Aldworth CC at Aldworth, timed game.
On a chilly Sunday in September, the Bodley battle bus arrived in the picturesque village of Aldworth for our final game of the season, memories of getting walloped this time last year at the back of our minds. To our pleasant surprise, Aldworth put us into bat, playing a timed format, for two and a half hours or until we were all out. (We had an idea which one of those it might be).
Matthew and David Shackleton went out to face the impressive opening bowling pair. One was a teenage left-armer who looked a lot like Sam Curran and bowled a good pace; the other who didn’t look anything like Sam Curran but kept our batsman alert with some short-pitched deliveries on a tricky surface. Our opening batsman did well, seeing out some good bowling before David was caught trying to dispatch a delivery that stuck in the pitch, with Matthew out shortly afterwards for 14. Phil was in next, and played out some tricky bowling before getting clean bowled. Arthur and Dom had a valuable partnership here, with Arthur biffing the ball to the boundary and Dom nudging and nurdling away at the other end. When Arthur was well-caught by the keeper for 27, the score was at 88-4 and things were looking okay on a tough pitch. Dom was then run out after a bit of a mix-up, entertaining the spectators and opposition, before Tim and Gareth fell to some excellent bowling (“just too quick” was Tim’s review). A couple of lovely fours from Gav helped us get up to three figures, before he top-edged one, out for 11. There was a second run-out – Andrew Milner the unlucky party here – and Dave Busby was trapped LBW by the returning opening bowler. 114 all out, not quite ideal but still a respectable total on a tricky pitch.
We then got stuck into tea, with some superb lemon drizzle cake and a friendly dog in search of sausage rolls. Heartened by the news that England were still holding out at Old Trafford, we returned to the field refreshed, to try and defend our total against (we suspected) a good batting line up.
Stuart and Phil opened the bowling, and made a strong start with a tight first few overs. Both took early wickets, Gav taking a good catch at gully from Stuart’s bowling. There was also a lovely wicket for Phil, the ball carving up the batsman and clipping one of the bails. At the other end, the opening bat was striking the ball well, dealing mostly in boundaries and causing our fielders to hunt for the ball in the nettles a fair bit. Some good fielding, in particular a one handed dive by Stuart and a hand-stinging stop by Dave Busby, helped keep these boundaries to a minimum. That said, the opposition opener wasn’t budging, reaching 50 with his team’s total on 54. That is, he wasn’t budging until a terrific catch by Phil off David Shackleton’s bowling. Thankfully, the wickets kept coming, as Bodley’s ‘spin twins’ (Andrew Milner and Arthur) got in on the act. Excellent glovework saw Matthew rewarded with two well-deserved stumpings. By this point, Aldworth were running out of wickets but were also nearing the target, as their number 9 hit a few big fours to cow corner. Gareth spun the dice, bringing the express pace of Phil back on for a final flurry, and he managed to take the last wicket, again clean bowled, with the opposition just 2 runs short of our total.
A satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable match, achieved through a good team performance – stubborn batting, consistent bowling and tight fielding. Now the off season, as Bodley’s players recuperate/rest/forget how to play until next April. Final good bit of news is the fact that apparently we’ve managed a 50:50 win/loss ratio this season. Who’d have thought it? Here’s to next season!
OUP CC at Jordan Hill. Forty overs.
In a brief gap in the exhilarating Ashes schedule, Bodley’s run of victories over one of our longest established opponents the OUP came to an abrupt and painful end on the 1st of September. Memories of Mike’s heroics in 2017 and then bowling and fielding like a proper team last year to defend a below par score were brushed aside in a game in which we simply didn’t score enough runs and then faced a team who seemed to find batting easy. Tea was taken with the team bowled out well before our allotted overs for 103 and during some fine cake we reminded ourselves of being in the same situation in 2018, all we had to do was bowl at our best, and as is often said we’re often a better bowling side than a batting one. OUP openers hit at from the start, and are soon well ahead of an admittedly not exactly daunting run-rate. Gav slows things down with a couple of wickets, a nice bowled and a sharp catch from James in the deep but pretty soon pass our meagre total. Not many positives to find from this but mention goes to Tim for a decent knock, fours and sixes forcing a close ring of fielders back into the deep, James’s continued run of good form with a tidy spell of bowling when the rest of us where delivering a fine buffet and Gav’s wickets. We’ll draw a veil over the rest, though it was nice to be playing at Jordan Hill again and the oppo, as ever, were sporting and friendly opponents, unfortunately just to bloody good. The team welcome Jack Perkin, tempted by Gareth after the recent Glam fixture, hopefully this performance hasn’t put him off too much.
