This week the First XI travelled to Stonesfield on a glorious late-spring day with enough blue in the sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers. Stonesfield won the toss and elected to bat and the Wolves opened with Barkat and Samir. Uncharacteristically, a few early chances went down and the Stoney openers benefitted from a couple of extra lives as the run rate started to creep up. An early bowling swap rung the changes as Muaz found extra life in the wicket and soon the pressure was back on the Stones as the run rate slowed and Samir method-acted himself into the role of pent-up fast bowler. The pressure brought more chances and soon the first catch stuck (Mark in the covers off Samir), quickly followed by an LBW greeted with a bellow of trumph. Stonesfield weathered the storm and rebuilt then gathered momentum as the 1’s rang the bowling changes and tinkered with the field, eventually hitting a winning formula in the shape of Sahil and then Richie, bowling his first league spell of the season and very wisely taking the pace off. By the 38th over, a wicket fell (Richie) and Stonesfield sent in some pinch hitters, however, Richie’s unerring accuracy won through as he took 4 for 25. A super sharp stumping from Gus finally rid us of the opener, just as he was opening his shoulders, and stole the Stones momentum. The endgame went to plan as we’d kept 2 overs apiece from Barkat, Sahil and Muaz up our sleeves and this prevented any hope of a final flurry of runs as we pulled together to restrict Stoney to 191.
The Wolves reply briefly faltered as Ben chased a wide one and was caught by the excellent George Redknap off Dan Farant behind the sticks. Muaz and Mark steadied the ship, until Muaz fell for 28. This brought man of the match Richie to the wicket, and after some watchful negotiation he started to hit the gaps on his way to an excellent 60 not out. When Mark’s vigil ended (38), we were well placed, needing ~105 from 20 overs with 7 wickets in hand. Usman hit some powerful shots before going the same way as Ben. Sahil upped the rate and looked like a man with a plane to catch, hoisting a mighty six towards the scorers’ gazebo before perishing to a miscue that made it only half way. Mo came in at 7 as Stones rolled the dice one last time and made us work right to the end with some very tight bowling from Michael Franklin and Tom Gubbins, however, Mo and Richie got us over the line with a couple of overs to spare. A real scrap of a game in which we had to pick ourselves up and show great character to come from behind a couple of times, it felt like our first real test of the season. Just in time, as next week we’re playing Challow and Childrey, who are snapping at our heels at the top of the division. Thanks to the Stoney lads for a warm welcome and to Oscar for taking on the scoring duties in Andrew and Alex’s absence. This may be the first scoring stint in Wolvercote history to be punctuated by the scorer having a quick go on a zip wire during drinks!
Report by CB
Potter bowled for 13 by the change of bowler bringing in Tohsif. With pace on one end and spin on the other. Deepak soon fell for 29 from the spinner Hancock. This brought Yatish to the crease.Tohsif soon ruined Hancock’s figures with two glorious 4s through the covers, before hitting a glorious 6 in Hancock’s next over.
Wolvercote 3s came away from their visit to Marcham with a convincing 130 run victory after another solid whole-team performance.
Shyju lost the toss and was somewhat surprised to be asked to bat on a dry wicket on a sunny afternoon. The Wolvercote innings started brightly against what is undoubtedly the slowest-paced bowling attack in the CCL, adding 41 runs before Crouch nicked off to the first half-decent delivery of the day. This precipitated something of a collapse with the aforementioned Walsh (8, caught hacking), Symington (4, LBW), and Lewis (0, cleaned up) all falling within the next four overs. Cricket is a peculiar sport, and only those who play regularly will understand when I say that Scotty’s subsequent cameo of 8 was an “important 8”: not only did it form 20% of a partnership with Shyju, enabling the skipper to complete his 50 (including two glorious maximums), but it also soaked up valuable overs and pressure, and somehow both anchored and rebuilt the visitors’ innings. However, Shyju (54, bowled), and Scott (8, LBW) fell in subsequent overs, and the threes wobbled once again on 105 for 6, with both Ajay and Bird fresh at the crease. Eschewing the cross-batted strokes of those that had fallen before them (in the same manner that I will rise above any alphabetical or bird-related puns), some brutal straight hitting ensued. 10 boundaries and a match-winning partnership of 63 followed before a piece of extreme optimism on the part of Bird, found both batters sharing the one crease, with the ball very much still in play. Bird nobly fell on his sword, leaving Ajay to further sprightly partnerships of 36 with Irfan, and 24 with Quinn. 227 at the break felt sufficient.
