St Clement's Strollers, Magdalen College Ground, Oxford. 20 overs.
Bloody hell it was cold. I’m not just talking a gentle breeze from up North but a genuine blast from beyond the Tundra, proper Polar Bear weather. Not what you want on the opening day of the season, against traditional oppo the St Clement’s Strollers, a team we’ve struggled to perform well against for longer than I care to remember. In fact we haven’t beaten the Strollers since 2006, having lost by 32 runs, 5 wickets, 28 runs, 72 runs, 3 wickets and then 7 wickets since then. All other games have been called off due to rain, which is about as good as a result as could be hoped for.
A strong Bodley team – though how many times have we said that in the past - take the field against the older but clever and canny Strollers. Winning the toss skipper Ackland puts the oppo in bat, who open with a skillful basher and a careful blocker. Inroads are soon made, Leigh picking up wickets and James takes the first catch of the season. Finally, after whacking a 6 straight back over the bowlers head, the opener retires and the Strollers, despite the best efforts of some good and accurate bowling at the tail by James and Phil, get to 108, a target the Bod have struggled to get anywhere near here in the past.
Doesn't get any warmer during the turn round. David and Bharat open, against some slow but accurate bowling, in fact throughout the innings the Strollers bowling is excellent, deceptively hard to get away, and it isn't until the last few overs that the bowling gets loose enough for Bodley to score freely from. Bharat scores some runs but is then out for a well-made 16, Matthew comes in, hits a few but is then LBW, and after a referral to the third umpire is sent on his way, James and Leigh both shine briefly but are both bowled, leaving Phil, then Andrew and Tim to see us home. For a few overs towards the end it looked like the slow start to the innings would cost us dear, but Tim followed on the fine form of last season by continuing the Bubba Watson homage, hitting boundaries to save the Andrew's rusty knees from running too much, including the first 6 of the season, to take us home with 3 balls to spare. So, a season-opening win, how long since that has happened? The Strollers bowling is always a challenge, the sort of delivery that comes in slow and makes the batsman's eyes light up until they realise the line and length are perfect and they're knackered. Next stop Isis CC on Sunday, a different challenge with an afternoon game, but a win gives confidence and the team again is a good one.
The Bodley welcome David Phillips to the team, and sends best wishes to late withdrawal Iain, who has again been beaten up playing hockey.