One of the fixtures most avidly looked forward to each season is the one against Lotus F1 (yes, the F1 team - we've no idea how we got this fixture either). Played in the rural setting of Barton Abbey it is a friendly match against like-minded opposition in beautiful surroundings with, rare for an evening twenty20, a tea as well. Games in the past have been fairly even, Bodley securing a good victory last year.
With this in mind, and with a strongish team to boot, Bodley could afford a degree of confidence, rashly ignoring the warning signs offered by a green tinge to the wicket and a young enthusiastic opposition practising before the game. Bodley win the toss and bat first. Soon the wicket comes into play. Pre start the cavalier skipper (Milner, fresh from polishing off the last of his French duty free) had decreed we would change the batting order, and with the confidence expected of any proud Yorkshire man Gavin puts his hand up to open with Matthew. Both are soon out, victims of bloody fast and accurate bowling combined with a schizophrenic pitch that can't decide if it wants to play true, stay low or rear up at the batsman - Matthew was bowled, Gav leg before (ahem). Gav's wicket brings David Shackleton out to bat, and any demons that the rest of the team find in the pitch (Ackland bowled first ball going back to one that pitched in middle and took off the leg stump bail, the usual lack of forward (any?) defence proving costly again. Jones, after a glorious pulled 4, and having been out once by a vicious ball that reared off a length to take the glove right in front of the face and be caught keeper, only to be called back was then out a second and final time by one that moved off the pitch. Thereafter followed Leigh, Andy Downey and eventually David Shackleton. Others were caught, or bowled by straight ones, and only David covered himself in any glory, a cultured 40 runs making up nearly 2/3rds of a very poor 68 all out off 15 overs. Of course, we said, it'll be the same for them on this wicket. What bollocks.
Bodley start well, Stu Ackland bowling two overs of tight line and length while first Andrew Milner and then Gavin bowl their perfectly flighted deliveries from the other end. Then things start to go horribly wrong - Ackland starts his third, loses his newly worked on, non-stuttering run up, re-introduces the stutter to great applause and gets the yips (to more applause), a few loose deliveries putting paid to the good work of the first overs and, already faced with a near impossible task, Bodley are on the back foot. A few dropped catches, including an unexpectedly hilarious contribution from Leigh, and the usual fielding-with-feet mishaps don't help but accurate bowling from David and wickets for Leigh and Milner at least means that the target isn't reached, then overtaken, till the fifteenth over. So close.
A bad loss then, and hard to find any crumbs of comfort in a match in which the pitch came into play when we were batting but not for the opposition, who bowled well with pace and accuracy and deserved the win with their performance with the ball. The evening ended in the best way possible, the sun setting directly behind the stumps at the pavilion end meant that sitting with your back to the pavilion you could watch directly in front of you the most gorgeous full moon rising in a clear blue sky while eating food usually on offer on a Sunday; cakes, sandwiches and cups of tea. The team play again this Sunday, at Peasmore, a swift chance of redemption, report of that match to follow, unless we lose again, in which case a detailed account of the post-match pub trip will replace the report.
Stuart has added this bizarre piece of prose, which he may or may not have written himself...
How do I hate thee? let me count the ways.
I hate thee to the line and length my balls fail to reach.
I hate thee for the golden duck,
I hate thee for the 1 loose ball after 5 good ones,
I hate thee for the optimism that turns to despair,
I hate thee for the dropped catch
and for giving me nowhere to hide after,
I hate thee for the false praise when things go wrong,
and the inability to do anything about it when they go wrong.
I hate thee with a hate when we again lose,
I hate thee with the wides, misses, dropped catches of all my matches... and if my knees maintain,
I shall but hate thee better after stumps.
It is the lot of the amateur cricketer to be sat staring at a cup of tea (or stronger) having just returned from another epic contest, the details of which keep him up all night, and provide all conversation the following day. And so it is that we report from our annual 20 over heave-ho against Wilkinson Eyre, aka the Weston Library architects. We've played the architects every year since 2009 and it's always been a fairly close game against a great bunch of guys. After we came out well on top last year we were optimistic of a repeat performance and having won the toss skipper Jones took one look at the fresh, flat wicket and duly elected to bat...
