The 2013 Hawd 'n Fawst

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

Thanks to possibly the most glorious weather of any FAS tour, the 2013 Hawd 'n Fawst went pretty close to living up to its name: certainly the wickets did, and as a result most fast bowling resulted in the ball being hit pretty hard. For once, none of our six fixtures were in any danger of being lost to rain, although in two cases we did flirt with losing the match: we were restricted to 97 in our pre-tour warm-up against Remnants, only for canny bowling and superb fielding to restrict them to four runs fewer; and Temple Grafton were cruising in their run chase before Cliff Dare put on the brakes with a critical spell of 4/34. That match finished up as a draw, as did our game with the Bunnies (although in that case just a few more overs would have allowed us to complete a pretty comfortable chase). Otherwise, it was pretty-much one-way traffic: Naunton were bundled out for 122; Fladbury were hit for 246/6 in 40 overs; and the Royal Marines' possibly over-generous declaration was overhauled with 23 balls still to come.

That run chase was spearheaded by probably the single most noteworthy individual performance on tour, as James Wyatt smacked 101* (off 86 balls), taking his FAS batting average to 154.00 and making him a shoe-in for the Batting Award. Given that he'd also taken 4 wickets at 12.25 he would have been a credible recipient of the All-rounder Award, but that went to Alex Stone (50 runs at 50.00 and 2 wickets at 15.00), who beat out stiff competition from Cliff Dare (105 runs undismissed and 6 wickets at 11.00) and Joe White (80 runs at 80.00 and 3 wickets at 19.33). The latter pair were also in the running for the Bowling Award, but this went to Zoe Dare, who took 2 wickets at 29.50 - the point being that the wickets in question were top-order Bunnies who'd previously smacked most members of the FAS attack around the park. Zoe wasn't the only third-generation Dare to make an impact, Hal Dare (with, it was claimed, the same chest measurement as Daniel Craig) bowling well and Jamie Dare (38 runs at 19.00 and 2 wickets at 38.00) being judged the Most Improved Young Player (or miyp).

The fact that we could successfully hand the new ball to the youngsters was in no small part due to the high standard of FAS fielding, with diving stops, energetic chases, huge throws and sure-handed catching. Of course this all starts with the wicket-keeping, which was as immaculate as ever, with Chris Barras and James Houlder maintaining their usual high standards, while newcomer Nigel Reynolds did superbly in the Naunton game, to the degree that he got the Wicket-keeping Award. Prima inter pares of the out-fielders was Harry Houlder, who can count himself most unlucky that there was no fielding award this year. His efforts even extended to field-placing, as highlighted by his inspired request to be posted at fly-slip when we were briefly under the pump in the Fladbury game - within an over their most dangerous batsman had been dismissed exactly as predicted, going for an expansive drive and getting a big edge that flew over the location of a conventional slip but straight into Harry's sure hands at fly. Even though he wasn't skippering he could have justfiably put himself forward for the Captaincy Award, although that went to the actual skipper that day, Daniel Mortlock - it's unlikely that this was for allowing the fly-slip, and it might have been for making the game against an out-numbered and out-gunned Fladbury enjoyable for both sides . . . but there's a nagging suspicion it was as much for his leading Remnants in their failed run chase against FAS as anything else.

On a more general level, the overall impression of the Hawd 'n Fawst was of days spent basking in the sun, fuelled by Pam's fantastic brunches and secure in the knowledge that the day would end with al fresco dining and one or two small drinks at Mill Dene. One moment which maybe sums things up was part-way through the run chase at Naunton - on a baking hot day people were either seeking shade or sun-baking, and everyone - both players and spectators - had one ear on the Wimbledon final, where Andy Murray was, unbelievably, serving for the match. Between balls the spectators were relaying the score to the players, who in turn reacted with resigned head-shakes upon being informed that Murray's 40-0 advantage had been negated and that he was now facing break-points. But then the moment came that he'd actually won Wimbledon, at which point the game - and, one suspects, the nation - stopped for a heart-felt round of applause. With all this occuring against a backdrop of Cotswolds stone houses and rolling hills it was hard not to feel very, very lucky . . .

. . . and very, very thankful once again to the Dare family, as Baz, Wendy, Cliff and Joss for making the tour happen and opening up their family home in such a generous fashion. This year was, with the exception of the phantom fire-engine, largely drama-free but such was Wendy's presence that she was named Character of the tour, as well as receiving a voucher for a luxury spa treatment as a measure of our appreciation. Baz, Cliff and Joss weren't forgotten, of course, getting some antique prints, and so hopefully they'll all be amenable to extending the FAS phenomenon into a 33rd year.