At Risinghurst the 2’s were set a mountain of 308 to climb thanks to some lusty blows by the hosts and a few dropped catches by the visitors. Once Wolvercote’s Edmund Hilary (aka Usman) was caught in the covers, the visitors could only just about reach basecamp in the foothills. The game was truncated by an unfortunate injury to one of the Risinghurst players and all of us at Wolvercote wish him a speedy recovery.
Report by Chris Babbs.
Arriving in Witney under leaden skies and a new skipper, with Ayyaz standing in for Matt for the week, Wolvercote threes set about hunting down their first win of the 22 campaign by winning the toss, and opting to make Witney Mills bowl with the wet ball. A new look opening partnership of Shyju and Gabe set about their task admirably, and took the shine off the ball, notching up 13 and 20 apiece before both fell to the canny bowling of former Wolf Pete Peireira. This brought The Chairman to the crease for his first game of the year after breaking his finger. Supported by Walsh (8) and a watchful Ayyaz (28), Crouch top-scored with 57 at roughly a run a ball, mainly sweeping and pulling boundaries (10 in total). The leg side hitting hints at the general line of the bowling, so it was a slight surprise when he was given LBW shortly after drinks. Ayyaz stepped up his scoring rate when joined by his brother-in-law Abeer (16), who, never looking wholly comfortable, tried to bat his way back into form with a string of singles between watchful defensive pushes. A flurry of wickets towards the end of the innings, interspersed by some sparkling shots from debutant Mateen, and Yoof players Otis (7) and Ben (2no), and “not-so-yoof” Sajad (8no), left Witney chasing an above par 175.
The second innings started magnificently for the Wolfpack with a second over LBW for Ajay, some miserly line and length from Ayyaz (8 for 2 off 9), and guile and variation from Sajad (a.k.a. “Grandad” or “Bubba Khan”), who took 3 wickets for 28 off his allocation. The Mills were 41 for 5 at one point, and the pack were in the hunt. The second half of the innings, sadly, however, did not go according to plan, and, despite a solid 9 overs from Harkness (37-1-9), playing his first Div 6 game, and some respectable pace from fellow U15 Otis, the Wolves were unable to find the penetration to break the Witney middle order. Credit where credit is due, however, and some incredibly stoic crease occupation by Edwards (45) and Cannons (32) nudged the scores closer and closer to parity, before both were removed by Bubba Khan. The most stylish of the Witney line up, however, was the young Oliver Clark who used a full range of strokes to notch up a vital 24 before becoming Harkness’ first 3s victim. Witney entered the final two overs requiring 13 runs, and it looked like it might go the Wolves way when Ajay took his second wicket in the final over with three still required and the new batter, Anand, looking nervous as he shuffled on the crease. Ajay’s penultimate ball was straight, a touch back of a length, and Anand closed his eyes, hit, hoped, and found the middle, to slog to the mid-wicket boundary and victory. The Wolfpack’s heads, held so high for so much of the game, hung low in accepting their fifth defeat on the bounce. A disastrous start to the season, but oddly familiar for those of us who weathered similar last year… remember: we went on to win the next 7, and promotion in 2021…
There were actually plenty of positives to take from Saturday’s game: we batted 45 overs with wickets intact; we dominated for the majority of the match; we’ve found a solid top 5 (in every sense of the word!); we’ve got two great youth options in Ben and Otis; and we’ve got a great team spirit and camaraderie. Chin up, and onwards to Chadlington away!
Report by Daniel Crouch
After last week’s heist at Waddesdon Manor, the 4s were back on more familiar ground at Kennington. We put Long Marston 3s in to bat, a decision vindicated immediately as Miles Bratby (3-30) bowled a wicket maiden to kick off proceedings. At drinks (98-2 off 20), things looked ominous for the 4s, but our young speed merchants Will Turner (1-26) and Ishan Kale (1-33) bowled with great control and were backed up by some excellent ground fielding, sharp catches, and a beautifully executed run-out with Will yet again at the centre of it. Set 184 to win, our openers Alex Beaumont (100* – more on that later) and Xander Quinney (28) built a great platform, putting on a 66-run stand in 14 overs. With wickets falling at regular intervals at the other end, Alex kept the required rate in check with his trademark backfoot drives piercing the field regularly, and one particularly glorious on-drive disappearing up the hill over the boundary before the bowler even had a chance to turn around. A few lusty blows from Ibi Zafur (15) almost put paid to Alex’s hopes of converting his half-century into a full one, as the required runs to win the game dropped below those he needed to complete his century. On strike on 94, with 3 required to win the game, Alex did something he had never done before – he hit a majestic straight six to claim the win and his maiden century! Slight confusion ensued when the umpire initially signalled a 4, but he soon corrected himself and raised his arms to the heavens.
Clearly there’s something about opening batsmen / wicketkeepers playing for the 4s at Kennington: they do like to score centuries to win games! Or perhaps my suspicion is correct and Alex Beaumont and Gabe Farrell are in fact the same person. After all, they’ve never been seen together in the same location. The only slight shadow cast over another wonderful win that keeps the 4s top of the table for another week at least, is that we only had 7 players at the ground 30 mins after the scheduled arrival time. We’ll have to implement penalty press-ups for every minute late going forward: perhaps that’ll improve punctuality?
Report by Phlipp Lohan