FFTMCC, Cutteslowe Park. 20 overs.
In stark contrast to Tuesday’s scorcher Bodley this evening played a highly competitive T20 under cloudy skies and a welcome breeze, against old friends and all round cricket troubadours the Mads. We don’t often beat the Mads, with a season closing win least year being against a weakened side and the years other matches going in their favour. This season we had an oh so close match with only a boundary catch off the last ball preventing Gav taking us to victory. So it was all set up to be a humdinger and both teams set about the game in great spirits.
Bodley lost the toss and were very kindly put in the bat, still waiting for a few players. As our usual opener Neely wound his way back from glorious Wales skipper Stu valiantly, if rather too enthusiastically, stepped in as opener with Shackleton. This unlikely partnership – kind of a cricketing version of Strictly Come Dancing – set about the innings with unexpected flair, and it wasn’t long before Stu clobbered a four over deep cover to stake his claim as permanent number 1. Shackleton struggled to match Stu’s derring do, and with teammates in rapture the skipper progressed to a terrific seventeen with three boundaries before being caught skying one in the fifth over. But then as normal service resumed and Shaw Snr joined the bemused Shackleton it became apparent that the pitch was a little low and with the slow bowlers on, scoring became a little tricky. Shaw and Shackleton formed a nice partnership, finding the boundary often enough and keeping things ticking over before Shackleton retired on 34 in the ninth over. Next batter, Robinson, was soon undone by that low pitch, bringing the thoroughly discombobulated Neely to the crease in the tenth over at number five. The two batters set about trying to up the rate a little but unfortunately Shaw succumbed soon after for a useful eleven. This bought Jones to the crease with orders not to revert to Boycottean type. By now Neely had been possessed by an evil spirit intent on taking as many singles as possible, and he and Jones charged from end to end and back again to keep the score ticking over. Fortunately for a by now exhausted Jones, Neely lost the plot in the seventeenth over and smashed seventeen runs including a six and two fours. A relieved Jones kept swinging and running before Neely was unlucky to be bowled for a very well made thirty. With that and the skipper's opening blast a new batting order was apparently established, much to the skipper’s delight. This bought Bodley's senior statesman Milner to the crease, muttering about wool sweaters but intent on taking the score as far beyond 100 as he could. Only four were added in the nineteenth, but in the final over a well struck four back over the bowler helped scramble nine off the over. Bodley ended on 122-4, not a bad score, and one we hoped to defend.
After a quick turnaround the skipper announced he had a cunning plan, a daring upending of the usual bowling changes. Burnett and Robinson opened and despite a four off the first ball things progressed rather well, with Gav getting a deserved wicket in his first over, clean bowled to set off the thoroughly enjoyable flashing bails. After another form Phil, Gav was back at it with another clean bowler, bails alight in the dusk once again. 2-19 in the fourth and Bodley were pretty happy. As is so often the way after a few wickets, a partnership gradually developed, as the Mads batters dug in and then hit out as Bodley missed a few chances in the field and talked openly about vegetarianism (too much of an in-joke – Ed.). The skipper came on to bowl, all shuffle and adoring female fans, whilst Milner spun his magic at the other end, Bodley’s Odd Couple enjoying a rolling back of the years. Whilst neither got a wicket both kept the score from getting away, and credit must go to the outfielders for some sterling work chasing, and to Neely for some sharp takes behind the stumps. Another wicket finally fell in the twelfth over with the score on 56, a sharp run-out effected by Shaw Jnr from the covers. Young Shaw was back amongst the action shortly after, having found the edge, and with Neely taking the catch the Mads were 59-4 in the thirteenth. Well, once again – as is bloody typical – the momentum then turned and the Mads started finding the ropes, the big hitting Shorten giving the outfielders sore necks as a series of sixes rained over cow corner. By the sixteenth the score had climbed to 102-4 with Shorten retired but Bodley fielding well. Bodley favourite and player’s player Dave Busby bowled a few tight overs of death from above, whilst Shaw and Shackleton were introduced late – the skippers aforementioned Cunning Plan – to choke off the final overs. Sadly the Mads had other ideas and a few sixes interspersed with some sharp running kept the score worryingly close. But what-oh! Shaw and Shackleton both bag a wicket, in the eighteenth and nineteenth overs respectively, and the game shifts back in Bodley’s favour. At the start of the final over the Mads are on 109-6 with two retired, so fourteen needed to win. The mads were going at the ball, with good hitters right through the order, and the fielders were spread to stop the boundaries and chase down any twos. So final over...
