Bodley made their annual trip down to Berkshire and the lovely village of Peasemore, to play the village club in a 35 over affair under warm clear skies and a gentle breeze. A perfect afternoon for a game of cricket, you might say. We had won last year's game with our batting firing on all cylinders but with memories of our recent reverses at the back of our minds, our confidence was somewhat tempered. Regardless, Skipper Stu duly won the toss (Mr. Milner, take note) and batted...
Out walked a re-jigged opening pair of Neely and Robinson (actually their second such partnership in as many matches - Ed.) and the rest of us settled down for a natter and maybe even a nap. The Peasemore bowling was tight, and the pitch looked to be keeping a little low on occasion, but we got off to a pretty sound start - plenty of overs, it was blooming warm, so best not rush. Just as we were settling into our seats both openers were undone by the pitch and some tidy bowling - bowled in consecutive overs to leave us on 10-2. Ooh eck, as Gav said (well, something similar, anyway). This brought Shackleton and James Shaw to the crease and the pair steadily built a partnership as the bowling remained on a good line and length and some very sharp close fielding around the bat turned the screw. These two gradually upped the tempo though and while Shacks rode his luck a little James was soon planting a big six in the bushes. Bizarrely, as the 66 run partnership steamed into the 18th over Shacks whacked the ball straight up in the air, from where it was a certain catch, only it wasn't it, but was then picked up by an eagle eyed fielder who ran him out as he looked on from the middle of the pitch. A well played 30 though. Returning player Darren Wright then marched out to the crease to join James, and was promptly caught behind for 2 from some tidy bowling. Bodley were now 83-4 with 20 overs down, and out walked Jones to try to keep James on strike. Unfortunately at this point a very young lad came on to bowl and proceeded to befuddle Jones entirely, eventually resulting in a ball that completely cut him in half and struck a sensitive area ...play stopped briefly as giggles were exchanged. After this unfortunate incident a few fours were struck but Jones too was undone by tidy bowling, bringing Busby to the crease at 98-5. The bowling continued to be tight and the fielding excellent, and after an unfortunate run-out for Shaw - very well batted for innings top score of 45 - and some lusty hitting from the skipper, Bodley were all out for 118 from 32 overs. Probably a bit below par, we mused.
I should point out at this point that when a tea is as good as that provided by Peasemore CC all thoughts of having to field next up are banished and the team tuck in like they're never fed at home. It was a marvellous tea, with a lovely coffee cake being a highlight amongst several delicious cakes. Cricket teas are a wonderful throwback to a gentler time, and something everyone should experience and cherish, not to mention indulge themselves in. And we certainly did that. But back to the test match...
Stu had stated his intention to 'mix things up a bit' with the ball, which we assumed meant bowl straight more often, but in fact meant juggling the bowlers and swapping ends a bit - why not, we needed something clever to defend such a modest total. Shaw and Shackleton opened the bowling with a by now rather tender Jones behind the stumps, and the field up. The bowling was superb, with a tight line being kept and Bodley fielding like the prize whippets they are. Shaw and Shacks, followed by Neely and Robinson all picked up wickets and Peasemore were soon 4 down for 6 runs, including a lovely catch over his shoulders from Darren and a textbook pouch in the slips from Shacks. Amongst some imaginative bowling changes - chief of which was not bowling himself - the skipper brought on Busby and young Dan Shaw to keep the pressure on and take some pace off the ball. What followed from Shaw jnr was rather unexpected - and due to the drama worthy of a lengthy write-up. First over, tidy, good line and tapped back to the bowler by a watchful batter well aware of the scoreline and overs remaining. Second over, same again, very tidy and played with caution by the batter. Dave was mixing things up at the other end and keeping us all on our toes, and so Dan's third over came to be. First ball - wicket! A well driven ball slightly uppish and caught by Dave at short mid-off, a great take. A dot ball followed, and then wicket! Bowled this time, full and straight, lovely ball. So, new batter, Dan runs in and wicket! Very full, probably bounced twice to be honest but sneaks under the bat, and that's out. He's on a hat-trick! Field is up, four slips in place, grins all round, in runs Dan and ...dot. Good ball though. Another dot followed and that's the end of his spell. Figures of 3-2-0-3 giving Dan a pretty good return for his spell. Well played young man. But what of the score you shout? Ah, well, at this point we were feeling fairly good, and the score read 14-7 from 13 overs. Splendid, said the skipper. The bowling continued to be rotated well and the fielding was sharp - Mackinnon's none-shall-pass vigil at cover and Dave's hurling his body everywhere being highlights - but the Peasemore number 5 and number 9 built a very impressive partnership, broken briefly by yet another batter being struck in a sensitive area - much empathy was exchanged. Drinks came and went, Stu mixed up the mixing up and yet we couldn't break the partnership. With only a handful of overs left and the score at 100-7 the skipper decided enough was enough and brought himself on to bowl, shuffle and all. 19 needed to win... Couple of singles and it's 102, so 17 needed from two overs, and then sod's law - he doesn't bowl all afternoon and batted like a millionaire and he takes two in two! The first was a stunning low take at slip from Gav, and the second a cheeky bowled that sneaked through the gate. Excellent bowling and just in time, as squeaky bum time was getting louder and louder. With the score on 102-9 and one over left Shaw snr steams in to bowl and with his second ball finds the edge, snaffled by Jones - and that's the win!
So a really enjoyable match and very close in the end after Bodley's early inroads - all concerned played superbly to keep the scoring rate down during a big partnership that had threatened to give us another reverse. Dan's figures were the standout, but mention must also go to our superb frontline bowlers, all of whom kept things tight, applied the pressure and were backed up for the full 35 overs in the field. Great, great effort lads. It was a mark of the discipline shown on a long hot afternoon that we only conceded two extras the whole innings. A thoroughly splendid afternoon then, and not just because we won, but because Peasemore are really rather wonderful hosts who play the game in the right way and always provide a warm welcome and a cracking tea - thank you guys. A well-earned post match visit to the local pub topped off a bucolic afternoon, and we look forward to next year's fixture. GJ.