After last week’s defeat, we were keen to get the show back on the road. And on the road we went, all the way to that well-known part of Oxfordshire that lies between Buckingham and Milton Keynes. Eight hardy souls met at the home of cricket, including Colin, who had to trek down from Oxford because he’d forgotten to collect a match ball. Barry took Chaz, Mongo and almost everyone else’s kit, while Grant, NiB and Timmy were shoehorned into the back of Colin’s Astra while Duncan stretched his legs at the front.
After negotiating stodgy traffic on the A34 and M40, we eventually found our way to the ground despite at one point passing Barry’s van travelling in the opposite direction. The cold, blustery conditions and sideways drizzle couldn’t distract from the fact that it looked like a proper cricket ground with a short and smooth outfield, albeit with a pretty dramatic ridge just before the boundary near the pavilion. In the pavilion itself, the changing rooms were very spacious and we had private showers, more on which later…
Colin won the toss and to nobody’s surprise elected to bowl on a green-looking track. After a mad rush to put on as many layers as possible, we shuffled out into the field with some uncertainty as to whether we would soon be on the receiving end of a downpour. Against an opening attack of Chaz and Duncan, the Great Horwood openers looked to use the pace of the ball and play behind square. After some tight opening overs, Chaz broke the deadlock by getting one to nip back and bowl the younger of the two openers.
We then started to build some pressure despite NiB making a complete mess of a high chance and dropping it in front of where Grant was standing at point. Luckily for him the other opener took pity and off the very next ball chipped an undroppable chance to NiB at cover to give Duncan his first wicket. Wickets then fell rapidly to leave Great Horwood 95 all out with four wickets for Barry, four excellent catches by Nicky B behind the stumps and two wickets apiece for Chaz, Duncan and Grant. Chaz did pick up a war wound as he drew blood during a panther-like stop at point, and left to receive some first aid only to try and rejoin the field in the middle of the over and was told off by all and sundry.
Our innings started at 4.05pm and with tea scheduled for 4.45pm. Great Horwood skipper Robby Taylor bowled at a lively pace and his fellow opening bowler, 15 year old Dale Armitage, was finding seam movement with alarming regularity. After a sweetly-struck drive for four, Ben was bowled by a delivery from Armitage which darted back in. At the other end, Taylor was struggling with a back or side injury and had to finish his second and final over by bowling off spin – which almost accounted for Timmy Lane who was dropped at midwicket. At the other end, NiB was boring the opposition into submission apart from one edge off Armitage which flew between the keeper and slip. After Armitage finished his excellent spell the Great Horwood attack turned to spin and NiB and Timmy settled down to reach tea at 42-1. After tea the target was quickly reached before six o’clock without more wickets falling, leaving NiB avoiding a jug on 48 and Timmy 38 not out – and more importantly a maximum 30 point haul.
There then followed some high-jinks in the showers which even by Wantage standards was quite extreme. Even though I didn’t join in the ‘fun’, the soundtrack suggested that for many of the team the showers alone were worth the journey. Shower captain Mongo can no doubt fill in any interested parties with the details…
Man of the match – Nicky B for four excellent catches in a quality all-round display of wicket keeping
Champagne moment – the pick of Nicky B’s four catches
Pig’s ear – a patched-up Chaz trying to come back onto the field in the middle of an over