Far From The MCC, 30 overs, at Warborough cricket ground.
On Saturday Bodley brought their season to a close with a 30 over match against old friends Far From the MCC at the bucolic Warborough cricket ground in South Oxfordshire. After last weeks rain-off this was our last chance for a hit before the long winter months and inevitable weight gain. The team was a good one, and our new skipper - Shackleton (sure to lead us away from certain doom and into glory) promptly won the toss and elected to bowl. We have not beaten the Mads in a good few years (indeed, only the veteran members of the team can recall when we last did), so hopes were high that an upset could be sprung. With overcast skies and a commendable lack of stretching we lurched out onto the field of dreams...
The Mads openers settled into the somewhat damp crease and Robinson marked out his run-up, like a bull considering a matador across the Plaza de Toros. The previous days rain and a brief shower had left the pitch - uncovered, in the Yorkshire style - looking more a bowlers wicket than a batters. Gav steams in, steam puffing from his nostrils and with a tail-wind carrying him forward. Our Yorkshire bull hops, skips and pounds into the crease before the ball whistles down the length of the pitch on a good length, whereupon it bounces as much as a lead weight hitting the beach and a collective 'hmm' rings around the arena. Glad we're bowling, the eleven men of Bodley mutter to themselves, as the rest of the over plays out with patience being the batsman's watchword. At the other end it's Bodley's entertainer in chief and ladies favourite, Stu Ackland. The shuffle, shimmy and skiddy red ball of love are all present as the batsmen struggle to adjust to Stu's ample line and very vocal critique of the crease onto which he shuffles. Almost immediately, a bag of sawdust is summoned by the angry bowler, and after the crease has been made to look more like the floor of a sawmill, Stu announces he is ready to continue. The watching hordes lean forward in their seats, then an intake of breath, and voila! The shuffle remains but where once there was uncertainty and chaos, now there is only purpose and precision, as ball after ball of slow, then slower, then even slower balls are delivered into the keeper's waiting hands, and the batter swings in vain at the cursed pitch. After a few overs it becomes clear that batting on this pitch is a real challenge, and the Mads - all more than able batsmen - are being kept from scoring freely by close fields and zero faith in the pitch. After a couple of overs the pressure tells, the action begins, and the games undergoes the first of many swings. With Robinson and Ackland still on, three wickets fell in quite quick succession (much as they do when Bodley bat, dear reader), to reduce the Mads to not very much for three, from not very many overs. Two for Stu - a bowled and an assured pouched catch by Mackinnon, and a bowled for Robinson being ample reward for tight spells. Through this scintillating test-match standard stuff, the other Mads opener was defying the run of play and steadily accumulating.
Gradually, but surely, the rebuilding job was begun and Bodley were soon back to insulting each other in the field and counting the red kites overhead (the way they circle high above one another, like planes stacking at an airport, really is most distracting to behold). After about ten overs skipper Shackleton brought young Malcolm Webb on to bowl, along with that wily old silver fox, Milner, sprightly on his latest set of knees and enthused by the pitch on offer. Webb soon found his line and length whilst Milner was causing the batters to adapt and take risks as he mixed up his line and played with the low bounce. The Mads were well set by now though, with one batter in particular giving a wonderful demonstration of how to come down the pitch to the spinner. Straight bat, uncomplicated, swift footwork, and a perfect head position all added to an engrossing battle as the ball was repeatedly pushed back at the cover fielders, finding the ropes on just enough occasions to keep things ticking along. A run out soon rocked the Mads ship though, and shortly after a much-deserved wicket to Milner, and Bodley were back in the hunt with the score not much past 100 and not too many overs left. A very well earned retirement at 50 odd for the Mads number 1 brough another new batter to the crease, and field drew in. The skipper was by now bowling himself when not prowling the covers, all flowing locks and waving arms, like a catalogue model channeling an advancing goalkeeper. With the score creeping well beyond the 100 mark the mystery bowlers were introduced - Philipson and Busby. Philipson soon had the batters swinging at air, as his almost unrivaled command of variety ensured the lengths were changed as often as the line. Busby, at the other end was delivery his trademark blitzkrieg, and soon had the fielders clapping for more for more. As is often the case late in a game, with runs needed and risk being taken, wickets fell - both of our maverick bowlers taking one, to the delight of their team-mates. Philipson's a canny bowled, and Busby profiting from a skied catch by the skipper. After all this the Mads ended up on 147 - a good total on a very tricky pitch, and with only nine players to share the load.
After all that excitement it was time for tea. In the Edwardian surrounds of the lovely clubhouse both teams tucked in to the largest concentration of pork products ever seen. Sandwiches were munched, cakes scoffed, and tea was taken. And then both team waddled out to resume hostilities under improving skies.
