Tuesday 23 July 2024

60th Anniversary Game, Kings School Rochester, 14 July 2024

Originals 192 for 9 off 37 overs (Baxter 32 ret., Mills 30 ret., Charles Snr 27, S Forman-Wilshaw 2 for 20).

Young Generation 191 for 8 off 39 overs (Tunbridge Snr 30 ret., Tunbridge Jnr 25, H Forman-Wilshaw 29, Jackson 25.)

Match Drawn.

Once again we were blessed with a near perfect cricketing day in the lovely surroundings of the Kings School paddock for the anniversary game. Once again the Mandarins gathered, originals (Butler, Roberts, Wiggins), near originals, stalwarts of the 1960s, 70s, 80s, veterans, seniors, some still in their cricketing prime (discuss), and, crucially, some newly minted. The teams were carefully chosen for balance, and (I quote the selector) to symbolise inheritance and regeneration. Both generations of Formans and Tunbridges played for the Young Generation, as did Balraj. Eastaways, Charleses (Ben is Headmaster of Kings School)  and Porters played father vs son, with Sam Charles, aged 9 youngest on the field, dismissing his father caught and bowled to claim the bragging rights.

The bespoke team strip arranged by Helen seemed to be an opportunity for the seniors to proclaim their ages in the squad numbers. Andy chose 168 (how old he feels?). Pat Murphy was the senior player on the day, just pipping David Lowen, with a big crowd of late 60s Saga holidays hopefuls pressing them hard. Average age? Hard to say, but easily 60 plus. No injuries were sustained. Bespoke shirts aside, a special sartorial prize for Jeremy Crump who wore what would be the Mandarins blazer if we had one – actually a 19th Century Royal Engineers blazer in orange and navy blue.

The oldies batted first, and were shown no mercy by Young Gun skipper Chris McKeon, who opened with Jackson and Stan, and followed up with Harry and Raki. Wily fox Baxter was equal to this assault, and his pads (who else?) opened the scoring, although it has to be said that they are now well and truly exploded, making Jack Russel’s look pristine. Stan, no sentimentalist, nailed Lowen and Jarvis in two balls, for two zeroes, Jeremy’s first golden of a 60 year career. But it was catch of the day  diving in the gully by Harry, so fair cop. Although Healey and Williams made modest scores they helped see off the tricky opening period, paving the way for Paul Mills, the ultimate Mandarins festival cricketer, who outshone his 50th anniversary exploits with 30 retired off 9 balls (no dots). Ben Charles hit the ball to all corners of his domain, and there were useful contributions all the way down to number 13. Chris M contrived to use 12 bowlers (certainly a record) including a sporting last over from himself, which ended with an absurd 8 bounce delivery (a record) which Andy missed, at least twice, to be bowled, both bowler and batsman flat on the ground at the end. The “Spirit of Cricket” was forced to adjudicate on this one, eventually deeming that the rule of law was so fundamental to the fabric of the nation that no-ball was called (possibly by the scorer) and Andy ended not out.  

A delicious tea was capped by Helen’s spectacular 60th anniversary chocolate cake. Speeches by Host- in-Chief Jonathan, President Robin and Chairman John had in common two themes, the unreliability of still vivid Mandarins’ memories as exploits on and off the field fade into history and morph into tribal myth; and the unifying thread from 1964 to today that everyone who played and plays for the club simply enjoyed doing so and making their contribution to the enterprise. Robin opined, to update the quote on our webpage, that not only were the Mandarins the only thing he kicked off in government that were still going strong, they were the only thing still going at all!

The second half (football did intrude itself just a little into our day) began with probably the oldest new ball pairing ever seen in grey and orange (c. 145 years?) as Oldies skipper Jonathan trusted two men who have not bowled for the Mandarins for a cumulative 52 years (Murphy admittedly with more recent form at Elstead, but Jarvis a genuine left field left arm wrist spin choice). The age gap between Pat and Sam Charles facing him exceeded the lifespan of the club. Tunbridge Senior and Charles Junior were unperturbed and progressed to 28 before Sam fell victim to an implausible direct hit diving run out from mid-wicket by No 168.  

Heard and Rob Eastaway then upped the pace, but Graeme, Harry and Stan were equal to it and played many festival shots of their own. Sam Tunbridge (aged 11) then took up the challenge and, on the evidence of today, will be far too good to play for us when he is a teenager. But although runs flowed wickets were falling. The last 20 overs began with 104 needed and 3 wickets down. Healey exerted a modicum of control, then it was time for super-slow leg spin from both ends, Mills and Baxter twirling away to tempt. Jackson was duly tempted and hit 4 boundaries in 25, before falling to that wiliest of bowling foxes, J Porter Senior.

