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.