Authors XI at Warborough.
Oh dear. That a season that started with a win against the Strollers at the start of May and proved to be fuller than usual of highlights and more wins than most years should finish like this. The facts. Playing the Authors at Warborough is a fitting end to the season, one of our favourite grounds against good opposition, which in the past has lead to some close games. Drizzle in morning but pitch ok, and sun out, which after last week is a bonus. Strong Bod side, with friends Dips and Asad strengthening the side, and a welcome return to Andy Hudson, once a regular in the team but a resident of Canterbury for the last 10 years or so. A few of us get to the ground early enough to have a drink in the Six Bells, we should do this more often next year.
Oppo win toss and put themselves in bat. Authors have organized neutral umpires, experienced hands that mean there isn’t a need to do it ourselves. We have the novelty, when batting, of all those not at the crease being able to watch proceedings from the pavilion, or take a stroll round the boundary edge, something worth doing at Warborough where you get to play ‘I’ll have that house…’. Bod, reckoning that the Authors start with cautious bats, open with Tim and Rob. Tim’s been bowling more this season, and is often amongst the wickets and Rob deserves some overs after last week’s early declaration meant he didn’t get a go. Both bowl a few tight overs with Rob getting the first wicket but then Authors start to hit out and runs quickly accumulate. First change brings Asad and Ackland, Authors still scoring but then both bowlers find their rhythm and runs start to dry up. Wickets for Ackland after some big hitters miss straight ones. Sun now shining and the team remember what it's like to play in the warm. Andrew takes over and continues his good form with the ball, his 3 overs going for a miserly 8 runs. James and Leigh finish off the innings, continuing the good work. Leigh getting a clean bowled and two catches, one close in by Rob, the second an excellent catch by Asad. Running back away from the wicket Asad keeps his eye on the ball all the time and finally takes it over his shoulder, a difficult one well taken.
Authors finish on 184 off their 35 overs, par for the pitch judging by previous games here.
Tea, lovely selection of sandwiches, pies, quiches and cake. Bodley work out a batting order. Matthew and Dips, on loan from the Mads, open. And almost as soon as they do the weather changes, clouds come in and drizzle starts. Bod start slow with tight and accurate bowling from the oppo, one of their openers in particular going for hardly any. In fact the Authors maintain a steady line throughout our innings, runs are proving hard to come by and that is before a heavy hail-storm which turns to rain, brings the players off after 7 overs with the score on 18, turns the wicket into a pudding and makes the outfield slow up. This isn't to say that Bod lost the game because of the weather though. Slow scoring and some terrible run-outs mean Bod all out for 88 off 30. We managed somehow to save our worst performance till the end. Dips, in a gritty innings in difficult circumstances, top scored on 40, after that extras with 10 was the only double figure score which is never a good thing. Authors fully deserve a convincing win, batting and bowling well and out-classing the Bod in every department.
On the plus side when bowlers got into a groove they did well, Asad and Rob took fine catches but apart from that there isn't too much to cling onto. And, as always, quirky things to note. It’s not every day that you get to instruct one of the country’s leading authors, as Dips did with Sebastian Faulks, just exactly where you want the sawdust. Another season ends, certainly one of the most successful and enjoyable for quite a while, wonder what a Shackleton-free 2018 will bring?
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.
Whippersnappers, Cumnor Cricket Club. Twenty overs.
The FA Cup Final, Superbowl, Ashes, Monaco Grand Prix, Wimbledon Finals, Grand National, Boat Race, World Bog Snorkelling Championship, and Whippersnappers. All of these great sporting pinnacles occur but once a year, and all are cherished, partaken in by a lucky few and recorded in perpetuity in the annals of sporting legend. That being the case it was with a casual buzz that this year’s Whippersnappers got underway at Cumnor Cricket Club on a balmy Friday evening. With some on holiday, some without a day pass, and some just awol, the fourteen men of Bodley assembled for battle with teams decided by the decidedly Stuish method of lining up in height order and going odds/evens. Looked ok, everyone thought, so off we went. The slightly shorter team led by Alec won the toss as the marginally taller team led by Gareth called wrong. To Gareth’s delight he was asked to bat, and out walked a newly minted opening pair of Leigh and Miten.