Bodley's established opening pair of Neely and Shackleton took up positions and prepared to get us off the mark. Neely was soon off the mark, working the ball around in that left-handed sort of way, whilst the skipper watchfully saw off an over before unfurling some classic drives between some straight-batted defiance. With two quite different bowlers operating the batters very much stuck to one end, Neely having a rough ride from the canny lengths of Hoskins, who was very unlucky not to have an lbw in his first over. After some well-disguised changes of pace he had his wicket though, Neely going to a quicker one. This brought Webb snr to the crease, and a steadying of the ship to be undertaken. Well, what happened next? Collapse? Calamity? Comic relief? Not at all! A mere fifteen overs and 72 runs later these two were on 79-1 and going nicely, Webb playing the still low pitch beautifully, and Shackleton doing what Shackleton does. Sadly when 80-1 in the sixteenth over Webb fell, a very well made 29 having set us up to chase the total. This brought Milner to the crease, and the old wizard didn't disappoint, quickly finding his range and launching a few for four down the ground. Shackleton was by now approaching his half-century and with it retirement, which soon came about with the score on 105-2, well played David. The quality kept coming though, with Robinson next to the crease. Fans of Bodley will be well aware that Robinson is a dab hand on slow n low pitches, being a deft cutter and with a punishing hook/sweep/spank to the leg side when the bowler lets his line drift thereover. The Mads bowlers had for a while proved very tricky to get away but the score was building and the match sizzling as Milner and Robinson managed a few profitable overs to move things on. Then on 135 from 28 overs Robinson fell, caught hitting out, a very good knock that kept us in the hunt. 13 needed from less than two overs. Unfortunately for Bodley Jones walked in t bat, having been told by teammates to go 'bat crazy' - or something along those lines. This Jones promptly did, the crazy part being achieved by swishing the bat in the vague direction of the ball only to be bowled behind his legs. 13 still needed, from 9 balls. Ooh, exciting, thought Bodley, still doing their best to ensure none of the tea went to waste. Webb Jnr was next to the crease, the pressure was on. The Mads kept the field largely up, and the bowlers were sniffing victory. With the pitch now slightly uneven and the fielders on their toes it is all Milner could do to work the ball into the covers for singles. At least, they would singles under normal circumstances. But today young Webb was running like Usain Bolt to a party, and ones were turned into twos in a thrilling display of intent. Milner largely kept the strike but lost it on the last ball of the penultimate over, and with one to go the score was 142-4 ...only six needed. A run a ball. Drop and run. Simple. Pah! It's never simple! Webb pushes to leg, takes a single, and the field again bears down on the established batter, 29 overs down and it's come to this, five balls to decide the spoils. Dot ball follows and the crowd are by now so engrossed that even the opportunity afforded by all that unattended cake cannot keep all eyes from the action. Milner takes guard, and ...another breathless piece of running by Webb to push Milner to take the second, with the safety of the strikers end giving Bodley the edge as the ball is fired in from a fielder well behind the bowler. Clearly, the Webb family had their weetabix this morning. Three needed. Again, Milner pushes the ball through the covers, and again Webb pushes the second run, making the danger end and the fielders throw by only fractions of an inch. Score level. Bowler runs in, even the birds have stopped circling to watch from the nearby horse chestnuts towering over the boundaries edge. ...a satisfying crunch and the ball careers of the bat, beats the ring, chased by the fielder, but to no avail ...four! 151-4 and Bodley take the spoils.
A really most enjoyable match played in the right spirit by all and a fitting way to end the season. Hands are shaken and photos taken, and Bodley finally have a victory to celebrate after a rain affected, damp old season. Well played all, and a huge thank you to the Mads for such a thrilling game. Both teams repaired to the Six Bells in double quick time to be met with a most amusing selection of ales and make plans for the same again at next season's end. We'd like to say a sincere thank you to everyone that has played for us this season, to all who have come to watch and lend support, and most of all for all the little things through the season that have brought a smile to our faces and enthused a doubting cricketer to keep going - we play this sport to better know ourselves, our friends and colleagues, and to share the experience of collective effort and toil as we strive to improve, and we look forward to doing it all again next year with new faces and old friends. Of course we also play to enjoy the glory of a cricket tea and to dress up in white clothes and a garish wool cap, but the less said about that the better. Roll on 2017.
OUP - Bodley, Jordan Hill, 35 overs.
Bodley CC's yearly match against that other University institution, the University Press, is a fixture which has seen epic, and then less than epic, performances by the team recently. Who can forget one of our greatest victories a few years ago when James batted majestically with a century to see the team home? Who, equally, cares to remember the last couple of seasons when excellent bowling hasn't been matched by the teams performances with the bat. Despite the recent run of results it is always a game to look forward to. One of the best pitches in the city, one of the better teas, a good bar and friendly oppo all add up to good cricket.
Bodley field first, 35 overs not 40 on the understanding that rain is due by about 7. Tom and your reporter open the bowling. How Tom didn't pick up more than the one wicket (a sharp catch from Matthew behind the stumps, one of three taken, the new gloves proving their worth from the start) is one of the great mysteries of life, his bowling was often too fast for the batsmen to get anything on the ball, while from the other end Ackland maintained a steady line with the occasional bad ball proving expensive. A couple of wickets for the aging veteran, including a batsman who was starting to look dangerous until he made the unfortunate decision to charge down the wicket to one that was straight but also luckily stayed low, one of the few occasions when the pitch misbehaved.
Gavin and David next up, Gav bowling a dangerous line with a beauty of a flighted delivery but was unlucky not to get more than the one wicket as the OUP skipper edged two past slip, and then sent one to mid-on who waved to the ball as it passed him on its way to the boundary. Gavin and David bowl well, especially David who is very economical at the end of the OUP innings and Phil weighs in with 7 overs of controlled pace, picking up two wickets despite suffering the bowlers curse of figures spoilt by batsman chancing their arm at the death. In the field three of the team prove ball magnets; Alec, Darren and Alan saving runs with good work while Dave and Tim have the difficult task of patrolling the large outfield. Sharp work by Alan and Phil get a run-out off the last ball.
