French House 6 July

By Mark Gilkes

The Good Housekeeping Guide

(incorporating Good French House Keeping)

Okay. Pay attention. There’s a small bag inside the kit bag where we keep bails, umpire’s counting devices, and new balls. This is so we know where they are when we need them. We don’t put them in this little bag so people can later have fun chucking them in with the sweaty gloves or hiding them in the accumulated crud at the bottom of the bat bag. Perhaps that wasn’t clear.

Similarly: boundary markers. We haven’t yet been able to afford the ones that put themselves out and, at the end of the game, pick themselves up and scurry across to the bag, where they queue in orderly fashion and then shuffle in beside each other all facing the same way and with the dirt knocked off their spikes.

Here’s a radical notion: when four people are heading off to the showers in one direction, and kit needs to be carried to the cars in the opposite direction, what about having the people who have decided not to shower and are heading to the cars anyway…what about having them take the kit? No? Too silly?

However, this said, Old Ma Salmagundi would never like it to go unrecorded that we are continually indebted to those team members who consistently not only transport the kit but also transport the very team members who so continually complain about kit housekeeping.

And in this vein we do not criticise the skipper for selecting 14 players – we call this expert anticipation of French House’s failure to field an eleven. (Well, they’d picked Jason Amesbury – so how hard an anticipation was it?)

Who was doing the housekeeping at Parliament Hill enclosure? The choice: two green strips with the grass actually longer a metre in front of the popping crease, or a flat track recently seeded. We chose the seeded track for the shortness (that is, lack) of grass and skipper Adam Wood managed to lose the toss and have us put in. (Mention here must be made of Adam’s superb tea – he’s going to make somebody a lovely wife.)

Despite the bitching about who should bat where, and undue pressure coming on the skipper from all angles (most of it along the lines of, “get Gilkes down the order”), Adam decided to go with ordered solidity in the first four: James Tait, Mike Fox, Chris crisp packet Packham, and Mark Gilkes. Tait made 6, Fox made 13, Packham made 7 and Gilkes – whom many felt should not write this week’s report – made 70. Phil Sessions and Jim Monahan more than tidily supported Gilkes with 27 and 59 respectively. Tidy bowling by the French slowed Gilkes considerably after drinks, although it may also have been Monahan’s unerring ability to tidily pinch a single off the last ball of each over that eventually caused Gilkes to play a rash shot. Louis Monahan, who has the tidiest Salmagundi defence, tidily drove over long-on for four, before being caught pushing too early at a similar ball, while Mike Stewart and Nick Duckett came in late to apparently play with brooms not bats. Still, skipper Wood’s good housekeeping saw that everybody got to the crease.

Except for him.

And Amardeep Jamu, who fielded for the opposition for three overs and then was wantonly discarded.

And Paul Brasted and Rob Pimlott, who were both given to the opposition – and who exacted revenge by catching Will Towers in Rob’s case, and Fox and Gilkes in Brasted’s case (it is actually pronounced Brasted, isn’t it?), with an added special message to the skipper when he dropped his mate Nick Duckett off what looked the easiest of all three chances.

Salmagundi: 247 for 8 off 35. Surely this match would be won with nothing more than some tidy housekeeping in the field, which is why Nick Duckett could bowl 2 overs for 21, Louis Monahan 3 overs for 26, Adam Wood 5 overs for 28 and Will Towers 7 overs for 39 – because Mike Fox bowled 7 overs 3 maidens 3 wickets for 13 runs and Chris Packham bowled 6.4 overs 3 maidens 3 wickets for 15 runs. (Chris actually had a fourth wicket not awarded because of some notion in the heads of the French House players that this was a game in which LBWs were not being counted. As Will Towers tidily said at the time, “What game is that?”) It should also be noted that Adam also took 3 wickets, Mike Fox and James took tidy catches, Will took a spectacularly towering one-handed catch at deep backward square, and Louis took the catch to win the match at backward point – a catch he took with such tidy nonchalance he was able to roll it round the back of his hand, across his chest, and up under his chin before clutching it and directing a tidy smile of satisfaction at Rob Pimlott, the inevitable victim.

What had Pimlott and Brasted done to be treated so slatternly? Swept out of the Salmagundi team like two big balls of fluff found under the bed, they fielded with full and tidy commitment for French House, only to be put in at ten and eleven with the game well lost, 100 runs adrift with five overs to go. Both put in twenty-over stints of umpiring, and on top of this received criticism for not being harsh enough – yet nobody on the French House team dashed out to replace them.

However, while commending the tidy housekeeping of Paul’s umpiring, it would be slack not to point out it did come under severe scrutiny in the pub after the game, from a charming lady who goes by the name of Lila, and whom Paul unconvincingly claims as his wife, who neatly pointed out to us that although Paul watches every delivery with an admirable intensity, there is the little matter of the front foot law which occasionally slips his mind. “What,” said the laughing Lila to Paul’s protestations (with that gentle mocking humour that so instantly identifies all true Salmagundis), “Do you have an extra little eye here [pointing to her temple] with which you watch the bowler’s feet?”

Presumably that conversation continued in a more domestic setting…

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