Jack Cox Plate final against Materials Science at Balliol College Ground, Monday 20th August. Twenty overs.
We have been playing in the Jack Cox Trophy http://users.ox.ac.uk/~ouccrick/jc.html for 22 years now, never progressing to a final, but this year, playing a dynamic brand of twenty20 cricket under the captaincy of Mathew Neely, we had booked a date at Balliol Masters Field to play Materials Science in the Plate final. Much anticipation, much expectation and much excitement from the Bodley players and a band of enthusiastic supporters on cup final day. As we assembled at the ground some of our number noticed that one or two of the Materials players bore an uncanny likeness to players from the Department of Engineering side encountered, and defeated, in a previous round of the competition in contravention of Jack Cox rules. The rules clearly state that no player may turn out for more than one team. While we politely pointed this out to the opposition, who did not demur, captain Neely decided not press the point, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, and the game went ahead with the team unchanged.
Materials won the toss and unsurprisingly chose to bat given the light, not bright at the start of the game, was likely to be a problem in the second innings. Steve McGranaghan, drawing the short straw, was pressed into action as Bodleian opening bowler - with Leigh taking the other end - and it quickly became apparent that Materials were intent on big hitting from the off. Some sharp Bodley fielding prevented several boundaries but despite our best efforts Materials had racked up 19 runs after two overs and were fairly motoring along. Then, breakthrough in the third over with Leigh taking a looping catch at slip to dismiss the Materials’ opener off Steve’s bowling. Much rejoicing in the Bodleian camp. In came the Materials number three bat who proceeded to hit the ball even harder than the dismissed opener. Both he and the other batsman now showed a particular liking for the tennis court at deep midwicket, depositing the ball over the fence and onto the court twice in the first six overs. Unfortunately the groundsman had not unlocked the gate to the court and some athletic clambering from fielders over the high wire was needed to retrieve the ball.
Asad and Stu, our change bowlers, given the task to contain the free swinging batters, bowled a good line and length but it was no easy task to the staunch the flow of runs. By the end of the 10th over Materials were on 79 for 1, their number 3 bat having retired not out, and they were looking well set. Then in the 11th over Asad bowled the opener with a devastating delivery and then four balls later followed it up by taking a sharp caught and bowled to dismiss his replacement all for the loss of one run. Great over! Unfortunately for us Materials batted deep and their middle order proceeded to swing the bat with great intensity, once again depositing the ball in the tennis court.
David Shackleton, back in Oxford, after his early season sojourn in the West Country was thrown into the fray by skipper Neely to bowl the 12th over. Boom, the first ball takes a wicket! A lively delivery finds the outside edge of the Materials captain’s bat and keeper Neely deftly takes the catch to dismiss him. At the other end Andy Hudson takes over from Stu and in his first over nabs a wicket with a confident lbw appeal. In further good news only 2 runs are scored to leave Materials at 111 for 5 off 14 overs.
A quick onfield change of wicket-keepers brings Gareth Jones behind the timbers in order to allow Mathew to bowl at the end of the innings. The batsmen, with the end of their allotted overs in sight, redouble their efforts and attack everything pitched at them, while Bodleian fielders spiritedly throw themselves around the ground to cut down the run scoring. One further wicket is taken in the penultimate over with change keeper Gareth taking a smart catch off Andy’s bowling and Materials end up on 167 for 6 off twenty overs.
A quick turnaround and the Bodleian openers Mathew and David Shackleton make their way to the crease. The light is already beginning to fade and the Materials opening bowling is brisk. Second ball and a severe setback for us as Matthew plays on. The ball brushes his arm and deviates onto the stumps. Very bad luck for us and for Matthew. Some sharp and tight Materials bowling restricts our scoring chances and after four overs we stand at 12 for 1 and well behind the run rate. But David, though somewhat contained by the bowling, had been playing nicely and now attacked with some expansive shot making. First a four, then immediately afterwards a beautifully struck drive with the ball soaring back over the bowler’s head for six: the shot of the day. With Asad providing good support at the other end the Bodleian recovery is going well. The second wicket falls when Asad is run out by a neat bit of Materials fielding. A clean pick-up and a direct hit of the stumps sends the Bodley number three on his way. 27 for 2 in the sixth over.