Skies which are blue while OUP bat have changed during tea, with heavy grey clouds sweeping in and rain not far away. Weather doesn't affect Matthew and David, both of whom treat with respect some good accurate bowling while scoring when they can. The rain starts after 9 or so overs but it's OUP that suffer most with the wet ball proving tricky to control. The game is called off half-way through the 13th over with Bodley slightly ahead of the run-rate without losing wickets. Hard to say what would have happened without the rain, Bodley not having the strongest batting line-up but Matthew and David looked well set to put down a good platform for the rest of us to build on. But it wasn't all bad, as the early finish allowed the thirstier members of the team, and a few hangers-on, to sample the generous plates of food being offered up by the bowls club in the bar next door. The chocolate sponge cake was a particular highlight, being enjoyed with a somewhat guilty smile by the skipper.
Renault F1 at Barton Abbey, 20 overs.
Bodley played the last of three games in quick succession last night, against regular opposition Renault, playing on a pitch in the middle of Middle Barton Estate whose beauty of location is matched equally opposite by the dangerously unpredictable bounce of the wicket. Such is the fear of this bounce that one regular player, on the receiving end of a snorter last year that he just managed to get a bat on, knackered a finger in the last game, thus ruling himself out. The sporting equivalent of a self-inflicted wound in the trenches. This time we were lucky. Not in the sense that the pitch played well, it didn’t, but in that the opening oppo batsman decided, selflessly, to take on all the knocks and unpredictable balls himself. First a lifting ball into the arm, than a gloved catch to wickie from one that lifted dangerously off a length, then more to the chest. Not content with the pummelling he took when batting he then got hit a few more times in the field, truly an example of heroic sacrifice. Test-match bowlers of the quality of Broad and Anderson train for hours in the nets over winter to get the ball to do things that more humble bowlers at the very lowest levels of the game can do regularly, if not intentionally, on pitches such as this.
Bodley win the toss and bowl first, working on the assumption we chase better than we set. Players from both teams slowly arrive, a journey made worse than usual by Townyfile at Blenheim. Phil and David Shackleton open the bowling, both putting down a good line and length and keeping the runs down. Phil gets a wicket off a rising ball which is gloved behind to Matthew – who had an excellent game behind the stumps – but the skipper called the batsman back, a typical sporting gesture from a fine leader of men which met with almost/hardily universal approval from the rest of the team. Gav and the reporter take over, runs dry up and a wicket falls. 8 overs of medium pace from one end and slow and varied deliveries from the other in the middle of the innings pegs back the opposition score rate. Gavin, who has been bowling like a dream all season, deserved a wicket at least last night, the fact that he didn’t get one goes to show how cruel and unrewarding the sport can be sometimes. Leigh and James finish off the innings, both getting a wicket and keeping the oppo down to 97 off 20, not bad at all.
David and Matthew open, a cautious start against accurate bowling before both start to score. Matthew is caught going for a shot, Leigh comes in and hits out from the start and David starts to find his range. Then Leigh is out and James joins David. These two are as well matched a pair as the Bod have had for a long time, both able to hit boundaries and run well between the wickets but equally well suited to defence if the ball demands it. James gets a few useful runs before getting out and David reaches the set 25 and retire mark. Phil, Tim and David all contribute and the run-rate is well under control before Alec, having one of his best games for the team, is joined by Ackland at the death. With the team still needing about 20 runs to win and with enough overs left and the prospect of David coming back in all momentum is with the Bodleian. Ackland scores a few but then is caught reaching for a wide one…that desperate felling of being out to a shot we know we shouldn’t have played at a time when we’re starting to score runs and can see the team home, we all know it, don’t we…brings David back in. 14 needed off the last over after Alec had heroically defended 4 balls in the penultimate. But cruel fate, David whacks the ball onto his ankle and is left hobbling, limiting both stroke play and running between the wicket. Despite this he manages a few boundaries but in the end the team fall short, 92 off twenty. An excellent game, played in the right spirit against like-minded opposition in truly glorious surroundings and, a rare thing for a limited over match, a tea as well.
Bodley can take, despite the result, a lot of confidence from this game but we need to start asking ourselves why, more often than not, in tight games like this we often come out on the losing side. The season now dribbles towards the end, three games left with Sunday afternoon fixtures against friends old and new; OUP, the Authors and the Mads, all teams that we’ve lost to recently, a victory or two to finish off the season would be most welcome.
And finally a rare insight into the running of a cricket team, from an unnamed player earlier this week...
'...Have lost a wickie glove on Tues. am going to Manny Road this lunch to see if it is there, if anyone fancies coming down for a pint. Can you all have a good look in the back of your car please. Worse of all, I didn’t take a copy of oppo scorebook, so we have no record for our bowling which is a shame as it was another good performance. On a personal note, managed to leave half my kit and work shoes there and will have to go back at weekend.
Stats/Medawar at Mansfield Road, 20 overs.
