With the morning rain clouds never quite delivering on their threat of a deluge, the 1s travelled down the A34 to Abingdon and were grateful to find the home side had covered the wicket and made sure we got the game on, thanks lads. We won the toss and elected to field and in overcast and incredibly windy conditions. With excellent bowling from Barkat (2 for 46 in 15.3) and Yatish (2 for 29 in 12), Muaz (2 for 23 in 10) and Sahil (1 for 31 in 9) and some very sharp fielding (Usman and Yatish) effecting 2 run outs, we reduced Vale to 63 for 7 and set our sights on rolling them for fewer than 100. However, the Vale lower order had other ideas as they added over 100 for the last 3 wickets and recovered to 169 all out in the 53rd over, with the safe hands of Richie holding onto one at mid-wicket, impressively adding 60 for the last wicket. Special mention to Barkat, who ran up the hill into the wind for 15 overs, during which time it was so windy that we played without bails as they kept blowing off.
Daniel D and Babbs got off to a spritely start, putting on 92 for the first wicket, before Babbs was adjudged LBW for 29. Daniel powered on, batting brilliantly, and was eyeing a ton on his debut for the first team before being caught on 90, a potentially match-winning effort. Sahil added a few before being bowled, but Richie and Usman took us home with a couple of overs to spare for a convincing 7 wicket victory with 3.5 overs to spare. Next week, we’re at home to top of the table challengers Hanborough.
Report by CB
The twos day started off earlier than usual with a joining of Kalpa, Deepak, Ramesh, Brian, Babbs and Nick all inspecting the ground and the pitch, which was unfortunately not marked, and the outfield cut but with lots of grass on top. Calls flew out to the chair, groundsman, and club members. Special thanks to Deepak, Kalpa, Nick, Naveed, Colin, Sarah, and Tom Akerman for their help and hours spent preparing the outfield, and Alex (groundsman) and staff for cutting and preparing a wicket at short notice.
Ground ready, players ready, toss lost (finally) by Wolvercote and we were asked to bat first. With a much changed side, Wolvercote fielded 3 youth players, with Otis Gibbons making their 2s debut. Mark and Brian set about opening the batting and looked comfortable, until Brian was bowled for 1 with an absolute “nut” (more of these to follow).
Darren came and seemed to look to build the innings but was caught behind for 7. Mark and Naveed went about building a steady innings, with Mark picking gaps and pushing the boundaries, whilst Naveed handily supported, rotating the strike and seeing Wolvercote into the drinks break at 48-2 off 23. Refreshed and with instructions from Brian to start upping the tempo, Naveed tried to oblige, but was bowled for 6. This brought Tom Akerman to the wicket, in his third game for the 2s this season, but first game batting, Tom had licence to hit, tried his best to accelerate the scoreboard, but again another wicket bowled, for 1.
Wolvercote looked comfortable even with a score of 65-4 as this brought Deepak to join Mark at the crease. This is when the fireworks started. Deepak decided he had enough of Middleton Cheney thinking they had the upper hand, hit the bowler down through the covers for 4, before the opposition put a man there. Deepak decided that the man wasn’t tall enough and he hit the next delivery over his head for 6. A few overs later, Deepak decided to try the same trick, this time hitting into the wind, clearing the rope with ease, almost taking out a car and family in the process. Meanwhile Mark played the anchoring role, joining in with a few sweetly timed boundaries. This led to a bowling change, with the opening bowler being brought back and claiming the wicket of Deepak, bowled for 42. Taking the score to 138-5. Kalpa joined Mark, who soon brought up his 50 after nearly being run out on 49 on what should have been a waist height no ball. Kalpa tried to continue this acceleration but was caught for 8. Otis Gibbons in with full permission to swing for the fences, hit a lovely leg glance for 4 before a mix up in the middle left him stranded and ran out. Will Sheehan came and looked to keep Mark on strike in the final over, Wolvercote ending on 157- 7 from 47, with Mark 61 Not out.
Middleton Cheney’s response started perfectly for the upbeat Wolves with Tariq bowling an absolute nut of a delivery to get rid of the opener for 2 and following that up with a rank full toss drilled to Mark at point taking a tidy low diving/falling catch.
