After a long hot drive circumnavigating the A34 closure the 1’s converged on Faringdon where we won the toss and decided it wasn’t quite hot enough to buck the requirements of the W/L/D format and elected to bowl. Barkat and Samir toiled away and on the flat fast Faringdon track and Samir quickly clean bowled the opener with beauty. In a comedic moment the other opener popped one high in the air that didn’t quite carry to mid on, but he was so busy ball watching and being relived at his apparent reprieve, he was too leisurely with his running and Ahmed picked the ball up on the bounce and ran him out with a direct hit from 10 yards away. This brought Faringdon stalwart Mick Hume to the crease where he resisted our best efforts until Yatsih cleaned him up after he made 63. The wickets were shared around with 1 for Amit, 2 for Usman and 4 for Yatish and even though we dropped a couple of tough chances, we were happy at half time to have restricted Faringdon to 145 for 9 from 53 overs.
The Wolves response got off to a terrible start as we were 9 for 3 and then 33 for 5 with all five wickets falling to catches, 4 behind the stumps. The middle order staged sturdy resistance, based around a very good 33 from Gus including a partnership of 45 with Samir, to put us right back in the game. At 116 for 7, with just 30 needed to win with plenty of overs in hand, it was ours to lose, but lose we did as the last 3 wickets fell to fine catches on the boundary and we fell just 14 runs short. In all, 8 of our wickets were caught and some of them were stunners, proving the old adage correct. This drops us to second place in the table. Next week we’re at home to middle placed Hook Norton with a burning desire to return to winning ways.
A “winning bore” as the Threes move to Two
Wolvercote 3s move to second spot in the league and snatch a meh from the jaws of victory at Harwell International.
In a format-defying move, Skipper Shyju elected to bat and make the most of the gloriously sunny afternoon. Farrell opened the account bisecting the slips with a pair of boundaries, but never looked entirely comfortable against the rather sprightly Harwell opening pair of quicks (who, from Sri Lanka and New Zealand, put the “International” into the home team’s name). Daniel “caught mid-off” Crouch came and went for a “Gressingham” (a long duck… geddit?), before the skipper steadied the ship in a partnership of 42 with Gabe. The home side then wisely dispensed with rapid and accurate bowling, and served up some filthy moon pies from the excellently-named “Boag”. These swiftly accounted for Shyju (bowled, 16), Jones (bowled, 9), and Gabe (caught, 42). At 74 for 4, we had a wobble on. As so often this season, it was Will “The Wall” Symington who put a stop to this silliness, and, together with Walshy, the rebuilding began. The middle- order pair went through the gears, with the out-of-form Walsh gradually rebuilding his confidence with a watchful start, and Will, well, being Will. 70 odd runs later, Phil was biffing them all around the park, and Will was, well, still being Will. Harwell then wisely brought back their opening Sri Lankan slinger, and, after being smashed back over his head for a one bounce “shot of the day” four by Walsh, he did for them both, with Symington, caught for 23, and Walsh, bowled, 54 (trying to repeat the SOTD and missing). Phil’s return to form was welcomed by all, and duly earned him his Wolf-of-the-Week. With the overs running out, the Wolvercote tail tried to be pro-active, and took the extra two overs to add on a few more runs. This pro-activity, however, came with risks, and our final five bats recorded 4, 0, 2, 8no, 4, as George neatly top and tailed the innings as Sadler was cleaned up with three balls to go. Our 178 felt lightish, but belied a surprisingly sluggish outfield brought about by the lush carpet of grass formed from the successive drenchings and droughtings of late, and the impressive bowling of George who ended 4 for 38 of 12.
The Harwell International reply began disastrously as the first five wickets fell for 38 runs, with the raw pace of Jeejo (1 for 14 from 4), some superb swing bowling from Sadler (who put in a shift with 2 for 38 from 11, with 10 straight through at the start), and some guile and wit from The Irf (2 for 33 off 13). Indeed, had Crouch held on to a regulation chance at gully when the portly Stevens was on 6, the game may have been over very quickly indeed. However, history tells a different story, and Stevens marshalled the tail as he was dropped again on 45 (a sharp chance for a caught and bowled by DJ), and again on 50 something, and again on 60 odd (Watson the culprit at mid-on for both) before Darren (3 for 19 off 8) finally scalped him on 71. His stoic residence was rewarded with both a half-century (achieved with some aplomb as he heaved a mighty maximum over cow corner off the Wolvercote skipper), and the knowledge that he saved his team a few points with a losing bore, as the visitors couldn’t quite winkle out the final two wickets in the allotted 43 overs. Given that the target for the winning bore was calculated by the run rate (news to most, if not all, the Wolvercote players), one cannot help but wonder whether the 7 runs garnered in our extra overs was worth it? We will never know…
Report by DC
After an excellent win away to Shipton-under-Wychwood last week a buoyant 4th XI returned home to Kennington to face bottom of the table Minster Lovell 3s.
Early on the big question of the day was could the opposition fight their way through the now legendary Oxford traffic to field a full team. The Minster Lovell skipper called correctly at the toss and elected to field with the 9 players available (including a stand in who wins the award for hat of the day with a bright yellow bucket number)!
The Wolvercote openers started well, with Beaumont (33) and N. Lovell (21) setting a good platform with an opening partnership of 60, Alex punishing anything full through the off side and Nigel punishing anything short through leg. We swapped our own Lovell’s in the fifteenth after Nigel middled a ‘sit up and cut me’ delivery to point. Alex and Jim (34) then tried to hit the acceleration before Alex fell to a faint tickle behind chasing a wide one. There then followed the traditional 4s middle order wobble (though special mention for some well struck blows by Hanif, and Shahrukh alongside the classy shots of Jim to keep the board ticking). The score was looking decidedly below par until the 9th wicket partnership from Quinn (4*) and Pratap (24). Special award to Quinny for excellent running in the heat, running pretty much all of the 40 runs scored after he took to the crease! All of which left the Wolves with a good feeling on 164 from 42 overs.
The second innings started well, with Quinny trapping their number 2 LBW for 0. But it was then that we started to be undone. In a batting display that surprised everyone involved (not least the man himself and his teammates!) M. Spolander took the game away from us. For a man who hadn’t played any cricket in 12 years he displayed some brutal hitting power, sending 4s and 6s all over the ground (note for the Wolves authorities, the spare balls box will need refilling!). All credit to our bowling unit who pushed themselves hard to get the crucial breakthrough but it was ultimately in vain. Some control was exerted towards the end by the miserly bowling of Norm, getting us a consolation wicket, but the game was finished after 21.3 overs with a trademark Spolander smash through cow corner for 4 to leave him 127* (and incredibly sore!).
The consolation and high point for the stand-in skipper was the great spirit shown the Wolfpack, pushing for the wickets and staying lively in the field through to the final ball. Revenge will be sought in the return fixture in August – beware the wounded pack!
Report by AB