Like policemen, and increasingly, like high court judges and members of the House of Lord’s, teachers appear to be getting younger. A small group of them awaited on one of the school’s fine pitches, this one the nearest to Hammersmith Bridge, the river washing past one end and some genteel apartments overlooking the other.
One advantage age might offer is experience, but having won the toss and elected to bat, Campbell, in Brearley rather than Jardine mode, agreed with an airy waft to St Paul’s request to go in themselves, as only seven of their players had showed up by start time. It was an ageless gesture that would be ruthlessly exploited by cruel youth.
The trickle of St Paul’s players just about kept pace with the fall of wickets, early strikes from the excellent Campbell and Burns, then one from Duff, and two from the astonishing Waheed Mirza, bowling for the first time in a year. St Paul’s 115 owed almost everything to Walter, a tall and high-class opener who imprinted the maker’s name on a succession field-puncturing drives on his way to 71. The ball that Waheed spun past him had him thumping a bat disconsolately into the turf, testament to the bowler’s skill.
Campbell’s generosity extended far beyond the toss. He jogged out happily to field for St Paul’s, burying his weird mind-game further in their psyches by taking a running catch to dismiss Dan Norcross, a Rathbones moment for the ages that Norcross spent an age describing and moaning about on TMS a couple of days later, as Alec Stewart pretended to sympathise.
Matt Thacker and Vas Khan took hold of the game in a partnership that seemed en route to settling things until Thacker was bowled and Khan walked past one and suddenly it was late, far later than you think, and dark too. St Paul’s began banging it in short in the gloaming and the Authors fell away, seven runs adrift.
St Paul’s 115-8 (Walter 71, Campbell 2-12, Waheed 2-30); Authors 108-6 (Khan 29, Thacker 24, Walter 1-24). St Pauls’ won by seven runs.
Rathbones moment: Dan Norcross describing his dismissal on TMS.