For the second week running we arrived to find that Colin had broken the tractor, but Mongo’s magic hands and a couple of jump leads meant that we didn’t have a new addition to the outfield. The lucky coin worked again, so we were in the field against the side who won our division last year and looked a stronger outfit than the one we beat in the first round of the cup.
After a very tidy first over from Ryan, Grant found the outside edge with his very first ball but it landed just short of stand-in wicket-keeper Ben. We needn’t have worried though, as he continued his recent fine bowling form and bowled the opener later in the over. Ryan joined in the fun next over by bowling the other opener to reduce Swinbrook to 5 for 2. This brought James Snow to the crease, who was in no mood to hang around as he hit his first ball for four and proceeded to play a number of powerful drives through the off side. It was a different story at the other end as Grant gave the number 3 a thorough working over before winning an LBW decision and then continued to make inroads into the middle order with some excellent bowling, aided by an top-class juggling slip catch by our resident Justin Bieber lookalike.
While this was happening we were treated to a delightful string soundtrack from the barn dance at the nearby school’s summer fete. Arches were made, partners were swung and willow was stripped. As if it couldn’t get any better than that, we eventually worked out a field to calm Snow’s scoring rate, and fittingly it was Grant who removed him to take his third five-wicket haul in as many weeks.
We then discovered that Swinbrook have a similarly deep batting line up to ours as their skipper Joel Graham and number 8 Sam Lane started to rebuild from 71 for 6 with some very good batting that took their score above 150 and we were looking at chasing over 200. Their progress was brought to an abrupt halt by the returning Ryan, who took the final 3 wickets and get us maximum bowling points and a target of 190 to chase.
Tea was provided by Mongo, and very nice it was too as we tucked into a high-quality selection while musing that 190 was pretty much par and that the eighth wicket partnership had shown how to bat.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that Ben proudly declared that he’d never been out first ball in his cricketing career. No prizes for guessing what happened next… Ben studiously took guard to the first ball of the innings from Parker which started on leg, pitched on middle, and then seamed away to hit off stump after beating a forward defensive that would have scored 8 out of 10 in most people’s books. Timmy Lane started his scoring in a positive fashion as he pulled a long hop for 6 from Bullivant, but then NiB was the recipient of a delivery far beyond his limited batting capabilities as it angled in, pitched on middle and then hit off stump past a despairing defensive prod. 9 for 2 was a far cry from the season’s alleged improved top order stability, and soon it was 21 for 3 as Chuckles spooned a catch to mid on.
Barry and Colin were the new batting pair, and they took contrasting approaches to the task in hand. Barry came to the crease high on confidence from his recent excellent form and decided attack was the best form of defence, albeit with limited contact with the ball early in his innings which gave the onlookers a few nervous moments. He did however score heavily off the early overs from first change bowler Snow, which gave the innings some momentum. Colin on the other hand was playing for the draw, facing dot after dot, but eventually he relented and got off the mark off his 21st delivery.
The run rate wasn’t a problem, but the wickets were as Barry was caught for a good 35, Ryan was bowled for 12 and then Oatibix gave a catch to square leg off possibly the shortest ball ever seen in the history of the game. At 80 for 5 we were clutching at the straws of our ‘deep’ batting line-up and wishing that someone would keep Colin company and steady the ship. Although he only scored 2, Mabbs did just that and we started to believe again, until he was trapped plumb LBW, and then Colin was bowled for a gritty 39.
At 141 for 8 our hopes rested with Mongo, in his second league innings of the season, and the man of a thousand nicknames, Will Harvey, who had made contact with the ball just once in his current incarnation as a Wantage player. Apart from the odd airy swish by Will, both sensibly defended their early deliveries to play themselves in. Mongo then unfurled a couple of trademark cover drives and our old friend extras made a timely contribution as we edged over 160 and number 11 Grant gritted his teeth ever tighter as he waited for his moment of truth.
After Snow’s final over had been seen off, there was an intriguing bowling change as Swinbrook opted for the off spin of Grace at the road end, instead of opening bowler Bullivant. A couple of deliveries dropped short and were dispatched for 4 by Will, and a great escape was on the cards. 10 off 2 overs was the equation as Grace started his fourth over, and the tension was unbearable on the sidelines with scorers barely able to write and everything being crossed. The most relaxed guy was Will, who smacked two pull shots for four and then drilled a cover drive to the boundary to seal a famous win.
Post-match antics included the fines system going evil as Mabbs’s head was shaved by an assortment of barbers as punishment for dropping a catch, and Ben collecting the boundary flags wearing a towel, only to be set upon by two Zimbabwean men in their 20s. Police are appealing for traumatised witnesses…
Man of the match – Will for his batting heroics
Champagne moment – Timmy’s slip catch
Pig’s ear – Ben for getting out to the first ball of the innings