When Everything Went The Right Way, Women’s World Cup Final, Lord’s, 23 July 2017

Back in October 2016, when the Women’s World Cup dates and venues were announced, I mentioned to Janie that we should book out 23 July for that match and also suggested that we ask Chas and Dot (aka Charley the Gent and Mrs Malloy).

“Don’t put me and Dot through the embarrassment of her constructing excuses for not coming to the cricket”, said Janie, “she really doesn’t like cricket”.

“But I know they enjoy watching women’s cricket together; they often go to Chelmsford to watch it…let’s leave it for now”, I replied.

Less than 48 hours later, I received an e-mail from Chas:

…I know this may sound a strange ask, but Dot likes the English ladies cricket, she has seem them play at Essex for a number of years and really enjoys watching them.

I mentioned the women’s world cup final at Lord’s next year and she expressed an interest to go!…

…My favour to ask, do you have any influence in getting reasonable seats?

I called Janie to have a gloat, knowing that she would make me suffer for it at some stage, but still Janie expressed delight at the idea and instructed me to get tickets for all four of us.

My reply to Chas:

Really funny that you wrote to me about this today, because I mentioned it as an idea to Janie over the weekend. Janie said that she’d be up for it but as Dot had said no to the pavilion the other week and to Edgbaston in August, Janie was sure that Dot would be uninterested and that we should stop putting pressure on her to do things she doesn’t want to do blah blah.

Anyway, members’ area seats will go on sale in a private December mailing after the ICC public sale. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble snapping up enough tickets to enable all four of us to go, as long as I leap in quick for the initial members’ sale, which I shall of course do.

And so I did.

On a high before the start of play

There was much doubt about the weather in the run up to finals day; every time I looked at the weather forecast it changed, but the nearer we got to the day the more ominous the “risk of showers” sounded. On the morning itself, it looked as though the afternoon rain might be so bad that the match would be rain reduced or even held over to Monday, which would have been such a shame.

As it turned out, apart from a couple of sudden but blustery/blow-over type showers, which did not even interrupt play, the weather smiled on Lord’s for the whole match.

We had managed to persuade Chas and Dot to accept our hospitality picnic-wise, not least because I had enjoyed their picnic hospitality at Chelmsford recently and would enjoy it again for the start of the Edgbaston test in August.

Ceremony before the match

Hence the large fillet of dry-aged beef which graced our table on Friday after my MCC v HAC match and then bulged out of the large brioche rolls for Sunday; with wasabi mayonnaise to bring out the flavours. Janie’s other culinary masterpiece was equally enormous brioche rolls stuffed with Duchy of Cornwall turkey, enhanced with a lemon mayonnaise. But we all agreed that the beef was the standout.

Daisy and I brought a jolly Provencal rose wine to grace the turkey and a bold southern hemisphere Cabernet Sauvignon to support the beef. Plus various small nibbles, vegetables and fruit – not least pears for Chas – although all the pears came home with us. Chas and Dot also brought a bottle of fruity Riesling, lots of nibbles and plenty of sweet stuff, most of which went home with them again. Plus soft drinks and waters, most of which didn’t make it home.

We had probably just finished munching the turkey rolls when Daisy took this picture

As the England innings went on, we reduced our estimates of what a par score might be. In the end Chas reckoned 225 and I reckoned 240, so when the England innings closed at 228, we agreed that we should have a good match on our hands.

The interval entertainment was a gospel choir singing some soul and gospel standards at high volume and with great intensity. Far more to our taste than the usual test match fare of marching bands, bagpipe bands or Yorkshire Tea folk with tea mugs on their heads and brass instruments in their mouths.

While Chas and Dot were taking a stroll in the interval, Daisy wanted to take a double selfie in similar style to the one she took at the test match two week’s previously.

Easier said than done, this selfie business, especially the double-selfie. After about five attempts I was getting a little exasperated, although I’m sure it didn’t show on my face…

Enough, already, of the double-selfies

…and soon we were both seeing the funny side of it:

Look out for the gentleman in the blue shirt behind us, showing his daughter something on his smart phone

Strangely, I chose the above photo (from a batch of many) without noticing the blue-shirted gentleman and his daughter behind us in just that one picture.