Regular readers will know that I have previously commented on skipper Jonathan’s ability to magic up classic finishes, and today was no exception. 6 overs left, 48 needed, six wickets down. All results possible. Jonathan shares the last 6 overs between 5 bowlers. Masterstroke is bringing back Jarvis. “Why Jarvis?” shouts Mrs Jarvis from the boundary. Because he tempts. Sam Tunbridge vigil is ended by a straight one. But skipper McKeon plunders the rest of the over for a dozen. 18 needed off 3. Rakesh is dropped off Porter. Is it curtains for the Old Guard? 13 required off 2, but Healey replaces Jarvis and concedes only 4. 9 needed off the last. Jonathan, who also has not bowled for the Mandarins since 1994, steps up. Skipper v skipper, McKeon v Wilmot, Hector v Achilles. Deathly hush. 7 are scored off the first 4 balls. McKeon to face the fifth. Dot. Two to win one to draw with scores level (it has only happened 4 times in Mandarin history folks, not since 1994). And Wilmot delivers, Chris swings for victory and is bowled. And to the bafflement of the inventors of The Hundred, the collective endeavour of 26 players over an entire afternoon is – a draw!

A fantastic day ends with drinks and hospitality at the incomparable setting of Restoration House – as ever our grateful thanks to Jonathan and Robert for hosting us there. Jonathan also to be thanked for negotiating use of the Kings School ground, and arranging the tea; Ben Charles for letting us play there; Mark Snoswell of Kings School for his help with the facilities; Helen Porter for shirts, cake and coloured pens, various veteran umpires, especially for their lbws – no fear, no favour; John Hawkins for being a superb Chairman and master organiser, Andy Heard for hosting the database which allowed us to reach out to so many Mandarins, and Dan Forman for being on top of absolutely everything before and on the day. But most of all, thanks to everyone who made the trek to Rochester to make the day the celebration it was. Looking forward to 70!

Chris Baker
Master of Records

Ps. This tasted tasted every bit as good as it looks - thanks, Helen.[Ed.]

Saturday 29 June 2024

All Teeth and a Winning Record Intact

Mandarins 165-6 beat North Enfield CC 164-7 by four wickets


North Enfield has been the scene of many memorable Mandarins moments in recent years. Tim’s first (and as yet only) ton for the club in 2018. Rob becoming the team’s all-time leading (recorded) wicket taker in 2023. Arvind having his mouth smashed open during that over in 2017.

This year’s renewal contained nothing that iconic. But it is remarkable enough that the Mandarins have now won four games in a row and, with this victory, are now back in the black on the season’s win-loss ratio.


Match manager Healey was talked into a rare recent outing as skipper with only the gentlest of arm twisting from your correspondent. Needless to say, he did as fine a job with it as you would expect, there really being little end to his talents, including getting Wilmot to the furthest reaches of north London in time for the start and persuading Shahrukh back from Canada in time to play as well (although Wilmot’s alarmingly early arrival ruined my pre-planned joke about Jonathan taking longer to get there from Kent than Shahrukh took to cross the Atlantic – but why waste it eh?). The captain erred only in one respect, a failure to predict on which side a coin would land on the dry but still slower than usual Strayfield Road track, leading us to field first on what must have been the sweatiest Sunday of the season so far.


Debutant Jubril Sonmonu opened up from the pavilion end and was unlucky to go wicketless with his all action pace. From up the hill came Wahaj Siddique, his newly awarded club shirt billowing almost as beautifully as the ball was swinging. Then came the masterly control of Rakesh Ramani before the sage-like skipper switched Siddique to the other end from which he was even more threatening. Between them the rate was kept under control although wickets were harder to come by as the Enfield openers dug in (including Keiran Jones who we knew could accelerate later as he’d done exactly that batting as a guest for us last year). But eventually Wahaj found the perfect inswinging line to dismiss DB, shortly before your correspondent made his one contribution with a catch above his head on the boundary to get Jones (almost in the exact same spot at the bottom of the slope where a pool of Manian blood must somewhere still reside).