Neely and Stu opening the bowling and Leigh, in his first game back since a dizzying catalogue of injuries, nudged and nurdled whilst Miten ran like a March hare from the other end. Neely soon had Leigh on his way, with Stu sending Miten back shortly after. With Mads moonlighter Dips now at the crease the runs started to came quickly, Dips played some lovely strokes whilst Gareth bludgeoned Neely back over his head before holing out to give Andrew Milner an easy wicket. With Dave Busby joining Dips attention turned to the boundary and the figure of David Shackleton, whose recently sprained ankle had quite inexplicably affected his ability to count. With a retirement set at twenty for this match Dips serenely moved on to a potentially match-winning 34 before being called off by David when he realised this was a greater number than twenty. Gav was next in, and after a few lusty blows was followed by the hobbling Shackleton, though there was little sympathy from the fielding team. Shacks did as Shacks does though, and moved on to forty odd runs whilst the other Dave produced a vintage Bodley Lara impression to notch the team’s total up to an eye-watering 160-4.
Needing 161 to win Alec led his team out with in a manner that did not immediately convey the seriousness of the task at hand. Whilst Alec wisely took the non-facing end, serial opening batsman impersonator Stu shuffled to the crease bedecked in pink fairy wings that he had presumably stolen from a small child. Wondering what on earth was going on Jones tossed the ball to Gav and set a conventional field knowing the oppo might take a few risks. In runs Gav, good length ball, Stu swings as hard as he can and leathers the ball back past Gav. But then to everyone's great surprise Gareth, standing firm at mid-off, pouched the head-high ball to leave the flightless duckling on a diamond duck. Quack quack! Later that over the skipper was dismissed as Gav beat Alec’s windmill defence. Andrew Milner and Robin picked up the pace after that early calamity, but with dew forming and the light disappearing rapidly it was definitely a good time to bowl. After Robin was out to another Busby bomb Matthew marched out determined to attract the attention of the England selectors as the Ashes loomed. A slow bowling partnership of previously unseen slowness was unleashed as Gareth and Busby made good use of the dark to toss the ball way up and make scoring tricky, with Andy Colquhoun and Matthew both perishing trying to chase those runs. Bodley’s answer to Jermaine Blackwood smited a terrific six to raise hopes of a comeback, but eventually, and with the light almost completely gone, the final wicket fell and the marginally taller team won by 78 runs to cap another thoroughly enjoyable Whippersnappers played with a broad smile across the face of all.
Over some well earned beers and a thorough analysis of the match a few words were said that are worth repeating here. Shackleton, for so long now our rock-solid opening batter, a brother from another mother to Matthew, and a thoroughly decent, generous and humble member of our merry band, bade us farewell as he sets off to Exeter for a new job. Good luck Shackers! Good news is he is likley back mid-season, so emotions were kept in check, thankfully. Then to wrap things up, and of more interest to the wonks at Wisden, we had the celebration of the season's Champagne Moment. This year has seen many a notable moment, with Mike's legsidetastic 107no being an undoubted high point. But the top prize went to a man long eulogised on these pages, who this year, under the glare of the cameras playing away from home in a foreign county, produced an over of farcical brilliance. Bodley CC proudly present to you ...Mr David Busby (Reader Services) - winner of this year's Champagne Moment. After a ball by ball tale told my Matthew to an engrossed crowd, a commemorative t-shirt was presented to Dave, forever capturing an achievement the whole team enjoyed immensely. Well done Dave, and well played all.
Despite the challenge of playing 8 a side and the comic misunderstanding of the retirement rule (sorry Dave, my fault!), it was a great match, and we look forward to another season and maybe even a season-opening Whippersnappers to get us all in the groove after Winter’s inevitable weight gain. In the meantime the team have two more games – Aldworth and the Authors, both at Warborough. Good luck chaps.
Hendricks XI at Warborough. 35 overs.
Our heroes this week headed south of Oxford to sunny Warborough, to what is fast becoming the team’s favourite ground. A nice pub within hitting distance might have something to do with that, mind. Lining up against us – though very much with us in their approach to the game – were old friends the Hendricks XI, led by Bodley occasional Tim Saunders, now with added ‘tache. Skippering the good (creaky?) ship Bodley was Stu Ackland, and in a thoroughly Stuish gesture the toss was offered to the visitors. Bodley field first.
