Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The thirtieth FAS tour, the 2011 Cotswolds Rumpus, went from Saturday, July 9 'til Tuesday, July 12, and was yet another club triumph, both on and off the pitch. We won the Cambridge warm-up game and all five tour fixtures handsomely; given that we last lost on tour back in 2006 it might seem easy to be blase about such a clean sweep, but Saturday's pursuit of the Bunnies' target came with just three balls to spare and the Sunday game against Naunton wasn't certain until Harry Houlder finished it off with a final over hat-trick. Bizarrely, Naunton had also finished their time in the field with a hat-trick; moreover, this ensured that they went to tea on a high despite having been hit around the ground (primarily by Will Taunton-Burnett, who'd smacked a joyous 85 off 56 balls). Given the possibility that our opponents might tire of being thumped on an annual basis it might be worth considering making this sort of thing club policy on diplomatic grounds.
This team dominance was made manifest at an individual level, too, at least for those players whose services were required: last year's best captain, James Houlder, didn't get to lead a game on tour, and neither did he put the gloves on; Chris Barras didn't get a bat, despite having made the club's third highest score a few years back; and various bowlers found themselves being taken off when they started taking too many wickets, with the result that Joe White sent down just 22 overs, as compared to the 44.5 he bowled in 2009. Still, that was enough for Joe to nab 5 wickets at 11.80 and the Best Bowler award, just edging out Cliff Dare (6 wickets at 9.83), Daniel Mortlock (5 wickets at 11.80) and Harry Houlder (5 wickets at 30.00). There was no room for debate about the Best Batsman, though: while Oliver Silverton's 110 (off 54 balls) in the warm-up match against Remnants was a suitably dramatic entree, it couldn't compare to James Wyatt's main course of 119 (off 91 balls) against the Bunnies, 115 against Fladbury and 32* (off 33 balls) against The Adastrians, a total of 266 runs at 133.00. Maybe even more remarkable was that James hence completed three consecutive centuries on tour, although hopefully he wasn't too disappointed to have seen his career FAS average plummet to 214.00. Despite the availability of such firepower, captaining the Rumpus's FAS elevens was often harder than ever, primarily due to the presence of self-appointed vice-captain Cliff Dare "suggesting" alternative field placings between most balls. Thus it made sense that the Best Captain award went to the man who was best able to exert their own influence; given that Cliff somehow induced sufficient doubt in Rob Harvey's mind that he turned down the plumbest of LBW appeals to Cliff's first ball against Temple Grafton, there was really no competition, and the award deservedly went to Chris Barras. Chris also walked the Best Wicket-Keeper award, completing 10 dismissals in his 3 matches, although special mention must be made of Mike Harrop's athletic diving stops in the Bunnies game and Rob Harvey bravely stopping Aussie pro Ben Stockton's 80 mph "effort balls" with his Pam-enhanced, er, lower torso. This sort of self-sacrifice was in evidence more broadly: Joss Dare used his metatarsal to keep out an in-swinging yorker at Naunton and hence had to spend the rest of the week on crutches; Will Taunton-Burnet sacrificed his knee as he dived full-length to try and take a potentially match-winning catch later in the same game; and Harry Houlder paid no thought to his damaged elbow as he kept firing in bullet-like throws from the boundary. Obviously the team cause was foremost in his mind, but fact that Sasha Barras now has at least as powerful a throwing arm might well have provided a little extra incentive. Certainly it was a two-horse race between Harry and Sasha for Best Fielder, the finishing line being our fielding innings at Blockley. Both were given gentle warm-ups as the seemingly overwhelmed Adastrian top-order swatted some fairly lame cuts first to Harry and then to Sasha. Hence a more difficult trial was arranged: first Sasha was fed a spiralling outfield catch which he made good ground to but then barely touched; the obvious implication is that the prize was Harry's. But then when Harry was pressented with a well-hit return catch a few balls later it too went to ground. In the end the only thing to split the two of them was the fact that Sahsa had dropped a catch of someone else's bowling, so Harry was, once again, Best Fielder. Such continuity is, presumably, a relief to Hal Dare, as it limits the amount of work needed to update his popular FAS player "top trumps" for next year. Maybe more problematic is that Hal now faces the ethical dilemma of whether to include himself, having been named the Most-Improved Young Player on the strength of his 2 Rumpus wickets, one of which was taken with his first ball of the tour when, having seen his uncle smashed out of the ground for three successive sixes, he was brought on and immediately had said batsman stumped. The other third-generation Dare to turn out for FAS, Jamie, also bowled well but impressed even more with his tireless fielding (both for and against us), and played possibly the shot of the tour, a dismissive swat through mid-wicket off Alex Stone that, if not quite a four, made it over at least one of the boundary lines that criss-crossed the Blockley out-field. On the strength of these indefatigable performances Jamie was awarded the coveted Character Of The Tour award - as much for having character as being one.
As has now become a firm tradition, the awards were given out at the end-of-tour FAS hog roast, this time held outside Mill Dene's garden room on the Tuesday. In between rousing sets of what must now be considered standards sung by Pete Watkins, the coveted vessels were distributed and, even more importantly, Dares Baz, Wendy, Cliff and Joss thanked for their incredible generosity in organising and hosting this week (well, four days) that we all treasure so much.