Due to the early finish a beer match was organised, a chance to get back some pride in a ten-over thrash with everyone getting an over. OUP win this as well but Bod do ok, with wickets being spread around, but let’s leave it there shall we. Last game of the season this Sunday, south to Aldworth and the wonderful pub.
Cambridge University Library at Clare College ground, Cambridge. Two twenty over innings each.
Way, way (way) back in 1994, before T20, the IPL, switch hits, scoops, and (cripes) before Jofra Archer was born, eleven men of Oxford went to Cambridge to play a game of cricket against their counterparts at that fine city's University Library. The result is not important, nor is the result of the rematch in 1995, but the games lived long in the memory and gave rise to the Bodleian Cricket Club as it exists today, as it plays past its quarter century. To mark the occasion and celebrate the progress made by the club a third fixture was organised, again in Cambridge, against a team from the CUL. Sadly the CUL team is no more, but thanks to fantastic organising and the enthusiasm of the Cambridge staff a new team was assembled and a ground booked. Bodley, struggling with late season injuries and impacted by this being holiday silly season, were only eight, but were bolstered by former regular but now fen-dwelling Rob Triggs donning his wool cap again for Bodley to make us a competitive nine. All-time top scorer and this year acting as batting consultant Mike Webb joined the party and we duly arrived at the ground - an expansive and lush beauty - in pouring rain and under leaden skies. Thankfully, this soon cleared and the sun shone brightly, and the ground dried, and the birds sang, and play was set for 1pm as planned. A competitive format of two twenty over innings each, played apart like a mini test match, was agreed, with the team behind on first innings score having the option of innings order for the second half. Got that? Good. Skippers Gareth Jones (for Bodley) and Simon Halliday (for CUL) walked out for the toss and with Jones calling incorrectly, Bodley were invited to bat first. With a good number of spectators having turned out for the home team, and the weather now set fair, play began.
Having no idea whatsoever how competitive they'd be, or indeed, we'd be, a mixed batting order was drawn up by the skipper. Regular top-order ball clubber Matthew Neely opened the batting with regular number 11 ball dodger Stuart Ackland, and we sat back to enjoy the show, Neely was sadly soon out, bringing Bodley original Andrew Milner to the crease to join his old pal and cricketing hall-of-famer at the crease. With a limit of three overs per bowler the bowling was rotated and the score steadily built, these two playing sensibly, if somewhat animatedly. Stu, who many had expected to burn brightly but briefly, was displaying Steve Smith-esque sticking power, whilst Andrew rolled back the years to play some lovely drives and cuts. Out for 10 to the CUL skipper, Andrew's departure brought another stalwart to the crease, as Gav Robinson joined the romping Stu. Gav fell shortly after, then the skipper came and went down swinging, before finally, after nearly an hour of play, with 18 to his name including two fours (on a deceptively massive outfield) Stu was bowled as his technique allowed one to just sneak through. Tremendous innings Stu, well played! Even more so as it was achieved with a bat older than the club that has spent most of its life on a pub wall. Bodley's answer to Adam Gilchrist, Tim Philipson, was joined by Rob Triggs, briefly playing some thoroughly entertaining switch hits... and after Tim was replaced by David Busby, the fourth member of the fearsome foursome finished the innings off with some terrific running and Lara-like swishing. Bodley finished up on 87-6, with a great deal of those being wides, unfortunately. It was a good pitch, perhaps slightly low after the morning rain, but certainly consistent and with no demons to speak of - we'd soon see if our first innings was competitive!
