A late addition to the calendar, as no-one had been booked to test their mettle against Ivanhoe, Monks Risborough stepped up to offer us a game. Once again, to Buckinghamshire Ivanhoe set forth.
Many grounds have idiosyncrasies, from the shelves and roman pottery at Verulamium, the tree on the field at Theydon Bois, strange dimensions at Rudolph Steiner and many others experienced over the years, but nothing quite took it to the extreme as this ground.
Steeply sloping from the clubhouse to the pitch on the straight boundary, the pitch was relatively flat but one square boundary was slightly uphill, the other dropped off precipitously and fielders on the boundary were almost invisible to a batter in their stance. The other straight boundary dropped away from the pitch too – meaning bowlers had huge slopes to contend with.
The changing rooms were well appointed, with John being particularly impressed by their collection on mowers…to each their own!
First use of the pitch was given to Ivanhoe, leaving Phil K and Hansi to face the unknown. Monk’s opening bowler, going up the slope, marked out a runup that saw him pass through a couple of postcodes…readers at this point will no doubt remember many a ‘quick’ bowler with a long run-up that puts the fear of whatever into them until the ball trundles down at a moderate pace. Well, dear reader, this was not the case at all! The runup was justified as the ball flashed by the batters in a spell that kept them on their toes, not wayward but not exactly threatening. Phil played a lovely pull-shot off him and Hansi ignored anything he didn’t need to play. The other end saw respite as ambling in but putting effort on the ball, the pace was considerably slower. Runs abounded from the flashing blade of Phil before he was undone by an effort ball that arrived a bit faster than expected and was caught.
Kirishna joined Hansi in the drizzle as thoughts and words were exchanged on the viability of staying out. Two mighty drives to wide ones got Krishna off and running before the rain got heavier and sadly the game was called off. 56-1 from 13 or so overs represented a great base. What would have come of the game but for the weather no-one knows, but an enjoyable experience, hopefully to be repeated next season under liquid-golden skies rather than under one that is leaden and grim.
Shoutout to John, who paused his mower appreciation to umpire from both ends and Tristan who stood at square leg throughout.
Author: Hansi B