The big weekend began with a game against our well known rivals Cairns Fudge. With the big game this weekend on the Sunday availability was scarce, so it was imperative that we won the toss, due to some planned late arrivals. Spence was rushing to the Wantage WACA direct from Heathrow airport after some work abroad in Turkey, whilst Summerset was planning a late arrival due to a first half football appearance which should have allowed arrival 10-15 minutes after the start. Somewhat inevitably, IC lost the toss and Wantage were asked to field.
Heads were low as we took to the field with only 9 men, and things did not start well as Cairns took off at 6 an over and exploited the gaps in the field. As Ryan struggled with his lines, he was soon replaced by Barry who took exception to a harsh wide call in his first over, and consequently asked to change ends. This proved a successful move, and he had one of the openers caught in the 14th over by Ryan at gully. More wickets proved hard to come by, however, and three drops by Tim Bayley did not help proceedings.
Spence had turned up ten overs in, but we were still waiting on the arrival of Dave Summersbee. The missing man seemed to be making quite a difference as we chased leather around, and despite admirable work form Grant with the ball, runs continued to flow, with a four over spell from Ian ruined by an abysmal last over, heralding the return of Barry. He and Chief bowled in tandem for 8 overs, restoring some normality, and forcing the crucial wicket of Ralph Smith, who was LBW to Barry for 85. During this period, the heartening appearance of Dave in the 23rd over improved the Wantage mood. What did not improve the mood was the sight of Andy Small walking to the wicket at 160-2.
In fact, he struggled with Mikey’s accurate bowling to begin with, but soon began to assert himself. At the other end, a returning Ryan had Hanscombe finally caught for 37 by Ian at mid-off and soon saw off Mark Small, caught by brother Barry at gully. This brought Tom Small to the crease, and the two batsmen added some extravagant and quick runs in the last 5 overs, helped by a struggling Stewie (who was keeping for the first time in over a year) behind the stumps. Cairns finished on 261-4, and the mood was gloomy after a poor fielding performance.
In the absence of last week’s openers, Spence and Mikey took the job of beginning our assault on the total. Runs flowed consistently, but Spencer was caught behind for 16 after, in his own words “not even being able too see the ball” due to tiredness. Barry was in next, and he looked strangely out of sorts to begin with against some admittedly fine bowling from famous Fudge pair Patel and Shaw. Presently the rain came, but our covers did the job they were designed for, and we lost only 20 minutes. The rain break necessitated the umpires consulting the rulebook, and they steadfastly stuck to said rules, informing the two skippers that play would be over at 7:30 no matter what.
This rule change meant a bowling change for Fudge, as they brought on Clark and French for their shorter run ups. Mikey and Barry’s progress remained sedate, at about 5 an over, as they aimed to put Wantage on 100 from 20 overs to enable a late assault on the sizeable total being chased. As it happened, Mikey tried to cut too full a ball from French with the score on 76 and was bowled for a total of 37. Steve Bramley had been promoted to bat at 4 after some fine recent form, but was alas trapped LBW first ball as we began a middle order collapse. Ryan was caught behind down the legside for 0, and Grant then also got a golden duck at an experimental number 6 position to complete a trio of middle-order mediocrity.
This brought Tim “holes for hands” Bayley to the crease alongside Barry, who was beginning to see the ball nicely and brought up his fifty as he and TB advanced the scored to 130 with a partnership of 45. Tim’s unconventional batting style eventually saw him LBW and captain IC joined his vice at the crease. Time was looking tight for a 7:30 finish, and some Fudge players began to grumble about the possibility of a tight match finishing in farcical fashion due to the umpire’s rulings.
This did not distract the batting pair from going about their business of “just batting”. With 261 a distant figure on the horizon, their approach was to bat positively and to see where they got. Barry was seeing the ball as well as he had all season, and IC found a rare purple patch as they batted positively to score in the region of 6-7 an over. Worries about time remaining meant that when opening pair Shaw and Patel returned, they did so off three paces; a tactic that did not prove successful as runs continued to flow. A return to full run ups was no more successful, as IC took 6 off the first ball of Patel’s return, before Barry went bananas off the first three balls of the 39th over, planting three consecutive sixes over long-on, including one which went about three gardens back. With 5 overs to go, Wantage were bizarrely in the position as favourites for the first time in the game.
After the trouble with timings and umpires, Fudge heads began to drop, and more explosive batting from Barry, who brought up his 100 from 109 balls, and Ian, whose 50 came from 38 balls, saw Wantage through to within touching distance with 4 overs to go. The comeback was fittingly completed by Barry, punching the ball over mid-wicket to see Wantage to a 4-wicket win. The final partnership was worth 135, as Barry finished on a stellar 124* and IC on 57*.
After a slightly underwhelming shower time (due to a demoralised bunch of “out” batsmen showering the moment they were out, assuming the match to be over) we undertook the nominations and voting.
Champagne moment went to the second six of Barry’s trio, beating out the third six. Also nominated were Nordic’s ice bucket challenge, which saw Grant and Stewie pouring an entire dustbin full of icey water on him from the pavilion roof, and an amusing three from Ian and Barry’s partnership, which included two overthrows.
Pig’s Ear was hotly contested, although Tim Bayley was the most well placed for success, with 5 nominations! He won for attempting to go out to bat in a gilet, but was also nominated for his second dropped catch, his third dropped catch, bringing a bottle of wine and a corkscrew to a cricket match (but not a cigarette lighter, to Mikey’s amusement), and turning up in his kit. Also nominated were Dave Summersbee for turning up 23 overs into the game, Nordic’s golden duck and Grant’s golden duck.
Man of the match was of course Barry, although IC was nominated for 57*, and someone caustically suggested the umpire who told Cairns they had to finish by 7:30 deserved the nomination; since of course it led to their opening bowlers returning on short run ups.
TFC was also hotly contested; Grant and Dave Summersbee were saved this week as Nordic was given the gig for the cup final.