About five minutes after Janie took that photo, when she popped out briefly and just before Chas and Dot returned, I heard someone bellow, “IAN” at high volume. I turned around and saw the blue-shirted gentleman waving at me.

“Hello Ian,” he said as I wandered up to speak with him, “I’m Jeff Tye’s son”.

“Chris!”, I said, “it’s been years and years. How did you recognise me?”

“I wasn’t 100% sure, but I knew that, if it was you, you’d turn around if I shouted out your name loud enough.”

Chris’s dad, Big “Papa Zambezi” Jeff is one of our Heavy Roller’s clan, last seen with us at Edgbaston in 2015. 

More on Big “Papa Zambezi” Jeff and our tales of derring-do can be found in the MTWD archive – click here.

Chris was very pleased to learn that Chas was also with us, so we all spent a few minutes chatting at the end of the interval. Chris’s daughter (Jeff’s grand-daughter) must have wondered what all the fuss was about.

The second half of the match was so exciting yet it seemed to pass so quickly. An early wicket, then a good stand, then a smart run-out, then another good stand…

…India looked as though they had the match in the bag at 190-odd for three. Just before that point, Chas had said game over. I said it looked grim but one wicket could change the whole thing and I still gave England a one-in-three chance around that point.

Daisy kept telling us that we weren’t getting behind the team enough and was yelling, “come on England” at high volume as only she can.

Then a wicket…no, two wickets…no, a flurry of wickets…then some incredibly tense cricket…then an England win.

When Anya Shrubsole took her fifth wicket, the little boy who was sitting with his mum next to us, scoring the whole match carefully in a big red scorebook, told Chas proudly that Anya Shrubsole’s dad was his PE teacher. That was a bit of an “oh, wow!” moment for all of us. Soon after that, Anya took her sixth wicket and quite rightly won the player of the match. The little boy looked incredibly happy.

The scorecard and everything you ever wanted to know (apart from Ogblog of course) can be found here.

England Women Receive The Trophy Right In Front Of The Warner Stand
Double-selfie once slightly more-oiled and celebratory than the earlier double-selfies
Heather Knight while the lap of honour stops down our way
One last toast with Chas and Dot before we part company

It had been a great day for us; everything had gone our way.

But more importantly, I think it had been a great tournament and a great day for women’s cricket. The standard of women’s cricket is improving so quickly now; this was genuinely entertaining sport at a very high level of skill. This year’s women’s world cup has shown off that improvement in the best possible way, with several high quality and nail-biting matches at the conclusion of the tournament, not least the high-profile final which we had just witnessed.

Lord’s had been a sell-out, with a really good vibe all day – a far cry from the corporate Champagne-swilling of the tests or the muscular beer-swilling of the T20 sell-outs – a different style crowd enjoying the cricket and many people enjoying seeing cricket at Lord’s for the first time.

As the interval gospel choir had put it, “Oh Happy Day”.

An Exploratory Mission Into Deepest, Darkest Essex, Prested Hall and Chelmsford, 27 & 28 June 2017

It seemed like a brilliant idea when I/we arranged the trip.

Middlesex were playing Essex in the first ever round of day/night county championship cricket matches.  I’d drive out to Prested Hall on the Tuesday morning, drop my bags, have a real tennis lesson, join Charley “The Gent” at Chelmsford for cricket on the Tuesday afternoon, return to Prested after stumps at night, check out/play real tennis the next morning, drive back to Chelmsford for at least a couple of sessions play Wednesday, then head back to London in reasonable time towards the end of that day.

Indeed, it was a pretty brilliant idea, confounded in part only by the weather “turning Charley on us” (as it were) and Middlesex’s dismal performance. Of course the latter was no disappointment to Charley “The Gent” Malloy, who is enjoying watching his team ride high in the county championship this season.

The weather forecast for Tuesday was changing on an almost hourly basis. Charley at one point Monday messaged me to see if I still wanted to give it a go, but when I explained that I was coming out to deepest Essex anyway, we agreed to meet at the ground Tuesday come what may.

