A hush descended on Oxfordshire, as for the first time in its long, storied history, the Wolvercote 3rd 11 arrives at the summit of one of domestic cricket’s premier competitions: Division 8 (North).
It has been a long, arduous trek, incorporating heartbreak (Kidlington deciding they couldn’t find enough players to field a team and conceding the match, earlier in the season) and glory (pretty much everything else) along the way. So it was fitting, perhaps, that the seizing of the league table’s precedence should come against Kidlington, as bitter a rival as Division 8 (North) holds for the boys from the land of the Wolves.
Youth was the theme of the day. More specifically, a number of the opposition appeared unlikely to know which end of a razor you hold to shave with. It matters not to the Wolfpack: all opponents, pubescent or not, must be put to the sword.
Kidlington batted first. Their approach to the run-rate could be best termed ‘polite’, and for the first 20 overs Wolves had the game gripped by the throat, with new arrival Hashim Shah and Quinny taking key wickets, and it looked like we’d keep them under 100, so we duly slept on that fact and off past 100 they went. Enter Alyn Davies, The Scourge of Teenagers. Adolescent wickets were skittled, the scoreboard untroubled; 4 quick wickets in the last 10 for Alyn, including, it must be said, the guy who looked like he could score, and the Wolves left the field with 149 to find. No problem.
We are generous, as batsman. If Alyn Davies wished to be the hero of the hour, and wasn’t coming in til number 8, then we would do our best to grant his wish. To help the top order with its quest, we came up against an umpire who’d clearly decided that if ‘giving LBWs’ was the mark of a true professional, he wanted some of that. Marc Lewis wasn’t out, Crouchy wasn’t out. Both were asked to leave the field. In the meantime, Gilly was knocking it about, heading through the 20s untroubled. Your correspondent came in, facing the most appealing ‘batter’s hat-trick’ – 3 ducks in a row. Smacked a few fours, and the kind of 6 that would make Gary Sobers sit up with a start, if he was watching it on TV – and then, deciding to swap cricket for baseball, was bowled with a stroke that could charitably be called ‘across the line’ to an adolescent whose bowling-technique is best termed ‘up and unders’. We’d made it to about 100, at that point, plenty of overs; but the wickets of Nav, Alex Beaumont and Birdy suddenly meant, the tail were going to have to do this.
Enter Alyn Davies. Where lesser mortals from the top order might have taken a more lily-livered approach to the nonsense some of the adolescents were bowling, Senor Davies approached it as a chemist would approach bad data: this is to be dispatched. And so it was – roughly, towards squáre leg, a lot, interspersed with his unique ‘Yes’ singles-call, like a man who’s drowning being asked if he would like to be thrown a life-jacket.
A good partnership with Luke added about 20; but Luke is evidently a disciple of the motto of Tottenham Hotspur – the game is about glory. In the context of the Wolvercote 3rd 11, that means: Quinny’s got to be at the crease when the winning runs are scored. Alyn was still smashing it about at the other end, on his way towards a final 41; Quinny did his hamstring. Called for a runner, at which point Captain Murgatroyd did a frank appraisal of his ability to sprint between the wickets, and decided he was the best man for the job. The decision was overturned.
When it comes to victory, Wolvercote 3s do it in style. I.e, get Quinny to smash a delightful cut to point, get an adolescent to bottle the catch, ball goes past him, crosses the rope, all under streaming August sunshine.
Written by: Toby Sprigings