For our last home game of the year, we faced Chesterton, who we had beaten in the cup, but been smashed beyond sight in the league. However, the difference this time was in knowing that a win would put us beyond Chesterton in second place and secure promotion with two games left to play. After last season’s final day heroics that would seem a bit of an anti-climax but nonetheless we were all keen and ready despite the early morning deluge which looked like it might prevent us playing. As it happened we got out there on time. We were fielding first and Ryan and Duncan opened the bowling. With all the rain it was nice weather for ducks and we were hoping ducks would be the order of the day for the Chesterton opening pair (although in reality Ian was just desperate to get a pun in the match report nice and early). Grant made an awesome stop in the first over but his throw in for the potential run out was more akin to a four year old with a broken arm so an early opportunity was missed.
Despite an early rain break, both bowlers were keeping things tight, neither giving opener Campbell any room to play his favoured back foot shots, and Ryan eventually saw for him with an excellent pitched up ball which smacked middle stump and sent one bail halfway to the boundary. Chesterton’s demon run scorer Lewis was next in and he and White looked like classy batsmen from the off who we would have to prise away rather than being given their wickets. Fortunately Duncan was on fine form, which meant we were able to celebrate White’s wicket when he edged behind to Ben behind the stumps (another “professional” Wantage wicket – we’re getting good at those!).
Things were tight as the drinks break was reached without more wickets. However, the old adage “drinks brings a wicket” was proved correct as Grant forced the batsmen to slice to Barry at gully. When he trapped another batsmen LBW we were looking good, although Lewis was still there and batting well. Our opportunity to get him came once Barry had replaced Duncan and Colin fielded the ball and threw it in with Lewis stranded half way down the wicket. Barry had ages but instead threw the ball at the stumps, missed, and gave him a rather large life.
On the plus side, Grant forced our nemesis from last time Trevor Price to attempt his customary bash over long off. This time however, Colin was there, and despite being the smallest person on the field he just managed to cling on to a high chance which left us truly in the driving seat. It also saved any boundary markers from being destroyed! In the meantime Barry was receiving some real tap at the other end, his policy of bowling half trackers to a not particularly packed leg side field proving a questionable one. However Mabbs was to come on to replace him and force the issue with some tight bowling that deserved more than it got. He did force one wicket, and Grant dropped a chance over his shoulder at square leg in a very casual manner. Barry finished off the innings with two wickets in the final over, although not before Lewis had brought up his hundred with a smash over mid-wicket for six. Chesterton finished their innings on 179 for 8.
Teas were marvellous, because Ian made them. There were customary amounts of squirty cream and jam, and a delicious fruit selection.
Ben and NiB opened our innings as per usual, and both looked confident and assured. Their run rate was much higher than usual as we went at four an over. Ben in particular looked in excellent form as he drove and pulled his way to an excellent 30 before we had another short rain break. Things were looking good though as the two of them put on 92 before Nick was LBW. He had almost walked before the umpire gave him out so it was not a great surprise when the finger finally went up.
Colin was next in and continued his recent form, holding up an end perfectly well whilst Ben saw himself over 50 and we looked for an easy finish. This was not to be the case as Ben pulled the spinner to cow corner and was caught for an excellent 72 – his best knock of the season. Barry scored a quick-fire 14 before also bashing to cow. Colin then followed suit after scoring a good 30 before Ian decided that learning from other’s mistakes is for losers, and also pulled the spinner to cow and being caught for one. It must have been the damp pitch that was causing everyone to pull the spinner there. That’s all this reviewer wants to say. The Chesterton fielders certainly couldn’t understand why all our batsmen were playing those shots either.
Luckily, Dave “Game finisher” Summersbeater was next in, and with Ryan scored the remaining 15 runs to see us over the line and to promotion. Celebrations at this stage were pretty muted with lots of gruff congratulations and “well dones”. Showers were by all accounts slightly less muted, with ? of a bottle of vanilla shower gel being guzzled instantly and scorer Mongo joining in, just for fun. Other post-match entertainment included The Challenge™ which amounted to sprinting to the other side of the field and back. Grant was apparently leading the way, and others were forced to change back into spikes and take the challenge themselves. NiB acquitted himself extremely well, taking second place, whilst Barry fell over with about 20 metres left to go to everyone’s amusement. It would also prove ill-advised for the President’s XI game the following day as muscles would undoubtedly be tired for this most important of Sunday matches.
We then partook of a few beverages at the club before anti-lads Stewie and Duncan were forced home to their partners because they were in the doghouse for playing twice in a weekend. The rest of us hit the Blue Boar and the Swan for early drinking games and then an unusually early finish, with everyone home before midnight! A sad indictment upon all of us considering no-one was over the age of 28. Not that it stopped hangover central on Sunday morning. On the plus side we did get to drink luminous drinks in the Swan which is a promotion requirement.
Champagne Moment was Colin’s catch. Dave’s runs to win the match were also nominated, as was a stop by Stewie at point which would have graced many a cricket ground.
MotM was Ben Putt for his 72.
Pig’s Ear was Grant. I can’t even remember what for. I think it was a combination of the dropped catch and previously mentioned four year old’s run out attempt. Barry was nominated for his run-out misdemeanours too.
Net Result: Promotion! Yeah, cricket!