OUP at Jordan Hill, thirty five overs
This was one of the most memorable and in many ways one of the most unlikely of Bodleian wins in the team’s long and storied history. OUP at Jordan Hill has been a regular and challenging fixture for years now with but a single Bodleian victory against these opponents in that time.
Overcast and muggy conditions led skipper Ackland to favour bowling first and so a long sticky spell in the field beckoned. Optimism flickered early as one of the OUP openers departed to an excellent catch over his head at square leg by Dan Shaw although the batsman would have considered himself unlucky that a no-ball was not signalled. The remaining opener soon settled however and began swatting the ball viciously through the offside as the ball variously flew past, pinged into and generally menaced the fielders. A couple of wickets for Burnett (including the opener excellently caught down the legside by keeper Neely) restored some balance but OUP continued to score steadily and the total mounted as a number of catches were spilled (continuing this season’s least welcome trend). With the bowlers sensibly deciding to focus their efforts on dismissals not involving any contribution from the fielders there were wickets for Ackland and Milner although the most critical breakthrough was achieved by Dan Shaw who bowled OUP’s star batsman for an aggressive and well-made 48 which had threatened to take the game away from the Bod. Some frantic hitting and running in the final overs saw OUP’s total rise to an impressive 199 for 7 from 35 overs, pegged back slightly by a wicket for Shackleton in the final over – your correspondent took the catch in this case although was ambivalent about doing so when it smashed into a bruised palm resulting from an earlier missed opportunity.
One cake-filled tea later and the Bodleian openers Mike Webb & Phil Burnett strode to the crease with the intent to set a platform for the team to chase the intimidating OUP total. Burnett perished early to some tight opening bowling and was swiftly followed by star batsman David Shackleton, bowled by an excellent delivery for a solitary run. At 6 for 2 and with Shackleton gone things were looking grim from the boundary and the prospect of a thumping defeat loomed large. Webb and the incoming Neely put up stout resistance and began the fightback, eding towards a solid if unspectacular team total of 30 for 2 after 10 overs. With Webb’s trademark cuts and nurdles and a range of increasingly expansive shots from both players the pair put on 76 for the 3rd wicket before Neely was bowled as he looked to up the run-rate. James Shaw joined Mike at the crease and injected his usual urgency into the game with some sharp singles. In the first of several champagne moments Mike (150+ career games, previous top score of 49 not out) went to his 50 with a glorious 6 smashed over square leg, roundly applauded although reminded by the opposition skipper that the job was as yet only half-done.
The rain which had been threatened all afternoon finally arrived although the teams nobly played on with bowlers struggling to grip the damp ball and both fielders and batsmen regularly losing their footing. Despite the steady progress and accelerating run-rate the Bodleian went into the final 10 overs with 88 runs still required for victory with OUP very much favourites at this stage. The departure of Shaw soon after (given LBW by a befuddled umpire) only sharpened this impression but Webb continued to score quickly in partnership with a ring-rusty Andrew Milner before the latter was run out to leave the score at 149 for 5. This brought Tim Philipson to the crease with an imposing victory target of 49 runs required from the last 5 overs of the innings. Mike continued his stately and unprecedented progress, unleashing several entirely uncharacteristic shots in front of square. Philipson played his part to perfection with his trademark golf-inspired blows zipping to the boundary as disbelieving teammates on the boundary wondered how the team would manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this time.
Tension rose on the boundary as Bodleian colleagues endured Mike’s nervous nineties although the man himself was blissfully unaware out in the middle as he’d lost count of his personal total somewhere in the mid-60s and a conspiracy of silence was enacted to ensure no mention was made of proximity to the milestone. Taken aback by the standing ovation from the boundary when the landmark was reached, Mike raised his bat briefly in acknowledgement then swiftly focussed back on the job in hand. A 13 run penultimate over tipped the balance decisively towards the Bod with only 2 required from the final over to seal an epic victory. A dot ball from the first delivery ratcheted up the tension before Mike clipped the next delivery away for 2 runs to see the team home with 4 deliveries to spare, in the process taking himself to a Bodleian individual record total of 107 not out. Tim’s unbeaten 24 was a crucial part of the victory and both batsmen were applauded to the boundary as the jubilant team rubbed its collective eyes and wondered if this was what it felt like to be a different, more successful team.
This was Bodleian cricketing history and will live long in the memory of all who witnessed it – well played lads!
AMack, and thank you to Sheila for the pictures.