5th September 2020
Having already lost against Marcham and Dorch, and the unfortunate washout at Sunningwell, we made the short trip to Steventon knowing it was our last competitive cricket of 2020. With 15 players available, one of the best weeks for availability all year, it was a strong team looking to finish the season on a high.
The hosts skipper, former Wantage opener Chappers, won the toss and decided to bat first. Having heard reports of the wicket playing low and slow all year at Steventon, Summs wasn’t disappointed that his men were to bowl on the track first.
Leedog, back from his knee injury, opened alongside Harvester. Following a maiden by Liam, it was Harvester who got the early breakthrough. First testing the hosts opener with a number of balls that did a bit off the pitch, then causing the batsman into a lose drive which was mistimed for an easy catch for Summs at mid-off. This brought Chappers to the crease, receiving a bit of banter from the Wantage fielders as he made his way to the middle. Leedog and Harvester causing both batsmen trouble at times, despite Harvester being hit for six by Steventons Matthews in his fourth over.
Mabbs replaced Liam causing Matthews to edge through the cordon on a couple of occasions in his first over. The following over Matthews worked the ball down to wide third man, calling for a second, mistakenly taking on Mabbs bullet arm, rocketing the ball into Bingo to remove the bails and send Matthews back to the pavilion. Mr Harvey continued to test Chappers outside off stump, and the last ball of his over couldn’t refuse a swipe with an edge at speed to gully for Spenny to hold on and the score 40-3.
With the team feeling buoyed, skip backed Mabbs and filled the cordon with two slips and two gullies. Mabbs bowling beautifully, with a number of unplayable deliveries, the Steventon batsmen weren’t able to get Mabbs off the square. Chief replaced Will, initially struggling with his line and length, in his second over bowling a full toss that was pulled straight to Will at square leg unfortunately Warhorse couldn’t hold on. The very next ball, without time to reflect on the drop, the feat was somehow repeated. Luckily for Will it wasn’t long before the same man became the second run-out of the day (and fifth in two games); when taking on Robbo at backward point, who returned the ball to the bowling Chief who smashed the stumps (after an initial fumble).
Having bowled one of the best spells of bowling all season, yet been unfortunate to not record a wicket, Mabbs made way for Colin. POD collected a wicket with the final ball of his first over, following a superb one handed catch from Spenny low to his right with the hosts at 64-5. Bennett joined Hawkes at the crease, both patient and punishing. The sixth wicket looked to take some of the momentum away from Wantage as the hosts were seeking the second bowling point. With Chief bowled out IC came on to replace him, getting his first overs of the season. After an over full of full tosses, it was Iceman who made the breakthrough tempting bottom hand bully Hawkes into a lofty drive that was mistimed over the head of Chief at mid-on, fortunately Summs had his eye on it, as Chief lost it in the sun (so he says), running around to take it over his shoulder.
Looking to wrap things up Leedog returned for his final four overs, bowling at pace and causing the batsmen enough problems to collect two wickets in his last two overs, with balls skewed to Robbo at backward point and Spenny at gully. IC collected his second of the day when another aerial drive was mistimed for Summs to run forward to and take just above the ground. Mabbs returned seeking to finish the innings and collect a well deserved wicket. He thought he had his man when in his final over when the batsman mistimed the ball high into the air with Harvester at short cover calling for it, only to drop his third of the day. Mr Harvey made up for it in the next over when he bowled the number 11 to see Steventon finish on 130 all out and Harvester collecting 3-22.
After a break for tea it was Skip and Bhu that trotted to the middle to start the chase for Wantage, with a very strong looking batting lineup to follow. The steady Cannon and left-armer Wilson opening the bowling for Steventon. After a calm first couple of overs, it didn’t take too long for Bhu to take the attack to the bowlers, dispatching both bowlers to the boundary before picking up Wilson off his legs over midwicket for six. When Summs joined the fun smacking Wilson back over his head, things were looking good, only for skip to mistime an attempted drive straight to the man at cover to depart for 7. Bhu followed Summs back only three balls later when he tried to hit Cannon over the top one too many times, only for Matthews to get underneath it, walking off with 24 to his name.
With the score 33-2 and two new men at the crease, it looked like it could be a case of the standard mini collapse, but Robbo and Bingo had other ideas. Both batsmen patiently seeing off the openers, before Robbo gave away a chance that wasn’t taken by Steventon in Ali’s first over. Robbo looked to take his chance and a more patient approach to Ali and second change Bennett, looking to rotate the strike with Bingo and pouncing on lose deliveries. Robbo, seeing more of the strike started to accelerate with a couple of nice shots for four and one all the way for a maximum. Bingo joined in the fun with a few shots of his own, and when Steventon brought back Wilson in attempt to break the partnership Robbo pulled his first ball for six into the crowd of drinking locals to bring up the Wantage 100. Following a single from Rob, Bingo looked to cash in on a ball similar to the one Summs was undone by, unfortunately the result for Bingo was the same as skip as he made way for 16.
The partnership of 71 from Robbo and Bingo looked to have been a match winning one, and two balls later Robbo brought up his half century off 49 balls. Alas the joy was short lived as Wilson (3-36) got his revenge when bowling Robbo the very next ball. At 106-4 and two new men at the crease Steventon sniffed a slim chance of getting a few more quick wickets. Spenny and Colin were not to oblige and seemed to have something against running between the wickets, as they scored only in boundaries to see Wantage home for a six wicket win, Spenny on 20* and Colin 8*. Leaving IC and Leedog with pad rash and Mabbs, Harvester and Chief pleased to not be required.
We gathered to reflect on a season of what if’s…..what if we’d managed to execute better against Marcham?; what if the Sunningwell game hadn’t been called off?…. We also learned that Tetsworth II had made it to the Final from our group, so we finish the season knowing we beat one of the finalists.
It was time for awards, with Pigs the first for discussion. Spenny was nominated for being hit on the box, which caused in a loud thud that was heard from the sidelines. Robbo got a nom for fielding in the deep and somehow throwing the ball into an overhanging tree which resulted in giving away four runs instead of two. Will managed to get himself nominated twice, firstly for his drop off of Mabbs which he may have had too long to think about, and secondly was his consecutive drops in two balls off Chief. The two nominations managed to save Will, as the votes were spread and it was Robbo that earned Pigs for the day.
Champagne moment was another competitive affair with Robs flat 6 and Bhus big 6 from the batting. Noms also to Mabbs for his bullet arm run-out, and for Spenny for his one handed catch. After the votes were tied between Rob and Spenny; rock, paper, scissors decided the winner with Spenny the victor.
Man of the match was a more straightforward affair with Rob getting the majority of votes for his batting and run-out. Will was the other nominee with another week of great bowling, unfortunately his three drops went against him in the voting. A great team performance to round off competitive cricket for 2020, as we look forward to next year. With the ongoing amalgamation discussions the question is will it be OCA, or Cherwell…?