August…. the pinnacle of summertime in the Queen’s land. The setting for the cup semi-final in the pretty little village of Chipping Norton could not have been more idyllic. A lovely village green, a resident BBQ pitmaster, plenty of crowd, some sparkling performances and great gamesmanship. This match had it all!
For the second time in two days, the finest of Wolfpack responded to a call to arms to seek cup glory. Skipper Procter, having decided that frolicking with fellow country life enthusiasts was not worth incurring King Quinn’s wrath returned to lead the pack. On the other hand TSL rather naively revealed his intentions of playing in the annual Traitors XI v/s Deserters X (reportedly someone unsurprisingly deserted the Deserters) in Dorset. One does feel that Quinny’s barbs which followed over the evening did pack a greater punch than the Lamb Madras at Spice Lounge.
The outcome of the toss saw Wolvercote batting on what can only be described as ideal batting conditions. But do not judge a book by its cover as many a wise man hath said. Babbs and the Child had to navigate through a hostile spell of fast bowling which saw the score creeping at a snail’s pace. Mark Child, in a concerted effort to not repeat his exploits from Saturday had decided to redefine the batting manual by resorting to battting a la Francaise. After a dogged effort by the openers to survive the disciplined opening spell, Babbs was eventually caught behind for a score that betrayed the time spent at the crease.
Procter, in an effort to redeem his absence on Saturday compiled a well disciplined 30 before mistiming a pull shot. All along, Mark Child had somehow managed to sneak his way to 50 runs (three quarters of which were either off the edge or the back of the blade). Hobbit Agarwal was clearly still in mourning over the loss of the ‘Legend’ returned to the pavilion after only just avoiding the obligatory duck. Enter lynchpin Jamie and he picked up exactly where he had left off on Saturday. Some sparkling strokeplay saw him reach a 50 in double quick time reviving the fortunes of the wolves along with the run-rate. Just when a strong platform had been set, a flurry of wickets saw Doug and Borlikar in the middle. These two are clearly earning themselves a reputation for strong finishes and some mighty hitting coupled with swift running completed a solid batting performance of 230 in 45 overs. Borlikar in fact succeeded in completing a double double by hitting two towering sixes in the final over for the second time in the season.
Chipping Norton had their task cut out. Their well wintered openers (Crouchy you could have been described as slim in their company) started slowly and unsurely. Doug Holden bowled a fiery spell where the batsman were often unable to decide whether the ball was coming or going. But Richard Fearley ensured the scoreboard kept ticking over by dispatching all the bad balls on the way to well compiled 50 before being unfortunately run out in a terrible mix-up in the middle.
The game was finely poised throughout the innings and while wickets kept falling at regular intervals, the Chippies managed to ensure the required rate never breached the stratosphere. With a run a ball needed over the last 15 overs, the excellent David Brassett and Rhys Warner Carter hit the obligatory boundary each over and coupled that with intelligent running. This partnership threatened to take the match away from the Wolves until Gus pulled off a magnificent left handed diving catch which revoked hopes of a Wolf pack appearance in the final. But any hopes of an easy walk over the finishing line were dulled by Warner Carter taking a special liking to Borlikar’s bowling and carting him to all parts of the park.
With 30 runs needed off the last five overs and three wickets in hand this was anybody’s game. But ‘Dazza’ Jones who had had a quiet comeback to the First XI so far, displayed the importance of honest accurate death bowling and cleaned up the tail to restrict the home team to 209 all out and register a famous victory.
Yet another splendid team effort backed by excellent fielding. The victory was made memorable by the terrific hosting from Chipping Norton which saw the club president pouring ale from a humongous jug to and a free barbecue spread which was happily tucked into.
Never in living memory have the Wolves been involved in an Airey Cup final. Friends, wolves, shiremen…. this is a rare opportunity to write lupine history. Sacrifices must be made. Holidays must be cancelled. WAGS must be lost. This the home stretch my fellow wolves. Put the pedal on the metal and lets give it all for the glory of the wolfdom (or should I call it Quinndom?).
Written by: Sahil Argawal