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City of Oxford Indoor Tournament: Finals Day

Summary of tournament results: 

Wolvercote 46 All out vs Risinghurst 23 All out; Wolvercote won

Wolvercote 84 for 3 vs Twyford 45 for 5; Wolvercote won

Wolvercote 99 for 4 vs Oxenford 60 for 5; Wolvercote won

Wolvercote 29 for 2 vs Wytham 28 All out; Wolvercote won

Wolvercote vs Kidlington – Match conceded by Kidlington; Wolvercote won

Wolvercote 56 for 5 vs East Oxford 35 All out; Wolvercote won

Semi –Final v Oxenford

So it had come down to this: will we carry on with our unbeaten run, now when it matters most? We were scheduled to play in the second semi-final of the day. In the first, East Oxford had won comfortably against Twyford.

We won the toss and decided to bat first. Darren Jones opened the innings with his mate Nick King. The order of the day was ‘not to get run out’. The first over was safely negotiated, scoring four runs. During the second over, King top edged into the roof and was replaced by Shafqat in the middle. Both batsmen made steady progress against some impressive bowling.

One of the tactical changes made by our opponents Oxenford was their wicketkeeper was now standing up to the stumps. We knew this was viable, as is amply demonstrated by our own AGM all the time, however, it made it difficult to step out of the crease, leaving their spinners to be able to pitch and turn the ball. Scoring became progressively more difficult but Jones and Shafqat held on and after eight over we had scored 40 runs.

Shafqat was eventually caught at long on at the start of the 9th over which brought Babbs to the crease. With our bowling attack we were confident of defending any total, but had set our batting aim to get more than 60 runs. Oxenford bowled well in the closing overs, and we were restricted to 52 runs. Was this enough to defend and progress to the final?

The Oxenford openers strode to the middle, very confident. Ahmed opened the bowling and gave away 4 runs in his first over. His partner in crime, Shelley, bowled the second over and conceded two runs. The third and the fourth overs were bowled by Ahmed and Shelley respectively. With one ball to go of the fourth over, the score had moved on to 15 without loss, and the openers were looking increasing comfortable. However, Shelley got the ball to rise off a good length and Hassan top edged into the roof.

We had the breakthrough we were looking for. The introduction of Jones into the attack for the fifth over brought further fruit for the team as he bowled the 2nd opener with a beautiful late away swinger. This left, the new man in the team, Sadiqi, and his captain Hiscock at the crease. Chris Babbs was to be the fourth bowler and was brought on to bowl the 6th over. He bowled a beautiful,

well thought and well planned over; well he is a research scientist! Five dot balls built up the pressure and the inevitable wicket, run out, was achieved off the final delivery.

Jones bowled the 7th over, in which he gave away 3 runs. This meant Oxenford needed 32 runs off the last 3 overs. It was now or never and Sadiqi decided to chance his luck. He hit aggressively through the line and a couple of overthrows meant we had given away 15 runs. 17 off the last two overs left the match on a knife edge. All were engrossed, including both teams from the first semi-final.

Jones was entrusted with the responsibility of bowling the 9th over. This was a good one, in which only 7 runs were scored by the aggressive Sadiqi. But this only tells half the story; fielding at Long On, Nick King was sensational. He stopped two certain sixes with last minute dives, which left all watching gobsmacked. If acts of individual brilliance were going to take the team to the final, these were certainly up there.

So it was a simple equation: 1 over and ten runs. Who will hold their nerves? Who will have the skill? Up stepped the second doctor of the team, Barkat Ahmed, against the dangerous Sidiqi. He started with a beautiful away swinger, dot ball: 5 balls, ten runs required. The second delivery was an inswinger, dot ball: 4 balls, ten runs required. The batsman deflected the third ball for a single: 3 balls, 9 runs required. The fourth ball resulted in a run out: 2 balls, 8 runs required. Fifth ball also resulted in a single, so one ball and seven to win and six to tie to force a super over. However, Ahmed bowled a beautiful yorker, which the batsman just managed to keep out. Wolvercote had sneaked home by six runs. This was a brilliant over by Ahmed against a very good batsman, and all those who viewed the match applauded both sides off the pitch. Surely, the best match of the whole series.

Final v East Oxford.

So we had made it to the final, against a very talented East Oxford team. They won the toss and decided to bat first. We knew the key was to keep their volatile batsmen quiet during the initial overs. It went to plan for the first two overs (8 runs scored), however, the margin for error against such explosive batsmen is very small and after the third over the score had jumped to 23. Just 3 more runs from the next two overs made it 26 at the half way stage of the innings for East Oxford. During overs 6 and 7, a further 13 runs were scored but in the process, through some great bowling and risky running, East Oxford lost 5 wickets.

With the last batsman in, Ahmed was given the responsibility to finish the innings off quickly. He obliged with an inswinging Yorker with his first delivery, to set Wolvercote a target of 40 runs to win the inaugural City of Oxford indoor league. The other 3 bowlers had also played a large part in keeping the opposition to such a manageable target; Shelly 2 overs, 2 runs; Jones 2 overs, 10 runs; and Babbs 1 over, 3 runs – fantastic figures.

We planned not to take the chase beyond the eighth over. The openers executed this plan with such efficiency, had there been some youngsters present, they could have learnt their five times tables! We won the match in the eighth over, without any loss, thus the securing the first silverware of the season for the club.

All the players from the club who took part in the league would like to say a massive thank you to Shaz Khan, without whom, none of this would have been possible.

There is a wolf currently sharpening his claws in Cardiff, who would have been the first name on the team sheet for the indoor league. Rhys, you are always in our thoughts and prayers, and I am sure next year you will play in the indoor league with us. This one is for you!

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