Aldworth CC at Aldworth.
Bodley's season slowly trickles to an end, still enough time though to squeeze in one more epic in a season which has had more than its fair share. New friends Aldworth were the opponents, a ½ hour drive away into the hills outside of Goring. Aldworth have an interesting ground, ringed by trees and on a slope so those at one end of the ground are considerably higher than those down the slope. One strange quirk though, a depression in the top corner meant that occasionally, when fielding there (as Dan was for a while) only the top half of the fielder was visible to those at the other side. Rain had left the wicket muddy with not a lot of grass, leading to a constant call for sawdust as bowlers found it hard to get in a firm front foot. Despite all that the pitch played pretty true most of the time, with only the occasional snorter or low ball. A timed game, Bod win toss and put the oppo into bat. Regular openers Gavin and Dan start with the ball, age before beauty gives Gav first go. Oppo play timed games, but worries about weather have meant a change in usual practise. Aldowrth will bat till 4.30, then tea, then we’ll bat same amount of overs
As Gav starts, so does the drizzle. Which continues for the whole of their innings and pretty much most of ours. To break it up a bit the drizzle turns to heavier rain, which with the wind blowing across the pitch is almost horizontal. The sun broke through once, which raised a bigger cheer then when David got his fifty. Gav gets thumped in his first over, Dan does well with his first, then Gavin gets his man, clean bowling the dangerous batsmen who advances down the wicket and misses completely. Run-rate slows a bit but Aldworth slowly build a total. Wickets for Stu when David S takes a brilliant catch diving full length and juggling a wet ball, Tim, James and David, who bowled beautifully at the death in tricky conditions. In fact all our bowlers bowled well considering the slippery outfield and the spongy crease. Matthew deserves a lot of credit for tidying up a lot of loose deliveries and took two good catches off James, reward for his hard work and dirty whites.
Aldworth throw a small spanner in the works by declaring with half an hour to go before tea, jokingly saying they wanted a go at us before the break, but really, and sportingly, wanting to make sure we got some batting in in case the weather got worse. ‘Anyone want to open?’, asks the skipper. Suddenly most of the team find something wrong with footwear and look down, so occasional openers Ackland and Shackleton stride out to face the attack, drizzle/occasional rain still coming down. Aldworth have some serious pace to start but thankfully the pitch stays true, the ball doesn’t move off the seam and both openers are able to see them out while scoring off the change bowlers. With some god running between the wickets (‘ankle ok Dave?’) and 11 taken off the last over before tea we manage to get to 19 without loss before the break. Not bad at all.
Lovely tea; quiche, pie, chicken tikka pieces, sarnies and loads of lovely cake. Ackland suddenly realises the folly within his bravery, how can he fully partake when he has to resume batting pretty soon. Taking one for the team his plate has more space then cake, hardily a piece of savoury and a lonely sandwich.
Bod back out there post tea. Drizzle still, runs start to build as David finds his range, and elegantly sways out of the one of one that lifts off the pitch, making his non-facing partner mightily relieved that it wasn’t him facing that one. Not sure a back with 20 years more life in it would have moved fast enough. Partnership soon broken up as Ackland, having seen off the pace and starting to swing a bit is bowled going for a stupid shot off the wrong ball. Brings Matthew in though, and he soon is scoring well, both he and David finding the boundary and keeping the score ticking over. David starts to cramp up when a front foot defensive shot turns into an unexpected slide forward in the mud, stretching an already well-worked hamstring. Mathew is out soon after, LBW to one of the few balls that stays low. James in, has a few to get himself sorted and then starts hitting out, the favoured shot down past the bowler featuring, Bodley doing well and are on target for a win, but then David is caught just after getting a half century, Tim then biffs a few (including one that came off his pads onto the bat, not one featured in many coaching manuals). In the end the run-rate slows as Aldworth bring back the quicker opening bowlers. Bodley need a six off the last ball to win the match but can only get a run off a bye and the match is tied, which at the same time feels both apt considering the sporting way in which the game has been played in difficult circumstances but also frustrating as for a while it looked like ours for the taking with the runs coming as smoothly as they did. Honourable mention to Messers Busby and Triggs. Dave got an over or two in before the declaration, Rob was about to be brought on to bowl just as declaration announced, both active in the field though.
After hand-shakes with the oppo we said farewell – again – to David, back to Exeter and away from the team until July of next year. He is a class above and will be missed. Then, a real treat. The pub next to the ground is the celebrated Bell Inn. With a hatch instead of a bar and nooks and crannies to explore the pub has a real sense of history, as well as very good beer on tap at reasonable prices, one to go back to.
So, new opponents, and already a fixture to look forward to next year. Authors to finish the season, next Saturday at Warborough, Bod currently stand at 9 wins, 11 loses, 2 rained off, 2 ties and a draw, a great season by any stretch of the imagination, let’s finish it off in style.