Bodley began a hectic week of three games in six days today, with a 35 over match at Jordan Hill against old friends OUP. After a near two week lay off the team looked sharp, eager and maybe a little rounder, but even being only ten men couldn't dim the enthusiasm evident in the side. Skipper Stu got things underway by losing the toss - surely defying all laws of averages - and we were asked to field. Ah well, said everyone, we can enjoy the tea now - enjoy meaning completely devour. So, off we trotted.
Recently installed opening bowler Neely started things off with Stu, and very quickly found some swing, a most unusual occurrence, and one that caught Jones and Webb - keeping and slipping respectively - off guard at first. Things settled down and Neely's second over was a deserved wicket maiden, the batter edging one behind. 8-1, great start. Things were kept tight and in the eighth over Stu chipped in with a wicket of his own, caught by Shaw at a closeish mid-off. 28-2, even better. It wasn't long before young Malcolm Webb was on and despite the number three batter striking some lusyt blows at the other end Malcolm held his nerve, bowled straight and ...took a return catch that had by all the laws of physics and sworn statements of God fearing witnesses gone well past and beyond him at waist height. But out went the clearly inherent Webb right arm and snaffled the thunderbolt. Even the oppo clapped it. Bloody great catch. 46-3, tidy work. These three bowlers continued to keep things tight but the OUP three and five were thumping and swinging respectively, and the score was creeping up. The skipper did a great job with the field and Jones wittered on unimaginatively from behind the stumps, until finally in the eighteenth over with the score on 89 the big hitting number three was snaffled by Jones after edging a lovely delivery from Stu. Malcolm was back on now and Bodley had their tails up, and were then positively clucking when the batter spooned the first ball of the over into the vacant mid-on area, only for Jones to run in and take the catch on the move - a most unlikely outcome as previous attempts at catching as an outfielder have resulted in visits to the A&E. But wait! There's more. Next ball is smashed miles in the air, and begins it's descent broadly above the one man you'd want under it - Mr D. Shackleton of Oxford, OX4. Shacks casually pouches it and Malcolm is on a hat trick. In he runs and whist the ball went for a couple the over is finished with dots and the dangerous batters have been seen off in a couple of very tidy overs from our excellent attack. Score is now 97-6 from 19, a good recovery for us and one helped by the now very consistent Bodley fielding - busby's kneecaps putting in a sterling shift and saving countless fours. The remaining batters hit a few lusty blows but after a great reflex take from Neely behind the stumps and then a mopping up of the tail by Shackleton it was all over. 136 all out from 30 overs, so five overs left unused, a great result for Bodley.
Tea was very good - well-filled sandwiches and a plethora of porky pies, sausage rolls and eggs, followed by a heaving selection of cakes that included a quite delicious banana loaf with chocolate chips. Suitably stuffed, we waddled out to watch our opening batters work off their cake.
As is only proper, Neely and shackleton opened the batting and we were soon thinking that the modest OUP total might in fact be about par when the pace and accuracy of their bowling was taken into account. Neely was out for a well constructed 11 which brought Webb snr to the crease, at which point a handy partnership was forged. Despite probing bowling and the field remaining up, mike and shacks saw off the next ten overs or so before mike was undone by a good ball that left Bodley on 39-2 after 15. Shaw strode out to support shackleton, who was by now hitting some lovely shots and looking good for a big score. That was until a peach of a yorker broke through and knocked a stump out, shacks departing for a well made 30. 51-3 from 18, hmm. This brought Jones to the wicket, promoted in the absence of anyone willing to face the lethal OUP spinner. But Shaw was then out to a really quite dubious lbw decision - big stride forward to the spinner, hit on the full, very unlucky. 51-4. This brought Philipson out to join Jones, as the scheduled number 6 batter, skipper Stu, had inexplicably injured himself whilst umpiring at square leg. You couldn't make that up, could you? Our two batters decided that anything wide had to go, and the rest was getting the full Boycott. With the run rate cimbing Jones promptly went against his instincts and smashed consecutive deliveries from one of the OUP quicks back down the ground for fours. Philipson joined the fun and hit out too, and the running was energetic, even if it was filled with curses about too much cake. Despite the bright start to the partnership OUP had some very good bowling, with a quick operating at one end and their genuine spinner (as opposed to the usual slow floaty wafty pies one normally sees from 'spinners') befuddling us at the other. Philipson was eventually bowled by said spinner, as was the skipper. Jones was then bowled by a ball that had died, rolled gently down his leg, onto the dirt, and then ever so softly into the treacherous stumps, dislodging a bail. What rotten luck! 89-7, so not too far way if we could only get another partnership going, and if they would only put some pie chuckers on. Alas it was not to be, and despite mackinnon, Busby and Webb jnr providing some resistance at the end we were all out for 90 after 31 overs.
So not as close as we felt we should have got in the end, but with the calibre of bowler possessed by OUP I think we gave a good account of ourselves. Malcolm Webb's stunning caught and bowled was the champagne moment, with Shackleton again looking good for his 30 runs. It is, quite frankly, a rare treat to play against a good spinner, and accurate pace, and though one is often made to look like a complete fool with the bat, any runs scored are more valuable and feel harder earned. It feels a hell of a lot better if you then go on to win, of course, but it was a good game all the same. GJ.