Wine trade cricket, final installment for the season
Played my last game of wine trade cricket today down at Further Friars, on the wonderfully idiosyncratic ground of Keevil Manor.
No work today at all. Spent the day playing cricket for the wine trade XI versus the Hampshire Hogs down in Warnford.
It was great to spend a day away from work today. Well, sort of. I was playing cricket, but with a bunch of wine trade colleagues, but that doesn’t count as work, does it?
Two very good tastings today. I started off at the Bunch press tasting at the Century Club. All the serious people were there, plus me (non-serious, of course). The Bunch is a coalition of six pretty serious wine merchants: Tanners, Berry Bros & Rudd, Lay & Wheeler, Adnams, Corney & Barrow and Yapp. Each merchant brings six wines plus one for lunch, although most of them sensibly had the lunch wine on the tasting table, too, because serious journalists don't tend to have long lunches washed down with wine these days. [Although, there is something to be said for actually enjoying drinking wine as opposed to just tasting it. On press trips, I often have wine with lunch, but not in the UK. Perhaps I have an inhibited, prohibitionist streak?] Lots of people asked me what I'd done to my face: obviously they don't read this blog.
Played cricket today for the wine trade down in Keevil, Wiltshire, against Further Friars. The pitch was a little damp after all the recent rain, but we had good conditions to play in. Batting first, the wine trade team did well against some good bowling, and headed in to lunch at 80-3. After lunch, the wickets fell quite steadily, and I came in at no. 8 only to catch a ball full in the face off a top edge. There was quite a bit of blood, but fortunately I didn't lose any teeth, which would have been expensive. I carried on, but was last out bowled for 3, with our total at 126.
Went to the fifth day of the Lord's test today.
Spent the day at Lord's, watching the first day of the England v. South Africa test match. To those unfamiliar with cricket, the idea of a game that lasts five days must seem ludicrous. I suppose it is, but it is also wonderful that in this age of hurry and busyness, a day can be spent watching nothing much happening at a cricket match as a punctuation-style interval in an over-busy life.
Spent a most enjoyable Friday playing cricket with the Wine Trade XI at Colchester. We had a rather different look to our side, because of the official Wine Trade XI tour to Porto (where, I get the impression, they play just a couple of games of cricket, but drink a good deal and generally let their hair down). But the makeshift side we put together was better than many of the Wine Trade teams I have played in, which was a good thing, because Colchester normally field a very strong XI, and there are lots of runs in this pitch, which is sometimes used as a county strip.
One of the benefits of being a freelancer is that you can take the odd day off without worrying about eating into your holiday entitlements and then having to have a difficult conversation at home about why you can only manage one week by the seaside in August rather than the customary two. Actually, I find it's essential to be able to do something that prohibits you checking your emails and writing another article (or blog post) from time to time, so invasive is the nature of freelance writing, where you can end up filling every idle moment with work. And standing a deep midwicket on a lazy summer afternoon achieves this goal very effectively.
Today has been one of those rare days where everything simply goes much better than expected.
Been at the cricket this evening, watching my sons play for the U11s. Elder son is a regular - he opens the batting and normally gets quite a few runs. Was bowled for just 4 today though (the moment is pictured, although the 'welfare officer' for the team we were playing was unhappy about me taking pictures...I think he wanted me to get parental consent forms signed from all the players...such is the modern world). Younger son is two years below in school, but gets the occasional U10 and even U11 game. Tonight he was keeping wicket, and did OK. It was fun to see elder son bowling, and younger son keeping wicket together.
Supposed to be playing cricket today for the winetrade XI versus the Hamsphire Hoggs, down at their lovely ground near Petersfield (above). But it rained and rained. Then it stopped and the sun came out, but an inspection of the pitch revealed standing water, under the covers. So we had lunch, before the decision was made to call the game off just before 3 pm. Not a wasted journey though: an occasion like this gives you a good chance to chat with your colleagues and make some new connections. I did feel sorry for Nick Oakley, though, who'd driven down from Colchester specially for the game.
I'm tired at the end of an interesting day. This afternoon I played cricket at Hampton Wick: it was the Wine Trade XI versus Balls Brothers for a fun 20/20 game. I was donated to Balls Brothers as a guest player - technically this was because I was the last to sign up; perhaps, though, the Wine Trade XI fancied some easy runs off my bowling.
It's been a bit of a cricket-focused sort of week. On Monday and Tuesday evenings I took the boys down to a local artificial wicket, where we set up our new sprung stumps (a great purchase) and trained for a hour or so each time.
It's been a perfect summer's Saturday here in London. Wam but still comfortable temperatures and lots of sunshine. The day began with cricket practice for the boys: I drop them off on Twicknham green, then take Rosie for a walk via my allotment (where I applied the second sulfur treatment and dealt with the prolific weeds).
Cricket. Went to the first day of the test series against West Indies today at Lords. Woke up to drizzle. Oh dear. Got to the ground at about 10 am: drizzle. Hmmm. Delayed start. Overcast and dark. England were put in to bat; the West Indies bowled only averagely; England reached lunch at 80 odd for nothing. Cook (below) was batting well; Strauss was scratching around a bit. Straight after lunch England lost a couple of quick wickets and Pietersen came in. After a few choice shots he lost his way a bit and then the batsmen took the light and went off for an early tea. After the break Pietersen got out, but Collingwood and Cook carried on resolutely, went off again, came back again and then Cook completed his century. England added a couple more to reach 200-3, then they came off again for good as it got a bit dusky. Great fun to be at the test; the cricket could have been a little livlier. Given the conditions, England have made a solid start, and if they can reach 380-ish, then they'll be well placed, although their bowling line-up looks a bit short - and if Harmison doesn't click, he's just about unbowlable, in which case we'll struggle to dismiss anyone.
Amazing. Monty Panesar, ignored for the first two test matches (for those who haven't got a clue what I'm on about, I'm talking about the sport of Cricket, and England versus Australia, otherwise known as the Ashes), has taken what the Aussies call a five-for, as England skittled the Aussies out for 244. England finished 51-2 in reply. Whether or not England capitalize on this probably depends on how KP and Freddie feel - if they play well, we could walk away with this. If they fail, then we could end up looking at a first-innings deficit. It's wide open.
"Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they're put on stage and asked to say it."