Singleton: No show
The 'Money Programme Cricket Club' is just a little bit misleading.
But although our connections with the revered BBC2 Television programme of the same name are tenuous, they are real.
The story goes back to June or July 1982 (the early records are hazy). At that time, The Money Programme was going through a golden period. One of its two presenters was Valerie Singleton, recently arrived from Blue Peter, who was seriously famous. As a junior reporter on the show, I made a film with a firm called Lancer Boss, makers of fork-lift trucks, and the firm's boss happened to mention that he'd recently acquired a stately home in Bedfordshire - with a cricket pitch attached.
One thing led to another.
A few weeks later, we had assembled a team of (mostly ex) cricketers to challenge a Lancer Boss XI.
It was a catastrophe.
Expecting to see a team of TV stars, the Lancer Boss boss had persuaded dozens of his workers to turn up. Unfortunately, Val Singleton was busy that day. And so was everyone else they might have recognised. Within half an hour, the crowd had dispersed, and to make matters worse, as far as I can remember, we lost the match.
We had, however, got the bug. One of our founding fathers, Victor Marmion, toured the Home Counties searching for village locations that appealed to him, and persuading club secretaries to accept this unknown touring side with dubious (or to put it another way, non-existent) credentials. Within a few years we had built up a full fixture list, and in due course, we started to win some matches.
Strength to strength would be one way of describing our progress. Another would be peaks and troughs. But good things started to happen. We found enough younger players to tide us over until our children were old enough to bowl fast, hit the ball hard and - above all - run very quickly to those faraway parts of the ground that we found difficult to reach. Another great moment came when Bernard Clark, who played in that original Lancer Boss match, sculpted our very own pitch from an unpromising field in a glorious location near Henley.
We were no longer purely a touring side, which made everything a lot easier (except finding someone to provide the teas), and in 2000 we had one of our best years ever. This website, and the information provided by Peter Marshall, another founding father (and I mean that in every possible sense), is obviously an expression of the fun we've had - and the fun we hope to have in future. Our ex-skipper, Chris Marshall is a towering presence. Well, he's very tall, now! And we're constantly on the look out for ways of making sure that the MPCC story goes beyond the 20th anniversary celebrations.
Nick Clarke - ex-officio.....
"Regardez la voiture!" The natives are restless after carelessly driving into a booming off drive - Saumur 2002 (ish)
Thwack. Umpire John "Trigger" Morrell unmoved by Richard Marshall's text-book forward defensive
The Money Programme rattle up an impressive total against Wendens Ambo in 2004. Team: (standing) T Clarke, B Dash, T Marshall, C Marshall, G Franck, Canadian Rick; (seated) P Marshall, J Maund, D Rinaldi, D Dunlop, N Clarke.
The same game. Nick has the churchyard in his sights
Saumur 09 Text Commentary
(updated stats to follow)
2009 Stats and All-time averages now added
Wilkinson Way - 17th August
Won by 96 Runs
Every night, before he goes to bed, Chris Balch practises his cover drive in front of the mirror and grumbles to Jinty about always batting number 11. “Bloody Kiwis,” he laments. “No respect for their elders.” Jinty pretends to be asleep.
But at Henley yesterday, a breakthrough. Promoted to number 10 ahead of Troy’s Aussie ringer, Chris seemed determined to shake off the Glenn McGrath tag and spend some time at the crease.
His chance came at 142-8. Adam had just been triggered by Richard and Balch came bounding out to the wicket like Usain Bolt after a trip to the chemist. Very correctly, he saw out the end of the over from the tricky leg-spinner, and then began playing his shots as the Wilkinson Way bowlers struggled to wrap up the innings.
At Aldenham - where he anchored Darren to his hundred - Chris was very much the junior partner, staying away from the strike for most of the time and occasionally blocking one when required. Not here. With a hamstrung Tom at the end, the Balch blade carved out a flurry of runs – mostly through an arc between mid-wicket and long-on – each boundary signalling heartier cheers from the boundary. “He’ll be opening next week!” one scamp ventured. “Over my dead body,” the Skip retorted.
Even the return of Wilkinson Way’s best two bowlers could not halt the procession, and when the innings closed the partnership was worth an unbroken 75 at more than a run a ball. Chris’s 35* had the stat men fumbling for the all-time averages (which state that he once got a 50 – surely some kind of typo? – ed), and it would have been the highest score of the innings had Tom not selfishly limped a couple off the last ball.
Earlier on, WW had restricted us to a few cameos, whittling out wickets at regular intervals. Dave, Simon, Tim and Ian all got starts, while Richard and Darren both perished to a youngster who interspersed diabolical pie-chucking with the odd vicious, unplayable yorker.
Our 217 seemed like a good total though, given the state of the pitch which was offering plenty of help to the spinners and more than a little zip off Bernie’s bump.
Darren and Tim have both bowled much better this season, but profited from some truly kamikaze batting. One opener was hit on the head by Skip and responded by charging down the pitch to the next ball only to see his stumps clatter, and another batsman skied a pull off Tim to Troy who calmly shooed away the bowler to pouch the chance despite the Flounder being waved in his direction as the ball came down.
In the field we were reasonably sharp (aside from Dave’s comical dive under a straight drive to mid-off) and once the grumpy West Indian with the look of a cold-eyed killer had been dispatched by a beautiful off-cutter from Darren, the spinners could come on and clean up.
Troy and Chris bowled beguilingly and Adam eventually ended a stubborn last wicket stand between the youngster with the erratic bowling style and the last man in - a gentle giant whose stance had him propped alarmingly on his bat, giving us a very real prospect of the first on-pitch impaling in Berkshire’s storied cricketing history. Every run in this partnership was roundly cheered by those in the pavilion, but we were simply grateful to avoid the ungainly stomping of the big chap who bull-dozed his way down the middle of wicket with his trousers round his knees, looking like every stride might send him crashing to the ground in an embarrassing pile of limbs, spectacles and batting paraphernalia.
A convincing win then, and one they will be looking to avenge later in the season “when they get us on a decent pitch” as a couple of their players noted wryly. But that’s for another day. This one belonged to the Balch.
Simon: Soldiered on despite a broken leg. Heroic.
Troy: Bowling coming on nicely
Richard: Banned from bowling
Tim: Wasp sting to the anus. Nasty.
Darren (C): Impeccably behaved
Ian: Gritty knock
Adam: Triggered as a direct result for failing to turn out for Botley on Saturday. Harsh.
Tom (W): Supporting role
Chris: Told you I could bat
Andrew: Winning catch