Out walked openers Neely and Shaw to get things underway, and a steady start against some tight bowling had us all settling in for a nice evening of steady accumulation. Unfortunately Neely fell to a tidy bowler we've seen and cursed before, bringing Milner to the crease fresh from his French leave though still showing signs of too much vin rouge. A sprightly 14 was rapidly scored before he was unceremoniously bowled, bringing Gav into the fray. Things were picking up with the score on 30 odd from half a dozen overs with change bowlers to come, when Gav, going for a second run, fell victim to a very keen (ahem) Bodley umpire and had to return to the pavilion. This brought Philipson to the crease, promoted up the order to five on the promise of that golf swing we all love so much. With Shaw still going well at the other end the partnership soon flourished, Tim looking like Bubba Watson on the drive at Augusta and soon going beyond his previous best score. Shaw sadly fell to a catch in the covers and Jones joined Tim in the middle to watch Bubba first-hand. However, at this point your author realised something terrible was happening. Mckiernen, returning to cricket after about a year out with a knackered knee, and playing for the opposition, was bowling, and seemed absolutely determined to get a Bodley wicket. But out came the forward defensive and all seemed well ...until Leigh found the stumps and bowled Jones. Only he didn't, as the bails had jumped in the air and landed back on the stumps. You couldn't make it up. Jones continued to poke and swing but Philipson was by now rapidly approaching retirement at 30 runs, which he duly hit to top score for the innings. Busby came in and hit another boundary to push us up to 121 and we walked off the field feeling pretty happy with our efforts.
After a quick committee meeting and the eventual setting of fields, Shaw and Milner opened up the bowling with a pace/spin combination to befuddle the opposition. The plan worked and the number 2 and 3 batters were promptly back in the hutch to some very tidy bowling and sharp catching from Shaw snr and Shaw jnr - a great double. The runs were below the rate and we felt pretty good, though an ominous smattering of fours from their number four was causing some concern. After a catch off Gav's bowling Mckiernen came out and promptly hit two fours, before being plumb lbw to Triggs, to his great dissatisfaction. Over the next few overs things were kept fairly tight, with Tim and Dan Shaw bowling well, and Gav in particular finding a lovely length - a thin edge carrying to Jones behind the stumps, followed two balls later by a clean bowled to give him three for match (4-0-27-3). Sadly things took a turn for the worse at this point, just as Bodley were dreaming of victory and the glory to come. A very good eye and a good swing saw some tidy bowling hit for hard fours in the final five overs and despite some desperate fielding we just couldn't stem the flow, the winning runs being hit in the 19th over. Bugger.
So a tight game, and one that we probably couldn't have done much about without more runs on the board. A restless night of what-ifs and if onlys await but it was a great match played in a brilliant spirit by all involved. Next years match - our seventh (let's get to ten years chaps) is already being discussed, with a possible trip to London on the cards. We next play this Friday against Isis CC at Queen's College Ground on the Abingdon Road - a gorgeous ground with the boathouses behind and a bar, so do come along. GJ
And so to Great Hasely for a new match arranged via Bodley's Chris Marsh this was an unknown quantity to us, so we hoped for the best and decided we were bound to come away victorious. Great Haseley turned out to be a beautiful village and familiar to some of the team due to its proximity to Rycote House. But onto the cricket - which was, as they say in lesser sports, a tale of two halves. Bodley won the toss and due to the morning rain and possibly concussion, decided to field first in a 35 over match. We approached this with great enthusiasm, knowing that it meant we could attack the tea without restraint as our hard work would be over (batting being all about hitting fours, of course). Surprisingly, we began well, skipper Stuart bellowing orders in his best Captain Mainwaring impression, and Dad's Army responding accordingly. A couple of almost athletic stops on the boundary from Jones and Philipson saw the rate kept down, and then something quite incredible happened. The established batsman, ominously rumbling along like a volvo in the middle lane, creamed a wide ball in front of square. This shiny leather-wrapped thunderbolt was just approaching the speed of sound when the square leg fielder - Mike W.G. Webb - sprang to his right like a prize ferret and stuck out his hand to snaffle the ball mid-air before rolling across the turf to shrieks of delight from the assembled villagers, and incredulity from his team-mates. A single beam of sunlight then shone from the dark sky overhead and illuminated Mike as he floated around the boundary for a lap of honour, after which he was offered the freedom of the village. But back to the cricket. After this things went pretty well - James Shaw took a rare Bodley five-fer, Robin took up juggling, and Stuart let his now customary gift boundary glide under his skipping legs, whilst Gareth even managed to accidentally catch a thick edge behind the stumps to give James that fifth wicket. But despite all these heroics Great Haseley thumped some late runs and ended up on 190odd for 9, ish (Sorry Ed, didn't catch the score!). Hmm, above par that is, said someone wiser than us. But the tea was out and we tucked in with all the energy we could muster. Team talk followed from the skipper, which was frankly just a treatise on cheese sandwiches and how runs would be key to us winning.
