Renault F1 at Sandford St. Martin, twenty overs.
Battling through the massed hordes of zombies attending Countryfile Live at nearby Blenheim Palace, Bodley assembled at the beautiful Sandford St. Martin cricket club for a bucolic twenty overs of friendly cricket under warm evening sun. Normally played at the nearby Barton Abbey - lovely ground but dodgy wicket - the switch to Sandford was well received by all. An equally pretty location, much better clubhouse, and belter of a wicket all made this an evening to cherish. Renault and ourselves are well-matched, and victories over the years have been shared between the teams, and always been an enjoyable affair. Still short of a few players stuck in traffic, tonight's skipper Gareth Jones was offered the toss and being a sensible sort, chose to bat.
Phil Burnett and the uncharacteristically on-time David Shackleton opened the batting, with Matthew Neely waiting patiently at three, As is becoming the norm Phil got us off to a bit of a flyer, hitting expansively whilst David accumulates and puts away the bad balls. Rattling along nicely to some decent bowling Phil finally fell for a well made seventeen, bringing Matthew in to keep up the performance. The bowling was sharp, and though a full length was proving tricky to get away. these two accumulated steadily as Renault exerted some control. There was a short boundary on the far side of the square, and the fours ticked along just enough to move things along. Matthew fell for a hard-fought eleven but we had plenty of batting to come as Asad walked out next. Shackleton soon retired for a classy 25no, bringing the skipper to the middle. With the score having slowed somewhat and a total around the 140 mark being sought, instructions were given to run hard, swing, and not be too precious about one's wicket. Gareth and Asad duly did this, and after a few scrambled runs the skipper was bowled by a full one trying to hit it down the fairway. Ryder Cup contender Tim Philipson was next in, and whilst Asad was soon out in a similar wasy to Gareth, Tim and new player Muzzi - a friend of Asad's and a lovely chap to boot - was next in. Tim and Muzzi scored quickly, and scored heavily, with Tim in particular finding the trees and smashing a valuable 22 before being run out (sweepstake winners announced next match). Muzzi carried on the good work, showing a range of shots that delighted watching team mates before a well-earned retirement, whilst David Busby, Stu Ackland, and Alec Paton went hard as per the plan to see us to twenty overs, Stu falling to the last ball of the innings in a death or glory finale to give us a very competitive 138-9. Everyone played well, contributed, and played for the team, with Tim's middle-order innings proving the crucial difference come the final score.
With the light drawing in a little earlier now that we're in August tea was to be taken after the game, so with a quick turnaround we were back out there, buoyed by a good performance, and having learnt a few lessons watching the oppo field. The multi-talented Muzzi took the gloves as Phil and Matthew opened the bowling with instructions for bowl full and straight with variation of pace. This was duly done, and after a watchful start Matthew took the first wicket in the fourth over, a cracking catch by Busby to a skied shot. Next over and Phil was in on the action, getting a great lbw after some deliberation from the umpire. 20-2 in the fifth, a terrific start. The fielding was sharp, with the short boundary to one side well protected by Stu and Shackleton, and fine leg/somewhere in that region mopping up plenty of would-be-fours. Asad and Shackleton took over from the openers and thought the Renault batters ticked along, the rate was kept down and we were always in front. Asad picked up a wicket in his first and third over to complete a valuable four over spell for 15 runs. Amongst all this excitement was another crucial contribution for eventual Man of the Match Tim Philipson, a brilliant catch as the ball was dying in tha air - good hands! Shackleton meanwhile got two wickets and was involved in a superb run out, rifling the ball back to the stumps to leave a better stranded after some yes, no, yes calls. We know the feeling! A dangerous looking middle order hitter - adopting a baseball style swing and connecting enough o push the field back couldn't get he score moving enough, and with his wicket being one of Shackleton's double, the rate slowed right down again to give Bodley complete control. Field up., boundary protected where needed, and with Andrew Milner twirling away at one end, and Muzzi turning it miles at the other, the remaining wickets were taken with little added to the score. Muzzzi got one in his first, whilst the rarely seen 'fingers on the ball as it's hit back past the bowled into the stumps' dismissal wrapped up the Renault innings for 97 all out.
So a win by 41 runs, with everyone contributing and smiles all round. Renault are a lovely bunch and we look forward to next year's game, hopeful again at this charming ground. A BBQ was fired up after the game, and the bar opened, giving both teams the chance to unwind and discuss the vagaries of cricket as the sun set in the distance and Mars twinkled ominously on the darkening horizon. Well played all.