When the rain abated and pitch was uncovered, we lost the toss and were surprised to be asked to bowl first on an overcast day. We had an early breakthrough as Kidlington opener Sahil Kalyan drilled a full toss from Barkat straight at Richie at short cover and the iceman somehow clung on with ball clamped between hand and thigh. Samir bowled excellently but without luck as ball after ball missed both the edge and stumps by a fine margin and kept Tom M, nobly standing in for an injured Gus, interested behind the stumps. Kidlington consolidated as Sahil J and Kalpa wheeled away applying pressure from both ends and were on only 90 off 35 overs, but crucially kept wickets in hand as they added 84 for the 3rd wicket. This allowed the lower order to take risks and accelerate as a few catches slipped through our hands or landed in vacant parts of the field. Kidlington rode their luck to add 100 in the last 18 overs and post 211 despite Barkat bowling an excellent second spell to end up with 5 for 53 in 14.
The Wolves reply suffered an early setback as we were reduced to 4 for 2 before Ben held things together with a series of partnerships with Richie, Muaz and Sahil. At 88 for 5 in 30 overs, we decided to be positive and aim for 187 and the winning draw. However, it wasn’t to be as the risks needed to accelerate proved too costly and Kidlington took their chances. We suffered a miscommunication leading to a run out as we were reduced to 111 all out despite the welcome support of the victorious 2s. Looking forward to getting back to winning ways away at Abingdon next week.
Report by CB
The 2’s set off for a clash against bottom placed Deddington on a rainy Saturday morning. There was much conjecture that Deddington would be happy to let the weather take its course—rather than face likely defeat against a top of the table pack hungry for points. On the way out of Oxford, many doubted we would play as the rain only seemed to get heavier. An hour before play was meant to start, there was water on the square and all wondered whether our 30-minute drive would be worthwhile. Our fearless leader, Brian, was of course determined that a game go ahead, strategically building rapport with the umpires before start.
After our opposition proceeded to get the ground ready, we prepared for a delayed 1:45pm start. Brian showed excellent captaincy in winning the toss (again!). Unsurprisingly, the wolf pack headed out to field amidst cloud cover and a sprinkling of rain. A fast bowlers paradise if there ever was one.
We got off to the perfect start with Toby Shelley snaring one opener with a swinging and seaming delivery that caught the edge—Tohsif took a very sharp catch at first slip. This set the tone for the innings, although our efforts would not bear fruit for some time. Deddington’s other opener and first drop proceeded to make batting look very difficult, with some accurate swing bowling by Brian and Toby. The run rate barely exceeded 1 for the first ~15 overs. The number 3 was lucky to survive what seemed like a clear edge off Brian, which was caught by Darren behind the stumps. However, the umpire was unconvinced.
After being assured by the batsman that “this bowling is too good for me”, the 2’s were forced to be patient. What followed was a litany of plays and misses; we were on top, but couldn’t manage the breakthrough. Both Brian and Toby were quite unlucky with a couple of tough chances going down, including an extremely athletic one-handed effort by Tom Ackerman (aka Jonty Rhodes) at point. Finally, Toby managed a double breakthrough, with both batsman lobbing balls to mid-on and mid-off, respectively. Each managed 29 runs at a strike rate of ~25, demonstrating the Wolves dominance.
After a mammoth spell and captain’s effort, Brian unfortunately came down with a side strain. He finished with figures of 0-15 off 9 overs, which does not tell the full story of one genuine edge (which should have been a wicket) and at least a dozen balls that beat the bat. Meanwhile, Toby continued his assault from the other end, energised by the conditions and his early haul of wickets.
Usman was then introduced into the attack. From here, the floodgates opened. The opposition’s middle order looked uncomfortable against our bowling. Aided by some poor shot selection, the Wolves started pulling the hapless opposition apart. Usman picked up three scalps in the middle order, including a lovely in-swinger to bowl the number 4 before drinks—finishing on 3-19 off 9 overs. Toby then got his fourth wicket from a plum LBW. With only a few balls to go in his spell, the Wolves closed in with a packed slip cordon and two men short to try get Toby his five wicket haul. Toby showed he didn’t need any of them, bowling their number 8 with his final ball. This concluding a brilliant spell—Toby finished with figures of 5-21 off 15 overs. We had knocked over five wickets for only 13 runs off the bat.
Enter Amit. Energised by his new nick name of Chacha (all credit to Tohsif’s chat for this one), Amit began bamboozling the last two batsman, quickly wrapping up the innings by bowling the number 10 and 11. Chacha finished with 2-2 off 2 overs and the opposition had crumbled to 59 all out off 33 overs.
After electing to ditch our lunch break and head straight out, the cricket gods seemed to be on our side as the sun started shining. Deepak and Potter began with great intent, smashing the opening bowlers to all quarters. After Potter fell to a nice out-swinger, Daniel joined Deepak in the middle.