A quick peak at the opposition batting order by the skipper (could this be the start of a Milneresque ruthless streak?) reveals that the two batters known to the Bod as somewhat destructive – Saunders and Ross Quest – are batting six and eight respectively today. Stu decides to hold back himself (‘I am the most economical bowler’...) and Shaw Snr for the inevitable artillery surge late on in the battle. Shaw Jnr and the year’s actual most economical bowler get things started, and it takes only about ten minutes for all to realise that this pitch has a few gremlins in it. One end is low, the other not so low, but not reliable either. Uuurgh. As scoring proves difficult without taking risks these two, followed by Philipson and Triggs, keep the run rate right down, whilst Bodley’s fielding backs up the bowler's efforts on a decent sized outfield. Mention must go to Robinson’s figures after his five-over spell – 2 wickets for nine runs – quite superb. A wicket for young Shaw leaves Hendricks on 23-3 after eight overs. With Adnan and Assad bowling in an effective partnership through the middle overs, things are kept tight and there is really very little to report. Jones catapulted himself in the air mistiming a dive in the field, Triggs stopped a few balls in the conventional manner, and the skipper decided to play musical fielding positions with Shaw Snr (half-way James!). Adnan was bowling with ever quickening pace and it wasn’t long before he had three wickets to his name from some terrific bowling. Assad picked up another and by the twenty-fifth over Hendricks were 113-7 with Bodley well in control. Do you remember the plan from the beginning of the match though? Well, that was brought into play, as despite Saunders being one of Adnan’s scalps, the dangerous (and, we hoped, hungover) Quest was now in, and with good support from the other end he was slowly turning things around for the gin lovers. It’s fair to say that Stu, responsible for providing today’s tea, served up an early buffet as the two batters tucked in and gorged themselves on some tasty pies. The innings ended with Bodley somewhat ragged in the field but not wanting for commitment, on 210-8 from the thirty five overs. A tad over par, possibly. One final point of note has to be Shaw Snr’s fantastic slower ball to claim that eighth wicket, a perfect demonstration of how it’s done.
But enough of the cricket and the inter-team grumbling, it was tea time. Stu served up another terrific buffet, sprinkled with red-hot samosas and a really very good ginger cake. Tactics are discussed, discarded and disowned, until the skipper quite rightfully decided to simply put the batters up the top and the rest of us down the bottom.
It is important to remember that whilst the Hendricks lower order made batting look quite easy, the top order did not. And so it was for Bodley, as Neely left and blocked whilst Webb sought to claim the ‘most balls faced without scoring’ mantle from Jones – falling only a couple short on 19. By the halfway mark Bodley’s Spartans had racked up a Boycottian 51 from eighteen overs. Eventually, after the sun had set, the milk man had called, and another sun had almost set, a wicket finally fell, Webb making a nuggety 27 having perished trying to up the rate. Neely soon followed, for a stealthy 47. Assad batted nicely, followed by some runs for Shaw Snr – a powerful 38 against canny bowling – and then Adnan chipping in with a promising knock in the closing overs. Bodley ended on 172-7, which if you take out the staggering 38 extras given away in the first innings, leaves the scores level and the match tied. But really folks, I’m afraid we were well beaten by opposition and pitch today, though it must be said the match was nonetheless a very enjoyable affair against a fine team that we look forward to playing each year. The lower order hitting from Hendricks proved the difference, and leaves Bodley still searching for an elusive tenth win of the season.
As is their tradition a bottle of Hendricks gin was awarded to the man of the match by team head honcho Tim, this year going to Adnan for his all round performance of three wickets (5-0-24-3) and a brisk sixteen runs. Well played! After putting what felt like the entire contents of a house back into the clubhouse the teams repaired to the nearby Six Bells for refreshment and intelligent analysis of the game. After much chuckling at the beers on offer (best not go there...), it was agreed we’d all reconvene next year and do it all again.
...the below image adequately shows the nature of this, most evil, of pitches. Note the anguished bowler as yet another zooter goes under the stumps; the batsman almost falling over as he reaches for the ball on it's swallow-like trajectory; but most tellingly, note the keeper, on his knees as if collecting an errant kitten. All of us on the losing side agreed this was truly a tricky pitch.
Well here we are folks, the lofty heights of a Jack Cox Cup semi-final, finally underway after last week’s weather-enforced cancellation, and with better skies suggesting we should at least get a game in. Bodley were of course without team mascot David Shackleton, but nevertheless put out a talented side intent on enjoying the match and having a bloody good crack at it. We’ve beaten a few decent sides to get this far (and amusingly bettered a few better sides by being here), and it’s been a hell of a journey, so as we lined up against a side representing the Engineering department it was all smiles and maybe just a few nerves. Of note was the fact that in an unprecedented turn-up the crowd for this evening's extravaganza had by kick-off ballooned to nearly double figures. Bonkers.
