British Club have been travelling from Bangkok to play Gymkhana Club for 35 years now but never can such a day of drama hav ever unfolded in quite such incredible fashion. Gymkhana Club won the prestigious Dick Wood Cup for the seventh year in succession after posting an impressive total of 211 in 30 overs but that was by no means the whole story.
It was a historic day in many ways as even before the first ball was bowled we had the start of an international croquet tournament that continues until Thursday. This soon seemed highly appropriate as we then had the re-enacting of the investiture of a Knight of the Realm.
Sir Nicholas White had been knighted in the New Year Honours List for his outstanding work in the field of tropical diseases and his team-mates who always enjoy dressing up when they come to Chiang Mai donned their costumes and unsheathed their swords to honour their distinguished friend. As Jack Dunford later put it the new knight had been rewarded by the queen for NOT finding a cure for malaria.
The cricket finally got underway and Gymkhana's openers quickly did their job by getting out so the top-class middle-order could score the necessary runs, but attention then turned to activities off the field as Gymkhana's management chose this moment to call in the tree-fellers to cut down several large overhanging branches.
Was this because the Men in White were in the field or was it connected to the presence of a Knight of the Realm who had certain feudal rights over local timber? We will never know and as the home side's total mounted impressively after play resumed attention turned to a wounded squirrel which had fallen out of the tree.
Even Sir Nicholas was unable to provide treatment on the field so the lady scorers showing great compassion disappeared with the squirrel to get the best medical care available at Chiang Mai University. Locky stepped into the breach to continue with the scoring and the juniors helped with the scoreboard as Richard Cowles and Chris Coombes both retired on reaching 50s and Matt Bray made an unbeaten 44.
With the squirrel safely delivered to hospital Puy was back to resume scoring duties and we could at last fully concentrate on the cricket which saw an intriguing battle between two 70-year-olds as Eddie Joyner bowled to Sir Nicholas. It was a return to the days of amateur against professional as the wily bowler tried to dismiss the classical batsman only to be stroked around the ground.
Eddie finally struck with the last ball of his fifth over as he beat the Knight's defensive stroke but Sir Nicholas had made a most elegant 33 in an opening stand of 53 with John Moss. Things largely went downhill from there as JD, who had been the man who had found the injured squirrel, took 3 for 15.
News then came through that the squirrel had been beyond help at the hospital so Puy was understandably anxious to go to rescue her daughter now left alone with a dead animal. Locky was recalled to the Match Box and could only watch in disbelief as Tom Salusbury picked up four wickets in three overs as the rabbits had no answer to his venomous donkey drops.
Luckily for British Club the ferrets were there to restore order and there was an eleventh wicket partnership of 25 to raise the total to 142 and take the innings into the 29th over. Gymkhana Club had duly retained the Dick Wood Cup by the margin of 69 runs but the festivities were by no means over.
Sir Nicholas presided over a fines sessions with players, officials and the remaining spectators required to take their vodka and pay homage to the Knight of the Realm with the customary curtsy. The normal hilarity of this special occasion was interrupted for a minute's silence for the passing of the squirrel and for Captain Pete Warner to receive the Dick Wood Cup once more.
It was only appropriate that the new knight himself was named as British Club's player of the match for not only scoring 33 runs but also bowling a maiden over. The Age of Chivalry is alive and well at Chiengmai Gymkhana Club. Monty Python would no doubt approve as well.
Gymkhana Club 211 for 5 (30 overs)
Richard Cowles 54*, Chris Coombes 50*, Matt Bray 44*; Ben Eastwell 2 for 22
British Club 142 (28.4 overs)
Gymkhana Club won by 69 runs
Sir Nicholas White 33, John Moss 21; Jon Danby 3 for 15, Tom Salusbury 4 for 25