In the morning, at Prested, I had the honour (and pleasant surprise) of getting my real tennis lesson from Rob Fahey, the former and longest-reigning world champion. I doubt if I was utilising even a tiny fraction of his skills and knowledge, but I learnt a great deal and he was a thoroughly delightful coach for that hour. He filled my head with all sorts of stuff that will probably come in handy down stream but which I have so far been utterly unable to put into practice. A few simple tips on placement of shots and serves are already coming in handy.

Then to my apartment room in the health centre area. Comfortable-looking and very large – there would even be room for Janie, Benjy the Baritone Uke and all of our attendant paraphernalia in one of those, I noted for future reference.

Then a very dingy drive to Chelmsford, but it wasn’t raining and the forecast suggested that we might get a few hours of play before the rain set in for the evening. But five minutes before play was due to start, an unscheduled, sharp shower put paid to the prospects of play for a while.

Chas and I braved the pavilion while all that was going on, which gave us a chance to catch up on news and gossip over coffee (not bad stuff and just one nicker per shot) plus some headway into Mrs Malloy’s splendid bap sandwiches.

The weather looked reasonably promising again for a while; they even announced a 16:25 start and the Middlesex players came out to warm up. But almost inevitably it started to rain again at 16:20. Looking at the forecast and the rain radar, Chas and I agreed that the prospects of play now were close to zero and that we had cunningly focused most of our attention on the more perishable elements of the picnic, allowing the less perishable elements to return the next day.

I returned in the driving rain to Prested Hall, where I was able to catch up on my reading and blogging (as well as sleep) in that comfortable appartment/room during the evening and into the next morning. I had a very tasty light bistro meal in the evening there, again noting that this would more than do the job for me and Daisy on a future visit.

In the morning, after checking out of my room, I played real tennis against a very charming gentleman who managed to capitalise well on all the new ideas drifting around my head (but not onto my racket) from yesterday’s lesson. Why I should suddenly start over-hitting and mistiming my shots in these circumstances is beyond me.

I tried a bit of bestial roaring when stretching for difficult gets and my opponent responded in kind, less often as I was making him stretch less. We were on the Prested Glass court – across the other side of the galleries is the Prested Far court, where a far finer exponent of bestial roaring than either of us was playing that hour.

The upshot was, I just couldn’t get any sort of rhythm going and my opponent played really well for his handicap. Still, I couldn’t have lost to a nicer chap, who celebrated his win by buying me a coffee in the bistro afterwards. This was good timing, as once he had gone and I had done some warm-down stretches and showered, I was ready to say goodbye to the friendly, helpful Prested team and head back to Chelmsford.

Chelmsford was once again well gloomy; I even drove through some drizzle as I approached town. But the cricket ground itself was dry and the forecast was far more promising than Tuesday’s.

Indeed, although we got the occasional tiny bit of drizzle (perhaps merely mizzle) during the day, it mostly stayed dry; just seriously dark and gloomy throughout the day. Just as well this was a floodlit match, as I doubt if there would have been much if any play with a conventional red ball and no floodlights.

Even though we had spent some time together the previous day, Charley The Gent and I had no difficulty filling several more hours with chat. Tales of derring do from playing and watching matches in years gone by. A bit more news and gossip. Bants, although it is hard to bant too much when the match is so one -sided – click here for scorecard. The locals who were sitting around us seemed to enjoy some of our chirp, so it can’t have been too bad.

We were in Charley’s favourite position at the front of the Tom Pearce stand. At times we both felt a bit chilly and took turns taking a brisk stroll to get coffees from the pavilion.

There was a reasonably sized crowd but I’m sure it would have been so much better had the weather played ball; especially as Essex were doing so well.

Dot (Mrs Malloy) did us proud with the bap/sarnies yet again; corned beef, ham and cheese for me – I think Chas had some egg; we each got personalised sandwich boxes with kind notes from Dot; Chas’s note was signed off “wifey” which seemed rather quaint to me.

I wanted to get home in reasonable time, so when Essex declared soon after 20:30, that seemed the perfect moment for me to bow out after my very first taste of pink ball cricket. We’d had a really enjoyable couple of days.

