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 But then, as if writing a chapter for his as yet unpublished memoirs (soon to be available via Mills & Boon), Bodley’s answer to W G Grace - the evergreen Andrew Milner – spun his web of spin and the scoring rate slowed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.