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...