In the world of friendly cricket between clubs with a long standing association, communication is often done through a loose network of pub gossip with no attributable sources. So it was that, following a sequence of convincing wins, we heard at the Blue Ball via the White Swan at Conington and the Poacher at Elsworth that it had been suggested that we were taking these encounters too seriously and that it would be looked upon favourably if we put out a more of a social team. This was quickly translated by our resident diplomat as meaning an older, weaker team of serious topers.
So it was that our team with an average age of 55 pitched up at the delightful grounds of Conington Hall. We had apologised to our younger players and had insisted they were being rested rather than dropped.
I looked around for the familiar faces. Some were there but not in whites. Simon and Nick were umpiring. Barnaby had taken his children to a party and would be along later and others were busy with combine harvesting and hoped to get to the pub after the match. Their team, average age 20, were practising and had those short Mongoose cricket bats used by the big hitters in T20.
When the pre-match photo was taken there was no need to ask Conington to say, “Cheese”. They were already scenting victory and were in high spirits. We were reminded of the local rules, the most important of which was that a straight six over the hedge towards the Hall would incur a penalty of 6 runs. The signal for this by the way involves the umpire touching his toes, a sort of reverse 6.
Berman and Foster opened for GCC. Berman soon went for a duck and Foster for 3. This turned out to be the sixth highest score. Though Wray, Goulder and Marian batted valiantly Grantchester’s innings ended on 125. Este’s innings is worthy of note in that he scored minus 5. Berman showed his delight at the power of negative numbers.
Fordham, Taylor and Ransom made short work of knocking off our total as they reached 129-2 and victory by 8 wickets. Fox took the 2 wickets for 10 runs. Este got his revenge by bowling Ransom such a pie he could not stop himself hitting it over the hedge.
The usual pleasantries were exchanged afterwards as we enjoyed a superb barbecue and a choice of 2 cask beers. The evening finished at the White Swan where I am sure the gentlemen of Conington did not laugh out loud until we had left.