Gav and Stu opened up for Bod with the ball, and Stu was soon putting in a bid for player of the match with a wicket maiden in his first, and another wicket in his second. That second wicket was however entirely down to a stunning catch at slip by Andrew Milner, taking the ball around his ankles as it fizzed off the outside edge. 4-2 and Cambridge were wobbling. But bang on cue, the CUL number three began a fightback, and with good running from the the next few batters, steadily built a score. With wickets for Neely - at one stage on a hat-trick after some full straight bowling off his long run - one each for Milner and Jones, and three for a tearaway, unplayable Philipson, the final total was 50-8. Rob did some sterling work behind the stumps to limit the wides, and the two sides retired for a sumptuous tea in the pavilion. CUL skipper Simon accepted the offer of following on to build a total, and all tucked in - though not quite as much as they'd have liked to, on Bodley's part, as they had to field again (sorry chaps!).
Tea was simply marvellous with a mind-blowing array of cakes and biscuits on offer along with sandwiches, munchies, and a beautiful courgette filo tart. Seconds, thirds, and in some cases fourths were had, and after a good bit of socialising between the sides and attendant sports fans, Cambridge set out to bat again.
The CUL skipper strode out with their first innings top scorer to give a good start, and smashed a four first ball of the innings. Looking good, the wicket was taken by Gavin later that same over though, bringing Cambridge's seasoned regular Sally to the crease. The score steadily built as the two batters righted the ship and played some stout defensive shots. Robinson and Philipson bowled out and the skipper bought himself on in tandem with fellow satellite-launcher David Busby. In the tenth over Jones deceived the batter with an even slower one, and CUP were 32-2. With Sally playing well at the other end a partnership soon built and CUP accumulated as Milner, Ackland, and Neely all turned their arm over, Triggs again doing sterling work behind the stumps and Mackinnon reminding us all what a cover fielder can do with quick reflexes and good humour. Boundaries were very difficult to come by, largely down to the enormous outfield, but the pitch was keeping a little low too, with Bodley bowling a full length throughout. No more wickets fell, a few catches were narrowly missed, and the hosts ended up on a hard fought 76-2 from their second innings, which along with 50 all out in the first innings gave a total of 126. So 40 to win for Bodley, and twenty overs to get it.
Bodley's evergreen number six and chief six-hitter Tim Philipson suggested an opening partnership of himself and the skipper. and with Neely, Busby, then Robinson to come in after, the order certainly looked entertaining. Both openers hit boundaries early and the score fairly motored along, Jones falling after getting in a muddle to a left-armer, then Tim going down swinging to the same bowler. Neely and Busby entertained the crowds to give a well-fought match a suitable conclusion, Dave's running being another highlight and a mark of his immense fitness. With the scores level in the tenth, Neely knocked the single needed to win in the eleventh, and after twenty five years, Bodley had finally beaten Cambridge at something other than messing around in boats. Player of the match was generally agreed to be Bodley founder member and fan favourite Stu Ackland - top scorer with 18 in the first innings (with a plank of varnished railway sleeper, essentially), and miserly figures of 6-1-15-2. Well played Stu, you'll be at number ten next match! The whole team would also like to pay particular thanks to Andrew Milner and Stu for still turning out after all these years of playing, organising, and captaining, and by doing so keeping our fine, glorious cricket club-cum-adult creche in business for all these years, to the enjoyment of all involved. Thank you chaps, and thank you everyone that plays and helps in any way. Let's make it a half century.
Whilst Blues were not being handed out for this contest (have a word, someone), it had been a wonderful day of friendly, and at times fierce (Andrew!) rivalry, with all involved enjoying themselves under thankfully blue skies in a lovely setting. Photos were taken, what remained of the tea was scoffed down, and a return fixture in Oxford was provisionally agreed for next year. We very much look forward to the rematch with our new friends in 2020, and hope this will become an annual event. Thank you from all at Bodley to all at the CUL for hosting us so generously, and making it a day to remember for another 25 years.
Hendricks XI CC at Stanton St John Cricket Club ground. Thirty five overs.