Skipper Neely lost the toss and we were asked to bowl. We can do that we replied, no problem at all. Secretly we wanted bat, mind. Things didn’t start too well, with the bizarre sight of an opening batter bringing a runner out – after some confusion but wanting to play in the right spirit this was allowed and it at least kept the runs down at one end. The other was ticking along nicely though and despite a deserved wicket for Jack Cox glory seeker Stu, the batters were racking up the runs and retiring at a fair rate. But then, as if writing a chapter for his as yet unpublished memoirs (soon to be available via Mills & Boon), Bodley’s answer to W G Grace - the evergreen Andrew Milner – spun his web of spin and the scoring rate slowed as the middle order struggled for runs. With Boldey fielding well this eventually brought about a run-out as Jones rifled one back in to the keeper. A satisfying clean bowled for Neely late on was the only other wicket to fall as four batters reached the thirty mark and the score ended on 170-3. A fairly good score all things considered, but you can only tell once you've had a go yourself, so off we went.
Neely and Shaw opened, quickly finding singles through gaps in a close field before the skipper fell to some tight bowling. Webb played nicely, but a second ton of the season wasn’t to be as both he and fellow Roman soldier Shaw fell to some excellent catching. Burnett was joined by Philipson – sadly undone by another great catch before he really got into his stride – bringing Milner to the crease. Our Mr. Milner has a much storied history with the Bodleian Cricket Club, for many years holding the highest score, and for many of us is still just a few good hits away from another devastating innings. With Burnett playing most unlike his fellow countrymen at Old Trafford these two started to built a substantial partnership, flaying confused fielders and testing the arms of the boundary riders to scramble singles. Burnett’s innings was his first big score for the Bod - a delightful procession of deft touches and punchy drives. Both retired for well-made thirties, leaving a succession of somewhat lower scores – albeit arrested by some terrific catching – for Jones, Stu, Robin, Miten and David Philips. But it was all part of the master plan to get our lusciously coiffured retirees back to the crease. Phil and Andrew thereafter set about racking up more runs, with Andrew taking a liking to the death bowlers so much they may as well have just parked a man over the straight boundary. After that enjoyable final thrash Burnett ended on 34 and Milner 46, very well played both, highlight of the match. 116-9 wasn’t a bad score to be honest, batting second, but against such a strong batting unit intent on getting to the final it was sadly not enough.
It’s been a great season of Jack Cox cricket, despite the loss of our beloved (by most!) pitch at Manny Rd, with many terrific games, and credit must go to all who have contributed, and to the skipper for leading us all that way. A big thank you to those that came along and supported too - much appreciated and if you ignore the result you'll get an idea of what it's like when we win. Finally, if you'll indulge this author a little I'd like to end this part of the season by saying that Bodley CC is a flipping marvellous thing, playing in the right way and welcoming all to share in the enjoyment of doing that, so well done all for keeping your heads up through some tough games and contributing to a highly successful JC this season. Next year let’s just stick with the Plate though eh?
Not wanting to be shown up by a team partaking in such unsporting things as stretches, catching practice and team talks, Bodley based their preparation on the wise words of the great cricketer-philosopher Sir Geoffrey Boycott, who offers some sage advice. Of course it's also bloody funny.
Renault F1 CC at Barton Abbey. 20 overs.
One of the joys of playing social cricket in and around Oxford is the wealth of grounds at which to masquerade as cricketers, from village greens to college grounds, council fields and country estates, all offer something new and plenty of interest. One of the downsides of playing cricket in and around Oxford is that so many other buggers are trying to do the tourist thing in and around. This evening the team fought their way through the crowds of townies visiting Countryfile live at nearby Blenheim Palace, reaching the delightful peace of Barton Abbey ground within the boundaries of the one-time Manor house. The house carries particular interest for Bodleian players as it was once in the possession of Ralph Sheldon, being remodelled for him in 1678-9. Sheldon’s tapestries of the four midland counties of England are of course world famous, with one taking pride of place in the Bodleian’s Weston Library. Records of the abbey (MS. Top. Oxon. C.522 if you’re interested) can in fact be found at the aforementioned library. Sadly, no records of early cricket matches at the abbey seem to exist. Which brings us to the cricket match in hand.