Bodley took to the field for what they hoped would be a first completed jack cox match this season, after some awful weather and lack of interest scuppered the rest. Our opponents, the catchily monikered Stats/Medawar, had like us had an indifferent tournament, and looked keen with nets taking place beforehand as Bodley rested their finely-tuned bodies. With drizzle overhead we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. Skipper Neely duly lost the toss, having called incorrectly. To our surprise we were put in to bat. Which today, was our stronger suit.
Neely and Horden opened the batting and make a steady start, Neely playing some lovely strokes to keep the score ticking. Horden struggles with a stiff quad but soon finds his range and hits some powerful fours. Neely retires on 31* to bring newly promoted Burnett to the crease. Sadly the wicket was soon taken and Webb went out to join Horden. A few more are scored and the runs are coming, but then Webb is bowled by a sharp one, bringing Jones to the party. Horden was soon retired on a well made 30 odd not out. Robinson joined Jones and with a very flighty, slow over the wicket bit of bowling on offer runs were quickly accumulated and the score looked healthy. A good partnership built from these two with Robinson pinching twos and guiding it to the boundary while Jones hit out to square. Jones soon fell for 18 trying to up the rate only to be caught skying one. Philipson - Bubba to his adoring fans - strode out and after some energetic swinging and missing found his range and smashed a high six over square leg. With Robinson resolutely romping away at the other end the score ended up on 137 for (insert score once scorebook is nearby). A fine score and very well batted by all concerned. So 138 to win.
There was barely time to glance towards the bar and consider the post match refreshments before we back out and fired up to defend our total. Burnett and Robinson opened the bowling, quickly locking down a pattern of tight lines and precious few runs. Burnell bowled some beautiful swinging deliveries that had the batsmen grasping at it, and was unlucky not to be rewarded. Robinson meanwhile was unstoppable, getting a plumb lbw to take the first wicket. Shortly after a second fell, Robinson again, a catch very well taken by Dale in the covers. Busby, fresh from his fielding masterclass on Sunday was likewise prowling at deep square leg, snaring everything that came his way. Dale was soon brought on, with Triggs at the other end, to produce what must be one of Bodley's most contrasting bowling partnerships. Express pace (painfully express, actually, as a broken finger would later attest to) at one end, and round the wicket leg spin at the other. Jones, keeping wicket, certainly seemed somewhat befuddled by the change, though a run out chance of Dale narrowly failed to pick up a wicket as the runs started to build. After tidy spells from both, including a cracking bowled for Dale that was just reward for such a fine, proper and very effective bowling action, the tide began to turn as a huge six was hit off the final final ball of the over. Sadly this seemed to mark the commencement if hostilities proper, and the next bowlers, Neely and Horden, were punished by some fearless swinging of the bat. the score was by now rapidly climbing and Bodley's hopes of a semi-final were looking slim. However, it is a Bodley tradition that at this point in a game Philipson is brought on to bowl. And so it was, the poor chap being tossed the ball just as Stats were seeing how far the could really hit the ball, causing a leaping and hopping Paton to enjoy some late-overs ball chasing. Sadly the winning runs were hit in the sixteenth over, bringing to a close Bodley's Jack Cox season for this year. Well played Stats, and good luck in the semi.
We can reflect on a very decent batting performance against a mixed bag of bowling, and hope for better things - and better weather - next season. Good to see our new pace bowlers Dale and Burnett in good form, the evergreen Robinson shining brightly, and the skipper back in the runs.
Peasemore CC vs. Bodley, Peasemore. 35 overs.
Bodley made the short trip to West Berkshire to play our annual away fixture against the ever-friendly Peasemore CC. The weather was fair, the pub close by (and already visited by Mr Busby), and after the toss captain Milner was unlucky to come off second best. So Bodley were bowling first.
McKiernen and Shaw opened the bowling and did a superb job of keeping things tight on a slightly two-paced pitch. New keeper Brown kept things tidy behind the stumps and sharp stops by Jones and moonlighting Mads Hadfield ensured there were no leaks. The first real chance fell to the skipper, standing at slip. The ball, good length and sitting up nicely, was top edged over the keeper to the off side and headed into Milner's orbit. The veteran ball-wanger back peddled to get himself under it but as it became apparent that its trajectory was taking it beyond his grasp he leaped, hare-like, into the close summer air. Amazingly the ball somehow evaded the outstretched hands, and plumped itself down on the ground behind. Entertaining stuff and enjoyed by all. Shortly after Jones opted to leap over a thumped four rather than risk further injury after last weeks calamitous nets, and the oppo then suffered their own slice of bad luck when Neely bowled a slower ball beamer that top edged into the batsman's chin. Concern all round but thankfully all ok. The subsequent retirement slowed the runs further and Bodley were fairly happy as the score stood at 48 from 15 overs, albeit with plenty of wickets in hand. The first wicket finally fell in the sixteenth over as Mckiernen took a sharp catch at slip from Milner's bowling, making amends for an impromptu bout of juggling a few overs before. This bought one of Peasemore's youngsters to the crease, and after briskly taking guard the young man immediately smashed Milner back over his head for a six that almost cleared the trees. Next ball was struck even harder and again disturbed the nesting birds, this time over square leg. After a streaky skier that brought two more Milner got his revenge with a peach of a ball that turned back in and clean bowled the by now out of his ground batsmen. Meanwhile the other, uninjured opener was by now ticking along very nicely, milking the fine leg area and keeping Jones and Mckiernen very busy retrieving the ball from the hedge. The twenty sixth over finally saw the breakthrough as Mckiernen got a deserved lbw to end that innings on a well made 53. At the other end Shaw picked up a good wicket after Busby, shiner under his eye and smelling of beer, took a low catch followed up with a textbook stuntman roll. By now Brown had come on to bowl, with Neely taking the gloves. By the end of a pacey, accurate and very tidy spell the cricketer also known as Sizzla had picked up three wickets - two clean bowled and a low catch by the keeper. That pretty much saw the innings wrapped up, with some fine tickles past the keeper keeping Paton busy and a second b.Shaw, c.Busby bringing up the eighth wicket with a tall take in the covers. Peasemore finished up on 140-8 from their 35 overs. Now the real action began ...tea!