Healey and Rakesh then put their foot on the Enfield throat for a while with wickets and tight overs and we threatened to keep them to no more than 120. But a fine 6th wicket partnership of 70 between youngsters Pearson and Munt, full of good running and well-judged intent rescued the innings and set up a perfect four an over target of 165 to win at tea. A mention too for Wilmot’s energetic wicket-keeping on a very warm day, and two excellent run outs executed by Raki and Jubril.


After sampling all four of the cakes on offer (purely for the purpose of researching this piece*) at what must be the best ‘we won’t be supplying tea sorry’ tea on the circuit, your correspondent settled in to the scorebox with no intention of coming out of it with any pads on. And that was when the fun really started. Arun, all-conquering scourge of the All Stars, bowled. Baxter, returning the scene of his triumph, bowled. Debutant Dom Martin, bowled. Nikhil, looking good in his own new club shirt, yeah, you guessed it, bowled.


At four down for 31 your diligent researcher had barely digested the first of the cakes, let alone the fourth. Then Shahrukh’s brutal 52 did a lot to restore us to the required run rate but little to restore me to my resting heart rate. Wilmot (56* and spending 70 of the 80 overs in the field) was more becalmed, anchoring the innings in his inimitable way, scoring only in fours and ones, until Rakesh arrived and decided what he really needed was to start pushing twos and threes.


Wahaj was no less restless as the game tipped in the balance and it was all going off. A huge hit that was a six on any other ground in the world managed to hit the heights of the North Enfield tree and score only a single (no local rule is to play on from the tree, rather than consider it a part of the boundary). A huge LBW shout turned down forthrightly by Umpire Baxter briefly threatened diplomatic relations. Nikhil went over-by-over on the WhatsApp updates (you know it’s a good game when that happens). The opening bowlers who had done all the damage came back. The scorer had to start wondering where his pads were, if not quite resort to strapping them on.


But he needn’t have worried. Wahaj and Wilmot saw it home with an over to spare. Skipper Healey (pads on but never panicked) not even required, let alone himself (pads off but always anxious). It may not have had landmarks or records, or left us with any broken mouths. But it did have drama, good cricket , good cakes, and left us with smiles on our faces.

Dan Forman


*Lemon drizzle 1, cheesecakey thing 2, Victoria-ish sponge 3, I can’t remember what the fourth one was in case you’re wondering

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Mandarins vs St Anne’s Allstars

Mandarins (213/4 dec) beat St Anne’s (91 all out) by 122 runs

St Anne’s Allstars (originally formed from some Oxford alumni in London but now, like so many friendly teams, only loosely based on their original conception) were a very welcome new addition to our list (inherited from our friends at the Superstars CC deciding to cut down their Sunday commitments). They are a like-minded club, very much prizing the spirit of friendly cricket first. It is a wonder we have taken this long to find each other, but hopefully our Dulwich Sunday afternoon (thankfully dry but slightly cooler than anticipated) was the first of many that we will spend together.

The game was a fair bit more competitive than the scorecard might suggest, thanks to an unusually and suddenly powerful Mandarins middle order performance, and the Allstars‘ understandable decision to aim for the draw after a gallant initial attempt to keep up with the rate. In the end they were five overs short of securing it, after being stubbornly hard to prise from the crease.

Highlights with the bat were a classy anchoring 50 from Wilmot at 3, a debut 50 from Arun at 5 and a brutal 44 from significantly fewer balls from Vijay at 6. With Arun and Wilmot retiring not out and Harry hitting the first ball he faced for six, it took the 4th wicket composite partnership to an astonishing 166 (which Baker may or may not declare as a club record). Either way it will take some beating this season at least and allowed your correspondent and captain the rare treat of declaring with a score in the 200s.

With the ball Hurst was forever threatening, Healey broke through the middle order with a quick three-fer that put paid to attempts at a chase, and Vijay got rid of a very dogged number 7 who was threatening to take the game very deep indeed, and followed up with another for figures of 2-2-0-2. A Healey run out completed the job (not quite as mad as it sounds in the circumstances as they were trying to keep the number 11 off strike for the next over) and the Mandarins had won again. It won’t always be this comfortable or successful against this fine new oppo, but hopefully it will always be as enjoyable.

Dan Forman

Monday 17 June 2024

The Weekenders at Wandsworth

    If you’re reading this in 2124, before the glaciers melted and England became sub-tropical, let me set the scene for this cricket game. It’s the middle of June and we’ve endured weeks of cool, wet, 20th Century weather. But Sunday turned out fine, with a stiff breeze and no rain. It’s Wandsworth Common, which in 15-years of playing cricket in South London I never knew was even a venue. But the pitch is fair to middling given the circumstances, no balls were lost in the brambles, and there’s a cafe that could’ve passed for an attractive pavilion in another setting. I would certainly return there.