Bodley this evening took on old friends Renault F1, with honours about even over the many years we’ve been playing each other, though Renault have had the bragging rights in recent years. We get older, they seem to get younger! This evening’s team was chomping at the bit for a game after last night’s unplayable puddle of a pitch, and with Andrew Milner returning from journalistic duties to skipper the side, many of those denied a game last night returned for another bash tonight. Having lost the toss Bodley were batting first, normally a welcome result, but on the damp uncovered pitch this was not an ideal start. Batting was difficult, with the ball nipping around, sitting in, sitting up, sitting back, being blowing off course, generally misbehaving, or very occasionally carrying through as normal – that one really caught the batters out. Neely and Shackleton put on a good opening stand, and later on Philipson, Robinson and Milner all played well and ticked the score along. A couple of unnamed ducks came and went, McKinnon was undone by a ball that suddenly defied Newton’s laws and simply rolled along the floor to the stumps, and special mention must go to Miten for his first four, and to Alec for a jubilantly celebrated single as things neared a close. Oh, and to David Busby for an entertainingly dramatic tumble parallel to the crease. Bodley ended up on 94-9 from our twenty overs, which given the pitch we thought might just be defendable. What did we know, though.
Renault began under darkening skies, and it became depressingly apparent within about two overs that the gremlins Bodley found in the pitch were mere kittens to Renault. The ball was subsequently clubbed, leathered, biffed and smashed to the boundaries, the entire Renault top three retiring one after another as the score neared our own meagre offering. But then the cricketing Gods decided to even things up a little, and before you could ask him if he thought Dunkirk was an accurate movie, Bodley’s very own Spirit of Cricket Andrew Milner brought himself on to bowl and found himself on a hat-trick ball. The ball in question was tossed up, tempting the batter to come down and swing on the full, but alas was pushed to the nearby fielder to deny Andrew his trophy. Robinson thrived in the conditions, taking another two, and credit must go to Neely for some sharp takes to gather up three stumpings in the innings. None of Trigg’s balls were hit this time, though he didn’t bowl. Despite our late surge Renault knocked off the runs comfortably in the end, though we gave it a good crack and the game was played with excellent humour. Thank you to Renault too for being such generous hosts and for the extra fielder, and many extra cakes.
An excellent tea and beers were lapped up by the team as night fell and the inviting thatched clubhouse beckoned us inside. On a sad note we are very sorry to report that second-top scorer of the season David Shackleton has decided to imitate Jones and gone knackered his ankle, having landed badly whilst bowling. Fear not though cricket fans as David will be spending the weekend in the club's very own cryo-chamber, also known as the Special Collections walk in freezer store. We will rebuild him.
Royal Hampshire Hospital CC at Queen's College Ground. 25 overs.
Cricket and rain go together like tea and crisps, or beer and chocolate, or fish and gravy. That is to say they don’t go together and nobody really enjoys it when they do. So it was under grey skies and worried glances outside that Bodley followed the weather forecasts through the morning hoping the well-paid gentleman with his head out the window at the beeb was wrong, and sunshine would emerge. With the best forecast still saying rain at four we quickly brought the start to 1.30 and changed the match to a 25 over affair with no retirement and tea to be taken after the match. With players still arriving Bodley were kindly invited to bat first and off we went. Today’s opposition was the Royal Hampshire Hospital Staff CC, a team we played on tour to Winchester a few years back and one we were delighted to see again. Bodley welcomed three news players to the ranks – Paddy coming from the Mads, Martin and Asad via Oxenford.
A one-off opening partnership, chosen by way of who was ready, of Sizzla and skipper Jones went out to get things started. It became apparent within a few balls that, much like at Horsepath earlier this week, an uncovered pitch and damp conditions had left the pitch a little uneven with the ball sitting in a little upon pitching. Sizzla wisely swung and left as the alarmingly tall opening bowled found a good length. A few singles and a boundary later and Jones was out in the third over, having left one only to be bowled as it nipped back in and kept low. 7-1 in the third. A mini-collapse followed, though the devilish pitch was not without some blame, with Paddy, Sizzla and Mark all falling cheaply. 18-4 in the fifth. With a full compliment now present the batting order could be completed and Bodley soon started a recovery as Philipson and Asad batted with rather more respect for the pitch. The bowling changed too, slower bowlers coming on as the Doctors gave everyone a bowl. Lesson for all us there – bat in the middle order whenever possible! These two played wonderfully well, Asad in particular timing the ball and finding the boundary repeatedly. By the halfway mark of twelve and a bit Bodley were 78-4 and all was looking pretty good again, though the skies were still gloomy. Next over Philipson was caught hitting out, a very well made twenty to his name. Next over another fell as Martin was undone by the pitch, bringing Miten out as next man in as Andrew was busy searching for his cap without his glasses on. Miten hung aorund and allowed Asad to continue scoring before losing his wicket caught and bowled. Andrew was now in, only to be run out after a few nice singles, bringing Triggs to join the flying Asad. The innings was wrapped up in the twenty fourth over as a double strike claimed Asad for a fantastic and innings-rescuing 41, and then Busby out last man. Bodley ended up 124 all out, below par but with the pitch doing funny things who knows.
