Holkham 26 July

By Richard Higginbottom

Oh to be in Norfolk … well, up until Friday morning only ten of us could make the trip to the land of Lord Fakenham and Higginbottom (a peasant).  But Mark Buttle who likes to keep his diary shall we say “laissez faire” when he’s not in war-torn lands saving lives, reckoned this could be a cool gig and scored the last place in the Packham Octavia (alongside Dave H and Conor) to approach from East London.  Meanwhile, Roger and Tim got aboard the Touran at Stevenage with the skipper, Lord Fakenham was already in the bosom of his family, Peter was making a weekend of it with wife Rachel and son Joseph, Chris S was driven by Vicki who also stayed to enjoy the Norfolk sun.  Paul and Sarah got the map the wrong way up (that was my favourite excuse) so the Somerset Shaman was a bit late on parade.

Oh what a scene!  Possibly the most magnificent backdrop we’ve ever enjoyed … Richard had played here some 30 years ago with Old Buckenham and if anything it’s even more magnificent (and he was an impressionable youth).  The captain is a little overwhelmed by the surroundings and knows that Holkham always have a good standard of players, so having called correctly, invited them to bat on what looked like a perfect batting strip.  And it was getting pretty hot, the earlier light sea mist having evaporated.  Lord Fakenham, whose sister Countess Gunthorpe is a good friend of the Holkham skipper Jon Goulding, provided the instigation of this game and was thus given the honour of opening the bowling from the Obelisk end. Chris Packham taking the new cherry from the Hall end.  Pretty soon the baronet induced a lofted drive from Harry Barnett, but the ball appeared to drill a hole in Dave H at Mid On and proceeded swiftly to the boundary.  The captain spotted some sort of perceived flaw in Barnett’s technique so moved Mark Buttle to short Midwicket, Barnett smashing it into his chest and Mark making four agonising grabs at the ball before it finally hit the turf.  Will Bale had been less spectacular than Barnett but was also collecting fours frequently.  Barnett clubbed his Lordship for a 6.  Time for a breather.  Chris’ spell was incredibly tight and he took a blow after four overs for just 13.   Richard moved Mark into first slip as Roger came on.  The Ulster Maestro thought “what the hell is he doing there?” and induced a flying snick from Bale off his first ball – expertly taken diving to his right by aforesaid Mark.  Roger was candid enough to admit his thoughts in the ensuing post-wicket conversation.  Barnett continued to crash into anything loose as Peter took over from Jason, eventually swinging a bit too early and sending up a high one.  Mark scuttled about a bit then saw where it was, culminating in a last minute lunge and it stuck.  So as Meat Loaf* would put it, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.  (*Status Quo are appearing at the Hall soon, so obviously big old rock acts are still en vogue here in my homeland).  The captain wants Tim to bowl from the Hall end (the side to which he spins has a much longer boundary) so after five tidy overs from Roger we apply The Clamp who was unlucky not to get a wicket in his first over, Sam Charlton seeking to exert dominance over him and missing a couple of sweeps.  Dave H bowled an over with one loose ball in it that went for six – so bowled another – only 3 off that.  So bowled another – again one loose ball hit for 6.  Then after another over the captain figured it was time to give Paul a go.  Charlton and James Harrison were truly set now and set about our Mercurial Man with gusto.  The captain wasn’t to be cowed and figured that Paul would steady down, and his second over was OK.  Third … and the batsmen had obviously decided that Paul was ‘The Accelerator’ and to be fair I think most of us would have taken some hammer by now.  Switch back to Lord Fakenham who was so effective at easing the scoring rate (apart from one six) that Tim got the long handle treatment instead.  Quite a few catches getting spilled at this stage.  No, I never name the culprit(s) in match reports unless it’s me.  Chris comes back on to put the brakes on but this doesn’t quite happen as Charlton’s virtuoso play continues, reaching an excellent century.  Harrison has accompanied him for most of this time and has showed great ability in keeping up with Charlton until he mistimed a pull off the baronet, Conor taking the catch on the Midwicket boundary ending a fine innings of 93.  Roger had replaced Chris at the Hall end by now and Chris ended Charlton’s splendid sojourn with a good catch in the deep.  The skipper decided he’d have an over and got away with all but two of the pies that he chucked (mercifully 4s).  And Roger played the final card as Beck holed out to Tim off the last ball of our 40 overs.  But 300 was on the board.  Yes, this is a very useful team.

