Beware the Injured Wolf
Please whistle the theme-tune to the Great Escape when reading the following. After glorious sun bathed the Wolfpack photo, clouds gathered and some lengthy showers delayed first over by half an hour or so. We spent the time grappling to get the gazebo up and the sides were employed for the first time this year, to keep the driving rain off the scorers. Faringdon won the toss and elected to bowl and things went from bad to worse as there was a slight mix-up and Mark was run out in the second over followed by a Mick Hume purple patch to reduce us to 20 for 4 with Richie and Muaz both getting unplayable deliveries and Ben being judged LBW. Given this was a ‘must win’ game to keep us in the title chase, things looked bleak. We started to take comfort in other victories, such as the unlikely resistance shown by the gazebo in the teeth of the wind (mainly thanks to Tom Murray’s sailor’s knots in the guy ropes lashing it down) and Oxford United’s victory over Charlton to top of League One. Things started to look up as Tom M led doughty resistance and helped recover us to 40 for 4 in partnership with Sahil before Usman and Yatish continued the rearguard to get us close to 100. Babbs and Barkat poked around to add a few extra and get us into three figures, our innings finishing on just 107 with us licking our wounds. It was not much, but runs on the board nevertheless.
We’d have to bowl and field exceptionally well to defend such a low score and, very gratifyingly, we did just that! Samir and Barkat bowled their hearts out and took 2 apeice* before Sahil and Yatish came into the attack and kept chipping away at the Farringdon line up. With such a low total to defend, and the score creeping ever up, at points it felt as if the Faringdon batsmen relentlessly popped up, as if from sown dragon’s teeth, but (Yatish 4 for 11) and Sahil (2 for not many) found a way to send them back to the now increasingly weatherbeaten gazebo. Backed by a superhuman effort in the field from everybody, buoyed by the 1’s Wolf of the Week Oscar Madden as substitute fielder saving runs behind square, a deft display by Tom Murray (2 catches) doing a fine role as stand-in leader of the Wolvercote male voice choir behind the sticks, the game turned our way and we finished the Faringdon innings for 56. A really fine effort in the field to seize an unlikely win from the jaws of defeat and one in which our team spirit, belief and willingness to work for each other made the impossible possible. We retired to the White Hart to give the victorious 4’s skipper a rousing send off, all feeling like Steve Mcqueen jumping the barbed wire fence on a Trumph TR6.
*I don’t have the scoresheets to hand, so all scores are approximate.
Report by Chris Babbs
Feeling confident chasing, with toss won Combe were inserted. Tariq and Toby took the first and second over respectively, the latter steaming up the M40 and straight into his run-up. Right-handed Dingwall got off to a quick start with some quality shots, but a sharp change by standing skipper Amit allowed Kalpa (replacing Tariq) to slow things down. Toby continued in good rhythm, removing left-handed opener Horne who was struggling to hit the ball of the square.Majid then replaced Kalpa, finding an excellent pace and length for the conditions, going for only 21 off his 9, with 1 wicket. Amit replaced Toby for 3 (legal) balls (check). With 2 wide balls.( no shock there) Before a net-acquired side strain forced him off. This of course was really a stroke of captaincy brilliance, as genuine all-rounder Tohsif picked up not only the rest of the over, but also the motoring Dingwall, denying him his 50. The quicker and flatter spin ( Copy of Rashid Khan) of Tohsif proved very effective, as evidenced by his 3-fer for 35 off 8.4, picking up yet another danger man in his 40’s. Kalpa couldn’t bare the sight of the all rounder taking wickets, so decided to drop an absolute sitter. ( only joking it’s all banta) anyway the innings progressed with constant on & off until DLS was introduced.
The standing in skipper didn’t want to leave the venue until he gulped down a beer. The oppo skipper heard his intention and decided to offer the wolf pack free drinks. ( Great gesture by Combe) Amit after one beer started to fall around until Tariq managed to hold him to the car. ( old age I think ) Anyway jokes aside. Great performance by such a great team. Let’s carry this momentum to the next game and finish the season on a high. Great things to come next season boys.
“Match Abandoned” five overs short of a “legitimate” game* means that Wolvercote 3s slip to third in the league as Kingston Bagpuize thrashed Abingdon Vale via Duckworth Lewis.
“[T]here is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather”. So said John Ruskin, but it may as well have been one of the band of 3s players who found ourselves hoping for the rain to stay away one minute, and praying for a deluge the next! In the end, it was our prayers that were answered, and the match was abandoned as we were in danger of snatching defeat from what felt, after the first over, a seemingly unlosable position.