With the skies darkening a quick turnaround was undertaken and before you could say where’s my tea the second innings had begun. Sizzla and Philipson opened and immediately caused a few problems for the batters. A superb opening over from Sizzla picked up the first wicket, whilst Asad chipped in with another in the sixth to leave the Doctors 52-2. Despite the wickets the rate was well up, with Bodley chasing the ball and making a few errors in the field. Sizzla’s tight spell finished with a well-deserved caught and bowled to compliment Asad’s swingers keeping the rate just about in check. Whilst the remaining opener was well set and hitting the ropes regularly, wickets were falling at the other end, a stunning catch from Busby off a mile high skier on the ropes, and a fizzing edge for keeper Jones running to square leg to retrieve another bringing wickets for Philipson and Milner respectively. But at 76-5 from eleven it was a tall order for Bodley, by now doing Duckworth-Lewis calculations. Triggs was up next, having recovered from something we shan’t talk about but that held up play considerably (seriously, good stop – long barrier!). Boundaries were hit and the next over from Miten saw the winning runs taken just as the rain settled in for good, giving everyone a welcome reason to finally leave the field and seek cover. A powerful 73 not out from the skipper ended up being the difference, though we'd have fancied another go given hindsight, as ever. Special mention must go to Dave for that boundary catch - it went miles at quite some lick yet was pouched like an apple falling from a tree, terrific stuff.
A good game, against a friendly team all played in the right spirit. A delicious tea was lapped up by all and with the bar open in the clubhouse a good long sit down was in order as the rain lashed down outside. We just didn’t get the runs needed given the overs and the lack of regular bowlers today, but to take the game as far as we did with only 124 on the board was a decent effort. Well played all for today, and we look forward to that Jack Cox semi-final on Wednesday.
Oxfam CC, Horsepath Sports Ground. Twenty overs.
After what seems like a ridiculously unBod-like spell of winning and drawing matches the team fell to Earth with a soggy bump last night, losing to Oxfam. Originally scheduled for Cutteslowe a water-logged pitch meant a change to Horsepath, whose only redeeming feature is that it’s closer for some of us than North Ox. A windy exposed ground with a very short boundary on one side, a slope down the wicket and a rapidly sinking sun in the eyes of any fielder on the athletics track side of the ground made things interesting, the soggy pudding of a wicket added a cherry on top of the cake. Definitely a toss to win and put the oppo in bat. Something the Oxfam skipper managed to do. Bollocks.
Matthew and Dave S open against some lively and swinging deliveries. The pitch as predicted proved unreliable, balls moving off or staying low. Both openers did well to score in this, running well between the wicket as a slow outfield made boundaries hard to come by. One of the Oxfam openers was bowling really well, getting the ball to move in the air and making it very hard to do anything over than play defensive shots. Matthew picks up the pace and gets the (non-existent) scoreboard moving on before getting out, David plays his natural game and soon retires after reaching 30. With not many overs to play with Gav cuts a few then plays on, James whacks some, Tim gives it some biff, Alec swings at a few, Andrew blocks a few and Gareth and Dave B run a few quick singles before Gareth is run-out on the last ball. Bod finish on a below-par 91, but reckon there’s enough bowling and the pitch is still a mystery so it should be close.
Bod open with a contrast of ages and styles, Dan Shaw up the hill followed by the Yorkshire Terrier Gav coming down. Dan has a good shout for LBW first ball which is turned down but then bowls a tidy over against an aggressive opening bat. Gavin proves as reliable as ever, using the slope and keeping the run-rate down before picking up the customary couple of wickets. Oxfam though, worryingly, are above the run-rate from the start. Your reporter replaces Dan and Dave S replaces Gavin, both bowl well but Oxfam have some biffers in bat now and despite good bowling from these two and then James Oxfam reach, and then score the winning runs with overs and wickets to spare.
So, what lessons to learn? More aggressive batting would have got us above 100 and a defendable total but this seems harsh to say as the pitch played its part and the oppo bowling was good. Maybe it’s enough to say that the team have had a marvellous season so far, the best for many a season, so we were due an off night, better now than next weds in the semi-final. Credit too to Oxfam, who played well and were, as last season, friendly and fun to play against.
Materials, Jack Cox Cup quarter-final. Balliol College ground, 20 overs.
