The Racqueteers v Brown Candover: Thursday, 23rd June, 2022
The name Candover supposedly means “clear” or “beautiful waters” (the same root as Dover or Welsh dwr, if you want to know; “Brown” seemingly refers to the medieval landowners, the Brunes). There isn’t much sign of water at Brown Candover’s cricket ground, apart from a light spot of rain in the first innings, but it’s certainly beautiful, sloping down from St Peter’s Church (a £200 fine for hitting the roof) to the road, overlooked by its timber-framed listed building, which Nathan almost hit – on which, more anon.
Brown Candover batted first, and scored quickly from the outset. It’s not a big ground, and our opposition were soon finding their rhythm and finding the gaps. And the fences. And the nettles. And, too often, the interiors of various hedges. The President removed one of the openers in his second over (clean bowled when trying a bit too hard to hit another boundary) but otherwise we had little joy, and their number 1, 3, 4 and 6 bats all smoothly and confidently reached their 30-run limits and retired. The President’s figures were 30 for 1. Rishi finished on 21 for no wicket – which was unlucky, as he clearly rattled them: one of their batsmen was overheard muttering “well he’s a little quicker than we’re quite used to here”. Farmer Chris’s figures were 33 for 1 – his wicket being an excellent catch taken by the President in the deep off yet another lofted drive. By the time the Skipper and “Ted” Talks came on, Brown Candover were scoring freely, and our bowlers finished with undeserved figures of 21 for 1 and 26 for 0, respectively, off their 3 overs. Honour was restored to the Racqueteers by Head of Salmon, who came within a nymph’s whisker of a hattrick: his first wicket was straight and true, the second lifted the bail on the off side, and the near-third was only just dropped at silly mid-on.
Replying to 172, our batsmen clearly had a lot to do – and they came remarkably close to doing it, despite having to negotiate a rather more vocal opposition than we’re quite used to. Guy “Shep” Shepherd (32 not out) played an exemplary opener’s innings, playing straight and well-considered shots – and one beauty of a leg glance which carried clean over the ring. Much the same could be said of the Skipper, who cleanly cut and cover-drove his way to 33 not out. Rishi came out storming, and was unlucky to fall after spanking it back over the bowler’s head – or it would have been over the bowler’s head if it hadn’t been for a frankly superb one-handed reaction catch. (Brown Candover are excited about seeing the camera-helmet footage; so are we!) Nathan’s batting, though, was perhaps the most competitive. His muscular innings (32 not out) included a pull that nearly took the legs off Claire, sitting on the wall of the church, and a huge, culminatory 6 that flew over midwicket, over the boundary, over the road and into the front garden of the aforementioned listed building.
That shut them up – but not, alas, for long, and we finished our overs with a total of 122 runs. Not at all bad, but not enough. It was an excellent evening’s cricket and finished with a convivial pool and darts session in the pavilion. We will look forward to our return to this beautiful ground next year.
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