Osler/Green-Templeton, New College Ground, 20 overs
On a day that saw such simple tasks as sitting on a bench become almost impossible due to the heat, and a week that had driven most library staff to the cool escape of the subterranean bookstacks, the eleven men of Bodley dragged themselves to the New College Ground to play a twenty over Jack Cox match against last year’s comically competitive Cup winners Osler/Green-Templeton. Picture if you can a scene of scorched earth with two sets of stumps in the middle, heat haze rising from the Martian wicket, and eleven apprehensive library staff all desperately trying to claim a fielding spot with the sun behind them, all this whilst two upright opposition batsmen strode out to commence proceedings. Well, that’s where we start our tale.
Skipper Neely had lost the only thing we really wanted to win today – the toss. With this crushing defeat came the inevitable confirmation that we were fielding first. Of course we were – who in their right mind would want to field in this heat? The aforementioned climatic conditions prevent a clear and concise recollection of events (not to mention the scorebook being somewhere in the bookstack as this is typed), but popular opinion has it that Shaw and Shackleton opened the bowling, the latter making a rare appearance for the opening overs of a game. To everyone’s surprise, our by now medium pace bowling kept the opposition very quiet indeed. As the overs ticked by it became apparent that the Osler batters were intent on playing outlandish shots straight out of the theme park cricket of the IPL, but sadly a series of singles, lbw appeals and whirling bats was all that resulted. It wasn’t long before a wicket fell to Shackleton, but this only brought a big hitting new batter to the crease. After several overs of swinging at hot air the boundaries finally started to flow, but it was of enormous credit to Bodley that by the half-way point the score had been kept down to about 40 odd. As Bodley’s secret weapon – Burnett’s previously unseen spin paired with Philipson’s long-run-up-hiding-a-heavy-slower-ball, ensured the slow rate continued, talk amongst the by now completely dehydrated fielders turned to devising a batting order to ensure a Cup spot was not coming our way. We need not have worried. After a run out and couple of deserved wickets for Wilson – both clean bowled just clipping the bails as the batters continued their policy of attempting to dance and bat at the same time – the intent seemed to change and tired fielders were soundly flogged as the Osler skipper attempted repeatedly to launch the ball into Oxford’s orbit. Suddenly the innings was over, and Osler had chalked up a very decent 160-4.
Neely and Shackleton duly walked out to bat and after only a short while Neely was back in the pavilion having been caught by the keeper down the leg side, a flying take that actually was straight out of the IPL. Shaw was next in, and along with Shackleton played nice shots, finding the boundary and ticking the score along well on a par with where Osler had been. Unfortunately Shaw was soon returning to the hutch too, and could put his feet up after a punishing shift with bat and ball. This brought Bodley’s new number four to the crease – the unstoppable force that is Mr. T. Philipson of East Oxford. A spanking four whipped behind square off a straight ball had the crowd in rapturous applause, but sadly Osler again got the upper hand and Tim returned to his team-mates all too soon. Wilson was next in, and unfurled a couple of lovely shots before being undone by Osler’s close fielding – the field was basically a close ring with all nine outfielders competing for the title of keenest fielder. Jones followed, only to be run out as Shackleton caught whiff of a kebab van beyond the other end of the pitch. The ever calm Webb was next in, and settled into a mini-partnership with Shackleton only to be adjudged caught behind and compelled to walk by lots of shouting. Wides were becoming a problem for Osler by this point of the game but it was going to take a spraying of Mitchell Johnson proportions to help Bodley to victory. After Webb fell it wasn’t too long before Burnett, Busby and Phillips all succumbed and in the fifteenth over with the score at 64, the match was dusted with Osler delirious and Bodley relieved.
A difficult game for Bodley, and one we’re glad to move on from, hoping for fairer weather and kinder pitches as we take to Balliol for our next match against DPAG on Tuesday 4th July. Players are still needed so do get in touch if you fancy a game. We’re off on tour between then and now – to Exeter for some sun, sea, and singles. Reports to follow!