Holkham    300 for 5 off 40 overs
Bale       c Buttle  b McCann          20
Barnett    c Buttle  b Shufflebotham   33
Charlton   c Packham b McCann         113
Harrison   c Aspel   b Amesbury        93
Matthews   not out                     12
Beck       c Clamp   b McCann           6
Extras                                 22

SGCC Bowling   Ov  Mdn  Runs  Wkt
Amesbury        8    0    51    1
Packham         6    0    42    0
McCann          7    0    31    3
Shufflebotham   4    0    32    1
Hollingsworth   4    0    37    0
Clamp           7    0    45    0
Brasted         3    0    44    0
Higginbottom    1    0     9    0

So after a most pleasant tea break when the skipper met up with his old mate Buckenham Nomads skipper Kevan Taplin, it was time to try to climb the mountain.  Skipper settled his nerves with an early 4.  John Ulph – a fellow Old Buckenham alumni who Richard had enjoyed chatting with before the game – bowled a loopy full toss for Dave H’s first delivery – who played it straight into Cover’s hands.  Poor man – all this way to get shelled in the field and then suffer a golden duck – and after his calm half century last week.  More runs soon Dave!  Roger’s now in and Ulph is struggling with his length, the Ulster Maestro trying to reach the lake on the full (apparently this feat of super-hitting has been achieved on a very rare basis).  Richard’s bat doesn’t appear to have a middle so he’s getting Roger to the hitting end as much as possible.  When Richard does hit the ball he’s not always reaching the line so causing Roger to protest a little.  The Ulsterman is far more gentlemanly, dismissing most errant deliveries to the boundary in the appropriate direction according to the trajectory of the ball.  Roger got to his half century pretty quickly but then perished at long off having advanced down the track to Denis Chamberlain’s off spinner.  Time for the Boars Head captain to demonstrate some muscular strokeplay for the Gardeners – and the big man did not disappoint.  Richard had decided to take more responsibility for the strike / run rate as Roger disappeared into the pavilion, but Pete was going at a similar rate so the Brecklander kept nudging whilst Shuffs played some fine shots.  Another bowling change eventually did for the skipper as Harrison got one to lift and Richard spliced the ball to Gully for a gritty 34.  Lord Fakenham entered the arena with us fairly well set and quickly added a boundary before getting castled trying to repeat the stroke.  Mark’s now in and settled down pretty quickly, batting well with Pete as the ship was steadied once more until the advent of Sam Charlton – of course he’s a very good bowler too – trimmed his bails.  At this point I found out from Sam’s mother that he’s only 15.  I hope I’m as good as he is when I grow up, I said.  Chris Spicer followed shortly after to the same bowler and then Tim batted well with Pete to enable the latter to reach a well deserved half century.  Tim belted a couple of handsome fours and we’d gone beyond the 200 mark when Pete got out to Harrison and then Tim to Charlton to make our task a mammoth one.  Holkham swiftly ushered out the tail (Paul left unbeaten) to leave us a long way adrift, Charlton again starring.  “That lad can play a bit” said Mr Packham, who is rarely inaccurate with his observations.

SGCC              209 all out off 36.3 overs
Higginbottom   c Barnett  b Matthews      34
Hollingsworth  c Barnett  b Ulph           0
McCann         c Harrison b Chamberlain   51
Shufflebotham  c Beck     b Harrison      62
Amesbury                  b Barnett        5
Buttle                    b Charlton      11
Spicer         c Goulding b Charlton       1
Clamp                     b Charlton      10
Aspel                     b Harrison       2
Brasted        not out                     1   
Packham                   b Charlton       0
Extras                                    22   

Holkham Bowling    Ov Mdns Runs Wkt
Beck                6    0   28   0
Ulph                4    0   42   1
Chamberlain         6    0   28   1
Matthews            8    0   55   1
Barnett             6    0   27   1
Charlton          4.3    1   12   4
Harrison            2    0    9   2


After the game we had a drink at The Victoria with our hosts.  What a great group of people, we’d like to come back again … will need to get our A game in place to make a better match of it.  Thanks very much to Jon Goulding and his fine team.  Sadly we had to leave fairly promptly so that our various hostelries in Dersingham would still let us in.  Richard led the way on the coast road then couldn’t find any of the properties, so he handed his diary with the addresses to Conor, who he jettisoned into the care of Chris whilst he headed for Kings Lynn station to return Dave and Mark to the capital.  Traffic jam after 9pm?  The skipper deduced it was farm traffic and mercifully the Combine Harvester vacated the road allowing the pair to get to the station with 5 minutes to spare.  Everyone’s found the guest houses on the way back but none are serving food, so Richard swiftly provides chips for all (and some fish) from the Dersingham Non-Health Food Centre and the ale had something to work on.  Various debates on rugby, Alistair Cook’s form, Lloyd George’s legacy re the Emerald Isle (didn’t spend very long on that – somewhat relieved) and the habits of some much loved absent friends.  Chris pulled a whole group of girls celebrating the birthday of their ringleader, but he was so inept at using an iphone to take their picture he attracted only their derision.  Which I think he figured was a good result (those present concurred).  Off to bed, we’ve got Jesus College tomorrow!

Now that's what I call a Pavilion (ok not the first time for this joke)

Now that’s what I call a Pavilion (ok not the first time for this joke)

Mark, Chris P and Conor take care of the bookwork

Mark, Chris P and Conor take care of the bookwork


Lord Fakenham departs the scene vanquished; he’ll fish the lake dry in revenge later on


A study in Buttle technique. For: Head still, eyes on ball, good body position. Against: Feet set in stone.


Put your own caption in here, it’s beyond words for me


Shuffs moves out to drive, thinking that he must get a sightscreen like this at Ardington


The battle continues


Another boundary in Pete Shufflebotham’s 62


Looking out into Holkham park


Conor, Chris and Tim edit the scorebook


As the sun sets over the lake we realised that it gets even more breathtaking

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