Returning from Talitha this morning and flying over the green fields of the south coast, thoughts of course turn to cricket and, in particular, how Talitha made their own version.
Every yacht can offer all the watertoys. Some have a basketball hoop ( and circling tender for ball retrieval ). They might even have a goal or a net for a bit of jury-rigged football or tennis. But it’s a safe bet that only Talitha can boast regular cricket matches with a set of rules carefully crafted and refined over the years with a subtlety and diligence of which the MCC might be proud.
Right from her first days of re-entering service in 1994 after her Bannenberg-designed refit at DML, Talitha boasted several keen cricketers amongst her crew – mainly English, but boosted by a sprinkling of Aussies, forced to play harmoniously with their auld enemy. With a cricket-mad Owner in the form of Paul Getty ( owner of his own Test-standard ground in the English countryside, and cricket bible Wisden for good measure ) all the ingredients were in place for cricket to thrive on board. And so it proved : the aft deck, scattered with features such as skylights, gratings, capstans and stairs, was transformed into a cricketing arena of some intensity. Rules were developed to take account of deflections, rebounds and, the ultimate sin, a heaved shot overboard (unless first touching a fielder in which case it was not out, or if played by a Lady Batsman in which case she was only half out ). Crew played. Guests played. The Owners played. A former Prime Minister played with some skill. Oh yes.
Depending on the variant of the game at the time, a wicket was carefully taped out on the heavily varnished doors to the Main Saloon ( using the correct grade of non-marking tape of course ). Or a fire extinguisher was placed carefully on centreline. Fielders took their positions, defending fairleads, looking for edges or glances and maybe a bit of turn from the deck. Cricketing and yachting etiquette were always observed and, harking back to the innocent age of Talitha’s original launch, batsmen could be out LBW, but only at their own voluntary discretion. Naturally, they would walk without demur.
Matches continue regularly to this day. Capt Guy Morrall tops the averages, as indeed he should after so many years at the helm, and crease.
How we all wish that the “Not out first ball” rule applied on land, or indeed in life.