    Suggestions of using the adjoining artificial surface are dismissed – praise be! – and following the usual negotiations, we went into bat in our preferred time-game format. Sam B and Harry kicked things off with haste—no use waiting around for that one tricky ball, right? Harry made 51, and Sam B was with him for a good piece of it. Wahaj, our guest from Brixton Barbarians, played some solid looking MCC coaching manual stuff and fell only just short of the same milestone. Chris H contributed a swift 44, and after a flurry of mid-order wickets, skipper Hawkins called them in a few overs early at 180 for 5—a solid score given the pitch and a decent bowling attack.

    Despite appearances, the surface had played well enough (a bowler speaks…etc.), and the mood in the camp was that 180 was “just right”. If we now bowled sensibly and didn’t expose the short boundary too often, it should have been enough to at least hold our own.

    Ritin, our other Brixton import, made a swift early impression running into the wind. The full toss wasn’t his best delivery, but a superb reaction-catch at silly point dismissed their opener in the first over. And after 3 overs, we had Weekenders 2 for 0. Then some solid resistance and gentle acceleration up towards the 20-over mark left them needing 100-odd to win with two batsmen set and 8-wickets left. With all results possible, I recalled the boundary-edge chat about not wanting to score “too many runs…”.

    It turned out that we had only to remove one support and, Jenga-style, Weekenders’ innings would suffer an “uncontrolled disassembly” (been looking to re-use that phrase somewhere). An optimistic quick single to your correspondent’s left hand turned unexpectedly bad, and the surviving batter whose call was the reason for the run out, fell the next over to Raki’s remorseless off-spin. This spurred a run of wickets from him (4-28 off 13), with ample support from Chris (3-8 from 5.2).

    Weekenders might be said to have either, (a) folded by shedding 8 wickets for less than 50 runs; or (b) gamely kept playing for the win until the very last. Take your pick. Whichever way you look at it, our 59-run win probably exaggerated the real gap between the sides, and there seems plenty of enthusiasm for a rematch next year.

Andy Heard

    Oh, and one final thing… you’ll have noticed that it’s batters’ inalienable right to halt play if they’re asked to face up to a delivery when some old chap shuffles past the sight screen behind the bowler’s arm. Well, on Wandsworth Common claiming this right was unfeasible, but did it throw anyone off their game I wonder? 

Monday 3 June 2024

Mandarins v Brightwell, 2nd June 2024

Brightwell 154 AO, Mandarins 158-6. Mandarins won by 4 wickets. 

The game against Brightwell-cum-Sotwell has always been one of my favourite games of the season. The location is deep in a lovely south Oxfordshire village, the ground is bucolic and beautiful, the oppo are a friendly bunch, and there is in the nearby Red Lion an excellent village pub.

The weather was glorious: warm and sunny. The Mandarins welcomed our nearest recruit, 8-year-old Aadi Kulkarni, of whom more anon. Inevitably, the Mandarin living closest to the ground was late (that's you Professor Heather), but we got the game started at 2.15pm, with Cap’n Hawkins deciding that Brightwell would bat. The pitch, frankly, looked damp, unsurprisingly after the ghastly spring. Following a tight first Eastaway over, The Demon Heard was brought on from the other end. First ball, a high beamer. Welcome to friendly cricket. Second ball (or 1st legit ball) smacked for 4. Third ball another full toss. No run. Fourth ball, yet another full toss, which batter Smith unaccountably hit straight to a fielder. New batter Webber defended ball five. Ball six swung in, pitched on leg stump and then seamed away horribly, hitting the top of off stump. A jaffa. Webber trudged away bemused, Brightwell 6-2 after two. Following a rescue stand of 29 between Hadland and Chandler, wickets again began to fall, despite a number of catches being “missed” by fielders standing 10 yards too close, three wickets falling with the score on 47. The Demon took three, Rob (who bowled beautifully) and Dan took two each. 8-year-old debutant Aadi was brought on. He bowled straight and with real conviction. His figures of 1-7 (clean bowled) were well deserved and could have been even better if we'd not dropped Moore (J). As the 9th wicket fell, Brightwell were perilously poised at 91-9, the ninth wicket falling to Jim of the Mystics. New change bowlers were brought on. Moore (J), making the most of his life and well supported by Windsor, led an attacking recovery, which was rather larger than we'd hoped. When Nikhil finally got a straight one thudding into Windsor’s pads, the 10th wicket partnership had put on 63, which is apparently the highest ever in the club. Not bad after 156 years of history. 154 all out looked like a decent score on a pitch which had offered help, especially to the seamers. Special mention should be made of Bob T, who kept wicket beautifully in difficult, variable bounce, conditions. That excellence was capped by a quick reflex stumping.

