One’s great good fortune in being a Racqueteer is never more keenly felt than when arriving at Goodwood CC – one of Albion’s most ancient and breathtakingly beautiful grounds – for our annual game against the Estate staff team. Beneath towering Lebanese Cedars, watched over by the regal elegance of the seat of the Duke of Richmond, Goodwood House, this is a place of almost mythical significance for lovers of our national sport for it was here in 1727 that the first written ‘terms of agreement’ for the conduct of a cricket match were put to paper by the second Duke.
Although not in those original proto-laws (or maybe it is), the unwritten rule on these occasions is that no toss is made and Goodwood always bowl first – allowing their skipper to get the burgers on the barbeque in good time for the post-match ‘snap’. Faced by a seemingly endless procession of top-notch bowlers – left arm in dippers, right arm off cutters, off breaks and googlies – aided through the air by the humid conditions – our innings flattered to deceive with most getting a start but few ‘going on’. – Sepia, (25 retired), Rishi (18,) skip (16), Kendall (16), and Danger (16 not out) all got into double figures. Despite some watchful batting and excellent running by our guest for the day George at the close of our innings we ended on 111 for 6 – probably 20-30 below par we felt – especially with one fielder short and a batter-friendly outfield.
Despite this, The Racqueteers, ever enthusiastic, battled manfully to contain the excellent Goodwood top order. Danger (0-27) bowled jaffas, Chris (1-22) wobbled it around a lot, Rishi (1-14), more frugal than his namesake, combined economy and pace, and Mike (0-8) probed guilefully. Even with a very tidy spell from our second guest, the excellent Pete (0-15), our predictions turned out to be accurate and Goodwood cantered home with 4 overs to spare.
However, at Goodwood, perhaps more than anywhere else, the result is secondary to the taking part – even more to the post-taking part partaking of the excellent estate-reared burgers and estate-brewed ale – supplemented this year by some lovely cake and flapjacks by Danger’s folks and picnic from Claire – all scoffed with glee.
With the setting of the sun behind his Grace’s seat and the lengthening of the Cedar’s shadows we reluctantly packed our pads and bats away and set off back to Winchester each in his or her own way, I’m sure, reflecting on how blessed they are.