Jonathan Hammond (ON 1975-85) reports on the Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2020 match. The ONs' Phoenix XI took on Nottinghamians RFC on Thursday 30th July at Adbolton...
Well, we thought it might not happen, but it did. With all the necessary Covid guidance from the England & Wales Cricket Board, your Phoenix XI and the 'Hamians took to the field in the glorious sunshine and tranquil setting of the home of Old Nottinghamians’ sport, Adbolton Lane, for the Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2020 cricket match.
With the promise of a barrel of beer and post-match pizza it was wonderful to see so many spectators take the opportunity to support both teams, whilst playing their part in making the ground a safe venue for the game to take place.
The virtual toss went the way of the Phoenix, and I asked the 'Hamians Captain, mentor and guiding light, Karim Naaman, to bat first. The Phoenix XI strode out to the field, full of anticipation to bowl the first over of this strange season from the Pavilion End. I had selected a perfect mix of youth and experience. Seven of our team were under 22 and the other four trying hard to remember their twenties.
Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2020: The 'Hamians Innings
The ball was tossed to John Croasdale to bowl the first over of our 2020 season, and battle commenced. The crowd only needed to wait for the fifth ball of the innings to see the pace of John take the leg stump of Tim Humphries, the bail virtually flying off into the sunshine. I say ‘virtually’, because as part of the continued investment into the Club it has been requested that we have four bails for our next match, rather than the three that are currently in operation. Anyway, what a ball, and it was handshakes all round... sorry, elbow taps all round, as the team adhered to the temporary protocol for celebrations.
Eduardo Martin joined the attack for the second over, earning his first cap for the Phoenix XI. (Note to self: we really must invest in some caps to present to all those who represent the team!) With only a sneakily grabbed single off his over, Eduardo's selection for the next match seemed assured.
Again, earning his first cap for the Phoenix, Rohan Chauhan bowled the third over and, with only the second ball of his long-term future with the team, took the wicket of 'Hamians’ opener, T J Broderick. A leaping James King, one of those ON characters one can only look up to with admiration, took the catch at second slip. It was elbows all round as the slightly surprised Jim took the applause. There would be more to come from the agile King later in the game.
It was now the turn of Harry Hammond to bowl, following in the footsteps of both his father Jonathan and grandfather Michael, who have already graced the pages of ON cricket scorebooks of the past. Could Harry create his own large footprints? Whistling past his father (fulfilling the role of umpire, scorer, photographer) Harry achieved a dot, a wicket, then 4 more dots… a wicket maiden on his return to Phoenix cricket. His father offered a wry, but proud smile. Harry had indeed made his own large footprints. In addition, Jim ‘The Cat’ King had taken his second catch of the innings with a leap to his left and a raised hand, seemingly layered with superglue (other fast bonding and super strength adhesives are available).
The omens were looking good for the Phoenix XI. Josh Nissim (oldest of the youngsters at 21) bowled the next over from the Pavilion End and took a wicket with his second ball of the season. The catcher was Matt Croft, another debutant ensuring his name would go into the scorebook for the 2020 season. Indeed, it was Matt who bowled the next over and, to cement his place in the minds of the selectors, captured a wicket with the first ball of his Phoenix career. Josh Nissim took the diving catch at mid-wicket: teamwork at its best!
Having watched the future of the Phoenix XI have their fun, it was time for the more experienced members of the team to show what they could do. Jim King took off his cap and strode up to the wicket, clearly wanting to make a good impression on the youngsters - and boy did he show them! The tight lines and unexpected pace surprised many (including Jim) and he took the important wicket of the 'Hamians’ talisman, Karim Naaman, pushing back the middle stump and sending the bail flying.
Tumbles & Teasers
It was now the turn of another veteran, Robin Fisher, who had already shown prowess in the field, stopping certain 4s with his rolling tumbles. The 'Hamians struggled to increase their tally against Robin's teasers. Rohil Shah, too, kept the run rate low with an accuracy of line that gave the batsmen little to play with. Emulating Rohil, Chris Padwick continued his success of last year, giving the batsmen plenty to think about and taking the wicket of Rich Cooper with a turn of pace that belied his years.
