Olly continued his run as Sunday captain by losing the toss, unusually doing it on the boundary rather than in the middle, since both Captains had already checked the middle. Wantage were made to field, and as we went out Olly just about remembered to check how many overs we would be playing. The answer was 40, which was to prove his first mistake of the match, as we’ll see later.
Stewie, back from his trip around the world and therefore full of South American cricketing inspiration opened the bowling and kept a tight line, ably supported by Dave Henson, bowling his left arm seam up, mixed in with a couple of slower balls every over. They both took a wicket each and then kept things tight throughout their 8 over spells, as the Eynsham 3 and 4 scratched around but couldn’t quite get going or get out. Eventually Chief and Ren came on and between them they saw them off, bringing some broad-shouldered youngsters in who had good eyes, varying techniques but generally the same results as Ren in particular came in for some tap. He did manage one breakthrough though and might have had someone caught another day. Chief plugged away on his usual line and length and took a deserved 4 for 40-odd, a haul which included a stunning catch by Dave Summerset at long on and somehow managing to knock the stumps out the ground twice despite bowling at an average of 24.3 mph (incidentally also the average speed of a Ferrari Punto).
By now the rain was beginning to make the game a slightly joyless experience as Eynsham had two very good batsmen in and Barry and Dave Summerset could find no way through them as they blasted their way past 200. If we’d only stopped at 35 overs their total would have been very chase-able, but unfortunately their last 5 yielded a lot of runs as we chased the ball round the park in the rain. They might come off for rain at Lord’s but here at Wantage we’re too keen, and a number of exciting dives, slips and wringing of cold hands led to a total of 234.
Tea was a sedate affair as we surveyed the rain outside wondering if we would actually play – enthusiasm was thin on the ground apart from Barry abusing Oatibix’s meagre tea (though in his defence we just about had enough, lucky there weren’t too many gannets playing!). Eventually we went out to “see how it goes” and Ian and Rich certainly did see how it went, as they raced along at 6 an over off Eynsham’s openers to put on a quick 50 partnership which put us in with a real chance. Ian was out for 39 to the first ball of the first change bowler, hitting a high chance to long off, where the fielder took it on the boundary. Rich followed soon after for about 20 but Barry and Dave S pulled us along with another good partnership before Dave was bowled by a good ball.
Captain fantastic then went in to give the ball some long handle, and somehow contrived to score a duck in a partnership of 29 as Barry and our good friend extras continued to keep us up with the rate required. Dave H then went in and scored 10 – he was eventually out with the score on 163, which led to a collapse of epic proportions as our “egg shell middle order” led us to 164-8 including a golden duck for Simon and a two ball duck for Ren. Chief then gave Barry some quick single practice which Barry simply couldn’t keep up with*, and he was run out for 76 which was a decent innings but looked to be leaving us well short of our target, especially when Chief was then out to a stunning catch at backward point.
However, OT had cleverly reversed the batting order, leaving “number 11” Stewie B and “pinch hitter” PicNic in at the end to put on a staggeringly good 38 runs as we started to give Eynsham a scare. Stewie proved he could still play his off side dab to perfection, and PicNic went 4 better than last week, smacking the ball to all parts as he scored three boundaries in a total of 15. This included what can only be described as a Tendulkar-esque flick off a leg stump full toss through mid-wicket for four runs towards the massed Wantage fans as they went wild with excitement. Eventually he top edged a wild swing that everyone expected to disappear over the boundary, but unfortunately went to fly slip to leave us all out on 200-odd, which was a very respectable total after our middle order collapse and at least gave us all a warm feeling inside (which normally people would only have had if Mongo had joined them in the shower).
Man of the Match went to Barry for his 76, although Chief was a strong nomination for his 4-42.
Pig’s Ear was PicNic for a swan dive reminiscent of Baryshnikov, as he somehow managed to let Eynsham run a three to the shortest boundary in the whole of Oxfordshire.
Champage Moment was undoubtedly PicNic’s four though mid-wicket. Dave Summerset’s catch at long on was also a strong contender.
*In no way indicative of actual events.