Shackleton is tossed the ball and the fielders bare down like grass-stained middle class vultures. A good length ball, straightish, and wallop! Up it goes, miles up ...towards the skipper at cow corner. Oh dear!, everyone thought, poor bloke. To our surprise - in fact to his own evident surprise - Stu pouched the catch with such assuredness that the whole team suddenly though this may just be our day. 109-7, with five balls left. In runs Shacks, floppy hair flopping about, and dot ball! And another one follows! Three to go. The field pants restlessly, nervously. Besting a full strength Mads team would mean a lot to Bodley, so often the nearly men, so often bested themselves regardless of effort. Fourth ball, the end in sight, and Shackleton loses his line, sends it down leg, wide, allowing the batters to scamper two whilst the ball – oh the cruelty! – hits the keeper’s helmet sitting innocently on the grass yards behind a fuming Neely (put the helmet on your head next time - Ed.). 117-7, six needed to win for the Mads. In runs Shacks ...dot ball! It’s come down to this, one ball to hit a six to win the game for the Mads, everyone on the boundary for Bodley. The skipper looks round, checks everyone is in place, then sends Shacks the signal to charge in. The nine outfielders lean in, all eyes on the batter as the back lift goes up and hovers menacingly. Good length ball, pitches, batter rocks back, swings and ...smash! The connection is good, the ball flies off the bat, but at no height! As it careers over the ropes for four the eleven men of Bodley realise they’ve won, by one run.
Mads end up on 121-7, bloody well played as they were looking like overhauling us until those late wickets, and Bodley - led by the jubilant skipper - shake hands and allow broad smiles to beam across their faces. A superb game, played by 22 committed cricketers in the best of spirits with everyone contributing. Well played all and as Stuart kept saying as we ambled off with sore bodies, we beat the Mads! One for the whole team this.
Osler/Green-Templeton, New College Ground, 20 overs
On a day that saw such simple tasks as sitting on a bench become almost impossible due to the heat, and a week that had driven most library staff to the cool escape of the subterranean bookstacks, the eleven men of Bodley dragged themselves to the New College Ground to play a twenty over Jack Cox match against last year’s comically competitive Cup winners Osler/Green-Templeton. Picture if you can a scene of scorched earth with two sets of stumps in the middle, heat haze rising from the Martian wicket, and eleven apprehensive library staff all desperately trying to claim a fielding spot with the sun behind them, all this whilst two upright opposition batsmen strode out to commence proceedings. Well, that’s where we start our tale.
Skipper Neely had lost the only thing we really wanted to win today – the toss. With this crushing defeat came the inevitable confirmation that we were fielding first. Of course we were – who in their right mind would want to field in this heat? The aforementioned climatic conditions prevent a clear and concise recollection of events (not to mention the scorebook being somewhere in the bookstack as this is typed), but popular opinion has it that Shaw and Shackleton opened the bowling, the latter making a rare appearance for the opening overs of a game. To everyone’s surprise, our by now medium pace bowling kept the opposition very quiet indeed. As the overs ticked by it became apparent that the Osler batters were intent on playing outlandish shots straight out of the theme park cricket of the IPL, but sadly a series of singles, lbw appeals and whirling bats was all that resulted. It wasn’t long before a wicket fell to Shackleton, but this only brought a big hitting new batter to the crease. After several overs of swinging at hot air the boundaries finally started to flow, but it was of enormous credit to Bodley that by the half-way point the score had been kept down to about 40 odd. As Bodley’s secret weapon – Burnett’s previously unseen spin paired with Philipson’s long-run-up-hiding-a-heavy-slower-ball, ensured the slow rate continued, talk amongst the by now completely dehydrated fielders turned to devising a batting order to ensure a Cup spot was not coming our way. We need not have worried. After a run out and couple of deserved wickets for Wilson – both clean bowled just clipping the bails as the batters continued their policy of attempting to dance and bat at the same time – the intent seemed to change and tired fielders were soundly flogged as the Osler skipper attempted repeatedly to launch the ball into Oxford’s orbit. Suddenly the innings was over, and Osler had chalked up a very decent 160-4.
