Best Skill: Resplendent cover drive (in the 20th over)
Best Advice: “Remember the leave shot” (whether for the recipient’s benefit or to prolong Stu’s own innings when batting with the lower order)
Dislikes: Pretending he enjoys his brother scoring runs and taking wickets. Travelling
Enjoys: Wafting and bowling short to create the illusion he is quick. Pretending he isn’t posh.
Favourite Drink: Ginger beer/Heineken Zero
Greatest Moments: Many centuries and fine innings over the years
Worst Moments: Dropping catches off his brother’s bowling
Marble Hill’s loss will be Yorkshire’s gain. As the sodden grass pitches and coal-based diet of the North beckon; Stuart will be moving up-country in August. He has been one of the most regular and stand-out performers for Crossbats over the past few years; as long as you don’t count tours or most away fixtures. It’s not just the volume of runs but the style and grace with which they have been accumulated over his time at the club. In fact, Stu generally only gets out when attempting something violent and across the line; such is the alien nature of this approach. The impending loss will surely be felt most by the aesthetes amongst the club membership (of which there must be at least a couple). Crossbatters will be left wondering when they will next see a textbook forward defensive lunge with the pose held just a little bit too long. As opposed to most, when batting, occasionally, if you squint a little, he could be mistaken for an actual cricket player. Either that or a cast member in Downton Abbey playing the part of a sinister toff from the Big House abusing the serfs that have been given the privilege to bowl to him.
Whilst laconic stroke play has been the calling card of the Teddington Gower, Stu has also made an impact with his rhythmical left arm wobble seamers and occasional catch of the season contenders. The older Skinner brother also specialises in a niche run-out technique which involves angrily wearing down a batting partner with quick ones and twos before delivering the coup de grâce to an exhausted non-striker. One of the game’s thinkers and natural communicators, team mates have benefited over the years from Stu’s directions and advice in the field – when a high ball goes up, Stu can often be heard shouting “you’ve got this” and inevitably the other fielder will (in some way or the other).
With his steely resolve and proclivity for playing in foul weather conditions, his move seems destined to be a success. Sure to enjoy the low-strength flat beer on offer in God’s own country, Stu departs the Crossbat’s fold for now but we all have a sneaking suspicion he’ll be back for the occasional game when he tires of curd tarts and needs a little sunlight, especially as he’s not really built for rugby league. Si’thi’