Gareth now replaces Asad and proves himself a steady foil to the flamboyant but always stylish Shackleton who peppers the boundary with some classy shots. By the end of the eighth over, with the score at 47 for 2, David reaches the mandatory retirement mark and must depart the field but may return to the fray later in the innings. Leigh takes his place and looks to push the score on but is bowled for 6 before he can really get going. Tim Philipson is the next man in but the Bodley support is bitterly disappointed to be denied the sight of the full majesty of the Philipson swing in all its glory as he is bowled second ball for nought. 59 for 4 at the end of the eleventh over and Bodley are some way behind the run rate.
Dom Hewett is our next player in and shows admirable temperament and technique from the off. Some beautifully struck shots are finding the boundary in a positively Shackletonesque manner. Gareth’s is the next wicket to fall when he is caught while attempting to hoist the ball to the boundary and Bodley are left staring down the barrel at 65 for 4 after twelve overs. Still, Dom is going well, if only we have batsmen to keep him company. Stu, seeking cup final glory after all these years in the wilderness, does his best but unfortunately suffers a slo-mo run out and is gone for 4. Eighty-eight for 6 after seventeen overs. Stu’s departure seems to set in train a series of farcical dismissals that seals Bodley’s fate. Number eight bat Andy Hudson hits his wicket attempting an unconventional stroke without troubling the scorers. Then Steve McGranaghan does exactly the same thing: another hit wicket, with no run scored. David Busby is our final batsmen and he too goes in short order when he is caught by the keeper again for nought. Three wickets in the same over for no runs and even the prospect of a returning Shackleton to partner Dom for the final overs does little to raise Bodley morale. The pair, now batting in almost stygian gloom, put up a good fight but when Dom is caught and bowled in the seventeenth over, for 19, the Bodley innings is all over at 104 all out. David is left undefeated on 40 – well played, another fine innings.
The end of our cup dreams for another year then but we are in no way disheartened. It has been an excellent campaign in the Jack Cox in 2018 with epic wins against two strong teams, first Engineering - the Cup holders no less! - and then IT Services, on our way to the final. Well played all, with special kudos to Stu Ackland and David Busby who played in our first Jack Cox game, against Physical Chemistry back in 1996 http://www.bodleiancc.co.uk/scorecards/8 (yes, we won that one!) and are still playing in the competition.
White Hunter CC at Warborough, 35 overs.
To Warborough, and a new fixture against the intriguingly named White Hunter Cricket Club. The club logo is a wellington boot appearing to kick the stumps, so the Bodley brains trust has concluded that the name refers to the popular middle-class puddle stompers. Either way, the WHCC are a terrific bunch, and once both teams had arrived and agreed terms, Captains Perkins and Jones for WHCC and Bodley respectively, went out to toss. WHCC called correctly and opted to bowl, to Jones's great delight as this meant not having to decide what to do under grey skies and on a notoriously tricky wicket.
Burnett and Webb opened the batting, with orders to see off the youthful-looking WHCC bowlers that had earlier been practising on the outfield. With Ackland on temporary loan to WHCC whilst one of theirs sped along the lanes of Oxfordshire to make the match, Bodley got underway. A watchful Burnett was lbw in the seventh over for 4 with the score on 25, bringing a determined Neely to the crease. The bowling was tight, with even the loose balls proving hard to get away as the pitch played tricks and the outfield slowed things down. Runs steadily, if not threateningly, accumulated, and with batters through the order Bodley were happy with progress made. In the eighteenth over calamity befell us and all-time high-scorer Webb was clean bowled by a slower one for a well made 41, including some smashing straight hits down the ground and over the fielders, no easy feat on this pitch. Newly promoted Hewett was next in and set about building the total with the well-set Neely. What looked like a terrific leg side flick for four ended up with Dom walking off having trodden on his stumps, terrible luck but there's more to come by the looks of it. McKiernan was next in, bat swinging and that putting-green technique all present and correct. Before you could say 'yes! no! yes!' Neely was out next over for 41, mirroring Webb's total and causing the scorebook to read scores of 41, 4, 41, 4 - one for the stats geeks. So, with the total on 119-4 from 25 overs, Bodley had ten overs to get up towards 200 and a hopefully defendable score. Philipson was by now in, giving Bodley a potentially punishing partnership at the crease as our two biggest hitters combined. Would there be a run-out? Nope. The two set about the bowling with gusto, though it still proved difficult to get away, the pitch being damned uneven and a devil to read. McKiernan was out in the 34th over for - you guessed it - 41, whilst Philipson, now joined by the skipper, hit a few more and Bodley ended up posting 196-5, with Philipson making 33 to end the freaky looking total column in the book.
