Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The Fathers And Sons 2007 Cotswolds Cricket Affair truly was one to remember, despite involving very little actual cricket. Of eight scheduled fixtures only two were played, the other six falling victim to a combination of a shortage of opposition team members and an over-abundance of rain (more of which later). When we did get out onto the field, the FAS machine slipped nicely into top gear, thrashing Temple Grafton and The Adastrians by, respectively, 109 and 89 runs. Together with a comfortable 23-run victory against Remnants in the pre-Affair flirtation this meant that, for the first time in its 26 year history, FAS had gone through a season undefeated.
Indeed the stiffest opposition we faced all week was the aforementioned rain which, on the Friday, was so severe that Mill Dene suffered serious flood damage: the basements were inundated; the tasteful brown TV room carpet was, happily, wrecked beyond repair; and the dining room, which was about two feet below the water level at one point, was the scene of the best FAS team performance of the week. For about five hours on the Friday evening a steady rota of tourists swept, mopped and scooped the water away as they tried to keep pace with a flow of several litres a minute through the French doors, while the hardier souls set up make-shift flood walls on the patio and tested their brawn against the recalcitrant Sluice Gate Of Death. By about 8pm the majority opinion was that the battle had been lost, but then the waters began to recede, and Sarah Banner (who is presumably in some danger of becoming the future Mrs Henry Hall) and a scantily-clad Nick Houlder compiled the partnership of the day as they continued bailing until the room was dry once again.
For Baz and Wendy this hopefully meant one less room wrecked than they'd feared; for Sarah the reward was more tangible, and came in the form of the recently cast Hall/Houlder Memorial Trophy For Character Of The Tour. The award was presented later the same evening in the post-battle atmosphere of the tour dinner which, whilst not on the same scale as last year's Concert For Africa, was another lavish affair with a hog roast and cabaret entertainment from a prodigiously talented quartet of opera graduates. The highlight of their set was the second rendition of `It Sucks To Be Me' from Avenue Q, with steadily increasing audience participation as we tried to assert that it sucked to be, variously, Cliff, Stoney, Harry, Stoney, the performers themselves (presumably due to having to sing for such a raucous bunch) and ginger (a condition with which Jamie Scott bizarrely believes himself to be afflicted).
The evening's thank-yous were particularly heart-felt, given that, even as we wined and dined, the water was still surging through parts of the house that Baz and Wendy make into a home for all of us each July. And whilst at the time it might have seemed cruel that the rain came in the week of the tour, the damage would presumably have been far greater if not for the presence in the house of two dozen near-professional athletes in peak physical condition.
The rain also made the tour awards (which were, due to the exceptional circumstances, decided upon by committee) something of an anti-climax. Cliff Dare, for example, was an unbackable favourite for best captain on the grounds that he'd led the side in all three completed games (although there was a late run on Harry Houlder for leading his "side"/brother to victory in Thursday's hastily organised double-wicket competition). The field for the all-rounder's award was only slightly more open, with just seven players having both batted and bowled, but nobody could match Gorgeous "George" Houghton's effort of scoring a half-century in his one innings and getting a wicket with his one ball. The bowling was a predictably predictable victory for Joe White - aside from the fact he'd won the last six times, it's pretty hard to argue with cumulative figures of 7/56, even if Sasha Barras made a pretty good rebuttle with 5/59. The batting was trickier, with four tourists making half centuries; in the end Chris Barras's superb 59 against The Adastrians won the day, although Jamie Houlder (166 runs at 83.00) can - and apparently does - count himself unlucky not to have won for the third year in a row. It was a similar - well, identical, really - story with the wicket-keeping award: Jamie Houlder was superb; Chris Barras was superber. Not that you should feel too sorry for Jamie - aside from winning multiple awards in each of the last two years, his demotion from 'keeper to mere out-fielder in the game against The Adastrians was sufficiently successful for him to snare the fielding award.
The highlight of the Awards Committee meeting was was the discussion about the most improved young player because, for once, there was one - a discussion, that is - with two players eligible this time 'round. Freddie Burnet made a strong case with his bowling figures of 4/24, but in the end it went to Sasha Barras, who thus completed a rather good night for his family.
And it was appropriate that we ended by looking forward, as it seemed everyone was left hoping that this year was an anomoly, even if some bright sparks tempted fate by suggesting next year's tour be named The Paddle or The Snorkel or The Ark or, punningly, The Bail or The Carry On . . . well, you get the drift.