The second innings began and out walked Matthew and Shackleton for their 500th opening partnership and all seemed well in our world, the rest of the team finishing off the cake and tea. That was until Matthew walked back very soon after, and continued walking all the way to the changing room to berate his treacherous bat. Mike soon followed and when Shackleton paid us a visit we knew the Gods had abandoned us. Gavin played with typical Yorkshire grit and stubbornly refused to yield to what was a slightly (though not especially if we're being honest, which we're not) tricky pitch and some very probing bowling. James swung for all he was worth and was promptly bowled, followed by Jones, Ackland, Philipson (couple of swings of his 9 iron notwithstanding), Busby and, inexplicably, even regular nightwatchman Alec succumbed - only Robin remaining defiant on 1* at the close. With only Shacks and Gav getting into the 20s we ended up posting a somewhat disappointing 70something. Michael Clarke, we share your pain.
And now here's something you won't normally read in a Bodley match report - we very nearly had one of the greatest batsman ever to play the game walk out to bat for us today - Sachin Tendulkar was in fact stranded just a few hundred yards away having missed his bus. When we say 'very nearly had', we actually mean he was nearby and in theory (in our fevered imagination) could have played for us. But I imagine he'd have fancied a game, being fond of cricket, so the only question would have been who dropped out to make way. Anyway, this thought will keep us entertained for the rest of the season. But back to reality...
Great Haseley was a lovely ground and a nice day out to South OXON against a good bunch of guys - next year's rematch is already confirmed. So our neverending search for a team we can leave trailing in our dust continues, and the team plan to spend this week training non-stop by reading cricinfo and shopping online for better bats. GJ
This evening bodley, fresh (ahem) from their tour, played good friends Far From the MCC for a t20 in lovely weather. Our first game against them earlier this season was a loss for bodley, so hopes were high for a win here. One should never seek excuses in life, and even less so in sport where participation is voluntary and done with a will to enjoy, improve and occasionally, to come out on top. However, bodley were rather light in the bowling and batting departments tonight, which added a touch of caution but also perhaps focus to proceedings. Anyway...
Skipper stu duly won the toss and inserted the opposition. Let's bowl well and field like madmen, and then play the batting lottery we thought. With six bowlers needed, short spells were the order of the day, and Stu, Shaw snr, Bharat, Tim, Matthew and Robin all sent down overs - some tight, some not so tight, and others rather entertaining. An early wicket for Stu was a good start but the mads soon settled and the runs ticked along despite some decent fielding from Jones and Bharat. In the autumn of the innnings Tim Philipson took two quick wickets with good straight full balls to stem the flow a little, but the mads ended up posting 180odd. Hmm, we mused, that might be above par.
Out we marched to bat, Matthew and Bharat forming a new opening pair, with Bharat in his last bodley game this year. Some nice fours from Matthew's usual sweeping like a good lefty, and Bharat going through the gears to get to 30 and retire saw bodley make a decent start. James Shaw carried on where he'd left off, smiting a massive six over cow corner amongst a flurry of boundaries. Neely was then caught behind square by a stunning one handed catch, marvellous work to be honest. Mike Webb was then rather unlucky to get a pad edge onto the stumps down leg, and Tim was promptly back in the hutch as the mads kept the pressure on. Jones and Stu found themselves at the crease after another quick wicket. A few shots and some hard running kept the score ticking over but we remained behind the rate. Jones perished to a dodgy swipe caught at point, bringing David Busby in. Buzzer's frankly brilliant 'Ponting doing Lara' impression was soon in full flow, the backlift high, the ball pinging around, and the running as busy as ever. After Stu fell to a pearler that broke through his boycottian defence and alec had perished to the bowling, out marched Dan Shaw and soon the ship was steadied. Dan showed his father's eye and a solid technique that always looked to score - a lovely pulled four being a highlight. Despite our efforts Bodley ended up falling short on 130odd, which was a bloody good effort all told - over 300 runs scored in the two innings. Well played all, great fun and a few drinks after with a great oppo to boot - not a bad way to spend an evening. But the last word should go to saying a big thank you to Bharat for those runs, whirling overs of spin, and being a thoroughly nice chap, cheers! GJ,