The 2018 Cotswold Carousal

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

The 2018 Cotswold Carousal (or "Carousel" if the wording on the trophies were to be considered canonical) was another joyous escape from the real world, and for the four days of the tour proper (Sunday, July 8, to Wednesday, July 11) all that existed was fried breakfasts, long warm evenings at the Mill, and of course cricket, which had most definitely come home. The highpoint was the final evening when, after a great win against the Royal Marines, we all packed into the sitting room at Mill Dene to watch England's World Cup semi-final against Croatia. Such was the atmosphere that even the eventual 1-2 defeat didn't really dampen the mood, and we ended up helping Pete Watkins belt out classic rock hits 'til about 3am, safe in the knowledge there was no fixture the next day.

On field we won 3 and lost 2 limited overs games, and had predictably high-scoring draws in the two declaration games; there was also an internal match between the football-themed It's Coming Home and the Gym Selfie Wankers, the latter named in honour of James Houlder's perpetually visible torso. Ignoring the pre-Carousal match against Remnants (largely on the grounds that most of us did, only half a dozen actual tourists turning up to play), our only loss was to the previously unknown quantity of Slaughters United CC. Their top order were so dominant in the chase of our sub-par total that their captain simultaneously retired both rampaging batsmen before either had reached fifty; this was hard not to read as a grave insult, and it seems safe to assume that a more cutthroat approach will be adopted when we play them next year. Conversely, our wins against Bibury and Fladbury were sufficiently comfortable that even sharing the bowling around couldn't disguise the fact that the games were over as contests early in the second innings - something which also appeared to be true when the Royal Marines (well, really First Class bowler Peter Turnbull) reduced us to 37/7 in our eventually successful pursuit of their total of 148.

Harry Houlder's efforts in that game (a good but unlucky spell of 0/39, which included several near/dropped chances, a class catch, and a match-winning innings of 62*) were enough to earn him the title of best all-rounder, albeit not on the night - someone had decided to use that trophy glass to drown their sorrows after the football and so it was mistakenly assumed that no such award was to be made. All the other glasses were present and correct, however, and they went to largely predictable recipients. The two obvious candidates for best batsman were Sasha Barras and Tom "Devon" Reynolds, who both hit centuries against the Bunnies on their way to what is believed to be an FAS record partnership of 226; but Sasha didn't get to bat again on tour, whereas Tom also made a good 48 against Temple Grafton, which took him to a tour-high 195 runs at 48.75 and sealed the deal. Such was its impact on the day of the end-of-tour dinner that it would have been tempting to give the best bowler award to Zoe Dare for dismissing the heart of the Marines' powerhouse middle order, but of course it's really a sustained contribution that's needed here, and so instead it went to the bowler who took the most wickets (8 at 20.38): Zoe Dare. (Honorable mention to her cousin Jamie, however, who took 7 at 16.14, and ex-batsman James Wyatt, who took 6 at 23.83.) The clear fielder of the tour was Rufus Dennis, who repeatedly moved into position to take difficult chances, only to then drop what he'd converted into sitters - but the title of the award is best fielder, so it had to go elsewhere. James Houlder overcame the handicap of having to wear a shirt to make some great catches and stops in the internal game, but in the end he was shaded by his brother Harry's consistently high standards - other than Bibury on a hazy Sunday afternoon, YouTube videos of Ricky Ponting are the only place you can see a full-length diving stop followed up by middle stump being uprooted by a lightning throw. And, besides, Jimmy had the best wicket-keeper award sewn up for the 8th time - he's now within striking distance of the officially retired Chris Barras's 11 awards. At the other end of the experience spectrum, the most-improved young player went to possibly the only person on tour who was absolutely and utterly ineligible: Alex Grubb. While he bowled beautifully in the internal game, extracting prodigious swing thanks to his velociraptor-style wrist position, he hadn't played for FAS previously, so it's pure speculation that he's improved - for all we know he's gotten worse since last year. Alex was also a contender for character of the tour, starting from his first appearance on a team sheet as "A Grub", which most of us took to be yet another obscure tour nickname. He also managed to revolutionise the role of umpiring, largely delegating the actual decision making to whichever of the bowler or non-striker could most conveniently be asked about what had happened; and on the few occasions when he did opt to make a call of his own volition, it was typically delayed until just before the next delivery was about to be bowled and indiciated with the minimum necessary movement (e.g., the tradtional pose with arms outstretched for a wide was reduced to something more like the sort of shrug one typically gives when asked for spare change on the street). And where once "feeling a little grubby" was something all of us were resigned to by the end of the tour, this year it was something decidedly more aspirational, as well as being a matter of personal taste. But, in the end, the character of the tour went to Lucy Stretton, perhaps as the canonical representative of the swarm of teenaged girls who gave the Carousal a more feminine touch than we're used to. Joe, Daniel and various Reynolds hence found themselves killing time during the internal game being educated in the distinctions between shampoo and conditioner: apparently it's no use washing your hair with the latter if the former has run out; and using either is even less useful if your hair has run out.

It's not clear that personal grooming tutorials were quite what Baz had in mind when he set up FAS in the '80s, but the fact remains that 40+ plus people had a fantastic week doing what he loved most. Thanks to all the hard work of Cliff and Joss (and new selector-in-chief Hal), along with the indefatigable efforts of Wendy and Vicky, FAS continues to flourish, which is probably the best possible tribute to Baz's memory.