Pimlico Home

10th July 2016

Well, this was a right old curate’s egg.

Back in the early 1990s, when your correspondent turned out regularly for the Pimlico Stollers, they comprised a fairly shambolic collection of DJs, musicians, “resting” actors and assorted cads and bounders, for whom cricket was an occasional excuse for quick wit, jolly banter and repartee, followed by a lengthy and often ferocious drinking session in a North London pub. Fast forward to the present day and – with one or two very honourable exceptions – it would appear that Pimlico 2.0 take their cricket very, very seriously indeed and, I suspect, assume that their opponents should adopt the same dour, flinty approach to the game. Of course, winning is important, but not at the price of throttling the life out of a game, leathering colts bowlers all over the park to boost their averages (and possibly compensate for the stress of hedge fund management, or lack of any sack action at home …). Perhaps, if this fixture is to survive, the latter day Pimlico should spend a moment to ponder their early years and consider managing their expectations somewhat when playing against modest – but honest – Sunday village teams.

Ah, well, to business. Pimlico were put in to bat and put on 247 for … er, let me see now, 0, with multiple retirements before finally declaring. While that score might suggest to the disinterested onlooker that the bowling was a little lacklustre, the fact is that on the whole, we bowled pretty well as a unit, David Green being the pick of the bunch, with a controlled and accurate spell that could – and, some feel, should – have yielded at least two LBW decisions. There was also a very reasonable shout for a stumping after some smart work by Mr Bandy and quite a number of catching opportunities were offered, although, unfortunately, these tended to land in sparsely-populated parts of the field. John and Matt Inman bowled with considerable guile and little luck and there were decent spells from Ed Cockburn and Daniel Williamson.

There were also some stirring performances in the field, from Ed Cockburn, Matt Inman and in particular, Daniel Williamson, who pulled off a number of tremendous stops to stop the flow of runs.

Fortunately for us, this being a timed game, Pimlico – in the pursuit of engorged batting averages – allowed comparatively little time to hammer home their advantage. After a slow, watchful, start against some good quality bowling, we settled into the game and, once 6.00 pm had passed, the feeling gradually dawned on us that the Strollers could get something out of this. Thanks to a gritty 51 by Steve Hards, with some steady support from our other batters, we made the game safe. There was a slight wobble when Bob Fisher fell in the slips, but in the 20 or so balls remaining, Jerome Green and Paul Wastell refused to be intimidated by Pimlico’s aggressive field placings, with Paul blasting a quick-fire 21 not out – consisting of five 4s and a single – to steady the ship and bring us home for an honourable, hard-fought draw.

This might have been a very different game, however, had decisions gone our way and, certainly, if Pimlico had declared earlier, giving us a target of 180-odd, they might have beaten us. Before the game, the Pimlico skipper told me they were a man short and asked, in a whimsical moment, whether I wanted to roll back the years and turn out for them. However, as the game progressed, I was given frequent reminders of why I play for Sandon Strollers – a team working together, supporting each other and valuing everyone’s contribution, playing the game in the right spirit with humour and courtesy. ‘Side before self every time’ as Billy Bremner once said.

Champagne moment: A difficult choice – Steve Hards’ 50 and Paul Wastell’s 21 saved the game for us, but I’m opting for Daniel Williamson for his gutsy bowling performance and heroic exploits in the field, typified by one blinding stop in the covers.