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.