Over the many years we've been visiting the cricket has been excellent, played in the right spirit with a great bunch, but the teas have often been the highlight for many a Bodley player. This year was no different. Ample rolls and drumsticks, crisps, biscuits and tea, and best of all a scrumptious coffee cake. Delicious, and with our fielding all done Bodley were back for second helpings all round.
Anyway, back to the cricket. Bodley's latest opening pair Neely and Hadfield strode out and quickly got the score moving, with the first wicket not falling until the tenth over with 44 runs chalked up, Neely done by the two paced pitch to be well caught. Brown and Mckiernen made all too brief visits to the crease, keeping the score moving but ultimately being undone by canny bowling. After seventeen overs Bodley were all but halfway there on 70-4, a promising start but we've seen some mighty collapses before... But with Philipson and Jones nervously padded up and twiddling their thumbs our new middle order of Turner and Shaw effected a quite superb chase. Turner in particular was assured on the occasionally tricky pitch and kept the rate well within reach. At the other end Shaw hit some wonderful languid fours around the ground, and by the twenty-ninth Turner was on 36 and the score passed the Peasemore total as Shaw smashed a four to bring the match to close. No alarms, no late wobble, no heriocs. All very un-Bodley!
Credit goes to Shaw, Hadfield and Turner for batting us into a winning position, to Sizzla for a great all-round performance, to Busby for those stoat-like catches, but most of all to Peasemore for that coffee cake. That's our third win of a frustrating season, with two games in the coming week to add.
After the double disappointments of a bad run of form and then losing games to weather/lack of players it was a real pleasure to get our second win of the season last night, against new opposition Oxfam. The game was at Cutteslowe, which played as per usual, wicket ok if a little low on the bounce sometimes while the outfield had enough clover and long grass to slow down any boundary heading shots. At least the rabbits would be happy.
Bodleys win was built on a platform of the parsimony of our bowlers. Oxfam’s openers found Tom in particular tricky to deal with and his pace kept them, and Matthew behind the stumps, on their toes throughout his spell, both he and Leigh were unlucky to finish their overs with no wickets. Oxfam skipper Ben managed to slowly start to score while a couple of quick wickets fell at the other end but on his retirement runs slowed right down as our bowlers; James, David, Gavin and Stu all bowled good tight lines. Undoubted highlight of the innings was a run-out of one of their more dangerous batsmen by Tom. Having admired a skied catch going high over his shoulder Tom gathered the ball and from deepish mid-on hit the stumps with the Oxfam lad well out of his crease. Excellent work on another day when Bodley bowled and fielded well, which is our usual pattern, which just had to ensure that the rest of the game wouldn’t go the way of most others this season, good in the field, poor with the bat.
Starting with the confidence of having a small target to aim for (and presumable forgetting the way the season has mostly gone up till now) openers Matthew and David start well, Matthew getting runs off good bowling before knicking one behind. Leigh strides out, a colossus swinging his bat like the warrior he often is, then comes back again straight away, bowled first ball by a different ball to that he had expected. James then in, earlier than would have hoped but in good form recently. He does well to keep out some good accurate deliveries on a perfect length while keeping the scoreboard (or book in this case, no scoreboard at Cutteslowe so it was the occasional shouted up-dates from the scorers to keep us informed of the position) moving on. David does what David always does, playing each ball on its merit, scoring off the bad balls and defending the good. There is a lesson there for most of us, and we’ll work out what it is eventually. He reaches the retirement figure and goes off, by which point James has been caught and Andrew and Gareth have both come and gone without troubling the scorers. Both to balls that kept low, or was it high? Possibly moved? Fiendish pitch, apparently. But Gavin steadies the ship, with his usual array of late cuts, pat downs and defence. Batting highlight would have to be the scoop off his legs to clear the boundary for 6. Gav scores a useful 14 before being bowled by the useful Bilal. By this time Phil is well set, scoring freely off some dangerous bowling and running well between the wickets with the unusually limpet-like Stu. Bodley manage to steal runs with some tight running off mis-fields and the like which in a usual game wouldn’t have been risked. A lucky 4 after a dramatic, and some might say risky swipe at a fast ball gets a top edge flying over the wickie and then helped over the boundary by a very honest fielder. Bilal claims his second wicket next ball, bowling Ackland when he, to paraphrase Geoffrey Boycott on TMS, played down the Banbury Road when the ball was coming up Woodstock. By this time Tom was in, with Robin joining him and the chance of David coming back after retiring earlier. With the lukcy 4 scored a few balls earlier Bodley had drawn level, and with just over 2 overs left were pretty much there. Plenty of time to get the runs…which aren’t needed, Tom guiding to the boundary a quick delivery to finish off the game giving the Bod a well-earned victory against new and friendly oppo, and Tom personally the perfect end to another impressive performance – bookended by scoring the winning runs and bowling a peach of ball (a wicket on any other day) first ball of the match.
