A nice opportunity to make amends after last weeks efforts in the semi-final-that-never-happened, we took the long trip to Deddington in confidence that for a change the weather would be good enough to play. The strip was pretty damp after a Friday shower, and there was obviously plenty to discuss for Colin and the Deddington captain with the umpires as they stood in the middle for a long time before actually doing the toss. If Tim had been there, he would have been sledging like one of Santa’s elves. It made no difference as Colin again lost the toss so we were asked to bat. The only problem being finding our way from the penetralia of the sports hall changing rooms to the field of play. The pitch behaved as predicted and Colin and NiB were watchful as a few popped. Luckily there was some helpful fielding as a few shots near to fielders broke through and sailed across the outfield which was much quicker than expected.
Progress was made to around 70 before Colin edged the off-spinner to slip where he was well held for 39 valuable runs, and Mongo, promoted to number three joined the fray. He was not picking the off-spinner well but stayed there for a time, before Nick attempted to cut a ball that wasn’t there and was bowled for 22. In the meantime the scenery was being appreciated by the Wantage players who had taken a walk round the boundary. The scenery was varied – verging from the green and lustrous trees to the equally as lustrous (depending on who you asked) sight of some young ladies walking around the boundary with some of their talents on display.
Back to the cricket, and Barry looked in decent form with some powerful shots through the off side, and it was a shame when he ran out Mongo before he’d had a chance to get some of his customary lusty blows in. instead Ryan joined his brother in the middle but was able to contribute only 2 before becoming the off-spinners next victim. Barry was bowled for 25 and it was left to our lower-middle order to supply an injection of pace to the proceedings as our total was looking slightly below par.
Dave and OT got the ball rolling before Dave was caught behind, and Ian joined the fray. He at last found some form, and he and Olly lifted the total to 170 before Olly was caught and bowled, leaving Ian and Grant to give the ball some more welly. This was achieved most notably by Ian smacking a short ball over the pavilion, alas missing Duncan’s precious new car by a matter of metres. He followed this up by attempting to face a seventh ball at the end of the over, only to be faced by the wicket-keeper as the end of the over had already been called. Grant hit some good blows before edging a swing to fly slip, and Duncan joined Ian for the last over. He somehow avoided being LBW first ball before he and Ian put on the remaining 10 runs required to take us to 200 and our final batting point. This included a fine swing to square leg off the last ball from Duncan and we finished on 202-8 with Ian on a fine 39*.
Teas were truly marvellous, with a smorgasbord of brie and bacon rolls, beef and onion rolls and malteser-surprise cupcakes. We took to the field with good spirits after gaining the initiative in the match with the bat, and Ryan and Duncan were on excellent form and kept the run-rate to an absolute minimum, under two an over. Duncan also captured an early wicket as the opener nibbled one through to Colin behind the stumps. After 18 overs of pedestrian run scoring a few false shots began to appear, and OT’s dropped catch proved unimportant as the same batsmen hit the ball straight up in the air two overs later. Dave had a bit of a juggle but managed to hold on to it and we took a real stranglehold on the game as time went on.
The run-rate stayed low and Grant took over from Ryan and bowled his best spell for a long time. This included a hairy moment where the ball was belted straight back at him and he, in his own words “saw his life flash before his eyes – and it was really boring”. There were some concerns as it looked like he had worn it on the head but it turned out that actually he had bruised a finger. At the other end, Chaz came on to replace Duncan and looked on good form immediately. His main fail came at drinks, after the meagre jugs were deemed not quite sufficient for our drinking needs. The waterboys went to fetch some more water and we returned to the field. The idea was for Chaz to finish his over, but he decided that he would wait a bit for a further glass of water; so we found ourselves all in position only for Chaz to be standing on the boundary necking a cheeky extra cup. Suddenly realising he was supposed to be bowling he set it down on the outfield as an obstacle for the batsman to aim for and ran in for the end of the over to the incredulity of the rest of the team.
At the other end Grant got a deserved couple of wickets; one bowled after buttering the batsman up with a host of decent deliveries, and then a chipped catch to Ryan at cover. Ryan gave everyone a high-five only to then realise he had been literally bloody-handing them which was a bit grim. When next over Ryan took another catch – a corker running back and around at extra cover (after the batsman had loudly declared the shot “safe”! – the pressure was let off a bit and some truly village moments took hold. Taylor dropped two more chances, one a bit of a sitter, and the other a missed opportunity diving forwards. Barry then had the opportunity to settle the game by catching the opener who had so far proved the one batsmen capable of keeping Deddington in the game. However, instead of the customary technique of catching with his hands, he deigned to knee the ball instead, and earned himself a 50 pence fine. It also gave him the chance to start a ‘kneeing the ball’ club which Chief and Ian were privileged to join the next day after some questionable fielding efforts in the Sunday game.
Barry’s drop was not too costly, as the following over he was replaced at mid-wicket by Grant in an amusing reversal of roles from Chesterton, and Grant snaffled the chance offered like a pro. Thereafter it was a procession, with Dave taking another catch at cover, and Duncan of all people, eating up two catches. One a loopy sitter at square leg, the other an even loopier sitter at short fine leg. The ease of the catches did not stop him offering OT catching lessons after the game! With Deddington 92-9 the game was as good as over, but that did not stop some more horrific dropped catches and average fielding as Luke Jones grabbed himself a 39. Grant dropped two tough ones, Ian couldn’t quite reach one at long-off , Dave gave away some pretty entertaining overthrows and Duncan tried to gain a run-out by kicking at the stumps but only succeeded in booting it about 15 yards away from the stumps. It was a relief when Chaz finally bowled him and we could reflect on a fine win by 82 runs.
Champagne moment went to Ian for his huge six. There was another nomination but it has been forgotten!
Pig’s Ear was a treasure trove of mediocrity. Chaz edged it by virtue of declaring to the watching opposition members: “You need to make sure your name comes last, because by then everyone will have forgotten”. This ensure that he took the award, today for having a drink instead of bowling. Other nominees were Barry’s ‘knee jerk’ reactions to the ball into the on-side, Ian trying to face a ghost seventh ball of the over, Duncan’s football skills (or lack of), and Dave’s overthrows.
Man of the match went to Ian for his 39* which lifted us to 200 and gave him the unique position of being able to pick a word of the week for his own match report (but which word?!). Colin was nominated for also scoring 39 and not giving away any byes (which he’ll be pleased to have me mention) and Chaz for his 4-34.
Other points of note; Chaz being remembered by the opposition as ‘the angry man’, Mongo declaring many members of the opposition to have ‘small hands’, and something about London buses.