This brought Middleton Cheney’s captain and best batter to the crease respectively, and their only means of resistance. This was soon broken by Kalpa, opening the bowling in place of Brian, and bowling against the wind bamboozled their captain, bowled for 23, and Middleton Cheney 39-3. After 6 overs of aggression from Tariq, sensing a need for change, Will Sheehan was brought into the attack and struck in his first over with yet another nut removing the dangerous Boynton. Kalpa claimed his second wicket clean bowling number 6. Refreshed after drinks with Middleton Cheney now 5 down. Will Turner was brought into the attack introducing pace from both ends bowling batter 7 with a peach of a delivery angled in and seaming away with his third ball. Kalpa having switched ends for his last 2 overs, ending Sheehan’s spell of 7-3-6 for 1 wicket, but unfortunately no further wickets for Kalpa ending his bowling day on 14-2-45 for 2 wickets. Two overs later, Turner picked up another wicket with Tom Akerman taking a good catch at midwicket, after Brian may have dropped what some would say a simple catch at third slip. Tariq came back on taking two more wickets and hunting for his first 5fer for the season, but unfortunately not to be. Ending his day on 10-2-48 for 4 wickets. Otis replaced Turner who bowled brilliantly for his allotted 6 overs ending on 6-1-21 for 2 wickets.
With Middleton needing 35 runs, Wolvercote needing 1 wicket, 6 overs left, Brian thinking Otis bowled pace still, threw the ball to him after a pep talk, which was made utterly redundant with Otis walking in, bowling Offspin and claiming the last wicket with his first ball, caught at point by Mark for a Wolvercote win by 35 runs. Fantastic performance by all players including the youth players. Although there can only be one man of the match, there has to be special mention to Deepak and Tariq for their individual displays. However Mark C claims the man of the match this week. Next game is Shipton under Wychwood away, with the 2s only 6 points behind Bicester at the top, there is all to play for.
Report by BG
In a battle of the Shahs, Wolvercote IIIs are found wanting in a penultimate over thriller, and cling on to second place in Division 7C by just 3 points, as two 14 year olds sparkle.
The Shah Showcase had to wait a few overs as impressive winds destroyed one sight screen and toppled the second. Shyju duly lost the toss and our openers were given first pleasure of the gale. Showing uncharacteristic stoicism, the rotund quartet of Farrell (10), Crouch (9), Travis* (19), and Lakshman (11) all got in and got out as it became apparent that runs would be at a premium in this game and, if we could just weather the combined storms of the weather and top-of-the-table paceman Yash Shah who, averaging just 6 with 21 wickets, was about as good a bowler as any of us could cope with. That we kept him to 1 for 16 off 8 was creditable, but we used 24 over to get to 62 in the process. It was, therefore, left to Symington and Harkness to salvage a defendable score. Symington poked and prodded his way to double figures before inexplicably skying a slow one, while Ben Harkness provided the fireworks at the other end. I understand Ben to be a shy lad, but you wouldn’t bloody know it from his strokeplay! There were charges down the wicket, sweeps, reverse sweeps, and, yes, a ramp shot in his 22 (which could easily have been a 50 on a faster outfield). Such a sublime exhibition of batsmanship was a genuine joy to watch. Shot-of-the-Day, and arguably of the season, was undoubtedly his reverse exocet missile of a sweep that brought applause from team mates and opposition alike. The show ended, however, when Harkness’s audacity went a smidge too far and he was caught out of bounds by the quick hands of the Didcot stumpsman. A brief cameo of fast singles from Sadler, and a whole bunch of extras, including numerous back-foot no balls, brought our score to a lacklustre 132.
Cruel optimism beckoned, however, as first Payne, and then Sadler, struck within the first 5 overs, and Didcot were 11 for 2. This brought the pugilistic Weaver to the crease and a quickfire 39 that reads: 2414426444111, and did for both Payne and Newman as it became apparent that we needed something trickier if the game was to make the drinks break. Ask and The Irf shall deliver. Weaver the Heaver holed out to Payne in The Irf’s second over, and a procession soon followed as The Irf was joined by his “Spin Twin” Harkness in the 15th over. The Irf was on song and took the glory with a Man-of-the-Match Michelle for 20 off 15, but young Harkness provided the backing vocals, and his 1 for 20 off 7 belies a superb all-game performance with both bat and ball. At 91 for 8 in the 28th over (effectively for 9 as the Didcot number 4 bat tore a calf muscle), we had them on the ropes and victory was surely ours. Surely? What followed was a masterclass in hope and perseverance as the Didcot 14 year-old J. Torien, ably shepherded by Shah coming in at number 11 (best bloody jack I’ve seen… not his normal batting position methinks…), batted out a remarkable 24 overs. The embodiment of Marcus Aurelius’ prescription: “If it is not right, do not do it, if it is not true, do not [play] it”, a stoic Didcot tail inched ever closer to victory.
Shyju rolled every dice and played every card in his deck, but the ace pair gambolled their way to within 3 runs of victory. Our skipper then did the honourable thing, and had the winning runs taken off his own bowling with 7 balls left in the game. All players applauded the young Torien on his truly impressive performance and match-winning stoicism.
The match was an absolute pleasure to play in and Didcot are worthy Division Champions.
*NB – Those concerned as to the whereabouts of Travis Head’s tache can rest assured that it has been found safe and sound atop Phil Walsh’s upper lip (hence the new moniker).
Report by DC