Stonor 155 -6 dec
WCC 116 - 9
Match drawn

Twenty-six years of blinkered selectorial thinking ended for the Weekenders last week with the elevation to the England one-day squad of Jim Troughton, son of former skipper David.  Given that our last contact with David was a year ago when he politely asked to be taken off the email list, our share of the glory can only be limited. But any connection with cricketing success, however tenuous, must be seized upon as we complete our ninth month without a win. 

It will be interesting to see how much of the Weekender ethos Troughton junior absorbed as he toddled about at our home games at Shenley in the early eighties.  But if, in a couple of weeks, a bloke in black trainers comes out to bat against Pakistan wearing a white tee-shirt with crisps down the front and has a big mow at his first ball we will all of us be able to take quiet pride. 

Unless of course Jim has already sent an email to David Graveney saying he's not coming because he doesn't like playing cricket any more. Implausible though it may seem, this was the astonishing reason given last week by experienced pace-ace Fergus Webster. Ashen-faced match manager Hargroves and officers of the club tried everything to rescue the talented vegetarian from his personal wilderness but reluctantly concluded there was no more to be done - apart from having to phone round and get someone else of course. 

Weekenders attending a sumptuous free dinner in honour of Dennis Lillee at the Café Royal on Thursday were quick to approach Webster's natural replacement. When the moustachioed destroyer of '74/'75 lamely pleaded a prior engagement quite a few illusions were shattered. Angus Fraser was also considered but after hearing his speech we gave the nod to yet another pissed up Aussie lawyer, Laurence, who was more fun than Gus and on whose big-heartedness we were prepared to take a gamble. When Chris Johnstone produced his mate Stew on Friday morning we were up to eleven and handily placed to contest any equity lawsuits that might arise during the game. 

Stonor batted first and faced another tidy toad from PJ Harvey, whose luck must surely change before long, followed by a promising debut trundle from Stew. Simmonds reeled off seven testing overs while Douglas did incalculable harm to his career by bowling the Guardian Sports Correspondent Paul Kelso for nought.  The seasoned seamer's desperate teatime search for examples of his colleague's work on which to heap sycophantic praise  was a pitiful spectacle.  d'Inverno produced a by-no-means-untidy 1.2 over spell before staggering off in pain with a pulled intercostal muscle. His departure heralded the welcome return of Blair to third-man duties at both ends.  Blair's status as team sports icon is now under threat from Stew who, it later emerged, has won national plaudits for his kickboxing.

The Weekenders replied and the top order of Hogben, Mike Harvey and Lyons provided the solid base sorely lacking in recent weeks.  Hogben's 32 (the highest score of the season so far) contained a 6 off a gentle push to extra-cover, two runs being completed before the wild overthrow reached the boundary.  Lyons pugnacious 31 also included a freebie four from an overzealously retrieved defensive prod.

Aussie lawyers Johnstone and PJ Harvey umpired brilliantly, responding to the frustrated Stonor bowlers' appeals with a specially drafted seventeen-page letter and an invoice for twenty grand.

But at 96 for 3 the red kites circled low overhead in anticipation of an imminent Weekenders collapse. Absurd rumours about the middle order containing WMD proved groundless, and the traffic to and from the pavilion was as hectic, smoky and stuttering as the vintage Volkswagen rally taking place across the valley.

Acting captain Simmonds dug in but after Douglas perished in a ludicrous attempt to give Paul Kelso an easy catch the match was lost.

Or was it?

Tottering painfully down the pavilion steps, accompanied by his runner and legal representative, was last batsman Captain Niggle himself - Mark d'Inverno.

With five overs left the two skippers, one in agony and the other in serious trouble with the BBC for being late for his editorial night shift, played out time.  The final score shattered by two runs our previous best of 114 against Southgate.  The Stonor website described the game as 'entertaining', and dignified our collapse with the word 'chase' so we may well have done enough to keep the fixture.

Thus ended a battling match-management spell from Hargroves to whom we are all indebted and who now hands over to Mike Freeman for the remainder of June.  But the funky physician's farewell fixture received a joyous coda when he returned on Sunday night to find an email from Webster, timed at 1.47pm, announcing he had faced his demons, rediscovered his love for the summer game and was ready to play. Welcome back Ferg.  Best of luck, Mike.

Stonor  155 off 40 overs
Douglas 13.4-2-30-5,  PJ Harvey 6-1-16-0, Stewart Coulson 7-0-38-0, 
Simmonds 7-0-29-0, d'Inverno 1.2-0-5-0, Hargroves 1-0-14-0, Lyons 4-1-16-1
Catch - Hargroves

WCC 116 for 9 off 43 overs 
Hogben 32, M Harvey 22, Lyons 31, Hargroves 7, Laurence Emmett 1, Johnstone 4, PJ Harvey 0, S. Coulson  0, Douglas 4,  Simmonds 1*, d'Inverno 1*

Debuts: S. Coulson, L. Emmett