Middlesex v Essex T20, Lord’s, Followed By Artemis Quartet, Wigmore Hall Lates, 26 June 2009

I often say that there are only two places remaining on earth where staff and stewards still call me “young man”: Lord’s and the Wigmore Hall.

So what better places to celebrate Janie’s birthday than both of those august institutions?

We’d probably booked the Wigmore Hall late night concert before we knew/realised that Middlesex were to play Essex in the T20 tournament at Lord’s that evening. Low marks to the cricket authorities for demographic matching for scheduling that fixture at that venue that night, but they probably won’t make that mistake again in a hurry.

Anyway, Charley “The Gent” Malloy was keen to see that fixture and suggested (once he knew it was Janie’s birthday and that we had a later evening engagement at “The Wig”), that we make that match a couples outing,  with Dot (Mrs Malloy) up for the idea of a T20 game and a picnic at Lord’s. So that’s what we did.

Cricket

Chas and Dot were able to get to Lord’s early, so they established a good spot at the front of the Tavern Stand for us. Their hopes and expectations for the match (as Essex supporters) were much higher than ours as Middlesex supporters. Essex had been doing well in the tournament that year, whereas Middlesex, despite being champions, had been consistently poor. So much so, I had written a scathing “futurology” MTWD match report of the Hampshire away match earlier in the week, before that match even took place.

But of course, as fate would have it, Middlesex played a rare decent match and spoiled Chas and Dot’s fun a bit:

Here is a link to the scorecard.

But it clearly only spoiled their fun a bit, as Chas said in a note the following Monday:

That was a super evening last Friday at Lords with all of us there; it was an absolute delight, although I suspect that the loss by Essex cost them dearly!

Music

The Wigmore Late concert was a real treat for Janie; she loves a bit of Piazzolla and this was a concert full of the stuff.

Here is a link to an interesting article from The Telegraph explaining why this quartet likes playing Piazzolla.

Dying for a Piazzolla?

It was a lovely concert.

It had been a long evening; I recall us going back to the flat feeling very tired but also very happy.

BENTLEY BRING AND BRAAI CRICKET MATCH, Unfinished Masterpiece, 20 JULY 2008

Here is the unfinished “masterpiece”, which started to tell the tale of the Ian Harris Invitation XI v Charles Bartlett Invitation XI, Bentley CC – reported in a more Ogblog stylee here.

Sorry I didn’t have time to write a shorter one…

…or a complete one.

BENTLEY BRING AND BRAAI CRICKET MATCH – 20 JULY 2008

 Big Match Build Up

Hailing a brave new world, the annual Z/Yen v The Children’s Society cricket match had been laid to rest as a fixture.  Several of the original protagonists worked for neither organisation.  Further, numerous transfers and inter-marriages had occurred over the years.  It now seemed more fitting for the match to be renamed appropriately.  Ian Harris Invitation XI v Charles Bartlett Invitation XI sounded good.  Charles agreed to design a new trophy.  Even Dot Bartlett thought that “The Harris/Bartlett Trophy” sounded very grand, but Charles’ ego couldn’t sanction the title that way round, so the new trophy was named The Bartlett/Harris Trophy.

 

As the day of the big match approached, both captains were busy making their plans of campaign, more or less as usual.  Some things never change.

 

In order to cultivate a rich seam of talent, Ian had engaged the services of Heinrich The Gangmaster, who had in any case long-since moved on from The Children’s Society and was doing a great deal of work for Z/Yen.  Ian therefore claimed rights over Heinrich and his entire South African entourage.  Since Albus, top talent that he is, had married Fran from Z/Yen and led the way to a classic victory in 2007, it seemed only fitting that Heinrich’s entire gang switched allegiance.

 

There were fierce salvos of e-mail and a few frosty telephone and face-to-face exchanges, mostly revolving around  size and shape of players.  “No giants” was the gist of it, but definitions and playing conditions as usual got blurred in the debate.

 

Heinrich The Gangmaster was trying to be helpful when Ian spoke with him on the telephone.  “We can easily put together a winning team”, said Heinrich, “Rubeus is available, for example”.  “But Rubeus is a giant”, said Ian, “and I have promised Charles that we’d not field any giants”.  “Rubeus is only half-giant”, said Heinrich, unhelpfully, “but what about Lucius and Draco?”  “They’re evil”, said Ian, “I can only field players who we can be sure won’t try to take the opposition’s heads off”.  “What’s happened to your sense of fun?”, asked Heinrich.  “I lost it when you arranged for all of those giants and unhinged people to play against my team a couple of years ago,” Ian replied.  “I think I get the message”, said Heinrich.