Bodley went into this game confident. With 9 players in the team who would all consider themselves useful bowlers we were always sure we could do well in the field but our batting also worked against some useful bowling. Hopefully we’ll take this forward to the next game, against Hendricks XI, touring side of Bodley occasional and up-and-coming bowler Tim Saunders.
OUCCC, Mansfield Rd Club
On Sunday afternoon Bodley played a rare 40 over fixture on the proper wicket at Mansfield Rd. We regularly play on the artificial wicket in Jack Cox games, but had never used the proper strip. So a treat was in store, we thought. Our opposition today was a new match, against the Oxford University Club XI, a team who, commendably, net twice a week. Skipper Neely scanned the skies as the oppo netted. Well, a first inspection of the wicket shattered any excitement - it being as green and fuzzy as the lawns of the Radcliffe Camera (slight exaggeration - Ed). With the outfield still resembling a football pitch we shrugged and simply hoped for the best, as ever. The skipper was unlucky to lose the toss, and we found ourselves fielding. It's fair to say that bowling was today our stronger suit, missing a fair bit of experience with the bat as we were, so this was a good result. So off we go...
Dale and Shaw open the bowling and the pitch we had so much hope for provides little in the way of assistance. But Dale is showing good pace and Shaw keeps it tight at the other end. The club openers were ticking along but showing no real intent and the total was kept well within reach. After an excellent maiden from Dale we finally got a deserved wicket in the ninth over, Shaw getting a plumb lbw to leave the score at 32-1. I'm afraid an incomplete scorebook prevents me giving the exact fall of wickets, but my best maths has another wicket at about the 12th over, the number three batter being clean bowled by Brown to have them 36-2. This brought a technically correct but very becalmed batsmen to the crease, and the score bumbled along to stand at 76-2 from 20. Excellent, we thought! Well, ahem, to cut a long story short the second twenty overs went at a steady 9.8 runs p/over, ending up on 272-3. Bodley's bowlers were excellent though, running in with intent and generally keeping a good line and length. Keeping was tough with the two paced nature of the strip but we all fielded below par, flagging after a flogging from the accelerating batters. Another wicket was picked up late by the skipper, but the damage was done. Chasing 273 was looking tough, but we fancied the short boundary and marched on out.
Bharat opened with the skipper, and immediately recoiled in suprise at the extra bounce now evident in the pitch. Nevertheless, the runs were flowing, but in the eighth over Neely was bowled to stem the flow. This brought newly promoted Jones to the crease, charged with 'doing a Boycott'. Well dear reader, this was fine by me. The first inning top scorer was duly smashed for four as Jones got off the mark. Very satisfying. Bharat was by now serene in his batting, tight in defence and classy in attack. All that was needed was rotation of strike and the score ticked along as Bharat scored the rump of the runs. The days only comedy moment arrived when Jones swung at a shorter one, took it on the hand and promptly fell over mid-twirl. Other than this brief respite it was fairly relentless stuff from the bowlers, who had their best game faces on for good measure. Bharat was unfortunate to be bowled by one that nipped back when on 47 - a superb innings ended before a deserved 50. The score was now 75-2 from 17. Jones followed next over, and then Brown a couple later. Sadly we couldn't quite chase the total down in the end but with the slow bowlers now on a few thumping shots from Shaw jnr, Griffin and Abdul provided some entertainment. In the end Bodley were all out for 123 from thirty overs as Alex was undone by a deadeye straight one.
All things considered not a bad effort and we now look forward to our next fixture, a regular friendly against a our chums the Mads on Friday at Jesus college ground. All welcome, as ever!
Pharmacology, Jack Cox group stage, 20 overs
Bodley took on Pharmacology in their belated first Jack Cox match at Mansfield Rd, the proper first match having been forfeited due to lack of players. We fielded a good side, and skipper Neely was optimistic, in a Matthew sort of way, that victory was there for the taking. Two new players were welcomed into the Bodley fold - Lee and Alan - both graduate trainees brought into cricket by burgeoning recruiting sergeant Tom Dale. After Sunday's cancelled match we were keen for a game, though the weather looked 'changeable' at best. Well, off we went.
