On the way back from cricket. Several times a year I take a day off and spend it playing. Play is important for adults, just as it is for children. So I love playing cricket for the wine trade team. Today was the first fixture of the season, versus the Gents of Essex, at Coggeshall Town Cricket Club.
Nick Oakley, who is the captain for this fixture, had assembled a good side, with many familiar faces – regulars who play this game most years. The pitch at Coggeshall is a batsman’s paradise – very true, consistent, and a graveyard for medium-paced bowlers. The unofficial term is a ‘road’.
As is usual, we put the opposition in first. Our ringer, who is dating one of Nick’s three daughters, was a 20 year old all-rounder, and he opened the bowling (and later the batting). Quick and lively, he caused a few problems, as did Nick from the other end. But after four overs all the shine was abraded off the ball by the tarmac-like pitch, and from then on in the opposition scored at a lively lick.
All the bowlers ended up with a solitary wicket, with the exception of Nick whose second spell of ‘spinners’ yielded three, including the flukiest of wickets with the first ball after lunch. We all conceded quite a few runs though (the ball didn’t swing a centimetre), and they declared eight down for 278. Despite this, it was a solid performance in the field. No one did terribly much wrong – they just batted very well.
Our reply started well with a 50 opening stand, before wickets started falling fairly steadily. Batsmen got in, got settled, and then got out. But there was cause for hope: we had strength in depth with Sayers at 8, Truttwein at 9, and Oakley at 10. At least we could bat out a draw? Not so, alas. I came in at number 11 and they’d just brought back their opening bowler and an elite Aussie off-spinner, looking for a quick finish. I felt very comfortable against the quick bowler – this was a lovely, true pitch, and I played out a couple of overs.
But the spinner was pretty good, and in the second over I faced from him he got one to come back off a decent length through the gap. A shame – we had just six more overs left to survive, and it would have been nice to get a draw. In the end, we were short by 90-odd runs.
Lunch wines? Very nice Louis Bovard Medinette 2007 from Switzerland – a minerally, crisp but full flavoured white. Quoin Rock Syrah 2005 from Stellenbosch was also nice – lovely minerally, spicy red with some earthy notes. Then Howard’s two wines: a deliciously fresh, pure Frappato from Sicily and a very interesting, minerally Roero Arneis.