Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2021

Jonathan Hammond (ON 1975-85) reports on the Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2021 match....

I think we have a new weather phenomenon: Phoenix Skies. After the miserable weather of the previous couple of weeks, on the morning of Thursday 1st July the clouds parted and the sun broke free. The temperature grew throughout the day.

The Phoenix XI were taking to the field at Adbolton for the first time in almost a year. 'Hamians RFC were the opposition, challenging the holders for the Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2021. The captains, Jonathan Hammond and Karim Naaman, shared one of the highest tosses seen for many a year. When the coin eventually came back to earth, Jonathan elected to bat.

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The Skippers

Representing the Phoenix XI were: Giles Bee, David Axtell, Nigel Hampson, Will Woodward, William Vickerstaff (son of groundskeeper and Honorary ON Dave Vickerstaff), Jonathan Hammond, Andy Murdy, Steve Gough, Tom Howard and Liam Harrison.

Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2021

Matt Nixon of 'Hamians bowled the first ball of the 2021 Phoenix season. A wide. James Toon and Andy Carey ran in next, without making a breakthrough. The batsmen were finding their feet and the pace of the pitch. Richard Cooper’s tight bowling in the fourth over forced a risky single. Giles Bee, run out. The following over also saw the departure of David Axtell, as a slower ball from Gollum surprised everyone.

Will Woodward’s quick single was all he could contribute. A cover drive gave Cooper an easy catch off Naaman’s bowling. Vickerstaff arrived and the scoreboard rattled away with 4s and 6s off the young man’s bat. The fielders struggled to know where to stand to defend such an array of shots. Nigel Hampson was enjoying his ringside view from the bowler’s end.

'Hamians bowlers Clulow, O’Malley, Dean and Amrit were all dispatched to different parts of the ground. Nixon then took the ball again and claimed the wicket of Hampson with a well-taken catch by Toon. Hammond joined Vickerstaff in the middle and both continued to pile on the runs with 4s and 6s (it was too warm to run!). Vickerstaff, on 24, confirmed his outstanding performance with a 6 to take him to 30 and enforced retirement.

Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2021

The streamline looks and youthful physique of Vickerstaff were replaced by the equally individual silhouette of Andy Murdy. With the score now over 100, he strode out to continue the onslaught. Hammond scored a boundary off the pacey O'Malley, plus a single. A slower one from O’Malley was then Murdy’s nemesis. Bowled off stump.

O’Malley finished his over by removing Gough’s middle stump. Hammond performed his obligatory pull to leg off Toon, the ball stumbling towards mid-wicket. Toon’s next ball took Howard’s stumps. The fielding side sensed an early wrapping-up of the Phoenix innings with 4 overs to go. Harrison went in, the hopes of the Phoenix on his shoulders. Hammond reached the 25 run retirement target, but with no batsman left, he stayed in. Harrison survived three more exocets, before striking out with a wayward shot straight into the open hands of Toon.

Vickerstaff returned to the crease and 16 more runs were added, only 1 coming from Hammond's bat, despite five attempted pulls to leg. 'Hamians concluded their allocated overs and the not out batsmen carried their bats to rapturous applause. The Phoenix total:147 runs.

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The Pavilion

'Hamians openers Andy Carey and Richard Clay were met with perfect line and length bowling from Axtell, conceding only two runs off his over. Hampson's fourth ball took the bails of Clay for 2. The required run rate rose sharply as very few runs were scored off the bowling of Bee and Howard. The champagne moment of the match occurred in the next over. Richard Cooper clipped Gough’s second ball to leg, whereupon Vickerstaff's outstretched hand plucked the ball from the air when a boundary seemed the most obvious outcome.

Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2021

Cooper was replaced by Craig Dean and, retiring on 26, Carey by Amrit. With each wide and no ball forfeiting two runs, the extras tally was increasing. Then David Axtell was back in the attack, conceding only 3 from his second and final over. His first ball will long be remembered for the caught and bowled removal of Dean. The final ball of his over clean bowled a frustrated Toon. Figures of 2 for 5 should secure a further appearance for the Phoenix XI.

Karim Naaman then joined the battle. The confident Amrit was adding singles to the score, but was it to be enough? The required rate was rising. Hampson showed his experience and precision, with a single and five dots from his over. Figures of 1 for 2. He and Axtell were showing the youngsters how to do it.

Bee and Howard both bowled tidy second overs. Gough did the same and took the wicket of Naaman, caught by Bee, trying to drive over mid-off. Clay, who had batted for the 'Hamians, but was needed as a 10th bowler, offered deceptively slow pace and somewhat wide deliveries, until one stayed straight and took Amrit's middle stump. Things were looking bleak for 'Hamians.

Clulow had scored only 4 when Bee took another catch off the bowling of Vickerstaff. With only two overs to go, there was only going to be one winner. O’Malley swung away with good humour, before being run out for 0. Nixon, scoring a creditable 9, and Gollum were not out at the end. 'Hamians total: 127. Thus, the Phoenix XI retained the Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy.

Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2021

With Covid-compliant fist-bumps and elbow-knocks, the teams congratulated each other as stumps were drawn in glorious sunshine at 8.35pm. The match had been played, once again, in a friendly atmosphere of camaraderie that Martin would have appreciated. The post-match pizzas and two barrels of beers were consumed by two teams who had enjoyed both the battle and the company of the other. What better way of spending a summer evening can there be?

John Coates, chair of the Ground Management Committee, spoke about the reason why we were all gathered. Not only for the match, the banter, the fellowship, the challenge, but in memory of one of our own, who gave so much to the ONs' Society and the Rugby Club. One who is still sorely missed by all those who had the pleasure of meeting him.

Andy Murdy was both camera operator and commentator for the live link broadcast to the wider world. Facebook messages came in from Old Nottinghamians spread far and wide. Tony Pearce, George Prokopa, Iain Hardiker, Andy Sullivan, Jane Bramley, Richard Hayes, to name but a few. There are plans for a live feed of the next match. Details of how to follow the action will be posted in the ONs' Society Facebook group. 6.00pm on Thursday 22nd July is when the Phoenix XI will take on the Nottinghamshire Law Society. Please do come down and support us as we challenge for the Alan Wheelhouse Trophy. Beer and food will be available.

Jonathan Hammond
Captain, the Old Nottinghamians’ Phoenix XI

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Karim and Martin, 2018

Martin Wynne-Jones Trophy 2021