Scheduled 36, Played 30, Won 13, Lost 11, Drawn 5, Abandoned as a draw 1, Cancelled: 6
Number who played for the Club: 164
Hundreds for IZ:
5 – Harry Fisher (Si Bene): 103* vs Eton, 100* vs Harrow Wanderers, 111* vs IZ Australia, 119* vs Hurlingham, 108 vs Earl of Carnarvon’s XI
2 – James Hill: 102* vs Guards CC, 110 vs Hurlingham (as well as 94* in the second innings)
1 – Matthew Brooks 126 vs South Wales Hunts
Will Gubbins 112* vs Stragglers of Asia,
Will Cunliffe 122 vs Guards CC
Teddy James 106 vs The Rifles CC
Michael Blackiston-Houston (Si Bene) 100* vs Old Amplefordians
5 wickets or more for IZ:
Dominic Tuohey 7-58 vs South Wales Hunts
Max Loup (Si Bene) 5-33 vs Sir John Starkey’s XI
Ed Moore 5-21 vs Radley Rangers
Christian Hollingworth 5-19 vs Stragglers of Asia
2023 was a year, despite the poor weather during the height of summer, in which more Zingari and Si Benes played for the Club than ever before (probably). We also had a record number of fixtures scheduled (again, probably), thanks to our inventive and tireless Fixtures Secretary Oliver Langton, albeit we lost six to the weather. The number of games played was boosted by the growth of ‘Over Forties’ fixtures (four this year), most of which were, by design, afternoon affairs, for those closer to the Asylum than to their Si Bene days. Alasdair Maclay has been a superb ring leader in this regard.
Results were mixed – slightly more victories than defeats – although the number of victories is not the sole gauge of whether a season is deemed to be ‘good’, of course, but we are first and foremost a cricket club. The schools proved tough opposition for us once again: we were skittled by two exceptional schoolboy fast bowlers at Gresham’s and Winchester (look out for the names of Ben Panter and Sebastian Morgan on the Notts and Hants books respectively), but we put in decent performances against the old foe of Eton and Harrow (the latter in near artic conditions).
Notable other fixtures included a widely enjoyed weekend in and around Edinburgh “Out of Darkness, Through Fire into …Scotland”), organised by James Munro with key logistical support from Olly Langton and the Belhaven Hill School facilities (beds, mini buses…). The tour report (see the website) must be read for more details, or indeed 26 June edition of Country Life for the report of our match on the beach at Elie, against the Ship Inn XI, to which IZ travelled by sea (see attached photograph).
In other travels, the Club had a weekend in North Yorkshire, playing the Old Amplefordians at Ampleforth, hosted and organised by Mungo Fawcett. We have struggled to find a ground to play the OAs in recent years, which threatened this fixture, against a very important and much cherished group within our ranks, so the fact that the game and weekend was such a success, and will be continued, is wonderful. Slightly further south, in a throwback to more carefree and elegant days, Sir John Starkey had the whole IZ team and WAGS to stay and party at Norwood Park, in Nottinghamshire (a fixture that has been running for 45 year) for his Starkey family “Cousinarde”. The scores on the pitch were not high the following day.
After last year’s tie, one felt our two-day encounter at Hurlingham could not produce any more drama this year. In the event it did: we chased 261 to win in the second innings, with Si Bene Harry Fisher (more on him later) making a hundred and James Hill following up his first innings ton, with 94* in stand of 180. Fisher was, I am reliably informed, last to bed after the day one dinner, too. Proper.
There was less revelry and indeed fewer runs at Arundel for our fixture, in early July, against our close cousins IZ Australia. On the pitch, we drew with the tourist’s last pair just about holding out to Radleian spin twins Langton and Hollingworth. Harry Fisher’s hundred was the stand out innings of the match, on a tricky pitch. Off the pitch we had a super lunch (speeches from Governor IZ and President IZA) and post-match drinks, where relationships formed from past tours were rekindled. Our bond remains strong.
Individually, Si Bene Harry Fisher had the most extraordinary season, in scoring 601 runs in 7 innings at an average of 150, including 5 hundreds. This must be a record for a Si Bene, indeed 5 hundreds in a season is probably an IZ record too. James Hill and Will Cunliffe, both New Members, also scored heavily. The wickets were rather more evenly spread, but our leading bowlers were all spinners, with the old pro SLA Dominic Tuohey taking a wily 7 for 58 in the victory over the South Wales Hunts – the best figures recorded for a number of years.
Lastly, despite his desire to leave the crease for the last time quietly, a mention must be made of Bill Holland announcing his elevation to the Asylum. He batted beautifully for 41 at Highclere and then left the field to a guard of honour. Although we are not a club who worries too much about statistics, his 19 hundreds for IZ is (probably) a record, and he has been the stand out batsman in the Club for a generation and more; in terms of runs scored, I suspect he has also scored more than any other in our history. He continues to play a huge part in the running of IZ, as Treasurer, and from what we have seen this year, he is leaving IZ batting is good hands.
Finally, I must mention our wonderful officials, without whom none of us would make it onto the pitch. Ian Humphrey has co-ordinated our umpires and scorers since Brian Wilson retired some years ago and is retiring himself this year. His contribution has been magnificent. Mike Ablett now cares for his wife full time, but in an extraordinary act of kindness, continues to put together all our statistics. Heartfelt thanks to both of them.
Players want to play and oppositions seemingly want to play against us. The appeal of all day declaration cricket appears to be undimmed, but we must guard against complacency: match officials are becoming harder to come by, ground availability, for when we play fellow wandering sides, is tighter and the cost of a day’s cricket has risen alarmingly – in line with everything else – over the past three or four years. Match fees are under pressure and the Club cannot afford to continue to subsidise in the way that it currently does. We must be at our inventive and resourceful best, in keeping with our gypsy heritage, of course!
Keep Your Temper, Keep Your Promise, Keep Your Wicket Up.
H C Steel