This wicket certainly rattled the 'Hamians, who sent in the ‘Big Guns’. The arrival of Paul Harrison changed the course of their innings. The Phoenix fielders collected the ball from outside the boundary ropes on numerous occasions and the scoreboard rattled away. Finally, a mistimed cut off Matt Croft sent the ball high, landing safely in the hands of Jim ‘The Cat’ King for his third catch of the day.
John Croasdale added to his haul with the wicket of Nixon - a neat catch by Rohil Shah. Despite having plenty of overs left, the 'Hamians were running out of batsmen as Matt Croft took two more quick wickets. It looked like the innings was coming to an end… but no, wait… what was this? In the true spirit of social cricket it would have been a shame not to complete the final four overs. Number 12, Aidan, went in and then, to a warm reception, Matt Draper in his whites - well, more greys than whites, but the outfit sufficed. Matt carried his bat to the end of the innings, scoring one out of the 'Hamians’ total of 106 from 20 overs.
Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2020: Phoenix XI Innings
What could the Phoenix XI do in reply? They agreed a batting order and excitable youth went in at 1 with Jim ‘The Cat’ King at 2. The team had followed the Social Distancing Rules of Engagement to the letter and this was the perfect opportunity for the openers to keep 22 yards apart (except for passing each other during runs). Josh Nissim took to the crease with the sensible and necessary precautions of protective gloves, face mask (helmet), visor and pads. The coronavirus was not going to take him out. But the slower than expected first ball from Nixon did...
The Hamians’ opening bowler had sent down a dolly, and Josh could have sent the ball soaring high over the ropes towards the beer tent and car park beyond (well, that’s what Josh thought). After his imperfectly timed swing had finished, the lolloping ball finally arrived where Josh was standing and, as he was searching for it in the air, he heard the sound of the bail behind him being picked off his leg stump. The long walk back to his teammates, with a golden duck, attracted sympathetic applause, mild-natured banter and... actually, the baying rugby lads gave no quarter. Yet Josh held his head up high. The incredulous Phoenix XI were nought for one.
107 still to get...
John Croasdale went to the crease to steady the ship. The scoreboard rattled away as he and Jim King moved the score on nicely to 26 off three overs. After 'The Cat', Henry Dilley marked his appearance with an impressive one before being caught and bowled by Broderick. John Croasdale received applause from both on and off the pitch as he retired on 25 runs. Rohan Chauhan then performed the same feat, with his proud parents watching. It had been an impressive all-round performance from Rohan: two overs, one for eight, as well as 25 not out. The selector has taken note! Both John and Rohan had sent the ball bouncing over the ropes with ease. John’s impressive pull for six was particularly memorable.
Harry Hammond added another eleven to the score with seven singles and a well-timed four, until Karim Naaman broke his stumps. Eduardo Martin scored seven, including a long-boundary six, and Matt Croft made three before Amrit sent his bails flying. Youth and experience, Rohil Shah and Chris Padwick respectively, calmed down the rampant 'Hamians, who were sensing potential victory. Rohil showed steely nerves for his five, and Chris Padwick took his score to five by hitting the two runs required for victory. It was elbows all round and applause from both sets of supporters.
So, what does this all mean? Karim Naaman had reminded everyone before the game of the current rules for playing matches safely, and everyone had followed them. But what else? With a beer in one hand and a slice of post-match pizza in the other, Karim also reminded everyone of what we were playing for: the Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2020. We had been honouring the memory of a stalwart of both Nottinghamians Rugby Football Club and the Old Nottinghamians’ Society. Martin had represented everything good about both clubs: good sportsmanship, good fellowship, fair play, camaraderie and, above all, enjoyment with friends.
And that is exactly what we achieved on Thursday evening. As the sun set over the City of Nottingham, John Coates ON, a long-term friend of Martin, presented the Trophy to the Captain of the winning team. Martin would certainly have enjoyed and approved of the events of the evening. We raised numerous glasses in his honour and ceremoniously emptied the barrel.
Well done to both the ONs' Phoenix XI and the 'Hamians!
Phoenix XI Captain & Fixture Secretary, Team Manager, Selector, Kit Man, Head of Post-match Catering, Scorer, Photographer and Media Manager
...and well done to you, Jonathan!