The Red Lion-provided tea was delicious, Jim of the Mystics being particularly appreciative of the vegetarian options – although much of his tea was wolfed by one of the local dogs (your own fault, Jim). Cap’n Hawkins, who gave a fine leadership display, asked Chris H and Dan to open, with some of us wondering whether this was going to be a difficult chase. After Dan perished with the score on 11, Kulkarni (N) joined Chris. There followed a top-quality stand of 99, with Nikhil playing beautifully off his legs, and Chris batting as only Chris can. When Nikhil perished for a fine 46, with the score on 110, much of the work had been done. Chris retired shortly afterwards, having reached (yet another) well-made 50. Despite some minor alarums as Hawkhead and Tivey perished cheaply, for 1 and 0, Rob and Aadi (who batted very straight and retired on 1 not out) held the line and, after Aadi’s retirement, Professor Peter arrived to join Rob for an entertaining stand. Although Rob fell shortly before the end, Cap’n Hawkins supported Peter as he continued his aggression, finishing the match with a 4 and huge 6. Special mention must also be made of Jim of the Mystics, umpiring in a remarkable singlet that showed off his impressive 25th wedding anniversary tat. 

Another memorable and enjoyable Brightwell match, well worth my 150-mile round trip. I for one will be back in 2025. 


Monday 27 May 2024

Much Ado About Numbers*

Mandarins  113 for 8 (35 overs)
Charlatans 114 for 8 (30.3 overs)
As always, it’s all about the numbers. With the delightful Greenwich Park cricket ground bathed in unexpected sunshine, Mandarins lose the toss and are asked to bat, despite the opposition still being two players short. 
Skipper Hawkins has some early decisions to make. 
  • Opening batsmen?  Healey and Baxter (Wilmot and Brand both delayed by having to find parking spots). 
  • Should we offer the oppos two fielders? No!  Well, OK, we will, but only for a couple of overs, and both should be aged over 60.  To be fair, that’s the majority of the team.  Hurst & Hawkins do the honours.
  • And finally, who should write the match report?  Yours truly is appointed before a ball has been bowled, an unusual break with convention.
Another week of rain has left a pitch that is a pudding.  The bounce is reliably low, the ball rarely climbing above half stump height.  With tight Charlatan bowling, it takes the skills of a batsman with 9,996 Mandarins runs to his name to be able to repeatedly nurdle the ball to backward point where, astonishingly, there is no fielder.  Make that 10,000+ runs to his name, a record that will surely never be surpassed.
36 for 0 off eleven overs is a solid foundation, but myriad-man Healey (16) is then yorked trying to force the pace. Baxter (16) follows soon after, lofting a drive – right tactic, but picked out the fielder.  Long boundaries and a slow outfield mean that the only way to hit fours is to wait for full tosses.  Alas these are in short supply.  It’s the 25th over before the ball first reaches the boundary (“Is this a record?” wonders our archivist) as Brand and ‘anchor’ Wahaj put on 52 with growing confidence.   101 for 3 with five overs to go, and it’s time to launch the offensive.  An offensive that immediately fizzles.  Brand (23) is lbw to a scudder, top scorer Wahaj (32) is caught, and we limp to an underwhelming 113 for 8.
But on this pitch, maybe 113 is competitive.  We just have to avoid bowling full tosses.  And for the first 17 overs, that’s pretty much what we achieve.  Straight bowling and fine catches from Baxter, Wahaj and Healey (at cow corner) mean that when we break for drinks, the Charlatans innings lies in tatters, at roughly 45 for 6, effectively 45 for 7 because their opening bat had earlier headed to A&E after landing on his shoulder, which meant we wouldn’t be seeing him again.
Alas, whatever is in the drinks damages the Mandarins length radar.  Boundaries begin to flow, and before we know it the target is 40….30…20, with plenty of overs to spare and only one more wicket taken, a catch off Nikhil.  Hawkins makes the bold decision to take the pace off the ball by replacing Wahaj with Baxter.  And despite a first ball full toss (a forgivable loosener) it seems the right choice.  A couple of false shots, a near catch at mid wicket, there is hope.  Charlatans nudge up to 112 for 7 – then Tee is clean bowled for 14.  112 for 8, last man in.  Aman keeps out Baxter.  Then Healey bowls a tight maiden over to Bhuvi.  Still hope.  Baxter to Aman – he pushes a single to mid off.  Could it still be a tie?  Alas no, as Bhuvi (48*) lofts the next one over mid on, and celebrates victory.  A victory that 45 minutes earlier had seemed certain to be ours.
Rob Eastaway  (7-3-8-5)