Neely and Shackleton duly walked out to bat and after only a short while Neely was back in the pavilion having been caught by the keeper down the leg side, a flying take that actually was straight out of the IPL. Shaw was next in, and along with Shackleton played nice shots, finding the boundary and ticking the score along well on a par with where Osler had been. Unfortunately Shaw was soon returning to the hutch too, and could put his feet up after a punishing shift with bat and ball. This brought Bodley’s new number four to the crease – the unstoppable force that is Mr. T. Philipson of East Oxford. A spanking four whipped behind square off a straight ball had the crowd in rapturous applause, but sadly Osler again got the upper hand and Tim returned to his team-mates all too soon. Wilson was next in, and unfurled a couple of lovely shots before being undone by Osler’s close fielding – the field was basically a close ring with all nine outfielders competing for the title of keenest fielder. Jones followed, only to be run out as Shackleton caught whiff of a kebab van beyond the other end of the pitch. The ever calm Webb was next in, and settled into a mini-partnership with Shackleton only to be adjudged caught behind and compelled to walk by lots of shouting. Wides were becoming a problem for Osler by this point of the game but it was going to take a spraying of Mitchell Johnson proportions to help Bodley to victory. After Webb fell it wasn’t too long before Burnett, Busby and Phillips all succumbed and in the fifteenth over with the score at 64, the match was dusted with Osler delirious and Bodley relieved.
A difficult game for Bodley, and one we’re glad to move on from, hoping for fairer weather and kinder pitches as we take to Balliol for our next match against DPAG on Tuesday 4th July. Players are still needed so do get in touch if you fancy a game. We’re off on tour between then and now – to Exeter for some sun, sea, and singles. Reports to follow!
Inkpen CC, Inkpen. Sunday 11th June.
New ground, new friends and Bodley get their second victory in as many days. Four wins from eight, even I can work out that’s a 50% success rate, heady days for the team. A long journey south along the A34 and then leafy country lanes saw the team finally arrive at Inkpen’s ground, deep in the heart of rural Berkshire. Inkpen are a side much like Peasemore in spirit though talking to one if the oppo before the game gave the impression of a side that has about eight fixtures a season and often struggle to get a side out, the one we played include a couple of pre-teen boys and some older players who hadn’t played in quite a while, putting us in the rare position of playing the game in the right way to make it enjoyable for all. With that in mind, after winning the toss and putting Inkpen in, Bodley open with Tim, whose three overs go for not many runs and a couple of wickets, both cleaned bowled as a mixture of straight deliveries and poor shot selection combined with the best results for the bowler. Leigh starts form the other end and from then on it’s a steady rotation of every outfield player getting a chance, with wickets falling fairly regularly. Nice to see Andy MacKinnon bowl in his first game for a while and Dan Shaw, son of James, also gets a chance to turn his arm. Wickets for Dave’s Busby and Shackleton, Phil, the skipper and two for James at the end (on a hat-trick his first ball of the next game), some good fielding and a lot of dot-balls reduce Inkpen to 112 off (about, haven’t got the scorebook) 20. All but one of the wickets are clean bowled but the other, off Dave Shackleton’s bowling was a catch from Dave 2, Mr Busby, which was one of the best in recent Bod history. Running forward and then a last minute dive Dave got to the ball just in time. A difficult catch, and considering how many we’ve put down recently all the more special. Dan Shaw should have also got a wicket, that of one of the Inkpen youngsters who was probably their top scorer but he was called back when caught off a suspected bump-ball. Mike was the only one not to have a go, keeping wicket instead.
