Wolvercote Win Slow-Brewed Small Beer Thriller vs Hook Norton
A white board in the pavilion bearing the phrase “Wolvercote will win” proved prophetic as the 1s welcomed Hook Norton to Cutteslowe Park on an overcast afternoon. On winning the toss, Babbs elected to use the conditions and bowl first. Barkat and Samir had the ball on a string and hooped the new cherry around to reduce the visitors to 9 for 3 with Samir lighting up the zingers twice. The Hooky middle order ground out the next few overs and recovered to 48 for 4 before the introduction of spin (Sahil and Kalpa) reduced them to 73 for 9, with Kalpa finishing with 5 for 29 and Gus taking 2 sharp catches. The 10th wicket pair started slowly and then became increasingly expansive, adding 42 for and it took the reintroduction of Barkat and a juggling catch from Richie at extra-cover to finish the innings.
The Hook Norton fielders were on fire as all the Wolvercote wickets fell to catches and run outs and runs were hard to come by. Ben toughed it out and showed us how to win ugly by scoring 35 in 45 overs (largely due to the excellent spin of Richard Knight, who took 2 for 29 in a marathon 20 over spell) and it took a brilliant run out to dislodge him, sending him back with bloodied elbows but unbowed. Mo did a great deal to steady the ship (again) and keep us in contention and the pressure released a little as Gus timed some beautiful 4s. Kalpa went in to replace Mo and cemented his man of the match status by hitting 4 fours in 2 overs to make it look easy and win us the game by 3 wickets in the 55th over. A great win after some early batting wobbles and sets us back on track before we take on Kidlington next week. It was great to have Andrew Payne safely installed back behind the scorers’ table too.
Report by CB
For Stokes and Leach; think Das and Sadler. For Broad at Trent Bridge; read Turner at Playfield Road. Wolvercote threes burgle a thrilling “Miracle at Kennington” thanks to a record-breaking tenth wicket stand and some devastating fast bowling
Vipers! There be vipers in that there pitch I tell thee! The ball bit and fizzed and spat from the Kennington deck in the opening overs. So much so that the visiting Oxford captain, having put the home side into bat, in fear of what this snake pit might do to his youthful charges, took the unusual step of requesting the pitch be re-rolled after the first six overs had been bowled. To be fair to him, during those overs Gabe (1) had succumbed to a low bounce and was LBW, Shyju (6) had been hit in the face by a ball that reared off a good length, and Crouch (1) had taken a blow to the arm before inexcusably channeling Harry Brook’s shot at Lords the day before and gift-wrapped a C&B. The square behaved a little better after a re-roll, but the fact that, of the 20 wickets to fall, 13 were bowled and 2 were LBW suggests that the wicket retained at least a little venom for the duration.
When one plays Oxford 4s, it turns out that one only really plays two surnames: Bulldock (E 6 for 43 off 14 & T 3 for 29 off 9), and Dogar (A 1 for 22 off 5, and M 26 runs). The Wolvercote innings down to 9 reads a staccato of single digits, punctuated by those two names alone, and with only Walsh, with 11, daring to test the tens column. Some good balls, and some poor shots, but really the pitch was insufficient excuse to warrant further account of our poor display. This was demonstrated admirably, and oh so stylishly, by Das and Sadler, who were, for the tenth wicket, as good as the rest were poor. They ran rapidly. Occasionally riskily. And, with one all run four, very, very, impressively. Neil cajoling sensible play from his partner, and driving like pro. Jeejo smiting the ball to all parts. Shot of the day was in there somewhere, but it was all so breathless, none of us quite remembers where. A glorious partnership of 77 – ONE MORE, no less, than that famously scored in 2019 in Headingly, put us on 136 that, with a bit of luck and a lot of skill might just prove sufficient…
It is seldom in a game of village cricket that a bowler with a fivefer in a low scoring game misses out on a Man-of-the-Match award. However, notwithstanding Will Turner’s imperious 5 for 31 off 9, which merits the most honourable of honourable mentions, no one witness to yesterday’s game can deny that Neil Sadler with a career best 37 with the bat, and a silky and swinging 3 for 33 off 12 was our Wolf-of-the-Week. So, what happened? Basically Sadler produced some lovely swing bowling to account for number 2, 3, and 9. The Irf and The Skipper picked up two important breakthrough wickets, and then Tyro Turner (“He’s big, he’s bad, he’s better than his dad”) supped on rabbit pie (all bowled) for his maiden Wolvercote Adult jug.
