Swanbourne House XI vs Faire - Report
Faire made a rare trip north of the M25 to take on a Swanbourne House Headmaster’s XI brimming with a mixture of talent and experience. Logistical issues for the exceptional journey out to this beautiful prep-school led to a forced reshuffle in the Faire batting line-up after Stobbs min won the toss and chose to bat.
Ferdi Rex and Stobbs ma strode confidently to the crease only for both to return to the pavilion shortly afterwards, the latter committing the cardinal error of trying to slog a straight one down the ground, the former being unable to keep his hands off one that reared up off a fresh and wonderfully unpredictable wicket.
Dave Watkins and Rob Stephen added all-too-short cameos alongside a patient knock from Orlando Barley before Toby Joy and Ruairi Bowen found themselves at the crease together. With Faire looking at the prospect of a relatively mediocre total (at one stage it was 47-4), the two men produced a display of fireworks for which Faire have not always been renowned in their albeit short history. Joy fell just short of his first mini-bat after some brutal hitting, but there was no stopping Bowen who brought up his first Faire fifty with a six towards the pavilion. There was just time for a few brief elegant moments from Kanagasooriam with the bat before he fell on his sword and the innings drew to a close with Faire all out for 218.
After a wonderful dollop of prep school tea, battle was ready to recommence. Joy’s opening spell featured a consistent teasing line and length which the batsman found difficult to dispatch. At the other end Ed Stephenson initially found it an uphill struggle, with opener Angus Gent readily tucking into the short bowling, but he later returned with variations Sunil Narine would’ve been proud of.
Bowen’s searing pace earned him a wicket after Joy had taken an excellent catch off his own bowling, but leftie Gent was still at the crease severely ruffling Faire’s feathers with some mesmerising timing and exquisite striking of the ball. The skipper turned to his trusty magician James Kanagasooriam for some inspiration. Unfortunately however, this change in bowling coincided with Gent moving from seeing it like a football to something more like an inflatable beach ball. Wherever he put it Gent saw it early and hit it out the ground (even smashing a windscreen on one occasion), watching it closely as if he was out with his clubs at the driving range. Kanag however didn’t give up and claimed a couple of wickets, one of which reminded us all of young Shane at Old Trafford all those years ago as the ball turned a mile and hit off stump.
With Gent still at the crease, anything was possible for the Headmaster’s XI, but the breakthrough came from Rex towards the end of a strong spell as Gent went after one too many and was caught by Joy at fine leg. The HM’s XI kept pushing on but in the face of some accurate and disciplined bowling were unable to keep up with the required run rate. The innings finished with a flourish as Tim Stobbs, whom it could be said had endured a tough day out in the unforgiving Buckinghamshire sun, came on to bowl the final over and with his deceptive flight claimed the final wicket of the day to great acclaim.
Faire are incredibly grateful to the Headmaster and his XI for hosting the fixture and providing such a wonderful day out for all, and look forward to locking horns next year in the return fixture when we hope that a member of his staff won’t be so insolent as to give him out for a golden duck.