Neely lost the toss, having called incorrectly. We were thus asked to bat first. A strange decision, we thought, with the weather about. Out strode our restored opening twosome of Neely and Shackleton, full of beans and ready to dominate the bowling. Shackleton in particular was looking very relaxed at the crease, even finding the time to sign autographs between balls. A maiden to start proceedings gave way to plenty of gentle running and the score crept up before Neely was controversially stumped having charged the bowler (not just charged, but also howled and growled at - Ed.). 18-1 off five. The languid, irresistible force that is Bodley number three Shaw rode out to take up the battle. Sadly, after two exciting runs he returned, being caught skying one. The bowling was a maddening mixture of decent quicker stuff and floaty medium pace flighters that so often pick up wickets. Webb was now in, and Shackleton was purring like a Morgan Plus 8 on a country lane. Sadly another catch was taken and Webb gave way to Burnett, who looked good for his two but after another catch gave way to Jones. Shackleton had by now reached a fine, tour-selection worthy 30 and retired to a comfortable seat on the boundary to relax and take questions. This bought Philipson out to play, having had time to finish his roll-up. After almost taking the umpire's head off thumping a four down the ground Jones too departed, bowled by some floaty stuff for six. A collapse you cry! It's like 1990s England you sob! Well, 1990s England didn't have a Philipson, did they? We do. And ours soon got his eye in and smashed 21 runs to all corners to batter the bowlers - by now giving us plenty of wides to boot - and get the score over 100. Wielding his bat like Mjolnir Tim was joined by Triggs and after a bit of entertaining running was run out in a quite comical fashion. Well played though Bubba. Dale joined Triggs and the runs ticked along, Dale picking up nine singles in a draining display of running between the wickets - these bowlers have far too much energy! So we ended up on 127-7 from our twenty. An excellent effort and one we felt we could defend to chalk up a well earned win.
After a quick stretch and a look skyward we took up positions. Shaw and Burnett opened the bowling and after six overs had only conceded twenty runs. Hmm, said a lordly Neely from behind the stumps, this is alright. Well, quite, we thought. Bloody good start with both bowlers keeping a tight length and producing plenty of play and misses. Dale came on first change and steamed in like an E-type on the straight, a terrific sight and one that had the batsman swinging at every ball without once connecting - a valuable maiden. After causing the other batter to don a helmet with one that lifted and lifted a bit more to fly over his head, Dale, with Webb at the other end, kept things fairly tight, backed up by energetic fielding and plenty of shouting and clapping. Webb then summoned the mythical Norse God Thor to his aid and bowled to a soundtrack of thunder, lightning, and darkening skies. This excited everyone immensely and we felt the first wicket was surely not far away. The score was by now 36-0 from nine overs, and all were feeling confident with some top bowlers still to come on. The by now very enthusiastic Thor then misread our attempts to keep warm as a rain dance, and dumped the heavens upon us. After a bit of a soaking having tried in vain to play on we all trudged off to seek shelter and a beer in the club bar. Blast and damnation! Rain stopped play!
Duckworth-Lewis is now used for Jack Cox but sixteen second innings overs need to be bowled for it to take effect. It looks very much like the match will be shared but confirmation will come in due course. Either way we played well, and can be rightly pleased with the total and our again excellent bowling. We next play on Sunday at Mansfield Rd against the clubs own team. All welcome.
Ps. Apologies to any classicists reading - blame Disney.
Wolvercote CC at Cutteslowe Park, 20 overs
Here we go again. Sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea trying to make sense of another Bodley match. But did we win this time? Well, read on...
Bodley this evening faced Wolvercote CC, a side we played last year and memorably lost to, the match seeing the otherwise unflappable Shackleton score a rare golden duck. But moving on to this year, and we arrived at Cutteslowe Park in North Oxford with two new players courtesy of Leigh - Sizzler and Gerbil, or Dwight and Mark as the scorebook knows them. Under heavy skies and stifling heat we lost the toss and were asked to bowl. Good good, thought skipper Matthew, as that's our strongest suit these days. So after the usual comedy stretches and an Ill-advised game of catch we took the field, with the skipper barking orders from behind the stumps. This year's breakout superstar, Tom Dale, opened the bowling with his extra yard of pace and with Leigh at the other end the first few overs were a pretty miserly affair. Pretty soon the pressure produced a skied shot and the first wicket was taken, well caught by debutant Mark. A few overs later and Leigh had another, this time lbw. Two down for not much. The change bowlers came on, Iain and Gavin, and kept things tight, but the batters were by now realising they needed to swing a bit, and swing they did. Despite the council's attempt to create a wildflower meadow on sections of the outfield, the ball was finding the boundrary just enough to keep the score ticking over. But we reckoned we were still well ahead, and Gavin in particular deserved a wicket after some optimistic playing and missing. Dwight was brought on to bowl at this point to mix things up a bit, and our debutant Jamaican quick didn't disappoint, bowling at a good pace with a mixture of lengths to keep the batter guessing (and the keeper, at times). A wicket, bowled top of off, was celebrated with gusto but ruled a no ball. A few balls later another wicket came, a skier. Up it went, into the burgeoning rain overhead, and then back down to earth towards the hands of an unnamed fielder. Through those hands it went, onto the ground, via the front of his shirt coming to rest at his feet. Bowler was not best pleased. But the runs were still below 100 and we felt pretty good, though it was by now raining, with rumbles of thunder and the odd lightning flash in the distance. Dwight finally got a deserved wicket (of sorts - not technically his but he effected it) thanks to a nifty bit of fielding from Alex, standing (somewhat reluctantly) in the covers near the bowlers end. Picking up a driven ball Alec flicked it to an animated Dwight who took the bails of. Good work all round. From here the batters swung the bat, with Iain picking up a lovely wicket thanks to a perfect line and length that found the top off middle, whilst the score ticked over to finish up on 105-4 off 20 overs. Not too shabby.
