“Country house cricket” featured in numerous novels and plays of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: “England their England” is perhaps the best known followed closely by Hugh de Selincourt’s “The Cricket Match” and various of E.W. Hornung’s short stories featuring “Raffles: the Amateur Cracksman”.
One of the best known patrons of this arcadian form of the game was perhaps Sir Julian Cahn whose XIs could usually boast at least one current international as well as several county players. Sir Julian himself was no great cricketer but, batting in usual place some way down the order, he was noted for the number of leg byes he “scored”. It was said that this was in large part due to his inflatable pads, indeed his butler was once summoned to the wicket to reinflate them in mid-innings!
And so to Conington Hall………….
A strong side had assembled for this our second match at the Hall, a judicious blend of youth and experience strengthened by a guest appearance from AP’s brother Richard. Conington to bat and no sooner were they off the mark than your correspondent (fielding in not under a tree) caught the Conington opener. Minutes later Dave Fox clean bowled the younger Fordham. Six for two! Wickets continued to fall at regular intervals and it was only a late order stand that saw the Hall reach 160. Wickets were shared amongst seven Grantchester bowlers, Dave Fox finishing with the excellent figures of 4 – 2 – 16 – 2. Mention must also be made of Phil Myer’s excellent wicket keeping; three catches and a stumping.
A lengthy break for an excellent tea, provided by by both teams and the Grantchester openers strode out. Crash bang wallop and we were 65 without loss and both openers retired having reached 30. Dave Crowther scored 27, Tim Offord a rapid 30. Richard Stafford (who probably hadn’t met a wicket like this before) made only four…..but what a four! A genuine cover drive! Feet quickly into position, high left elbow, head over the ball and crack! Older spectators saw a hint of Graveney at his best, the younger thought of Vaughan and Sangakarra. Tony Kennedy and Sam Ludford saw us over the line and victory to Grantchester by eight wickets. But this is one of those matches where the winning takes a distant second place to the taking part. As our President would – and frequently does – say, “Great days”. And he’s right.
Our thanks go to Colin and Glinda Williams and the good folk of Conington. We are lucky to be able to play in such surroundings and look forward to welcoming them to Spring Lane next season.
Author: Neil Woods