News & Events 2019

 

Book review – The Judge. Robin Smith by Robin Smith with Rob Smyth

judge

I’m at Lord’s watching England v the West Indies in 1995. Hampshire’s Robin Smith has made 61 in his first innings and is now in the high eighties in his second, surely on the cusp of a hundred. Then when he’s on 90 he is skewered LBW by Curtly Ambrose and I think to myself, how unlucky is that? If he’d scored 51 and 100 he would have got a lot more credit even though the runs aggregate was the same.
Cricket constantly chucks up these odd quirks and there are plenty to savour in Smith’s autobiography, The Judge. Robin Smith (the nickname came about because he used to have a mullet hairstyle which looked like a judge’s wig). Both names are given equal status on the jacket design which reflects the framework of the book in which Smith constantly discusses and questions the two sides of his personality. What soon emerges is that the swashbuckling square-cutting public figure of the Judge is a very different creature to the introverted and mild-mannered Robin Smith of private life.
This may all sound like psychobabble but don’t let this put you off as it’s delivered in a very un-navel gazey way. Smith recognised very early on the importance of our state of mind to the way we play cricket. In the eighties this was considered a bit mumbo-jumbo but now it’s widely accepted – watching Ben Stokes in the World Cup final, you got the sense that mental work-outs had been just as rigorous as physical training.
As an example, Smith talks about his brother Chris who was also a fine Hampshire player and whose achievements, Smith claims, came about more through self-belief than natural ability: ‘I reckon Kippy’s mental strength added at least 15 runs to his average.’
On the other hand, we get an idea of how poor man-management contributed to low morale and underperforming during Ray Illingworth’s and Keith Fletcher’s tenure of the England team. Smith tells of how he sometimes struggled against spin bowling, yet despite having a superb player of spin (Fletcher) and a great spin bowler (Illingworth) running the show, he never got any advice off either of them on the subject.
The Judge. Robin Smith is not however, a polemic about how awful playing for England was during the nineties. For the most part Smith writes as he played – with a smile on his face. We get tales of high jinks going back to his boyhood in Durban and encompassing great characters of the game like Allan Lamb and Ian Botham. Smith appears to have relished a fight and was never happier than when Walsh and Ambrose were firing bouncers round his ears. The Australian side of that time seem a thoroughly nasty bunch, yet later on Smith got to know players like Allan Border and Merv Hughes and was surprised to find they turned out to be really good blokes.
Socialising after the game, and the invariable downing of a few drinks seems to have been much more the culture of professional cricket than it is these days. With hindsight, reading about Smith’s willingness to join in, you can’t help thinking steady on, Judge. You’re heading for trouble here.
The author’s descent into alcoholism after he’d retired is documented in painful detail. Smith writes in a direct style, almost as if he’s chatting to you. At times you feel a bit like his confessor as he explains some of his more extreme behaviour, less the judge more the accused. The latter part of the book makes for difficult reading much of the time as Smith is caught in a downward spiral of drunkenness and shattered relationships.
Unless your heart is made of stone, you’ll have a lump in your throat by the end of The Judge. Robin Smith when of course, he recovers and gets his life back together. In his foreword Mark Nicholas states, ‘The eyes still sparkle, the smile has lost none of its warmth and the wig is rather charmingly grey . . . and, best of all, his mind is alive with possibility.’
Following the euphoria of the World Cup, it’s wonderful to know that this colossus of Hampshire and England can add his great smile to that of the rest of the nation.

The Judge. Robin Smith by Robin Smith with Rob Smyth. Published in hardback by Yellow Jersey Press.
Available on Amazon for £14.99.

David Twibill. Tuesday, July 16, 2019.


A visit to the doctor

I paid a visit to my doctor on Monday. ‘What can I do for you?’ he asked.
‘Well doc,’ I replied. ‘I’m 60 years old and I played cricket yesterday. I bowled 6 overs and took 2 for 29.’
‘Right. And I suppose you hurt yourself in the process?’
‘No, I’m fine. I’m 60 years old and I took 2 for 29.’
‘Well if there’s nothing the matter with you, why are you telling me all this?’
‘I’m telling everybody.’

D.

