“They’ve called it on!” Darren yelled excitedly as Vincent’s early cancellation due to the heavy rain was overruled by a combination of Kiwi enthusiasm and Krishna’s Machiavellian streak. “We’ve played in worse,” he growled, remembering the tropical storm a few years back when he helped the Money Programme to a memorable win.
Still, this was only a 20-20 thrash, and Saumur seemed satisfied with the first day win. Tight bowling restricted them to 89, but they never really attacked. Andy was batting eleven and never made it to the crease though wickets fell regularly to Peter and Chris Balch.
Sam, back in MP colours, fell early, but Darren and Ben progressed serenely – combating the heavy outfield by hitting over the top. Gordon and Andy halted the victory procession with a few quick wickets – Andy in particular bowled a scintillating spell of almost unplayable leg-cutters and at one point was on a hat-trick after a boxless Chris Balch perished first ball.
Tom fended off the key delivery, but Dave was bowled the following over and ten were still required with three wickets left.
Luckily Gordon had dispensed with his monotonous medium pace in favour of some ill-advised loopy leg-breaks, and he over-pitched catastrophically to Tom who smashed him gratefully over midwicket for six. Umpire Nick “Collina” Clarke raised his crutches aloft in that familiar Karate Kid “Dragon Kick” pose – the merest hint of paternal pride momentarily puncturing his diligent impartiality.
So a win for the tourists, though Saumur will rightly claim to have won the more important match the previous day.
Result: MP Won by 4 Wickets
So to the eagerly anticipated reason for the early start. England v Ecuador – one of the easier routes into the World Cup Quarter Finals, though we made a typically ham-fisted stab at it. Beckham netted but also chundered a la Andy Bonner after too much brioche. Not much point going into the details given the result of the Portugal match, but we were in reasonably good spirits heading to the Grand Bleu for a decent feed.
Multiple pave de bouefs later we were sated and near the end of the journey. Ruby was the centre of attention – allowed to join us despite being younger than Benedict and Joel who were clinically dispatched to bed at the regulation 7.30 – no concessions for those two, though they have clearly laid the foundations for future Saumur/MP love triangles.
At the Liverpool, the standard of the snooker miraculously improved. It was competitive and high quality, and not just because guitarist Pete had his own cue.
And that was that – another year down and looking forward to the 10th anniversary. The Saumur squad seems keener and more populous than ever – and unless we find ourselves on a Kenyan odyssey next year, I’m sure we will be back to take them on again.
Match of the Day Man of the Day: Nick – long umpiring stint was rewarded by turgid England display and increasingly derisory commentary on the ineptitude of Paul Robinson
Moment of the Day: Two urchins doing a runner from the Grand Bleu and being bundled into a police van
Late Night Viewing: Enjoyment unaffected by spectacularly eighties hair cuts
D Dunlop: Gordon’s bunny
P Marshall: Don’t panic chaps, I’ll book the car…
J Maund: Holy shin, Batman! (You see, “Holy” because he has a hole in his shin; and “Batman” sounds a bit like “Batsman”. Well I liked it.)
D Rinaldi (C): Can I come in and watch some porn, lads?
J Rinaldi: Oysters and omelettes
T Clarke (W): King at Killer
D Friend: Groomer of youth
B Dash: Hail to the Power Bow
S Balch: Snooker loopy
C Balch: Entered the fray without a box – at least he didn’t have to face Wayne Rooney…
T Marshall: I’ve got an Audi. Come for a ride, my pretty
R Marshall: Part-time blade
N Clarke (umpire): Wax on, wax off, Daniel san
Signalling leg-byes was problematic
How you doin'?
Skip promised John he could bat number three for the rest of his career
The Larry Grayson Appreciation Society
Saumurian sunset photographed by Big Gay Dave
"Look at the merchanside, lads. Tell you what - take Verity off my hands and I'll throw in Andy as well - can't say fairer than that."
"Tim may have an Audi convertible, but I've got a bloody Ferrari..."
"Your round, I think Rich..."
Tim amputed his left arm in solidarity with Nick
Ben had never seen a camera before
Tim didn't leave the barbeque without putting in a cash offer for the chateau
"You boys know anything by Megadeth?"
Nick was gripped by a sudden urge to no-ball Gordy with his left crutch
The pavillion at Saumur
Chris and Sam laughed nervously at the enormous head in front of them
Past your bedtime, sunshine. Ruby still going strong though