The day started brightly enough – wary of the gathering clouds, both skippers agreed to an early start, and Neil Sadler combined with Will Turner at point to remove the Harwell opener with the fourth ball of the day. This was followed by a downpour of near biblical proportions that involved at least three types of rain and hail, and probably a few frogs and toads, to leave a small lake on the bowler’s run up. An hour and a half later, and the slippery wicket and heavy wet ball took a chunk of venom out of the Wolvercote attack – a second wicket partnership of 93 was only broken by a thrice juggled catch by Payne (now at point) as Turner removed Davies for 24, before Otis (caught The Irf) ended the brilliant innings by Harwell skipper Tom Gallington for 70. This brought Rafiq Shah to the wicket who quietly moved to 46no, as Harwell used their 37 overs well to compile an impressive 195. The only other wickets to fall were the Kiwi Max Schofield (10 – bamboozled, baffled and bowled by The Irf) and George (12 – run out by a Sadler/Gabe combo). The 195 was trimmed to 193 by mssrs Duckworth and Lewis, and the chase was on.
Crouch and Otis opened the account briskly enough, with the chairman offering a batting drill of cover drive, square drive, and uppercut off the differing lengths of George’s first two overs, before Rowan-Hull was unfortunate to be given LBW by our own umpire to a highish delivery from the aforementioned Harwell quick. The visitors changed up their bowling after 9 overs and were rewarded with back-to-back boundaries, including The Chairman’s shot of the day on drive (an easy decision – he’s writing this report and we only hit 8 4s). They were noticeably tighter thereafter, and Walsh was cleaned up by their skipper for 7. This brought Jeejo to the crease, who manage to squeeze out one final boundary somewhere between his back leg and the wicket before the heavens opened to end the game.
All-in-all a disappointing performance that was well short what we are capable of. Ruskin, a famous aesthete, would have had nothing to write about our display at Kennington as several catches and hat-fulls of runs went awry. A matched best abandoned in memory and on paper.
*20 overs as determined by the Cherwell League rules. It is worth noting that the old OCA rules would have permitted the skippers to agree to a 30 over game at 12.30, which would have yielded a result. The game of cricket and everyone playing yesterday were the losers. There was no winner.
Report by Daniel Crouch
After well-deserved parting gifts were given to 4s captain, Phil Lohan, by Chris Babbs at Wolvercote CC HQ, surrounded by most of the pack, the 4s travelled to Great and Little Tew to face Minster Lovell. Put onto their second pitch with their ‘rustic’ facilities the wicket was damp but playable. In his final toss of the season, Phil beat the odds and finally won one. Deciding to trust in the weather gods (and the fact that M Spolander, who scored a century against us at Kennington, had not appeared in the Minster line-up) the 4s went out to field hoping the pitch would dry out during the day.
With the match umpire pulling out at the last minute, it was left to each team to find two willing souls to fulfil the task and the Lovell pair (not to be confused with our own Lovell pair) were kept busy as, in a fitting tribute to seasons past, the 4s decided to honour ‘extras’ by making them the highest scorer for Minster Lovell with a 30+ score, most of which came in the opening spell.
After extras and some nice play from their opener took the score to 50 from 8 or so overs we finally made the breakthrough via Rahim the even Younger who took on shouldering the responsibility of being the best Rahim of the day from his dad who was last seen conversing with Zeus about what it takes to be a cricketing god after his heroics the week before. Supporting Yusuf was Rishi who bowled extremely well, finding good length and bounce. He got his reward for his bowling with an LBW decision which even the home ump couldn’t refuse. There was then some confusion as the Minster scorers were unable to see the difference between Yusuf and Rishi (this type of thing happens more often than you think) and had mixed up their bowling figures and given overs which were Yusuf’s to Rishi. This forced our captain to spend more time than was expected in the scorer’s hut trying to rectify the error ably assisted by Rahim the even Younger who was extremely worried he was being denied a good write up in the match report.
As the innings trundled on, the scoring trundled even slower thanks to some tight bowling from Norm, who took 2 wickets and fine fielding from our ‘gun’ fielder, Mark Boulle. The first was from their number 5 who chose to play a reverse sweep in their first over before he’d scored a run and then a smart catch from the returning Toby Springings as WK. Whilst Norm was restricting the runs from one end, Minster believed that Oscar was doing the same for us at the other. To us we know him as Isaac but that didn’t matter to Minster and went some way to explaining the mix up with Rishi and Yusuf.
