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