 

bacchus cc

Summer returned in time for our favourite fixture against Piccadilly CC on Sunday June 23. We’d had torrential rain a few days beforehand and this resulted in an unusually slow outfield and a wicket that was helpful to us bowlers. The day was warm and muggy, overcast but with a slight breeze. Hardly ideal batting conditions but having won the toss, Jonny Grant decided Crondall would bat first.
Our openers Ollie Godden and Toby Elstow found anything on a good length hard to get hold of, but played themselves in against the pace of Jay and Shyam. Boundaries were scarce and it needed great patience which for both Ollie and Toby was eventually rewarded; Ollie retiring on 50 and Toby getting 48 before being brilliantly caught and bowled by Shanta.
Shanta also bowled out Julian Ranger when he was on 14 and batting with great prudence, defending more often than his natural inclination. Dan Steele was also kept in check, making 19 entirely in singles apart from one boundary and remaining not out. Dan Jones showed more aggression and hit 27 from just 19 balls; quite a feat on this day.
Dan was eventually stumped off a ball from Rikhil Rughani, putting Rik in a select group of three wicket-takers. Rik’s dad Prakash should have joined them; he had no luck as at least three chances were either dropped (heart-stoppingly in Mukesh’s case) or fell just out of reach. As it was, Prakash returned respectable figures of 30 runs from 6. We don’t see much left arm leg-spin, so it was a pleasure to watch Mukesh work his craft and restrict us to around 4 per over.
Of the Piccadilly bowlers, only Shyam was expensive following a nightmare in his final two overs. Up until then he had bowled aggressively and looked certain to cause major problems. Captain Nishil Tanna was the remaining wicket-taker, getting 1 for 22 from 6, and Jay was the most economical, bowling 4 overs for just 9.
Crondall finished with 176 for 4. It was hard to say whether or not this was a good total but given how hard it was to get the ball anywhere near the boundary, we didn’t think we’d done badly.
Anru Calitz, opening for Piccadilly, knew straight away that he’d done catastrophically. Anru doesn’t like to hang about and he gave the first ball from Jake Hayden the usual treatment. Unfortunately, he didn’t get hold of it and Toby Elstow pulled off a good catch: we heard words we never heard in the Bible. Yogesh fell not long after this disaster, caught by David Rook and giving Jake his second wicket.
Wickets fell steadily, only Rikhil managing to occupy the crease for any length of time and finishing with 32 not out. Kaushik did well to hit 20 off 21 balls before being bowled by Ollie Godden and Jay looked dangerous on 16 before a great catch by Dan Jones gave me my second wicket.
My first unlucky victim was Captain Nish and I must thank Toby Elstow for holding on to a catch and helping me return figures of 2 for 29 off 6. The bowling was shared amongst seven of us, with Jake Hayden taking 3 for 16 off 5 and Ollie Godden a fantastic 1 for 4 off 5 which included 3 maidens. Wickets fell to David Rook and Andy Whitehouse, and Dan Jones was accurate as ever, going for 24 from 6 overs.
At the close of play Piccadilly were 128 for 8, drawing the match. This was a good kind of draw for Crondall and it was nice to know that if it hadn’t been for these games where honours can be shared, we’d have won by 48 runs. But hey, this format saves our butts more often than not.
Besides, it is always such a pleasure to spend a day with Piccadilly CC that the result hardly matters (much). Thank you Nish, Prakash, Yogi, Anru, Jay et al for your effervescent company which always makes these games really special.

David Twibill

 

Toby outstanding in Oakley fightback

On Sunday June 17 we made the journey to Oakley’s lovely ground after an anxious morning. When I’d woken up there was a steady drizzle blowing across the countryside which looked certain to ruin our day. However, it gradually began to clear up and at midday we had the news from Oakley that the match was going ahead.
Cricket always feels like a bonus on these occasions and as the Oaks began their innings, we found another bonus as wickets began to fall. Scott Shepherd had soon taken a couple and Ollie Godden was in great form, taking 3 for 16 from 7.
It seemed as if Oakley were in disarray but their skipper Ian Bennett took control and runs began to come, the rate rising to around 6 an over as he hit up an impressive 66. Eventually, he misjudged a nicely flighted ball from David Rook and was out LBW. Ian was supported by Stuart Spalding who was unbeaten on 68 and Dan Sumner hit a lively 19 before being caught by Ollie Godden, giving David Rook his second wicket. Jonny Grant was Crondall’s other wicket-taker, bowling B. King for 5.
Oakley’s counter-attack put them in control of the game and they finished their 35 overs with 230 for 8. This cushion meant they could go on the attack during Crondall’s innings and for the early stages they employed a pair of slip fielders. Oakley is a small ground, so maybe 230 would prove to be quite attainable.
However, despite the close fielders, runs became hard to find. Opening bowler Fawad bowled a couple of maidens and went for just 15 from his 7 overs. Crucially, he bowled Ollie Godden for 9 which was a real blow as Ollie’s form with the bat is even more impressive than with the ball.
Julian Ranger soon fell LBW to Bob Lethaby for 9 and was followed by David Rook, who was just starting to look settled when he was out for 19. In the meantime Toby Elstow (who hadn’t played since last year) was unruffled by these minor disasters and managed to stay at the crease long enough to become the top-scorer of the game. He hit 74 before being caught off the bowling of Mike Wood.
Toby was outstanding on this day when no other Crondall batsman could get going. We hung onto wickets but Oakley’s tight bowling and fielding made the chase ever harder and we finished up on 140 for 5, drawing the match.
We didn’t exactly cover ourselves in glory but there were many positives today – particularly Toby’s great innings and the way Ollie and Scott put us in control at the start. And as I stood out there admiring the Hampshire countryside and doing a bit of train-spotting, I couldn’t help feeling happy that we’d got a game in at all.
Talking of which, I notice the autobiography of Robin Smith, the Judge, whom I saw many times and who always had a smile on his face, has just been published. I won’t wait for it to come out in paperback and I’ll post a review here once I’ve read it. I’m not the fastest reader, so it may take some time.

