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.