Then tea, seems important to record these things. Usual supply of sarnies, sausage rolls, cakes and tea to drink, but then, hang on, what’s this. A box of beer is brought out and put on the end of the table, ‘help yourself lads’ says the oppo, and a few of us did.
In the spirit of adventure and with the licence that confidence in an assumed victory brings the skipper, reporter of this tale, opened with Mike. Seemed logical based on the concept of people having a go who hadn’t done much this season, despite a deserved spot at number 10 or 11 and the one previous innings this season lasting two balls. This go didn’t last much better, a brief flash at a wide one was dropped at slip, a word suggesting caution from partner than another flash immediately after is taken at square leg. Dreams of a glorious fifty, an ambition for a number of seasons now, are again put to bed. Mike builds an innings though, Leigh briefly joins him before being caught then Gav helps out before a ball that decides it doesn’t like heights and traps him plumb in front. Tim comes in (surely if ever a ground was meant for Tim it is this one?) and some is finding the boundary before another successful LBW. At the start of the innings a batting line-up as worked out designed to be as fair as possible, and with the hope of getting James and Dan batting together. In a regrettable decision the skipper, after Leigh’s early dismissal, changes this, bringing David up the order. Turns out this was unnecessary, David and Dan work well together after Mike’s innings comes to an end to see us home, a mixture of good running between the wickets and a few boundaries but James could have done this just as well, don’t panic being the lesson learned for the skipper. Highlight of the innings is a lovely 6 from Mike, who swivelled onto a leg-side full-toss to effortlessly ease it over the square-leg boundary.
A good win for the team, sure they could have bowled their best bowlers in tandem and skittled the oppo out cheaply but where’s the fun in that? Everyone has had a go and hopefully Inkpen had a good game and will invite us back again next year. Beer for tea!
Two games to go before tour, a JC then a return fixture against the Mads. How far can this winning run continue?
A day of upsets, but perhaps none bigger than was to unfold on the hallowed turf of the University Club when Bodley took on IT Services in a Jack Cox T20 fixture. A tough match against a team who have often found themselves qualifying for the Cup stage of the competition (where the good teams play). Thanks to some last ditch talks and backroom deals Bodley were able to form a coalition of 11 players. Skipper Neely lost the toss, and to general surprise, Bodley were asked to bat. With Shackleton arriving late, having been up all night analysing the swing vote, an Oxford East and West progressive alliance of Neely and Shaw was formed as our opening partnership. Adopting a laissez-faire approach, the runs began to flow quickly as the pair went on the attack against the opening bowlers. Neely and Shaw brought up their 30s in quick time to retire to the benches. Neely’s innings ending with his first six (the first of many for the team this weekend!) for the Bodleian after 11 years and 143 matches. The team look forward to another in 2028. Despite being ‘completely knackered’ from his nocturnal activities, Shackleton began building a strong and stable platform at number 3, and was joined by Tim Bubba Philipson who found the green with a four off his first ball. Soon after though, Tim found himself returning to the back benches, falling lbw to a delivery swinging to his blind spot to the right of centre. This brought Chief Whip and enforcer McKiernan to the middle and, in typical style, he was soon despatching the ball to the boundary. With Shackleton retiring on 32, he was replaced by the returning Iain Wilson, freshly recovered from his 87th hockey injury. With Iain having lost none of his aggressive approach to batting, the scoreboard was racing along. Leigh retired on 31 and was replaced by Webb who deftly rotated the strike with Wilson to leave Bodley with a total of 175 for 1 from their 20 overs. A commanding majority.