Bodley's latest game in their 25th year is against Hendricks, Tim Saunders side of University friends named after a brand of gin. Suitable for a team formed round a love of alcohol quite a few hadn't finished their tour night till 5.30 that morning, and looked it as well. Bod have a bit of a scratch side out, only fielding 10 players including Dan Shaw, Max Baldock, Alec and Asad (both practically Bod for the amount of games they play for us) and Dave Shorten. As Hendricks have 12 we also borrow Tim off them. Game at Stanton St John, weather cloudy/sunny/raining all afternoon. Hendricks coming to us after a defeat against the Mads on Friday and then a win the day before, chasing down 205 and winning in last over. As they are on tour Hendricks are asked what they want to do and, surprisingly considered night before, opt to field first.
In the spirit of the game Max and Dan open for the Bod, youth policy well to the fore as both were born well after some of us started working for the Bodleian. Dan scores quickly with some lovely boundaries while Max accumulates. Dan then out caught behind (27), which with James in next scuppers any chance of a father son partnership. James scores quickly and pushes the singles along before getting caught for a quick 41, including a lovely six (and these are proper boundaries, not your Renault skip away from the wicket). Tim Philipson and Dom come and go before Dave Shorten hits a quick 38, including another towering six. Max looks like he's going to carry his bat until he's out near the end for a well-crafted 35. Alec, promoted up the order to nu 8 scores a few and along with Asad takes Bod to 190 off 35, a more than defendable total on what is usually a tricky wicket to score on.
Tea. Bodley aware that Hendricks are a good batting side but looking around at the Bod team it's apparent we have plenty of good bowlers, two of which, James and Asad, start. And it is Asad that quickly makes the break through with tight bowling carrying on from Thursday and Renault. A ball on a good length is blocked up in the air for Alec to take a good catch close in. Asad picks up a few more wickets, including one of their more dangerous batsman well caught behind by (very) occasional wickie Tim Philipson. James is bowling well from the other end and gets a clean bowled as reward. Hendricks are losing wickets too quickly so an early bowling change brings Dom and Dave Busby on. Dave bowls a tight line of his looping bombs while Dom just bowls a good line and length and is rewarded with two wickets. Dave Shorten and Max carry on the good work and are soon amongst the wickets, Max a bowled and Dave gets a dangerous batsman out with James taking a fine catch coming in off the boundary. Hendricks fall well short of Bod total, even with Tim Saunders, playing for us, going off at the fall of the penultimate wicket to bat for the oppo. Hendricks all out for 115 off 33 overs.
A lovely game to play in, and hopefully Hendricks enjoyed it despite the result. Bodley wait with anticipation for the announcement of player of the match award by Hendricks, the recipient rewarded with a bottle of the gin the team are named after. Under-age drinking proves a common theme, after last years award to Dan this year Max is chosen, reward for an excellent batting display and good bowling.
Renault F1 CC at Sanford St Martin Cricket Club ground. Twenty overs.
With those curmudgeons at the Met Office foretelling a great soak for the weekend - beginning this evening - it was with eyes looking to the heavens that we assembled at the picturesque (but only the second best ground in the county according to our opening bat) Sandford St Martin. Trees lining the ground on all sides, the hum of agriculture and the buzz of light aircraft overhead, with a well-stocked clubhouse and very friendly opposition, make this fixture one of our favourites on the calendar. After an exciting game last year that saw us victorious having batted well first up and fielded like demons (fielding demons, not evil demons), the same was on the agenda for tonight, and a good, fresh wicket promised runs aplenty. Skipper Gareth Jones won the toss and opted to bat, and it was with a sigh of relief, the sun peaking through the clouds and rain nowhere in sight, that we got underway.
