Isis CC at Queen's College Ground, Oxford. 40 overs.
What a glorious day it was, much improved on last Thursday’s chilly game under blustery skies. Today was more like the weather you might associate with Cricket and under blue skies with a hint of cloud Bodley looked to build on the season opener’s victory. After a brief but necessary delay skipper Stu comprehensively lost the toss and Isis – a team we’re not given much a game in recent years – put the visitors in to bat. Murmurs about the need for restraint at tea followed, and with the sun now scorching out trotted new opening pair Neely and Shaw. Isis are a very canny team, bowling with patience and batting sensibly, so the orders had gone out from the skipper to build steadily, forty overs being a rare marathon for Bodley. The openers duly did this, with the first run – a splendid boundary from Neely – coming in the third over. The careful approach continue until a few runs started flowing in the eighth over, before Shaw was bowled for a seven in the eleventh over. Shackleton strode out, a place lower than usual due to being a little tired having turned out for his second team the previous day. Nevertheless some gorgrous shots followed, with Neely holding firm at the other end. The pitch was a sod though – low, slow and with the very occasional one sitting up unexpectedly, which combined with the full length made for some very difficult batting. With the score languishing at 38 in the sixteenth Shackleton was inexplicably bowled playing down the wrong line, having just reached double figures. Next out was Burnett, and then almost immediately after that McKiernan walked out to join Neely. Now the runs flowed a little and the half century was up, but then all of a sudden, and having survived a bumped ball catch, Neely fell to the lethal slow bowling of Ponsford – a sign of things to come. Last week’s hero Philipson finished his cigarette – there is something of the Private Walker about our Tim – and marched to the crease. Unfortunately Ponsford struck again and Walker was back in the trenches before you could say loose lips. This brought Jones out to bat, and with the score at 62-5 from nineteen the forty overs were looking a tall ask. McKiernan was by now finding his range though, and with Jones hitting out when the ball drifted wide the score steadily climbed. McKiernan fell for a valuable eighteen with the score at 84, and even the club’s senior pro’s Milner and Ackland could resist the nagging bowling, both departing for the addition of only two more. Busby arrived and Isis changed the bowling, introducing a bowler for whom the pursuit of pace was evidently the prime – the only – objective. Busby ducked and weaved, Jones sought refuge at the other end, but the odd run came and the ton neared. At 101 Jones fell, havig survived a no ball catch the previous ball, and Phillips joined Busby. To the delight of his teammates Philips smashed his first runs for the team whilst Busby eased into Lara mode and took the score further. After one more lovely four Busby was out for a well struck eleven and Bodley ended their innings in the thirty fourth over for 110. The at times unplayable Ponsford deserve mention for a five-fer, whilst for Bodley Neely top scored with thirty four. Not too shabby given the pitch, but a tricky score t defend. But that mattered not, as tea was served.
A cracking tea in the charming clubhouse at Queen’s, all framed pictures from yesteryear and wood panels. Plans were hatched and a lengthy debate about introducing the Duke ball we had blown the kitty on, but eventually traditional approach was taken, and Bodley strode out to field under baking sun and terrible music blasting from the boathouses over the river.
Shaw and McKiernan opened up the bowling for Bodley and were immediately on song, Leigh in particular finding a perfect line and length. After six overs with three maidens the score was 9-1, then 9-2, and then after twelve very tidy overs, 18-3 with both openers in the wickets. A bit of a partnership built, the music worsened further, and Bodley held a fiercely contested competition to see who could achieve the worst dropped catch of the day – jury is still out on that one. But then, with no warning, Ackland bowls a terrible ball, which is swatted, ankle height, to square leg, where Philipson reaches down between his legs and clutches the ball mere fractions of an inch above the ground. 36-4 after sixteen and Bodley are still in it, thought there’s plenty moreover to come. Milner and Shackleton had joined the party by now and Milner in particular was making life tricky when he found that full length. Sadly the Isis batters knuckled down and dug themselves well and truly in, with the score climbing quicker than Bodley would have liked and wickets proving elusive. A trickle of bi-planes overhead was a pleasant diversion, whilst the students in the boathouses finally ran out of awful music to inflict on the world, but that was about as good as it got. Milner finally took the fifth wicket with the score approaching the hundred, and whilst the final few overs proved exciting as a bit of playing and missing teased an impending wicket, it was not to be, and Isis ran out winners in the thirty seventh over.
So in the end a close and enjoyable match, with neither team finding the pitch easy and both bowling well. Much to take forward into the next game – Peasemore CC on Sunday 14th. Congrats to all who played and despite the loss, what a balmy afternoon and beautiful spot to spend playing the greatest game ever invented.