 

Meanwhile Charles was taking no chances.  To counter the perceived threat, Charles Bartlett had cunningly ensured that he had access to the services of as many Bentley CC players as he might need, plus the festering talent pool of Tufty Stackpole, as well as the Children’s Society people, their friends and relations.

 

Of course, you wouldn’t guess any of that from the discussions between Charles and Ian.  “Not sure I can even get eleven people,” said Charles on one occasion, “been let down left right and centre.  Even that Bentley lad, Andy, is doubtful now.”  “We can always see if Heinrich the Gangmaster can find us some more South African hired hands,” said Ian.  “Funny you should mention that”, said Charles, “as I believe The Children’s Society has a couple of Heinrich’s mob back on their books again”.  “But no giants”, said both Charles and Ian in unison.

 

Meanwhile Dot Bartlett took on the unenviable task of arranging the most important element of the fixture: the catering for the day.  She was none too pleased when the original choice of caterers helpfully informed her that the firm had been taken over and that the new owners “wouldn’t get out of bed” for a poxy little catering contract like ours.  But Dot scrambled around and found a suitable alternative, little knowing that Heinrich The Gangmaster had his own ideas.

 

The Day of the Match – Ian Harris Invitation XI Innings

Come the toss, Ian was a little concerned that two members of his team were still missing: Michael and Elisabeth Mainelli.  Even more concerned was Ian when he lost the toss and was promptly inserted by Charles, as Ian was planning on opening the batting together with Michael.  It was a cunning plan.  Ian was to do his regular sandpaper bit, while Michael was to “pinch hit” using the baseball stance and technique which worked rather well against Barnardo’s 10 years ago.

 

But the Mainelli family arrived just in the nick of time.  The Mainelli’s came as a gang of four, including daughter Xenia (only the cruel and misguided suggest that Xenia was named after the business) and their priest, Father Bill (taking no chances this time, we nearly needed the last rites read more than once last time those big Saffers played).

 

“There’s a zoo, there’s a zoo”, shouted Xenia excitedly as they arrived.  “I can see zebra, wildebeeste, crocodiles, ostriches and snakes”.

 

“That’s not a zoo”, explained Michael, “it looks as though the Saffers have brought some food with them.  This looks distinctly like a ‘bring and braii’ to me.  If I’d known, I’d have brought some charismatic mega fauna with me as an offering.”

 

Meanwhile, Elisabeth was protesting that she had no suitable clothing or even footwear, as Michael had forgotten to tell her that she was playing today.  A very brief panic ensued, until Heinrich reminded Ian that we could, if utterly desperate, engage the services of Antonius Bloch, his former flatmate.  While Charles was remonstrating that Ian’s team was sleezing in a last-minute Saffer giant, Henirich assured everyone that Antonius’s only known sporting prowess was at chess.  Indeed, we could se Antonius playing with a rather shadowy-looking figure as we spoke.  Ominously, Father Bill was mumbling incantations at rapid speed while keeping a very safe distance from the chess-players.

 

While Elisabeth was remonstrating with Michael that she would have gladly played had she only been told that she was in the team, Ian was simultaneously rushing Michael into his pads and various protective clothing, all the while speaking in tongues about “pinch hitting”, “run rates”, “leg side”, “cow corner” and such like.

 

The problem was, of course, that in the intervening years Michael had seen a fair smattering of cricket and even been to see some 1st class matches, so he had seen how batting was supposed to be done.  So Michael ignored all this strange instructions and simply knuckled down to emulate the technique he had observed.

 

Several years seemed to pass as Michael and Ian’s opening partnership got underway.  The entire crowd fell into a deep and profound slumber, except for Heinrich the Braaier and his Assistant Braaier, Severus.

 

Suddenly there was a terrifying roar, the sound of a wild beast in agony.

 

“Nnnnnnnnaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh”.