*that’s enough gratuitous book plugs - Ed 

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Heathers: the story of a legendary tea (and some cricket too)

One of the sad symptoms of long-covid has been the slow death of the classic cricket tea. Happily Brill, a picturesque village in the hills near Oxford, are raging against the dying of the light. But more of that later, the day also involved some cricket.

Mandarin Captains all too often face the sort of challenges that Ben Stokes never faces. Chris McKeon had selected the most eclectic eleven of ten. This included Will and Nathaniel Heather who had never before played a competitive game of cricket, five wicket-keepers and at a push four bowlers. On top of this, and perhaps less surprising, Jonathan was running late stuck in Rochester with car battery issues and then delayed by roadworks on the M2. Happily Brill’s captain, the famously big hitting Andy Parke was very willing to be flexible so we agreed on 35 overs a side with a maximum of 9 overs a bowler and the Mandarins batting first. He stressed that most of his team were in their 40s (most Mandarins were in their 60s) and they had two people playing their first senior game (we had two playing their first ever game) so it should be an even match. (I wasn’t convinced).

Openers Chris H and Shahrukh were told to bat properly, get to 50 and retire. Chris did that in style. Shahrukh chased the first, wide, short ball from a 17 year old opening bowler on debut and chopped on. But both David Williams and Chris M scored decent 20s against very mixed, very slow bowling. After Chris H had retired, the pace dropped a bit but a series of Heather cameos got us to 143. The opposition were highly sceptical of the claim that Nathaniel and Will had never played before after Nathaniel smacked his first ball over extra cover and followed that up with a flashing drive for four while Will steadily accumulated at the other end for 10 not out (as befits a FCDO civil servant). Given a good pitch, Andy “the big show” Parke, two other top league bats and a short boundary on one side it felt 40 or so short.

But then to the tea: home made sponge cake, warm sausage rolls, cocktail sausages, more varieties of sandwiches that you could shake a stick at, brownies, scones with cream and jam, proper mugs of builders etc etc. Andy was in his element (and was spotted after the match slipping back for fourths or fifths).

By now the crowd had gathered outside the village hall and the bar was doing good business. The sun was shining and there was a gentle breeze blowing. Perfect day for cricket even for a Mandarin ten weighed down by carbohydrate, chocolate, cream and pork.

League bats Sweetman and Parke J opened for Brill and were clearly in no mood to hang around but Andy then had Parke J very well caught by Chris M and bowled the Brill number three. But this just brought Parke A to the crease and he started smacking it around as usual. There was some relief when he retired and we got a grip on the run rate during the middle overs courtesy of Shahrukh (who got better over by over) and “Bionic” David Williams bowling for the first time for years after a shoulder re-build. But we made the mistake of taking too many wickets and Parke A returned and that was pretty well that.

We needed to get two of their three good bats out to have a chance but managed only the one. Parke A gave one quarter chance early on to Nathaniel when he hit an Andy full toss full pace at head height to him on the leg-side boundary: “the first time I have had a cricket ball hit to me a game”. Happily Nathaniel took it in his stride. Indeed a big shout out to both younger Heathers for excellent fielding that put most of the rest of us to shame (Will even took a catch). Luckily they didn’t look to their father for guidance. To be fair Prof Heather had taken a decent catch but late on was wandering back to long-off thinking of the lecture he was due to deliver later that evening when he turned and saw that Sweetman had rifled a Healey deliver straight at him. The look of surprise and panic was obvious from the other end of the ground.....

Brill’s scorer reckoned we have been visiting them for at least 55 years. It is certainly one of our oldest fixtures (Chris B can no doubt advise). A proper village game against a great bunch. Hopefully we can get 11 next year if only for the tea (or for the real ale on tap in the bar). But every cloud has a silver lining and Nathaniel and Will’s debut was certainly that. Hopefully we will see them again soon.

John Hawkins