David Twibill

 

bacchus cc

We’ve made some tweaks to our Sunday match format which were introduced in the game against Sons of Bacchus on June 9, and which seem to be working well. The main one is obligatory retirement when 50 is reached – this follows last season’s lovely batting conditions when anyone lower than number 6 was lucky to get in at all. Bowling is restricted to 6 overs per man; again this means more players will enjoy a meaningful game. There are 35 overs per innings and a draw can be achieved by the side batting second if things aren’t going as they would like. We may find the draw becomes the most frequent result, but this is Sunday cricket where winning isn’t everything and coming second is a lot better than nothing.
The Sons of Bacchus showed mercurial talent with the bat and were it not for the new format, the opening pair would very likely have made a stand of over 200. They exploited the excellent wicket and despite some tidy bowling from Scott Shepherd and Tim Watson, pushed the run rate to around 10 per over.
We missed Ollie Godden’s waspish pace as he was held up having damaged his car after hitting a pothole. The AA came out in time for him to have a couple of overs and he menaced the remainder of Bacchus’s innings. Our other bowlers did well but unfortunately this was a day of dropped catches – none of them easy, but dropsy is an infectious condition and it became more virulent as the innings progressed.
Dropsy, fabulous batting, and the third world roads around here all did for Crondall as Bacchus scythed their way to 256 for 6.
This was no time to panic and both David Rook and Ollie Godden showed steady resolve as they set about Bacchus’s imposing total. They both occupied the crease long enough to get 50 but it was hard to get the ball away and the steep run rate we needed became ever more elusive.
We saw some great bowling from Bacchus skipper Alex Booth and he was very well supported. Harry, all of 11 years old, bowled with consistent length and no mean pace. Lars, somewhat more advanced in years (to a factor of around 7) showed great guile, trapping Ricky Gunner LBW.
Tim Furnell survived a testing first few balls and would have made 50 if we hadn’t run out of overs. As it was, he and I were left needing around 80 off the last 4 and he finished somewhere in the forties. I must thank Paul Derrett and Clive Lindsay for allowing me to go in ahead of them – it was a real bonus to spend some time at the crease.
We held fast, drawing the game at 180 for 6. It felt like Bacchus had romped this draw, but 180 is actually a pretty good score which often wins games (although not always by us). Afterwards I took forever to get changed and by the time I was packed up, the scorebook had disappeared before I could get a photo. Hence this amateurish match report.
Congratulations to our guests for a tremendous performance in every department. Most of Bacchus come from London but they always manage to get a team together and are always great company. And it was good to see the next generation turning out – they might need to rename themselves Grandsons of Bacchus before long.

David Twibill

 

