The dryest April since records began ended disappointingly for the Gardeners when Wandsworth Council failed to prepare a pitch for our traditional season-opener away to Abdul Aziz. So instead we travelled by car, train and captain’s minibus to start our season a week later at idyllic Jesus College, Cambridge.
The sun shone brightly, it was decided to make young Jimmy Frow 12th man as at just two months old he’s not yet able to walk – though his fetching shade of lemony-white babygrow would have made him one of the most neatly attired players.
Richard won the toss and elected to bat. Malcolm and Dave ‘2-Bats’ Hollingsworth treated the opening salvo from Davidson and Battle with the respect they deserved – Davidson being particularly accurate, runs flowed mainly at the other end – a straight drive and an immaculate cut in front of square by Malcolm showing early season promise. 2-Bats gradually got into gear, announcing his intent with a punishing square cut of his own. Malcolm was first to perish, missing a leg stump yorker from Battle – lbw for 20. Toby joined 2-Bats and the bowling tightened up, Dave eventually falling in the exact same way as Malcolm – lbw Battle for 10. Toby and Fakenham brought some calm control to proceedings and started to move the innings on with some quality strokeplay until Toby was well caught at the wicket for 15. Fakenham and Jim Campbell then commenced a boundary-hitting contest, trying to outdo one another for style and spectacle – Jim’s pulled 6 to the College buildings winning the vote and taking an early lead for shot of the season. The plunder was brought to an end when Jim was trapped lbw by Cartwright for an elegant and seemingly effortless 28. Richard joined Fakenham and proceeded to score almost exclusively in dodgy singles “there’s a run in most directions” he advised Fakenham. The Norfolk Cobbler’s reply is not printable. Fakenham took to sitting down between overs to escape the constant harrying of the captain for another sharp single. However Fakenham proved that being short of breath didn’t inhibit him unduly, continuing on to 49 before falling to an excellent return catch by Stevens. Mick Campbell looked comfortable as ever at the crease but fell lbw also to Stevens for 4. Richard charged Nicholl, missed, stumped – 17. The Gardeners unbeaten pair of Peter Lee (who hit one of the biggest hits ever for only 2 – due to the length of that particular boundary) and Jim Monahan took us to 184 at which we declared to take the (as always) splendid tea in the thatched pavilion.
Gardeners 184 for 7 declared Malcolm Birks lbw b Battle 20 David Hollingsworth lbw b Battle 10 Toby Frow c Watson b Voss 15 Lord Fakenham c & b Stevens 49 Jim Campbell lbw b Cartwright 28 Richard Higginbottom st Wilson b Nicholl 17 Mick Campbell lbw b Stevens 4 Jim Monahan not out 1 Peter Lee not out 8 Paul Brasted and Nick Duckett did not bat Jesus College O M R W Davidson 7 1 17 0 Battle 8 0 48 2 Voss 10 0 52 1 Cartwright 8 0 41 1 Nicholl 2 0 7 1 Stevens 3 0 15 2
Into the field … Jim Campbell opened from the Hare End and gradually proceeded to find his customary rhythm, line and length, giving bot of Jesus’ high quality opening batsmen trouble. At the Pieces End, debutant Peter took a couple of overs to adjust to the quality of the wicket and then also started posing questions as the college started to make their target look attainable. Then Jim took the bold decision to switch his angle of attack to around the wicket and this quickly brought the reward of trapping Davidson lbw for 15. Number 3 Voss followed in exactly the same fashion a few balls later, Jim finding some good late swing. Meanwhile at the Pieces End Mick had come on to relieve Peter, produced two maidens to open his account and bowled out Holland for 4. Jim took a well-deserved break after 8 overs and Toby took an over to find his range then looked menacing, resulting in the prize wicket of Jesus’ captain David Wilson for an enterprising 28. 4 wickets down … but it then started to look dangerous for the Gardeners as Battle played some truly stunning shots all around the ground. Richard gave Mick a breather and then shouted “Jim next over please!”. Then “Where is Jim?”. Then, noticing the Cambridge skipper approaching saying “I’m subbing for Jim, where do you want me?”, the miracle that is Nick Duckett was summoned to the crease. “Are you sure – I won’t hold you to it!” cried Nick in his most confident manner. Fortunately Toby forced Battle back onto his stumps to play a pull – and he overbalanced, out hit wicket for 13. Phew! Nick came on and bemused the batsmen in his first over. Toby produced a beauty to bowl Hayden for 10 and the Gardeners were now in the box seat, but with overs running out fast. Duckett in his second over shimmied to the wicket, the ball was released with calm precision, describing a perfect parabola and going on with the arm to … BOWL Scott for 2. Joy unconfined. That was Nick’s biggest smile since the song he produced for Joe Dolce: “Shaddap-a-your-face” went to Number 1 in the early 80s. Alas! The overs had almost run dry, leaving Malcolm’s young son to bear the brunt of a half-volley bowled by his dad being slog-swept to cow-shot-corner (poor fellow I hope his leg is less sore than my shoulder – and I didn’t stop the boundary either). Fakenham came on and induced Cartwright to a return catch that 2-Bats bizarrely tried to muscle in on, leaving it to Fakenham by crumpling into a heap at his Lordship’s feet. Stevens and Scott held out and Jesus’ innings closed at 146-8.
Jesus College 146-8 D Wilson b Frow 28 R Davidson lbw b J Campbell 15 J Voss lbw b J Campbell 3 L Holland b M Campbell 1 M Battle hit wkt b Frow 13 D Hayden b Frow 10 B Cartwright c & b Fakenham 25 Scott b Duckett 2 Stevens not out 18 Harding not out 1 Salmagundi Gardeners O M R W J Campbell 8 0 23 2 Lee 6 0 24 0 M Campbell 4 2 15 1 Frow 5 2 12 3 Duckett 2 0 13 1 J Monahan 3 0 18 0 M Birks 2 0 12 0 Lord Fakenham 1 0 7 1