All that cricket was all well and good, but with tea now served both teams ventured into the ageing clubhouse to tuck in to what was hopefully Stuart's only buffet of the day. To the confusion and concern of many, the extensive spread was a vegetarian affair, though having worked their way through the myriad sandwiches on offer there was, alas, nothing to worry about. The cakes were delicious, and after several mugs of tea on what was still a grey day, the teams returned to the field of battle for the second innings. WHCC needed to chase down 197 to claim the spoils...
With regular keeper Neely keen on having a bowl in readiness for Monday's Jack Cox Plate final, Captain Jones took the gloves and threw the ball to Burnett and McKiernan. With the pitch determined to remain a complete sod all day, and the batters having a hit, WHCC rattled along at four an over for the first ten overs before McKiernan finally prised a wicket by way of a sharp catch from Hudson at mid-off. 41-1 from ten, a timely wicket. Another partnership built as Jones changed the bowling to mix up the pace a little - Neely and Ackland coming on after the wicket. Despite committed fielding and bowling the runs steadily built though, with only the shuffling figure of Ackland keeping the rate down with some valuable maidens. In the sixteenth over a wicket eventually fell, clean bowled by Ackland with what may or may not have been a slower ball (how can we tell, Stu?!). Excellent bowling. Having had a torrid (forgettable, messy, take your pick) time behind the stumps Jones happily handed the mitts over the Webb, and took up position in the field. Having decided that slower bowling was the order of the day, Bodley's living, breathing Old Father Time was unwrapped and instructed to bowl that classic Milner-brand spin. Andrew was duly hit for eight, seven, and seven off his first three overs, But the runs were getting harder to get, and the field a little more spread to cut off the fours that were flying off the edge. In the 24th over and with a wicket needed, a wicket fell - a fantastic catch from Busby to a ball that went miles out to the far boundary only to be confidently taken Aussie-style by Dave, 117-3 from 24 overs. After this brief respite the runs continued to build, another WHCC batter getting in and hitting regular boundaries. By the time the next wicket fell one batsmen had retired for an excellent 51 not out, and the score was 167-4 from 32 overs. Thirty needed from three overs - ten an over then, if my often appalling maths is correct. Milner and Neely were to bowl the final three overs, and the field was back with only a couple of men in the circle in the covers. At the end of the penultimate over the score was 185 and WHCC needed twelve to win. Bodley were quietly confident, eyes focused on the batsman, and Milner twirls in for the last over of the match. It's always good when a long match comes down to the final over, and so it was today. The batters were inclined to swing and run hard, and despite a big swing the first ball was only a single - 11 to win. Next ball was a dot, followed by another dot as the batter tried to charge and befuddle the unflappable Milner. Then the crucial ball to take it to boundaries needed, and only a single managed - 10 now needed from 2 balls and Bodley were breathing a little more easily. A dot ball followed as sharp fielding and a full length kept the batter in check. A single off the final ball took WHCC to 188-4 and gave Bodley the win. A terrific match that was close throughout the second innings as the WHCC batters staged a brilliant chase on a difficult pitch. Well played everyone, a well-deserved win.
After handshakes and pleasantries, and the returning of the ground to exactly the same condition it was in before we started, the bulk of both teams repaired to the nearby Six Bells Public House for post-match analysis and talk of future matches between our well-matched sides. We would be delighted to visit our new friends down in West Sussex next year and look forward to an annual fixture for years to come, thanks ever so much for making the trip up to play us. We next play Monday evening at Balliol College Ground, in the final of the Jack Cox Plate - do come and support.
Hendricks XI at Stanton St John. Twenty overs, then a ten overs thrash.
After a seemingly endless run of games under a boiling sun on brown dry pitches Bodley finally played a game under cloudy skies yesterday with the threat of rain ever present. We were playing Hendricks, old friends led by Tim Saunders, but on a ground not used by Bod for a number of years, Stanton St John. Stanton has a slope and an interesting wicket but an picturesque element to the ground was lost under the low clouds. Hendricks have some familiar faces but are missing Ross Quest, much to the relief of Bodley bowlers. Ross has scored big both for and against us in the past. Bod bat first and open with a father and son partnership of major and minor Shaw. James scores a four off the first ball and both do well on a slow outfield before James is run out for 18. Dan, playing some beautiful shots, retires on 30. Leigh biffs briefly before being clean bowled going for a glory shot, Phil is out for a rare duck, Dave's B then S come in while all the time Tim scores at the other end. David Shackleton sent down the order as punishment for poor geography, Phil lives in Lime Walk, not Lime Road, or Lyme Regis. Getting to the ground 45 mins late is taking it a bit to far, even for the much loved Mr Shackleton. He makes amends though with a stylish 29 to get what looked like a low score up to a respectable 139. Hendricks decision to give everyone 2 overs each certainly helped, with extras contributing over 30 to the total, which made scoring tricky with some overs taking 10 or more deliveries to complete.
