Thursday, 27 August 2009

2009 Flower Show Match

The Flower Show Match 2009
Matfield Village CC v George Sherston's XI

Played at Matfield on July 22nd 2009

The fourth annual cricket match between Matfield Village and George Sherston’s XI took place in the idyllic setting of Matfield Village Green in the Kent countryside near Tonbridge. The match is played each year in memory of Siegfried Sassoon. The match was once again honoured by the attendance of Dennis Silk, Vice-President of the SSF and former President of the MCC.

The 1906 Flower Show Match is described by Sassoon in ‘Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man’ as being “the match of the year” and to play in it for the first time “was an outstanding event: words were inadequate.” In 2009, those same words still apply as this match is considered one of the highlights of the sporting year by the players of both teams.

As usual the teams gathered before the match for a pre-match lunch in ‘The Wheelwrights Arms’ – some of those in attendance had also played in the golf match the day before. Both events are the brain-child of Bob Miller who has again been the driving force of pulling the team together.

The weather in 2009 was a somewhat unsettled affair – periods of sunshine in the opening period were interspersed with period of cloud, which eventually gave way to some light drizzle during the Sherston innings. Whatever the conditions, both teams adapted well and resolutely continued until close of play at 7pm. Matfield went into bat first as in the 2008 match. A spirited display by the opening bowling pair of Jones and Bull and some fine fielding by the Sherston XI saw the first two wickets fall for just 35 runs. The good form shown by the Sherston team continued despite resistance to the bowling attack from Mills and Danby in the Matfield batting line up. The players thought an early tea might be on the cards when the ninth Matfield wicket fell for 98 but the last wicket partnership by Wilkin and Cooper had other ideas and admirably contributed a further 57 to the Matfield run total, finally ending on 155 when Wilkin was lbw to Southwell for 23 leaving Cooper unbeaten on 34.

Tea is always a highlight of a village cricket match and the spread provided by Matfield was no exception and much appreciated by both players, match officials and spectators. The 2009 match tea of delicious sandwiches, light snacks and a vast array of cakes with an accompanying cup of tea was taken in the pavillion on the edge of the green. In 1906 a Luncheon tent was provided and Sassoon describes the somewhat different and slightly humorous food preparation of lunch that day : “the brawny barman……sharpened the carving-knife on a steel prong with a rasping sound that set one’s teeth on edge while predicting satisfactory slices of lamb and beef, to say nothing of veal and ham pie and a nice bit of gammon and bacon.” A grace was said by the Rector of Rotherden who was known for “the strident and obstreperous bellow to which he gave vent when he was trying to bluff a village umpire into giving a batsman out “caught behind”.

In the 2009 match, fortified by the splendid tea, Matfield took to the field to try and outwit the Sherston batting line-up. During the Sherston innings, the weather took a turn for the worse but the team stuck to their task and the runs started to appear on the scoreboard at a good scoring rate. Barford and Lawson put on 45 for the first wicket. Lawson was bowled by Knott for 20 and Barford was eventually out for 65 bowled by Cooper. There was good support from the rest of the Sherston batting line-up, with notable contributions from Southwell and Heard who contributed 17 runs each. A late burst of sunshine after the rain not only saw a rainbow appear in the darkened sky over the village green but also a final flourish from the Sherston team and they scored the winning runs for the loss of 5 wickets.

The final presentation ceremony was very honoured by a visit from Derek Underwood fresh from his duties at Lords in his role of MCC President where he hosted The Queen for lunch during the 2nd Ashes test England v Australia. The winning captain Julian Hill was presented with the commemorative plate by Dennis Silk followed by the presentation to Matfield of a photograph of the teams who played in the 2008 match : a gift from the Siegfried Sassoon Foundation. Dennis Silk read ‘Everyone Sang’ and recounted how he first met Siegfried at a match between Cambridge University and Worcestershire in 1954 and said how much his friend would have relished the match played in 2009 on Matfield Village green. Derek Underwood wound up a memorable day with a short address and everyone dispersed with a promise to convene again next year. The match series now stands at 2-2 so there is everything to play for next year to take the lead in the series!

1 comment:

Susan Richardson said...

Hi Rhys - just dropping by to give you the Kreativ Blogger Award! The 'rules' of the award can be found on my blog. I always enjoy reading your posts (and am looking forward to reading more about Edinburgh!) so wanted to pass the award on to you.