Some dodgy recent weather led us to believe that a full game looked unlikely, with showers promised throughout and a thunderstorm due between 6 and 7pm in the evening. Regardless, we managed to get started on time, with a bit of swirling rain greeting us for the first few overs, but that was about as bad as the weather got until 8pm that evening.
Ryan and Duncan opened the bowling, both keeping an incredibly tight line, forcing the batsmen to wear a few on their bodies, and poke unconvincingly at some stuff outside off stump. Charmed lives were led until Ryan made the breakthrough, bringing the Uffington number 3 to the crease who took a liking to anything short outside off stump, and slashed a couple of boundaries early on. Soon, though, the bowlers began to dominate again, keeping the run rate to two an over and not giving the batsmen any room to play their shots. Duncan eventually got a deserved breakthrough after an excellent display of Tesco bowling – great economy range – and bowled the opener. This led to a flurry of wickets as Mabbs came on for Ryan and forced two wickets in two balls, Ryan taking a nonchalant chance over his shoulder at mid-on and “War Horse” Will Harvey running round and backwards at extra cover to take a high chance. When Barry took a chance at gully on the second attempt next over off Duncan, a crushing finish suddenly looked possible, as Uffington were 50 for 5 and then 60 for 6 as James took a catch off his own bowling (after Ben had dropped the same batsman at slip).
Willis and Johnson though, had other ideas, as they built a strong partnership for the 7th wicket. Willis in particular hit some powerful shots through extra cover and both took advantage of Barry’s weakest Saturday spell of the season. Harvester came on to replace Mabbs as he looked to channel his early season form, but he too took some tap as he struggled with his line for the left/right hand partnership. Ian committed another fielding indiscretion at long on as he misjudged a flat straight drive and let it go over his head for four, but when Ryan returned to bowl his quicker seam, wickets began tumbling again as there was no answer to his pacy pitched-up deliveries. Willis was eventually run out for 71 and Will Harvey couldn’t quite make the breakthrough in the last over to gain us the final bowling point as Shepperd saw out a maiden. This gave us a total of 170 to chase.
Teas were good, but not as good as when Kerry and Nick do them! However we’ll cut Colin some slack as he had plenty of other things to do.
Our settled top order took to the task of overcoming the 170 required with ease. Ben and NiB played suitably watchful cricket and although the scoring rate was as slow as Uffington’s early in their innings, they were doing the key job of seeing out the opening bowlers. Not that everyone watching on appreciated their work! Eventually NiB opened up and played a glorious cover drive. His “only shot” was then followed up by a crushing straight drive into the road as he doubled his score off two balls. Two balls later he was back in the hutch as he hit a full toss to one of only two fielders on the leg side, although he could feel relatively pleased with an opening partnership of 41.
Timmy “Chuckles” Lane was next in, and looked classy as ever, raising the scoring rate with gusto, playing some glorious front foot drives and pulling a full toss for a six into a garden a few nautical miles away. At this point I was given free rein by Dave Summerset to use the following phrase: “Someone had better get in the car and fetch it”. As it happened, no one did, so we returned to the ball NiB had despatched over the fence earlier. Ben Putter had been steadily accumulating runs, grafting away in Alastair Cook fashion, but eventually started to time a few out the meat of his bat. Having turned down a possible second run when on 49, he was made to regret it as he got too early on a short delivery and unfortunately played it back to the bowler for a simple catch. Nonetheless he had done a lot of hard work and deserved the 50, so it was a shame he couldn’t quite make it.
Barry was next in, and opened his innings by hitting a six, and his own van, off the same ball. This set the tone for what was a fast paced 34 not out. The only other wicket to fall was Timmy, who edged behind, and refused to walk/didn’t realise he’d edged it, depending on who tells the story. Regardless, Captain Marvellous went in and continued his run of good form, playing an awesome late cut for 4 and putting one in the field for 6 as his 26* with Barry took us to our total with ease. Scarcely has a Wantage batting card looked so professional, with no scores below 20, meaning NiB was forced to collect the boundary markers for scoring the fewest! He’ll probably do it quite happily every week, though, if we win with such panache all the time.
Showers were an experience, even by usual Wantage standards. After a round of “bum baseball” (which isn’t as gay as it sounds, it just involves Mongo hitting people on the arse with a plastic bat), Mongo and Duncan then comprehensively beat off the competition for pig’s ear, engaging in behaviour that I believe is known in porn circles as “watersports” to the horror of their watching team-mates (this was EVERY BIT as gay as it sounds). Lucky no opposition members were there!
We then partook of some delicious birthday cake in honour of Nicki, and the majority of the team took to the road. Our destination was Steve’s house for his annual midsummer party. McFun was had by all, and we eagerly drank the host’s homemade beer and listened with interest to Barry’s ‘excellent’ rapping. A gentle inebriated walk home in the middle of the night was the perfect end to an excellent day.
Motm was Ryan for his 3-26. Nominations also for Duncan’s opening spell, Ben’s 49 and Timmy’s 39.
Champagne Moment was Bieber’s 6 into next week or NiB’s 6 halfway into next week, neither I nor the skipper can remember. Honourable mentions to both Ryan and Will’s catches.
Pig’s Ear was the shower scene. Frankly, this reviewer was relieved as the only other option was his misjudgement at long on.