One look at the met office website and not a single person in our team was confident about playing a full match today. So it was a good day for Colin and Chief to head off for their civil partnership and make themselves unavailable for selection. We were, however, able to field a full XI, thanks to a Saturday debut for Ian Clark. We found ourselves to the ground, pleased to see they had some covers, made of corrugated iron; these at least may have given us a chance to finish the game provided it didn’t rain too hard. Stand-in-captain Barry lost the toss and we were put in to bat.
Nick and Ben opened the batting and looked in really good form, putting on a partnership of 47 with very little alarm, despite a few bits of variable bounce from the very dry strip. On the sidelines, the Wantage players were amusing themselves by playing ‘cloud spotting’; apparently Ryan saw a racing car and PicNic saw a jetski. We were brought back from this distraction with a bump as Ben fell to a cracking ball from Robinson which cut in a long way and bowled him, then Ian suffered his own kind of private hell the very next ball, LBW to one that absolutely cut back about sixteen miles. For a change the adage ‘one brings two’ actually came true. Duncan kindly celebrated the occasion by drawing a duck in the scorebook. Bastard.
Dave “Floyd” Summerset was next in, on some good form after his maiden 50 last week, and looked in decent touch, seeing off the bowling without alarm, and hitting a couple of off-side shots for four. Unfortunately it was not to be his, or NiB’s, day. Nick edged to slip where an excellent catch was taken, and Dave spooned one up to deep cover and we were teetering at 70-odd for 4. Luckily Barry and Ryan were on good form, spurred on by some twittering in the fields which didn’t have a lot to do with the birds. Ryan hit one majestic straight six, and Barry was playing a characteristic innings, winding up Wootton’s bowler by walking 6 yards down the wicket as he ran in.
News from our friends in Wantage was not good, however, as the weather report was of rain coming down in sheets, and hailstones. Perhaps this news had reached the middle, too, as the decision was made to come off the pitch because of the dark clouds looming. Ian for one was not impressed by the decision to come off when it wasn’t actually raining, but had to concede that it may have been a good idea when the thunderstorm hit and the rain began to run off the clubhouse like a waterfall.
At this point the real excitement of the day began. Floyd and Putter excused themselves from the occasion and ran off towards the pub for an afternoon pint; one in t-shirt and cricket trousers, and one in cricket shirt and jeans! The rest of us entertained ourselves with the lowest levels of banter this side of Kim Kardashian’s hen party. Ian brought out a vast collection of bad jokes, some of which made the umpire laugh. Duncan invented a dirty bird joke about a swallow. But the best moment by far was Barry phoning someone up and then slipping on the paving slabs. Not only did he stack it to the floor, he also launched his phone approximately 10 metres away to the glee of all observers.
Eventually an early tea was taken; and what a tea. Cheesecake, samosas and cherry bakewells were consumed like a tramp at a dinner party as we all filled ourselves to the brim, doubting much more cricketing action for the day. The Wootton skipper, however, was extremely keen, understandably, given their position in the table. He pushed hard for a restart, when the umpires were a bit more guarded, pointing out the sodden grass where the bowlers had to run-up, and the rest of the square which was still completely drenched. His response was to declare that “all 22 players think it’s safe, so why don’t you?!”. Nordic was unimpressed by this claim and made his point of view clear. The Wootton skipper then requested a vote, but alas for him, the umpires make the decisions and they said we had to wait.
The sun then came out to dry the outfield, although as Dave pointed out, having the covers sit over the bowlers’ run ups was probably not the most logical decision. Ultimately we were to get out again at about 5pm on the understanding that the number of overs per side would be reduced. So with 35 overs to bat, we had 5.3 overs remaining to lift our score from 112-5 to as high as we could. This did not go well for us, as we closed our innings on 127 all out! Barry ran out debutant Ian Clark off his first ball, and there were lots of miscued hoiks as we didn’t make the best of our overs and handed Wootton the momentum.
Luckily the few overs we got in with the ball went our way. Ryan opened down the hill and worked over the batsmen with some pace, and Duncan for a change took some wickets; bowling excellently for 4 and a bit overs to snare two wickets. One caught by Ian “Frank” Clark (nickname given by Grant and Duncan) at square leg – a good catch coming forward, and the other an absolute dolly to Floyd at short mid-wicket. At the other end Grant came on to replace Ryan after a 4 over spell and immediately got some prodigious swing. One ball was edged to gully where PicNic made an incredible diving stop. The ball ran away from him slightly and his attempts to retrieve it were not so much funny as belly-achingly hilarious, as he “swam” (NiB’s words!) across the outfield to grab the ball.
Then the rain came again, and we knew the afternoon was done.
That said, we had some post-match excitement when Barry managed to stack it for the second time in the day, this time pouring half a can of cider all over the changing room floor, soaking Dave’s jacket and Ben’s trousers in the process. Then Grant displayed an extra bit of his body to all and sundry. I’ll cut him some slack by not mentioning exactly what it was, but it was a part which is not usually found a on a man! After-match changing was completed when PicNic wouldn’t let the last of us out the changing room.
After enjoying some kindly provided chips, we returned home reflecting on a tedious day staring at the rain that was at least enjoyable in a non-cricketing way. A look at the league table shows us to have been screwed over by the weather again, as Chesterton got their match in and won. Fringford will probably also consider themselves unlucky as they were also rained off when well placed; leaving them a long way from second place. Away from cricket, we took an unusual trip to the Lord Nelson for a couple of pints as no one had a key to the club bar. This was to prove worthwhile as Grant found that his brand new red hoody was also being worn by a middle-aged woman sitting nearby, to the amusement of all.
Champagne Moment was Ryan’s belted 6 over the top. Also nominated were Ian’s debut catch (for which he now owes us a jug!), Steve for his comment about “not being included in the vote”, and PicNic for the first part of his piece of fielding at gully.
Pig’s Ear was Baz falling over; either for the first time or the second! Also nommed were Grant for his lady-bit, “Frank”’s first ball run-out by Baz, IC’s golden duck, and PicNic for the second part of his piece of fielding at gully.
Man of the Match was Duncan for his tight spell at the start of their innings which he and others felt would lead to more if not for the weather. Nommed were Ben, Baz and Ryan.