This afternoon Bodley had the pleasure to reciprocate the hospitality and good cheer shown to us on last year's West Country tour. Our opponents were Thorncombe CC, good friends of today's skipper James Shaw, and a team we enjoyed very close cricket against last time round. Mansfield Rd was the setting, the skies were clear, for now, and 40 overs per side was set to be bowled.
Bodley started steadily, with Shaw and Neely opening the bowling and keeping things tight. Despite enjoying the delights of the Cowley rd last night, the Thorncombe openers were getting bat to ball with great gusto and the score ticked along. With a few brief showers wetting the outfield the rate only went up as Thorncombe saw three of their batters hit 50* and retired. But Bodley did take wickets as the batters pushed ahead - the pick being a high swirling catch by Dan Shaw, pouched at mid off. Shaw snr also found the off stump twice with lovely balls that just clipped the bails, a lovely sight. After either 39, 40 or 41 overs - the rain breaks had played a little havoc with the counting - Thorncombe ended up on 250odd, a good total.
This being a 40 over match, and Bodley being the home side, we had the rare opportunity to provide a tea. The highlight of many a game for many of us, this one didn't disappoint. Sandwiches and cakes were dutifully scoffed by all and we waddled onto the field for our batting innings under threatening skies.
Our dangerous new opening partnership of Ackland and Neely promptly took guard - Shackleton being away getting some practice with his other club (Oxford CC? Never heard of them). A bright start was thwarted by Stu being inexplicably bowled whilst playing a textbook defensive leave. Neely then perished to a decent catch and Bharat took up the crease with James, but unfortunately after a few nice shots was undone by a peach of a slower ball that hit the base of the stumps. Shaw was still there though and set about chasing that hundred, after hitting one against the same opposition last year. Luke was by now in too but was another to perish against some tidy bowling on what had become a very damp pitch. Jones strolled out at this point with the spirit of Boycott not far behind . Shaw and Jones settled in well and the singles started to flow. Despite the rain now falling Bodley eyed an upset, but it drove down and sadly we had to take to the bar again. Unfortunately the sky set in pretty heavily and despite our animated Sun God dances, thing didn't look good. Thorncombe, being a fine bunch, offered a very gentlemanly draw and we shook hands on what had been an enjoyable afternoon's cricket. At this point something wonderful happened - Bodley were presented with eleven bottles of locally brewed Thorncombe ale. A fantastic gift from a great opposition - hopefully we'll meet again for another match sometime.
Bodley now have the week off before heading to Winchester for our annual tour. Updates will appear on Twitter and Facebook, and possibly the local news if things go very very well, or very very badly. GJ.