Now for the conclusion: Glorious and (oh so!) sweet the fruit of our labours tasted, our victory was born out of a piece of gamesmanship by Jeejo (caught behind – but not given – with the scoreboard reading 77), that leaves a slightly sour taste. Now this was obviously quite within the rules of cricket (and was duly reciprocated by the opposition number 3 who didn’t walk when caught behind in single figures also), but it goes to prove both that sometimes the apple is the gift of the serpent, and that the snakes are sometimes on the pitch as well as in it!
Report by DC
Some weekends a cricketing challenge is laid down that it takes brains, grit, and determination to see your way through. This week the challenge was laid down by Oxenford’s scorer – “Try and write your whole match report without using the word [redacted]”. Like many situations in cricket, this will be tough, but never let it be said that a Wolf shies away from a challenge!
A wise man once told me that match reports should focus on the positives, and this week’s game started with one – Phil Lohann won a toss! The 4s duly took to the [redacted] against an Oxenford team that has batted deep throughout the season. Miles opened with fire from one end (your correspondent wore one on the forehead whilst keeping – definitely nothing to do with the [redacted]), with the returning Yusuf R providing the ice from the other end. Pleasure at Yusuf’s return quickly became delight as some tight bowling saw their opener pop up a catch to mid-wicket, well held by Isaac. Oxenford’s number 3 then came in and got the score rattling along, hitting some rare boundaries through the sluggish [redacted]. The iceman saw him off in the 8th over with a ball nibbling at his edge through to the keeper.
It was then that the squeeze began. Starting the 9th over Simon Palmer trapped their other opener plumb LBW. The next fell at the end of a tight spell from Evan (a great low catch from Yusuf at point). The pressure built and built, Simon taking another LBW, followed by another excellent catch from Jim at mid-on to remove the watchful Glendinning (6 from 47 balls!). Isaac took over the pavilion end from Evan and there followed some attritional cricket for the purists, with the Wolf pack hunting. Isaac soon got into the wickets – the first another brilliant low catch from Evan, scooping the ball from just above the [redacted] and somehow managing not to drag it along the [redacted] (take note Mr Starc). Isaac then finished the innings with the first ball of the 32nd over, trapping the opposition skipper LBW to leave them with a tricky looking 79.
The Wolvercote reply was…challenging. Marc L fell in the first, your correspondent fell in the third. Evan and Jim hit some good shots but fell soon afterwards (I know I’m not supposed to mention the [redacted] but Jim summed it up well, describing it as “a [redacted]”). Mark B was then bowled by one that jagged from outside off to take the leg stump leaving us at 16-5. Skipper Lohann and Naveed then steadied the ship with an excellent and patient partnership of 36 to give the Wolves some hope. But on a [redacted] like this there’s always a ball with your name on it. Phil fell to a rank half tracker, with Naveed falling soon after to an excellent catch in the gully region. The tail of the wolf briefly wagged with an excellent lofted 4 from Simon, but Oxenford cleaned up to leave us an agonising 13 runs short.
The genuine positive to take from this game was our bowling and fielding. The 4s have rarely seen such tight bowling and brilliant fielding. There was technically one drop but even that was a brilliant stop in the field (a left handed diving effort from Mark B to his left). In a game of tight moments our whole team can be proud of the way they stayed the course! Thanks as well to Hanif for umpiring!
And see, I didn’t use the word pitch once…
Report by AB