The history of the Bodleian Cricket Club is a storied and colourful one, with great highs and comic lows, and tonight the team wrote another chapter by playing in a most unexpected Jack Cox Cup quarter-final, against Materials. Normally straight into the Plate we have this year already been soundly beaten in that part of the contest, and thanks to a quirk of the group stages (...odd numbers, basically) we also had a shot at the Cup. Only once in Bodley’s history have we been in this position, and that was back when there was not Cup or Plate, but simply a final round of matches after the groups. So, unknown territory for us really. Skipper Neely had the troops fired up, being more pumped than Alan Partridge at an all you can eat with his own plate. We welcomed back Stu Ackland for this game after many years of JC abstinence, and the team was completed by Shackleton, Shaw, Burnett, Philipson, Robsinson, Jones, Triggs, Mistry, and Philips. The skipper won the toss and opted to bat, and off we went. We wondered what to expect, not having been here before, and with team Oracle Stu foreseeing doom and fire as we crept into Cup territory. Bah, we all thought!
Neely and Shackleton opened the batting, being Bodley's answer to Morecombe and Wise, and quickly got into a good groove from some fairly loose bowling, with 28 being taken from the first two. After a buccaneering succession of boundaries Neely soon retired, bringing Shaw to the crease to face some alarmingly loud bowling. After a mixture of lines and lengths Shaw was undone by a peach of a ball, sneaking through the defences to bowl off stump. With Shackleton retiring after a superb knock, Burnett was soon joined by Philipson, with the score at 89-1 from 10 overs and Bodley flying. This being cricket the game soon swung and the run rate couldn’t be maintained as wickets fell and runs dried up. With the openers to come back in this was all part of the masterplan though, and so long as Geoffrey Boycott didn’t make an appearance the skipper seemed happy enough. Highlights of the middle order swinging, and the only boundaries scored outside the opening partnership, were a massive six from Philipson that ended up in the trees next door, a near six from Shaw back over the bowler’s head, and a straight driven four from Jones. Materials achieved a bit of a stranglehold on Bodley in the final five overs, with only twelve coming as a worryingly below-par score of 133 all out was posted. With no tea the team resorted to chest bumps and discussions about the weather to pass the interval. Soon enough we were back out, with the skipper now so charged up that back at the Bodleian manuscripts were flying off the shelves like in Ghostbusters as Matthew focused hard on the game in hand.
Given how well the bulk of our batting innings had gone we held some hope that we might have a defendable score, but we’ve been in this position before and been ground to dust, and so nervously we set our field and took a breath. Burnett and Shaw opened the bowling and first ball up the edge was found, flying through to Gav at slip, who did well to stop the ball as it skidded in front of him. The rest of the over was terrific, chances galore, and we felt well on top as Shaw applied the pressure at the other end, with a run out coming in the second over. Third over and Phil gets an LBW, leaving Materials at 2-10 from 2. Thereafter a partnership built, but Bodley fielded with real intent and with confidence high fours were well cut off and bodies flung around to keep the rate down. In the seventh over Jack Cox convert Ackland shuffled in and before he knew it was on a hat-trick ball, with a decidedly iffy LBW (we’ll take it!) and a caught in the bag. The hat-trick ball flew through, found the top edge and just didn’t quite stick in the hands of an unnamed fielder. Excellent bowling, 50-4 in the eighth. Next over and Gav is in on the action, his cutters, off breaks and seamers bringing a deserved shot at the second hat-trick of the innings after a bowled and a caught. Again it was not to be, but with Materials finding scoring tricky, by the half way point they still needed 77 runs with only three wickets left. Nerves were being tested though as one of the batters was finding his range and hitting the boundary boards – with the overs left the time was there for a comeback, and Bodley knew it. With renewed focus the next few overs were kept tight as Bodley chased hard in the field and cut off fours, until in the fifteenth over after a well-deserved bowled for Neely a single wicket was needed for victory, with only 83 on the board. The sixteenth over thus began with Bodley more nervous than we should have been, not being used to winning positions in Jack Cox cricket. Shackleton was by now on, with Jones taking the gloves and the skipper in close in covers. In a fitting finale to the match Shackleton found his length, the ball sat up and spooned up in to the off-side, to be safely pouched by the skipper to clinch the win. 87 all out and Bodley win by 46 runs to take our place in the Jack Cox semi-final on the 2nd August.
Absolutely brilliant performance by all eleven on the pitch, and a huge achievement given our travails in the JC these past few years. If we play with this level of confidence and focus there’s no reason we can’t go all the way. We look forward to seeing some friendly faces on the 2nd when we take on Engineering for a place in the final. Come on Bodley!!!