Deepak decided that this was ‘quite a nice batting track’. The oppo decided to bowl in his arc—full and in the slot. What proceeded was a wonderful display of power hitting, with Deepak hitting 8 boundaries all around the park. This included three glorious drives straight over the bowlers head. Daniel felt no need to struggle the scorers in his first 5 balls, and for a moment it looked like Deepak would do it all by himself.
Unfortunately the opposition brought on their first change bowler, with Daniel hitting a couple of boundaries to conclude the innings and deprive Deepak of his 50. Sorry, D!
The Wolves had chased down the total inside 9 overs, finishing on 61-1. Deepak finished on 42* off 30, and Daniel on 10*.
Man of the Match was clearly Toby Shelley with a brilliant five wicket haul.
An excellent win for the 2’s, securing critical points. We remain within touching distance of Bicester & North Oxford at the top of the table; Oxford & Bletchingdon Nondescripts are snapping at our heels..
The race for the title is heating up with the top three sides all within 19 points of each other. We will play both of these sides in the coming month, meaning our fate is in our own hands.
Next week, we face Middleton Cheney at home in an important clash.
Report by D D’H
7 members of the Wolvercote 3rd XI arrived 10 minutes early at a sodden Kennington. The care taken to drain the covers and set up the ground tells you all you need to know about this section of the Wolfpack and their current form. 6 wins and a winning draw from the last 7 games.
Upon losing the toss the skipper was granted his wish as the delightful chaps from Abingdon & Vale asked us to Bowl. In reducing the opposition to 27-4 we had them by the short and curlies. Sadler took one and Irfan another but it was the returning wolf Rizwann whose double did the damage. At that point the ball was passed around and a respectful partnership began a recovery. The recovery was however ended by Sadler in a tale of two wickets partnership broken by a wide long hop slapped to ORH in covers followed by a peach of a C&B (catch of season so far). Diving one handed to his right and clutching a stunner, Neil’s 3fer went on to become a 6 fer as the opposition finally relented for 131 in the 46th over.
The chase offered little challenge as Gabe, Walsh and Shyju contributed 30s to win by 6wkts with 17 overs to spare. Debutant Chandra secured the victory with his maiden runs for the club.
Next week sees the 3rd XI (in 2nd place) take on table topping Didcot hoping to cement their title aspirations.
Wolf of the week: Sultan of Swing Saddles
Report by PW
Well that was a thriller!
Setting off from Oxford in pouring rain, the smart money was on a shortened game against Witney Mills 3s. But the rain abated, the outfield absorbed, and having lost another toss, we were duly asked to bat first. Marc L (13) looked in the mood with a succession of pull shots flying off the meat of the bat before he was the only one that didn’t hear the nick through to the keeper as he chased a loose delivery down the leg side. Ibi Z (33), having started watchfully, soon took a liking to the bowling, unfurling a succession of powerful blows, including a towering maximum over cow corner. From 18-1 in 6 overs, we slumped to 52-5 off 16 – and nobody was complaining about the [redacted] pitch.
Skipper Phil L (23 off 62 balls) scratched around inelegantly, while at the other end MOTM Tom B (54 off 52 balls) showed how it’s done, hitting fours at will and nudging singles with ease. Phil departed in the same manner as last week, bowled playing across the line to a non-spinning slow ball that kept a little low (when will I learn???). But with the score at 132-6 off 33 overs, the prospect of a defendable total had at least moved into view. Cue horror and disbelief when Tom was run out by his batting partner and the next man came and went for a golden duck a couple of overs later (141-8). But wag our tail did, Stuart R (29*) and Jeremy N (23) accelerating beautifully to set the opposition 197 to win in 38 overs.
Caught in two minds between defending the winning draw (for which we needed to keep the opposition to below 178) and pushing for the win (for which we needed 10 wickets), Stuart (3-24 off 7.3) soon had a pint-sized opener caught at mid off, and Hanif R held on to a tough chance running around from square leg to gift Jeremy (1-45 off 9) his first league wicket. Which is the moment the game of cat and mouse began as the other opener scored freely on his way to 94, well supported by a succession of partners at the other end. If there is such a thing as a skippers wicket, I take full credit for what happened next: “Tom, the next one is coming to you!” I yelled loudly as umpire-turned-strike-bowler Simon P (6-53 off 11) prepared for his next delivery. The batsman duly obliged, and Tom snaffled the first of his 3 catches at deep mid wicket the very next ball.
Catches win matches, and so it proved again, as 9 batters were out caught, with Leo D at mid wicket, Marc L behind the stumps, and Naveed G in the gully all holding on. Full credit to Witney Mills for pushing for the win throughout, they really made a game of it. With 22 required of the last three overs, Stuart R returned to claim the only bowled wicket, and in the final over, with 8 required for victory, had the number 11 chipping up to Jeremy at mid on for a wonderful victory.
In Jeremy, Leo (0-17), and Will H (also 0-17) we had three youngsters making their debut in adult league cricket, proving once again that our youth setup is thriving and giving the old guard a run for their money. We have a week off next week before travelling to Sunningwell on 22 July. Already looking forward to that one!
Report by PL