Crondall dominant in T20 batting fest

Farnham Park was in perfect condition for our T20 game against Curchod & Co (formerly known as Wadham & Isherwood). The evening of Wednesday June 5 was cool and cloudy but with a little sunshine brightening the ground so it was never a struggle to spot the ball.
Crondall’s opening pair of Ben Ungaretti and Matt Crew certainly didn’t struggle as they got stuck into the bowling from the off and in what seemed like no time, had each retired having hit over 25. This was much the story of Crondall’s innings: Tom Jackson (a last-minute recruit), Jon Grant and Tim Watson also achieved 25’s. Dan Jones looked likely to join the party but was well caught on 9 off Matt Gaton, and Ricky Gunner hit an imperious 17 from 12 balls as Crondall cruised to 165 for 3.
Steve Barrett had Ricky caught behind in a great spell of 2 for 16 from 4 – superb in the context of Crondall’s run rate. Matt Gaton also impressed with 1 for 15 from 3 and like Steve, was helped by some sharp fielding.
Opening for Curchod, Anand Patel wasn’t intimidated by the run chase and retired on 25 from 16 balls. However, Anand was the highpoint of the innings. 18 runs from Matt Fladgley and 20 from Nick Reeve kept Curchod in touch but the total eventually got out of reach and they finished on 145 for 7 (the kind of score which often wins these games) giving Crondall victory by 20 runs.
Captain Jonny Grant spread the bowling amongst no less than nine of us. Wickets fell regularly with Dan Jones taking 2 for 25 from 4 and Matt Crew looking as if he might finish the job by himself, bowling two men in one over in his 2 for 8 from 2.
It was great to get a win in this disrupted season but maybe the real winners were the groundsmen: I can’t remember a game where 310 runs were scored in 40 overs – a lot of work must have gone into this beautiful batting strip and outfield.
Our thanks go to Curchod for hosting the game and feeding us with fish and chips, and my own thanks to Mrs Lock for her very clear scorebook which has made writing this a lot easier than it might have been!

David Twibill

 

bat

We welcomed Rowledge Casuals to our season opener on Sunday May 5 with unhelpful advice – ‘You should have been here two weeks ago.’ I guess most of us had been pretty excited during the Easter heatwave; surely it would stretch into the first weeks of May? It didn’t. Cold, horrible batting conditions and a stodgy outfield made Crondall skipper David Rook’s decision on winning the toss easy – after you, Casuals.
When I’d put the stumps in I noticed how solid the pitch felt. The ground is usually like putty at this time of year but following a long hot summer and relatively dry winter, it hadn’t altered much from the concrete of last season. Rowledge’s openers Will Roberts and Steve Bailey found the wicket to their liking and despite the odd skidding ball from Ollie Godden keeping low, began to score quickly. Steve eventually fell to a great slip catch by Julian Ranger off Dan Steele for 38 and Will went on to hit 51 retired.
Meanwhile, Richard McKinley had stepped up at number 3 and piled on a quick 32 before hoisting a ball off David Rook. Julian Ranger managed to get underneath it and take another great catch, unfortunately cutting his finger in the process. Reader, there was blood but did Julian leave the field? Did he heck. 
Hugo Young, unfazed at losing three of his partners cheaply, batted throughout the remains of the innings for 39 and was joined by Mark Stevenson who serenely added 22 not out. Jon Wills made 6 before he top-edged a ball into his mouth and retired with a cut lip: he seemed to be fine and won’t have to face a massive dentist’s bill.
Crondall took four wickets, one for myself and Dan Steele, and two for David Rook who finished with 2 for 14 off 2. The Rowledge batters couldn’t get to grips with Tim Watson, who bowled a very tidy six overs for just 15. Tim and David prevented the Casuals from overwhelming us, but our guests still posted an impressive total of 219 for 6. We were joined by a new player, Harry Devonshire, who hadn’t played for five years but was very sharp in the field and undoubtedly saved a good many runs.
Crondall’s reply got off to a disastrous start as Ollie Godden was caught and bowled by Clive Hartless without scoring. Fellow opener David Rook had a better time, finding the wicket helpful before a shortish ball from Hugo Young kept lower than he’d anticipated and he was bowled for 28. Julian Ranger’s injured digit didn’t seem to hold him back as he bludgeoned four fours before being caught for 19 off Steve Riglar.
The father and son partnership of Tim and Angus Watson gave Crondall plenty of cheer even though by now we were too far behind to have a realistic chance of turning the game around. Tim dominated the bowling and never looked in trouble as he hit an unbeaten 52 which included six fours and three sixes. Watson Junior had impressed us last year and looked equally comfortable today, hitting six fours and also remaining unbeaten on 30.
Tim and Angus were Crondall’s mainstay and Ricky Gunner provided good support for Tim, patient as ever and making 11 before being bowled by Craig Jones. At the close Crondall had made 167 for 8, drawing the game.
A draw when you’re 50-odd runs short isn’t a great draw but Crondall had plenty to smile about, particularly the great contribution with bat and ball by Tim Watson. Rowledge were ahead throughout the afternoon; batting solidly, bowling accurately and fielding superbly. We look forward to our return game in August and maybe a T20, if we can do it.

David Twibill