lawnmowers, both openers clean bowled in consecutive overs, while Paddy was unlucky to see a sharp chance grassed in the gully. Greg wove some of his classic left-arm swinging spells,
clearing up the Lawnmowers middle order – numbers 3, 4 and 5 all castled, great to see
Scrubbers Struthers in the wickets again – and suddenly the Lawnmowers were 37/5.
Enter Chumpy lançant ses grenades infâmes et diaboliques and the Lawnmowers lower order was completely befuddled. Dave and Tom took a pair of neat catches before Tom decided to double up the spin threat and marking a notch of his own in the wickets column. At 65/9 the Lawnmowers were looking very cheerfully embarrassed. The last wicket was worth 39 before Tasty returned to knock back top-scorer Quinault’s leg stump, bowled through the gate, and the Lawnmowers all out for 104. Tasty, Greg and Chumpy all got three-fers, with Tom completing the decimation. Paddy was unlucky not to get a wicket, though he did return the best economy rate.
Chumpy laid out some delicious paté et fromage to much appreciation from both teams, and then Dave and Olly strode out to open the reply. Not for the first time, Olly would stroke a couple of breezy boundaries before finding an out, but Dave was not to be denied, anchoring the innings with a doughty 22. Like Olly before them – and no doubt many of the Lawnmowers too – Jamie, J-Lo and Tom C were all caught by a slightly sticky pitch before Tasty earned the oppo’s appreciation by walking on a leg-side strangle, and now the Gardeners were 61/6.
There was a buzz on the field as the Lawnmowers’ Woodhouse – a really nifty leg-spinner, putting a lot of fizz and dip into his deliveries – starting working his magic. Paddy and Tom, however, saw him off resolutely with a fine partnership of 43 that would level the scores before Tom – somehow – contrived to be bowled by a ball that landed, with absolutely zero forward momentum remaining, on the very top of his middle stump, to the great mirth of the fielding team and the umpire (even the batter departed with a wry grin on his face). Steve and Paddy (our top run-getter for the day with 24*) confirmed the win with little fuss, and cheery hands were shook all round. It was a great little game, low-scoring but no less competitive, played in good spirit between two fine groups of guys. That’s the best of England right there, and a little French flavour makes it all the better.
OC 27 iv 22