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.