Two lovely treats greeted the chairman at lunch: a shiny new set of threes keeping kit purchased in Pakistan by The Irf, and a rather fine Parma ham and mozzarella sandwich with a balsamic glaze made by Bird. The first of these was duly handed over to our skipper and stand-in keeper.
The Marcham innings began with a new-look, old-look attack with both Ajay and The Irf returning to the fray for the first time in 2023. Sadler (18 for 2 off 7) and Ajay (5 for 1 off 6, including 4 maidens) opened, and had the home side two down (one apiece, bowled) within the first 6. They were replaced by The Irf (33 for 4 off 9) and “The Emperor” Quinn (19 for 1 off 5), with the latter holding on to a sharp delivery from the former at slip to dismiss the home side’s opener. The Marcham skipper-keeper-bowler-handyman Palmer was the only player to offer any real resistance with the bat (is there nothing this man cannot do?) and put on a worthy 41 runs while others fell around him. The Irf repaid The Emperor for his earlier catch with a gobble from short mid-off, and both Bird and Scott picked up one apiece, with the scorebook record of “Jamie “The Bastard” Scott” presumably a home side reference to the fact that the pitch gremlins contributed somewhat to his fortuitous bowling of their number 10: his back-of-a-length delivery never managed to find elevation more than an inch from the ground. Saddler returned to mop up the final wicket, and Marcham were all out for 93. This was long before anyone was expected home, and so both sides were able to enjoy a cheeky pint or two in the late afternoon sunshine at the rather marvellous village pub-cum-pavilion.
Man-of-the-Match was undoubtedly Ajay, with his half ton and miserly bowling figures, and moment-of-the-match goes to either of Shyju’s sixes, with an honourable mention to both The Emperor’s slip-grab, and a crunching straight drive by your correspondent almost as glorious as Walsh’s from the previous week…
Report by DC
On another beautiful day for cricket, the 4s skipper committed the cardinal sin of losing the toss for the second game on the trot and we were duly asked to field in glorious sunshine by Oxford Downs 4s. Between the ravages of injury and higher callings, only 4 victors from last week returned to a side only made complete when wolf of the week Ibi Zafur snuck out from work at 6pm on Friday to confirm he would be at Kennington 18 hours late.
Show up he did, earning just reward for a fiery opening spell of pace bowling by claiming the scalp of one of the openers. While runs were flowing freely on a beautiful Kennington deck, Yusuf Ashraf’s mystery spin also claimed an opener, and we had the runaway league leaders in a spot of bother on 25-2 in the 5th over. Alas, their 3rd wicket partnership between the grizzled Roberts and his young apprentice Hunt put a succession of spin bowlers to the sword in a 211-run stand eventually broken when Hugo du Plessis claimed a c&b, showing half a dozen other wolves how to hold on to a ball travelling through the air. While the bowling analysis doesn’t make for pretty reading, we conceded a miserly 15 extras, evidence (if required) that everyone stuck to the task and bowled with control on good day for batting.
Set 267 for an unlikely win, openers Nigel Lovell (35 on debut for the wolves) and Evan Cowley (23) laid a solid foundation, but with the required rate skyrocketing to IPL proportions the ask was always just out of reach. Xander Quinney (22) ran a succession of batting partners ragged before Jim Lovell and Norm Robins (both 23*) claimed a few extra batting points and kept Downs in the field for the full allocation of overs. An honourable loss sees us remain 4th in the league with a grudge match against 3rd placed Eynsham 2s up next – a game your correspondent will be eagerly following from Canada 🇨🇦.
Report by PL
Big thank you to Hanif Rahim for umpiring and to Alex Beaumont for scoring the game!