Wantage descended on the picturesque settings of Aston Rowant in good spirits. The Weather forecast was not great, but so far, so good. The sight of some high-quality Home Counties cricket on the 1st pitch between Aston Rowant 1s and Thame inspired the Wantage players as they made their way over to the 2nd pitch.
Skipper Dave lost the toss in conditions that the Wantage bowlers were eager to bowl in, and were duly sent in to bat. As expected, it was tough going for the batters as the accurate young Aston Rowant attack stifled the Wantage top order. The pitch had a bit of bounce in it, and the overcast conditions meant the bowlers were finding some movement in the air, and off the pitch.
Dave fronted up, together with Bhu. At the end of 6 overs, Wantage were 12 for none, thanks to the hard work of the openers. As it was hard work for the batsmen out in the middle, the rest of the Wantage players were working hard too. The opposition mascot Black Labrador – ‘Dave the dog’ required love and attention. The players had no option but to provide him with lots of it.
In the meantime, Dave was out caught behind to a good piece of bowling for 8. Wonga joined Bhu and was eager to repel the Aston Rowant attack further. They didn’t manage to make much headway scoring wise, but were managing to blunt the new ball. Bhu tried to break the shackles and unfurled a glorious cover drive for a welcome boundary. Unfortunately, this was as good as it got for Bhu, who was caught in front by an in-swinger to depart the scene for 10.
Spenny strode in with much work to do. His job got even harder when Wonga followed soon after, caught well at gully for 4. Anand joined Spenny and at 27 for 3, Wantage were in a spot of bother.
Anand’s calm demeanor was reassuring for Spenny as he started to up the ante with some typically glorious stroke play. Anand was happy to tick along in Spenny’s shadow, but kept the scoreboard moving. Wantage reached their 50 in the 21st over with lots of work still to do. As the change bowlers came on, Spenny was particularly harsh on them. An all run 4 was a particular highlight as the lush outfield and big boundary on one side meant the duo had to do quite a bit of running.
Wantage were now in the ascendancy and reached their 100 in the 27th over with Spenny now in full flow. Anand was now getting into his stride and signaled his intentions with a couple of boundaries of his own. Anand’s knock was finally ended with the score on 144 as he was adjudged out LBW for a well-made 26.
Wantage were now confident of posting a score of well over 200, as IC joined Spenny. Unfortunately, he didn’t last long as he too was caught in front, LBW for 4.
Bimalka joined Spenny now in his 80s. Spenny was not done yet, as a couple of boundaries got him close to his 100. He duly brought up his magnificent 73 ball milestone by stroking down to Long on receiving applause from teammates and opposition alike. As the milestone was out of the way, Spenny and Bimalka were eager to push things along to get Wantage to an imposing total. This wasn’t as easy as the Aston Rowant opening bowlers returned and the pitch was not the easiest to hit out on.
Spenny was finally out caught for 110 having well and truly put Wantage in the driving seat.
Will Bury joined Bimalka and unfortunately was run out while going for a tight single (more about this later!). Bimalka followed soon after for 12, trying to force the pace. Wantage were in danger of not batting out the overs as Grant followed for 1, not connecting in the glorious fashion as intended.
Will Harvey (13 not out) used the long handle to good effect though, and in the company of Chief (2 not out) ensured Wantage batted their allotted 45 overs. Wantage finished on a commendable 213 for 9.
When it came to the bowlers turn to impress, that is exactly what they did. Will Bury was running in with pace and menace and Will Harvey was his usual canny self, hitting a line and length. Will H was the first to get a breakthrough, caught behind by Grant. The opposition number 3 walked in, accompanied by rumours of a Cricinfo profile and first-class stats in Zimbabwe. Obviously, no one told Will B as he bounced him out to be caught at mid-on by IC. Wantage were well on top, and deservedly so.
Will Bury’s first spell read 5 overs, 5 maidens and 1 wicket for none! It was going to take a brave man to take the ball off him, so skipper Dave duly did and threw it to Bimalka.
Fortunately, Bimalka responded as he sneaked one through the opening batter to leave Aston Rowant reeling at 6 for 3 in the 11th over! Bimalka followed it up with a double breakthrough in the 13th over courtesy of catches by IC and Chief.
Things weren’t getting any easier for Aston Rowant as Will Harvey (7-4-3-1) was replaced by the hero of Marcham in Anand. When Bimalka trapped another Aston Rowant player out LBW, the score read 8 for 6 in the 17th over!
Fortunately for Aston Rowant, the two new batters managed to make a mini recovery from this stage. Anand now intervened, with a superb delivery to castle the Aston Rowant batter. Another one followed when IC took a great catch at gully off to bring up Bimalka’s 5th. Anand took another, caught by Grant to leave Aston Rowant on the brink at 44 for 9.
It was left for Chief to do the honours and he duly obliged to have the last batter caught by Anand at Square leg.
A dominant display by Wantage resulted in full points and left them well in the hunt for promotion.
Will H dispensed with fines as fine master for the day, with “Did you play with Dave the dog?” being the highlight of the fines.
Pig’s ear went to Bimalka running out Will Bury for a golden duck with an ambitious call to square leg. Other nominations included Anand’s dropped catch; Grant forgetting how legs work and stacking it whilst keeping; and Bhu ducking into a full toss.
Champagne moment was IC’s catch at gully (two foot below the height of the square) diving to his left. This triumphed over Anand’s ball to clean bowl a batsman; Spenny and Anand with an all run four; and Bimalka’s hook shot to get off the mark.
Man of the match was close run between Bimalka and Spenny, with Anand’s all-round contribution in contention. “Bowlers win games” said the crowd as Bimalka was voted in despite Spenny’s glorious knock.
Tune in next week for more entertainment!