Due to predicted rain we'd decided to have a twenty20, then tea then see what we could get out of the rest of the day, so following a quick turn round Bod take to the field and decide to do the two over thing as well. Tim takes the gloves and goes behind the stumps. Leigh opens the bowling and soon has the opening bat caught behind, sharp work by Tim and the quickest wickie catch in Bod history, he follows this with a clean bowled. After this everyone contributes, with wickets for Dave B (another caught behind for Tim and a nice link-up with these two popular cricketing brothers), Phil gets two and Tim, after coming out from behind the stumps gets an lbw. Trouble is Hendricks have a couple of big hitters, one in particular coming in at the end and scoring sixes at will see Hendricks over the line with a couple of balls to spare.
Tea follows, sandwiches, cake (not enough though, need an extra one next time) and samosas that would definitely prove too hot for some. A few of the Hendricks have to leave so a quick, 9-a-side 10 over thrash is played out, again Dan does well and this time Bodley creep home with a few balls to spare. Comedy highlight of the afternoon comes when a caught and bowled is offered, 'Catch it' shouts the wickie, the bowler tries and spoons it in the air and has a desperate lunge, 'catch it again!' comes the shout from behind the stumps. The rain finally comes during the last few overs and at the end of the game the covers are scrambled into place. As is traditional with Hendricks matches the best player on the opposition side gets given a bottle of Hendricks gin, there can be only one winner. Dan retires in both innings and bowls very well, James gladly accepts the award on his behalf.
Next game is against the interestingly named White Hunters on Saturday, then it's a small matter of a Jack Cox final a few days after. The season slowly draws to a conclusion but there is still plenty to play for.
Jack Cox Semi-final against IT Services at Balliol College Ground. Twenty overs.
Going one step further than last year Bodley won the semi-final of the Jack Cox Plate competition against IT Services on Tuesday the 7th. IT looked a strong side, and having won the toss put themselves in bat. Josh opens and immediately the opener scores boundaries but all off edges and nicks behind square. Pretty soon his luck runs out, spooning one up to point where Dave Busby runs round to take a good catch from Josh. Dave catching well at moment, this one not as hard a chance as the Renault effort last week but a more important wicket. After that Bod bowl well, James, Phil and Leigh keep things quiet (11 off 3 for both Phil and Leigh, with three wickets for the latter, James going for not much more) which slowed the scoring rate down a lot. Crucially Bodley held on to their catches; Dom, James, Leigh, Josh and Matthew as well as Dave all deserving credit. The catches taken by Josh and Matthew (one of two for the skipper) were excellent, diving efforts to get to the ball, while Leigh, who had already nabbed a caught and bowled took one of the best catches behind the stumps when going down to his left to get a threatening bat out. Matthew came on at the end and bowled a tight line to finish things off, going for hardly any while clean bowling someone who’d scored big against us in the past. IT 113 off their 20.
In reply Bod start with Matthew and David Shackleton. Both get us started but then both are caught, Matthew unluckily from an edge to the wickie while David well caught on the boundary. James then does what James has done pretty much all season, steadies the ship and scores, but Bod have a bit of a wobble during his innings. Leigh looks in good nick and scores what seems a good 6 only to walk off, much to the confusion of his teammates. Shouts of get back on, you’ve not reached retirement yet stop as we realise in going for the shot he’s trodden on his stumps. Tim looks set and then is out, Josh is out first ball to an unplayable yorker but Dom is slowly acquiring runs and with only two overs left we need about twenty. James retires after passing 30, and the author of this report goes in with orders from the skipper to go for it as we have batsmen left and James to come back in, and to get Dom to anchor. Thankfully Dom ignores this, scoring 3 fours in 4 balls he takes us past the IT total and into the final. Amazeballs.
Comedy moment comes from the 12th man. Not expecting to play he lends first his boots to Leigh and then his top to Andy. Following a lack of understanding in the basic numerical system it seems that we only have 10, not the expected 11 so the 12th man, with a borrowed top to replace the borrowed top he’s lent someone else goes out in work shoes and trousers. He then proceeds to drop one, not go for one that could have been caught, use his feet fielding on the boundary with the inevitable results, bowls pie and is out for 0. Still, we’re in the final.
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.