Inkpen is a suitable name for opposition to a bunch of librarians. It’s also a sleepy little village in Berkshire which always seems just a little bit too far to travel to until you are there and it suddenly seems worthwhile. The pitch has all the eccentricities of a village ground, slope across the pitch and very short on and off-side boundaries mean you don’t want to bowl down leg (which is, of course, just what happens) with a wicket which is on the livelier side of interesting. Oppo are darned friendly and round our level, games in the past have always been close so despite the distance it’s a fixture to hold on to.
Skipper Jones loses the toss and a new opening partnership of Shaw (Jnr) and Webb (Jnr) to open. Bod are fielding 3/4s of a Father-Son combo with James keeping Dan company while Malcolm makes a welcome return filling in for the recuperating Mike, who umpires and scores to make up for it. At least they’ll still be a ‘Webb, M’ in the scorebook, something to confuse statisticians in years to come. The team also welcome Miten, travelling all the way up from London to air his Bodley whites. It's all change for Bodley, and new partnerships through the order, exciting times.
Bodley off to a good start, helped by some wayward bowling from Inkpen, extras soon racing ahead of any scoring shots before both Dan and Malcolm start to find the middle of the bat. With a short outfield runs are scored more often than not in boundaries but with youth on their side both run some quick singles as well. Malcolm is out first, top edging to the wickie so Matthew goes in at three and gets off the mark straight away. Dan out soon after so Leigh comes in and starts to hit out before Matthew is out going for a second run. James in but Inkpen start to bring on some quick and accurate bowlers and the runs dry up. Despite not being able to bat together father and son combine well during James’s innings with Dan giving his Dad out caught behind, to add insult to injury James is then accidentally whacked in the neck by the oppo wicket-keeper when going for the catch. Gareth blocks a few then whacks a few before making the short walk back to be replaced by Tim, then Miten, then Dan’s friend Max, then Dave Busby and the reporter, none of whom cause too much trouble for the scorers. Bodley all out for 157, not even batting out their overs, which considering it is a 30 over match is pretty poor. Extras score pretty highly, something which will prove important as the game reaches its climax. Credit to Leigh for top scoring for Bodley with 28, next best those extras!
Tea, which is always good during innings break, even when it’s not. Today's feast was built around a central core of generously stuffed baps - many containing Philipson-befuddling coleslaw - and a glorious variety of cakes, crisps and fruit. All was gulped down with tea, and the players waddled off to pursue excellence in the second innings.
Dan and Leigh opening the bowling, all tight lines and speed but Inkpen, worryingly, soon get up to and then beyond the run-rate. Inkpen look like they have some big-hitters in their ranks so it’s a relief when Dan breaks the partnership with a caught-and-bowled, followed by a great catch from Miten. James comes on with a spell of good accurate bowling that slows the run-rate down. The writer of this tale soon joins him and manages, despite not doing anything with a ball since September, to keep the momentum created by James very much with Bodley. Runs dry up, apart from the occasional delivery down leg which is treated with the respect they deserve (Tim grabbing a great catch tight to the boundary line off a no-ball particularly galling) before both James and I manage to take key wickets, one of which is a wonderful catch by Matthew behind the stumps. Malcolm and Matthew then finish off the overs with Max going behind the stumps, both bowling excellently well before a master-stroke by the skipper, bringing on Dave to bowl the penultimate over. Inkpen need around 24 but find it impossible to get Dave’s perfectly flighted loopers away. He even gets a wicket, inducing the Inkpen bat down the wicket only to get stumped by Max. Matthew bowls at the last over, Inkpen still needing around 20 but tight bowling and keen fielding combine to reign them in, Bodley win and thank the cricketing gods for the extras column in the Inkpen innings.