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Cricketing clergy take to the crease in Newbury

05 July 2024

Players from St Albans, Oxford, and some other dioceses, at the Falkland Cricket Club in Newbury, last week

Players from St Albans, Oxford, and some other dioceses, at the Falkland Cricket Club in Newbury, last week

TWENTY-FOUR clergy cricketers turned up, and were sorted into two teams of 12, which lent a Victorian-era tinge to proceedings on a beautiful sunny day at the exquisite pitch at Falkland Cricket Club, in Newbury, on Monday of last week.

Broadly speaking, it was St Albans, plus a few from other dioceses, v. Oxford plus a few from other dioceses.

St Albans and Co. did well to post any sort of score, having fallen to 8 for 4, after the testing googlies of Glen Scrivener (Chichester) caused havoc in the top order. First, Ali Marshall (Chichester) led a counter-attack, and then Will Kemp (Chichester) took up the baton, with a high-class undefeated 82. This ensured the recovery, and the total was completed by a remarkable all run five off the final ball which had been tapped gently to cover, as the fielding, hitherto excellent, descended into delirious levels of village incompetence, and overthrow followed overthrow.

The Oxford and Co. reply started with caution; but, once Tom Murray (Oxford) joined Ray King (Winchester), things moved up a gear. King made a powerful 21 before falling to a brilliant one-handed catch by Adam Prior (St Albans), diving to his left at mid on. Murray, however, played the innings of the day, at first watchful in defence and then moving to attack, driving the ball with the sure and sound purity of a biblical exposition by John Stott.

He was finally removed for 97, bowled by a laser-like yorker from Marshall, which left Paddy Harris (Oxford) as the senior batsman. With just three to win in the final over, off the second ball, he smote the ball cleanly, but picked out Kemp, who snaffled the catch and the tension ratcheted up. Arthur Franklin held his nerve, however, and won the match with a fine strike over in the infield for four.

St Albans and Co. 208-7 (Kemp 82*, Marshall 37, Scrivener 3-22)

Oxford and Co. 212-5 (Murray 97, Harris 44, Marshall 2-16).

Oxford diocese won by five wickets.

The Revd Robert Stanier is Vicar of St Andrew and St Mark, Surbiton, in the diocese of Southwark, and a former winner of the 2018 Wisden Writing Competition (Comment, 18 May 2018).

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