Captain Neely had a one man huddle and soon emerged with the batting order that would chase down 106 to win. With regular opener Shackleton boycotting the ground after last year's aberration, Mike walked out to set things up with the skipper. The rain had by now provided us with a wicket fit for seeding potatoes in, and both openers were watchful of the unpredictable bounce as the Wolvercote bowlers searched for a length. After a few overs Mike was victim of this very thing, with a shot aimed one way going another and landing in the grateful hands of a damp fielder. Iain came in at three and quickly found a groove, only to chop on as again the bounce decieved him. This brought Dwight to the crease, with the promise of some big hitting. Sadly, the pace of the pitch didn't make for easy hitting and those that did get through the fielders were soon swallowed by the long grass of the outfield. A few delicate cuts and nudges down behind square leg kept the score ticking over, but Bodley were well behind the rate. When Matthew too departed for a fine, grafted 25, out strode Leigh, chest puffed out and bat twirling. Leigh didn't disappoint, hitting some muscular fours and running like a man possessed. The score crept up but at ten an over needed with four left, could Bodley really pull this off? Well, no. Even taking into account the slippery underfoot conditions and slow outfield, we just didn't have enough on the board by now, and once Dwight was out, Gareth and then Gavin both struck a few lusty blows but could only scamper ones and twos. By the last over Tim was faced with an almighty Bubba Watson impression needed to turn things round. It was sadly not to be and Bodley fell short, again cursing a great start in the field that wasn't backed up with bat in hand. Ending up on 89-6 from our 20 we just couldn't get the ball away in the conditions.
Another good display in the field and with the balk, and much to take forward. Our next match is Sunday against Cuxham CC, a lovely village with a nice pub. Do come along and enjoy the rarefied sight of librarians playing cricket.
It’s always a pleasure to play at Cumnor Cricket Club, a venue we have used for a couple of years now thanks to Stuart’s family connections. It’s a very well run club with a particularly attractive ground and, most importantly, the clubhouse has a bar which they kindly open for thirsty cricketers on match days. Hooray for Cumnor CC then. Our habitual opponents at the venue are those genial band of Oxford cricketers Far from the MCC, aka the “Mads” although most of them in fact appear remarkably sane and level headed. They also happen to be pretty decent cricketers and usually have the upper hand in encounters with Bodleian CC. Indeed, you have to go back to 2011, and a thrillingly dramatic finish in the rain at Mansfield Road, for the last occasion we were victorious in the fixture. Nothing if not optimistic we felt that perhaps we had a good chance this time. We’d gone close in our previous game at Blenheim, just missing out in the final over, and now with the youthful dynamic captaincy of Neely at the helm perhaps we could actually get over the winning line for a change.
Captain Neely won the toss and elected to bat. The sun was now out after a grey and cool day and batting first on the artificial strip was the wise choice all agreed. Neely and Shackleton, as so often, were our opening pair. They both looked comfortable in the first few overs keeping the scoreboard ticking over until Neely was bowled in the third and a promising partnership came to a premature end. Still, our go-to man Shackleton was looking in fine form and pleasingly, for connoisseurs of batsmanship, employing the high elbow, twenty over game or no. James came in at number three bat and hit some pleasing shots before being bowled by Reeves for 9. Leigh, Iain and Andrew joined the free flowing Shackleton at the crease in close succession but with none lasting much time and it was only when Mike Webb made his way to the middle that Bodley fortunes began to change. A very valuable partnership ensued, the backbone of our innings, which was curtailed when David had to retire on 30 under the agreed rules for the game. Mike, after some skilful stroke play, then departed bowled for a very enjoyable and highly useful 21. Darren, next in, was unlucky to get caught on 0 but the highlight of the innings was then provided by following man Tim Philipson who hit a memorable six clean on to the steps of the pavilion before being bowled for 8. Bravo Bubba! Tom Dale unfortunately didn’t trouble the scorers this time but number 11 Alec Paton played a well-crafted late cut for 3 not out, bringing riotous applause from his teammates. Return retiree Shackleton was left as top scorer on 34 not out to bring the Bodleian innings to a close on 98 for 9 off 20 overs.
A quick turnaround and Bodleian were out in the field and ready to bowl at the FFTMCC openers. Both Leigh and James were bowling accurately and with real zip off the artificial pitch. Neither of the batsmen found scoring easy and catching chances were put down to the justifiable frustration of our bowlers. Cricket is often a game of fine margins and neither of our pair were getting a break. Change bowler Tom Dale, a real find for us this season, came charging in and immediately discomforted the batsmen. Pace, bounce and movement off the wicket tested them both. Tom found reward with a wicket through a ball that “got big” on their opener who skied it high into the air. James, ever cool and reliable in such circumstances, took a well taken catch at mid-off. Tom followed up this wicket by dismissing the other opener with a well-nigh unplayable ball that cut back to flatten the stumps. FFTMCC 65 for 2 off (around) 11 overs. Much celebration in the Bodley camp. Neely then swapped the keeper’s gloves with stand-in glovesman Leigh and took over the bowling together with Shackleton at the other end. Good, accurate stuff from both but the oppo batsmen were keeping up with the run rate. Matthew then took a wicket thanks to another good catch from James while David took one after Darren pouched a catch but FFTMCC were now closing in on our score and with one over to spare overtook us. FFTMCC finished up on 99 for 4 off 19 overs. The record shows we were defeated by six wickets but in reality it was much closer than that and if we had only scored another ten or fifteen runs who knows?
We play the Mads twice more this season, and it's 1-0 after round one. We need to win the next one to set up the decider. Nets for the batters then...