Pretty sure I wasn’t the only Bodley player wondering what the hell we were doing playing against a team of post-grads from Balliol, most of whom were in the nets already when we arrived. The piss-poor start to the season hadn’t given the team a great deal of confidence going into the match but the usual optimism, banter and excitement created by too many people in too small a changing room soon got people in the right frame of mind. The team was a strong one for Bod, looking round it was hard to see how all those who could bowl would get the chance.
Balliol bat first. Their ground is right next to Manny Rd and slightly higher, which meant that those fielding on the far-side to the pavilion could watch the JC match in-between deliveries. Bod start well with the ball, both James Shaw and Phil Burnett bowling quickly and accurately with James getting wickets. Phil deserved more from his spell, and should have got at least a catch off the one really dangerous batsman in Balliol. Noticing he had a tendency to hit straight back past the bowler fielders were placed at deepish mid-on and off, your reporter being one of them, and sure enough the ball was spooned gently up straight towards him. Not reading the flight at all well left the hapless fielder in no-mans land, kicking himself afterwards for not going for what would have been a regulation catch. After a good start Balliol are pegged back with the Bod taking wickets on a regular basis. Leigh takes a sharp catch at mid-on getting rid of a dangerous looking player while Tom Dale picks up a number with quick accurate deliveries. Matthew does well behind the stumps and Leigh picks up useful wickets towards the end of the innings. A brief flurry of runs at the end see Balliol to 99 off 20, a score that a good Bod side should be able to manage but is one that we’ve failed to get anywhere near close too in the two games so far.
Matthew and David open, facing bowling which is sometimes accurate, sometimes not, and take advantage of the bad balls. Matthew looks to work the ball down leg when he can while David is the usually mixture of safety and attack, finding the gaps with seeming ease. Both look set to reach the retirement figure of 30 before Matthew is bowled for 25 and David is given out caught behind for 29, a clear edge in both sound and deviation from bat obvious to umpire and bowler. James follows Matthew and after a scratchy start soon finds the middle of the bat. Leigh joins him and attacks from the start, nearly getting caught off the first ball but then regularly finding the boundary. Bodley win in 17 overs by 8 wickets. A marvellous turn round considering the start to the season. While we have to be cautious in that the opposition were of mixed ability –while umpiring at square leg one of the fielders told me that a few of the oppo hadn’t started playing until well into their 20’s –the bowling again was superb, and finally the batting clicked into gear. Hopefully we can take this form into Blenheim on Sunday.