OUP at Jordan Hill, thirty five overs
This was one of the most memorable and in many ways one of the most unlikely of Bodleian wins in the team’s long and storied history. OUP at Jordan Hill has been a regular and challenging fixture for years now with but a single Bodleian victory against these opponents in that time.
Overcast and muggy conditions led skipper Ackland to favour bowling first and so a long sticky spell in the field beckoned. Optimism flickered early as one of the OUP openers departed to an excellent catch over his head at square leg by Dan Shaw although the batsman would have considered himself unlucky that a no-ball was not signalled. The remaining opener soon settled however and began swatting the ball viciously through the offside as the ball variously flew past, pinged into and generally menaced the fielders. A couple of wickets for Burnett (including the opener excellently caught down the legside by keeper Neely) restored some balance but OUP continued to score steadily and the total mounted as a number of catches were spilled (continuing this season’s least welcome trend). With the bowlers sensibly deciding to focus their efforts on dismissals not involving any contribution from the fielders there were wickets for Ackland and Milner although the most critical breakthrough was achieved by Dan Shaw who bowled OUP’s star batsman for an aggressive and well-made 48 which had threatened to take the game away from the Bod. Some frantic hitting and running in the final overs saw OUP’s total rise to an impressive 199 for 7 from 35 overs, pegged back slightly by a wicket for Shackleton in the final over – your correspondent took the catch in this case although was ambivalent about doing so when it smashed into a bruised palm resulting from an earlier missed opportunity.
One cake-filled tea later and the Bodleian openers Mike Webb & Phil Burnett strode to the crease with the intent to set a platform for the team to chase the intimidating OUP total. Burnett perished early to some tight opening bowling and was swiftly followed by star batsman David Shackleton, bowled by an excellent delivery for a solitary run. At 6 for 2 and with Shackleton gone things were looking grim from the boundary and the prospect of a thumping defeat loomed large. Webb and the incoming Neely put up stout resistance and began the fightback, eding towards a solid if unspectacular team total of 30 for 2 after 10 overs. With Webb’s trademark cuts and nurdles and a range of increasingly expansive shots from both players the pair put on 76 for the 3rd wicket before Neely was bowled as he looked to up the run-rate. James Shaw joined Mike at the crease and injected his usual urgency into the game with some sharp singles. In the first of several champagne moments Mike (150+ career games, previous top score of 49 not out) went to his 50 with a glorious 6 smashed over square leg, roundly applauded although reminded by the opposition skipper that the job was as yet only half-done.
The rain which had been threatened all afternoon finally arrived although the teams nobly played on with bowlers struggling to grip the damp ball and both fielders and batsmen regularly losing their footing. Despite the steady progress and accelerating run-rate the Bodleian went into the final 10 overs with 88 runs still required for victory with OUP very much favourites at this stage. The departure of Shaw soon after (given LBW by a befuddled umpire) only sharpened this impression but Webb continued to score quickly in partnership with a ring-rusty Andrew Milner before the latter was run out to leave the score at 149 for 5. This brought Tim Philipson to the crease with an imposing victory target of 49 runs required from the last 5 overs of the innings. Mike continued his stately and unprecedented progress, unleashing several entirely uncharacteristic shots in front of square. Philipson played his part to perfection with his trademark golf-inspired blows zipping to the boundary as disbelieving teammates on the boundary wondered how the team would manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this time.
Tension rose on the boundary as Bodleian colleagues endured Mike’s nervous nineties although the man himself was blissfully unaware out in the middle as he’d lost count of his personal total somewhere in the mid-60s and a conspiracy of silence was enacted to ensure no mention was made of proximity to the milestone. Taken aback by the standing ovation from the boundary when the landmark was reached, Mike raised his bat briefly in acknowledgement then swiftly focussed back on the job in hand. A 13 run penultimate over tipped the balance decisively towards the Bod with only 2 required from the final over to seal an epic victory. A dot ball from the first delivery ratcheted up the tension before Mike clipped the next delivery away for 2 runs to see the team home with 4 deliveries to spare, in the process taking himself to a Bodleian individual record total of 107 not out. Tim’s unbeaten 24 was a crucial part of the victory and both batsmen were applauded to the boundary as the jubilant team rubbed its collective eyes and wondered if this was what it felt like to be a different, more successful team.
This was Bodleian cricketing history and will live long in the memory of all who witnessed it – well played lads!
AMack, and thank you to Sheila for the pictures.