So after Yusuf was being Rishi, Rishi was being Yusuf, Isaac was being Oscar and Norm was being Moeen Ali, Phil decided to play along with this and thought that Marc was Wolvercote’s bowling answer to the speedy JP Gupta. By this time rain had started to fall and we were around 10 overs from the end of the innings. Desperate to stay on, Phil threw the cherry to Marc who, after 15 years of playing was about to bowl his first league ball. Because, clearly, you all have nothing better to do on a Sunday morning here’s what happened:
Ball 1 – a electric, energetic 4 step run up amble to the crease, the ball – seam up (maybe) – arced towards the batter. The length was great not bad, the batsman was mentally tied up. Should he come forward or stay back? In the end he chose to stay rooted to the spot. He then gently dabbed it to gully who fielded easily.
Ball 2 – a electric, energetic 4 step run up amble to the crease, the ball – seam up (maybe) – arced towards the batter. The length was great not bad, the batsman was mentally tied up. Should he come forward or stay back? In the end he chose to stay rooted to the spot. He then gently dabbed it to gully who fielded easily.
Ball 3 -– a electric, energetic 4 step run up amble to the crease, the ball – seam up (maybe) – arced towards the batter. The length was great not bad, the batsman was mentally tied up. Should he come forward or stay back? In the end he chose to stay rooted to the spot. He then gently dabbed it to gully who fielded easily.
I know, I know – what happened with balls 4, 5 and 6? What about balls 7 to 30 I hear you desperately asking but, for the sake of getting my breakfast ready, I’ll leave it to your imagination to determine what happened.
Anyway… …ball 4 -– a electric, energetic 4 step run up amble to the crease, the ball – seam up (maybe) – arced towards the batter. The length was great not bad, the batsman was mentally tied up. Should he come forward or stay back? In the end he chose to stay rooted to the spot. He then gently dabbed it to gully who fielded easily.
Ok ok – if I’m having to write this each Sunday, you’ll have to indulge me a bit of poetic licence. A maiden over to begin with though! Ball 17 is worth mentioning though. This time the batsman decided to try and be assertive. What a mistake to make as he put it in the air over Ibi at point. Ibi turned, having spotted that the bowler had rolled his fingers over the ball this time, giving it an extra revolution of pace and, therefore, that the batsman could not have timed his shot at all. He then stuck out his right arm and plucked the ball from the watery sky for M Lewis’s first wicket in test league cricket. The crowd went wild, David G, Oscar’s Isaac’s dad, ran onto the pitch waving his chair in the air clapped politely (maybe, hopefully). Ball 24 is also worth a mention as this time the batter played the ball to mid-on and sprinted off for a single. Rahim the even Younger, ran in and having noticed that the bowler had bowled this ball with the shiny side facing away from the batsman and with a touch of cross seam, it meant that the batsman couldn’t have hit it as cleanly as he’d expected with one stump to aim at, took the bails off for the run out. The wicket should probably go to the bowler for their switching of the shiny side but there are rules and etiquette to follow apparently.
Having set the Wolves a target of 120 for the win, Marc and Ibi went out to bat. Exhausted by the most electric 5 over spell in sports entertainment history, Marc (aware that he is writing this in the 3rd person – see title) was unable to move feet, bat or arms and was bowled for what looks like what could be (spoiler – it is) the decisive 0 in the race to the duck trophy – the only batting trophy to evade him during his time at the club. With Ibi getting used to being out in the middle with the number 3 from almost the beginning of the innings, he again set out to restore some sanity to the 4s innings getting to 19 before being caught. He was ably supported by Simon at no. 3 (12). Boulle had come in at 4 and was playing well. When Simon departed, Boulle and Toby put on a good partnership to get us close to the target. Toby (13), having read the script, got out to allow our skipper his final innings before his departure next week. Boulle (40 n.o.), who was crashing balls for 6, getting them lost and generally playing rather well decided to end the game with 9 off the final over to secure the win. It left the skipper with a red inker 7 n.o. which was what he needed to secure his best average for a season.
By the end of the match the sun had come out (we’d come off for rain in our innings but a gentleman’s agreement between skippers allowed DL to be binned and we just chased the total and would have all the overs required to do so) and, with a victory, it was a fitting end to Phil Lohan’s time as captain.
I know this report has been all about the skipper and you’re getting a bit bored now but allow me these final words; the 4s would not exist if it wasn’t for Phil raising it as an issue many years ago. I recall that the initial reaction was that it would be lovely but that it was probably a step too far for the club at the time. Fast forward to now and it is to the credit of the management team that we have a 4s team which blends the youth and experience so wonderfully well. But it started with a dream from Phil and for all of us who have got to play and to know him, the 4s would not be what they are today without him and his leadership of the team. Many of us would also not be playing cricket today if we didn’t have a 4th team and so, from all us players in the 4s adult category – thank you Phil. On behalf of the club, we wish you the best of luck in Canada and are already looking forward to seeing you next summer.
Report by Marc Lewis