James and Leigh opened the bowling. The IT Services openers came out on the attack but Leigh struck in the second over, finding some extra bounce, to claim the first wicket with a caught behind. James and Leigh give Bodley a strong and stable start in the face of some aggressive batting. Shackleton then took over, and with his nocturnal refinements clearly having an effect, his swingometer was deployed to devastating effect with two wickets falling. Another wicket fell with Wilson claiming an lbw. With Tim keeping things tight at the other end, IT Services were forced into taking risks and Mike claimed a run out with some sharp work in the field. With IT Services beginning to look dangerous, Tom Dale, having arrived as a spectator but immediately declaring himself fit to play after injury to help Bodley field a full side, volunteered himself as death bowler. With Bodley’s paceman entering the attack, the run rate crawled to a halt and in his second over, Tom flattened the stumps to claim a deserved wicket. With IT Services needing 40 off the last over, Bodley’s victory was assured.
A fantastic effort from all of the team with the bat, ball and in the field. This must rank as one of Bodley’s best ever Jack Cox results against a strong side with plenty of batting and bowling in their line-up. Thanks are especially due to Alec, Mike and Tom for all turning out for the team at short notice. A great advert for Jack Cox cricket with both teams playing in a friendly but competitive spirit. Bodley toasted victory at the bar with beer, burgers (a double stack for reformed meat enthusiast Shackleton) and curly fries. Our next JC match is on the 20th - we look forward to another high turnout.
FFTMCC, Cumnor Cricket Club, 20 overs
Thwack! Not the sound, unfortunately, of the ball finding the middle of the bat but the ball finding the chest as Bodley let three catches go through their hands and smacking into bone.
A spirited performance against our oldest rivals, Far From the MCC, saw Bodley come within 5 runs of winning on Friday, with a swash-buckling 32 from Gavin nearly seeing us home. Needing a 4 off the last ball to draw the match Gav was caught in the deep. Others chipped in with the bat, Leigh a quick-fire 19, James a 12 and Rob a 10 but we lost wickets at key-times, the main difference being the Mads held their catches when the Bod didn’t.
The game was played at Cumnor, a peach of a ground with a bar. As both teams turned up they were surprised to find the out-field brimming with youngsters going through coaching drills and practising skills, most impressive. This meant a delayed start to the game, and along with the traditional toss to decide the order of the game a brief discussion was held as to whether the game should be shortened in case of bad light towards end, nah, balls to it was the collective decision, but let’s not hang about between overs/innings, ok.
Mads to bat first, Leigh opens the bowling with James at the other end. Leigh’s first over goes for two, James’s first is treated with less respect. A 4, then a 6, a dot and another 4 causes a mild panic out in the middle and in the Bodley hearts but things soon settle, James gets a cleaned bowled and then gets some revenge on the opening big-hitter with Gav taking a sharp catch in the slips. Mads lose their first wicket on 34, then Bodleys bowling starts to tell, with Mads losing next lot of wickets at 35, 41, 45 and 57. Bodley manage to slow down the scoring while taking wickets but are aware that there are still some big hitters to come, but then a crucial partnership develops between 5th, 6th and 7th bats for the Mads, who go from 57 for 6 to 108 for 6, helped on by a couple of wides and those dropped catches. The Mads finish on 116, which considering their start is not a bad performance for the Bod bowlers, who have some tidy figures for their efforts, Tim goes for 3 an over, as does the skipper (despite the usual expense of the impossibletoresist slow-ball at the end). Two wickets for Leigh and James, one each for Gav, Tim and David Shackleton.
Dave S and Matthew open, Matthew finding the boundary a couple of times before finding the hands of the square-leg fielder, who hangs on to a fiercely struck shot. David is then well caught in the deep before James is caught and bowled and then Leigh bowled. A tumble of wickets but crucially not before each had put runs on the board. With Leigh’s departure Bod are 69 for 4, well above the Mad total at a similar stage. Rob and Gavin get us almost there before Rob is out, Tim can’t get enough of the strike to hit some much needed sixes and then Gav needs a four of the last ball to tie, six to win before James Hoskins takes the catch in darkening conditions to win the match for the Mads.
An excellent game against a team that have been friends and rivals for years. Again losing wickets at key times has cost us dear but considering the results against the Mads recently to come so close against a strong team is a creditable performance. Return fixture on the 23rd, here’s hoping we can get revenge.