 

“Jou dom stuk kak, Severus”, yelled Heinrich, “I’ve told you before, man, don’t put live wildebeeste onto the braai”.

 

“I didn’t, man, that yell was Ian saying ‘no’ to a run”, said Severus, sheepishly.

 

“Sorry man.  Score still nought for nought then?”, asked Heinrich.

 

“Something like that”, said Severus.

 

No amount of pleading managed to persuade Michael to try a scoring shot, despite his pinch hitting role, but eventually he was put out of his misery and Matt joined Ian at the crease.  Matt didn’t find it much easier than Ian and Michael to get the ball off the square of the pudding-like wicket.  Eventually Matt decided to play a straight one, played across it, and Charles Bartlett had clean bowled Matt of all people!  Some say that Charles did himself some permanent damage celebrating that wicket, while others insist that the damage had been caused a long time ago through Charles’ strange habit of not wearing a box when batting.

 

Ian Harris Invitation XI v Charles Bartlett Invitation XI, Bentley CC, 20 July 2008

Charles Bartlett in action, me umpiring. It’s Chas’s photo, thanks Chas, but clearly he didn’t take it!

A few of us were clearly taking it seriously that year. The diary and e-mail correspondence suggests that we had a net on 27 May at Lord’s – me Chas, Matt and Adam Hinks:

Just a note to remind you all that we are netting this evening. See you at HQ Indoor School in whites just before 18:00.

Adam – FYI – I’ve bought and am bringing my helmet after our last net together!  Although, having seen Mr Flynn on Friday, I’m not sure I’ll be trying to hook the head-high stuff anyway!!

Chas typically complained about aches and pains the next day:

Great being at Lords last night, but am I the only one suffering from multitude of aches and pains from the cricket net?

And he calls me a wuss.

The planned 10 June net was cancelled by Lord’s; the diary says that we had a net with bowling machine 15 July (presumably the rescheduled gig.) I think that was just me, Chas and Matt, after which both of them claimed that they didn’t much like the bowling machine, so I don’t think we did that again. But the machine experience got me SO ready for battle.  I think Moses (Hallam Moseley) was the coach that day. Either him or Jamie Thorpe, whose left-arm bowling when without the machine tended to cause me all sorts of problems.

Anyway, this 20 July match was briefly reported in the Now and Z/Yen July 2008 issue, here, with the following words:

Caught Harris, Bowled Mainelli

A large Z/Yen contingent sallied forth to Brentwood in Essex, late July, to contest the new Bartlett-Harris Cricket Trophy. A Charles Bartlett Invitation XI (curiously similar to the old Children’s Society team) took on an Ian Harris Invitation XI (not discernibly different from the Z/Yen team of old). Z/Yen’s highlight of the day must have been Monique’s superb batting. But before that the lowlight of the day must have been the opening batting partnership between Messrs Harris and Mainelli; that managed to send any spectator who remained awake to sleep. Stick to the day job, fellas. But things were very different in the field, when those two teamed up for Ian Harris to take a sharp catch off the bowling of Michael – the first time he had ever bowled in his life. Ian also took several wickets with his moon-balls, including both Bartletts (father and son) in the same over. So perhaps Messrs Harris and Mainelli might choose to give up the day job in favour of cricket after all. As is so often the case, Ian’s team came second, but in any case The Children’s Society always wins, on this occasion to the tune of several hundred pounds raised towards that good cause. And a really good time was had by all; players and spectators alike.

There is a Flickr album with dozens of photos from this match (just one sample shown above and another below), with thanks to Charles Bartlett for the photos – click here.

Monique, Harish…and other “cricketers”!

Actually we have an embarrassment of photographic riches from this 2008 fixture; here is a link to the Z/Yen collection from that day – thanks (I think) to Monique Gore – click here.

I composed much but not all of a lengthy report on this match, from build up to part way through the first innings.  Then I must have run out of ideas or steam. It builds on the style of the 2006 Tufty Stackpole report, which Charles Bartlett likes a lot.

Anyway, click here for the text of the unfinished masterpiece.

Perhaps I shall finish off the story one day. Perhaps not.  Who knows where and when the muse will take me?