To the great envy of other, Dave-less local clubs, Bodley are blessed with many Daves, and two of these fine fellows opened the batting - Freeman and Shackleton - with a close field and a man back on the shorter boundary in front of the clubhouse. Renault had a fair few youngens amongst them (outrageous, isn't it?), bolstering the experienced regulars, and the opening salvos were subsequently of decent pace with somewhat unexpected swing and a mean crosswind further moving the ball in the air and after pitching. Tough batting at times, by the looks of it. But the Daves all eat bowlers for breakfast and these two were soon scoring well, with some lovely shots behind square from Freeman and the now routine textbook drives from Shackleton. With the score ticking along Freeman reached his retirement (25 in this game) before most of us had even looked at the batting order. Next in was Bodley's Yorkie (his official title) Gavin Robinson, who was quite dramatically lbw soon after arriving. But moving on... Shackleton continued to run hard as Leigh McKiernan joined him to set about the bowling with relish. Unusually for Dave, he was batting sans helmet, giving the sizeable crowd a fine display of his wafting bouffant as the wind lapped at his lapels. Class. Perhaps distracted by this alpha display, Leigh was unfortunately out stumped shortly after entering the fray, bringing the skipper to the crease and a rebuilding job to be done with the score needing a boost. With this in mind Gareth played out a fine maiden, leaving the ball outside off stump with an unconventional technique of swinging the bat quite safely nowhere near it. The hirsute Shackleton had by this point been inexplicably caught behind, another victim of the swing and crosswind - though the pitch continued to play well, so far as the bounce was concerned. With the crowd being deprived of a Tim Philipson show by a good catch, Asad was now at the crease with the skipper, as the overs ticked down. They both kept swinging and ran hard, and after some boundaries from each, Gareth finally brought the bat down straight to send the ball arcing over the clubhouse to land just inches from his opposite number's parked car. Lost in dreamy appreciation of the shot for the next few overs, he was soon out clean bowled trying to do the same again. Club spirit guide and rambunctious elder statesman of world cricket Andrew Milner joined Asad, and quickly put his new titanium knee (the gold one is being forged for next season, we're told), to good use. So keen was Andrew to charge the bowlers and run twos that he was enthusiastically stumped having batted well and lifted the score past 100. Local tinker and man-about-the-shire David Busby was in next, twirling his bat around in anticipation of the glory to come. The crosswind and inswinging deliveries had come as something of a surprise to all, and had accounted for several wickets, but scoring had still proved harder than it might on a good wicket. We very much hoped the same would apply when roles reversed. With precious little left to score from, one more was added by buzzer and the score settled on 115-6 from our twenty. A bare minimum really, and probably about twenty short, we thought. But who knows? A quick turnaround, more analysis of a few dismissals in the absence of DRS, and out we went.
Asad and a revved-up Leigh took the new ball, and with that short boundary well covered by two of our Daves, one of whom was creatively using a nearby bench as a fielding aid, Asad charged in. With a very fine third man (that's you Tim, you fine young thing) and a slip in place the edge was on the cards as the crowds fell silent for the first ball. Ball pitches on a good length and lifts nicely off the wicket, flying past the outside edge of the bat and clipping the top of off stump to the disbelief of the unfortunate batsman. As perfect a first ball as you'll see, at any level Renault are 0-1 from 0.1 overs and congratulations rain down upon the bowler. Leigh bowls a tidy first one and in Asad's second the edge is found from a similar ball to the first wicket, this one finding the edge and thudding into Gareth's gloves behind the stumps. Two down, Bodley going well. Runs start to come more easily now though, with some hard hitting stretching the field and bowler's lines straying. But in Asad's third over another wicket falls, this one captured by Gav as it flies straight into his chest at point. Well held, and they're three down. Surely we're on a roll, surely we are? No. No Sir. Renault have two baseball players in the side, one of whom we've seen before, and one we haven't. The former is finally prised out of the crease after causing a little havoc and a great attempt in the deep by Dave Busby to take a skier, as Gav gets one straight and through the batter to take off the bails with a beauty. With one batter now retired for a destructive 28, the fours continue to come for Renault and the total looks about twenty, maybe thirty runs short, as we'd feared. Credit to Alec Paton and Stu Ackland for running their legs off out on the boundary, but we just didn't have the runs this time, and the clubbing of the baseball-inspired batters got through the field almost every time. With Stu and the venerable Milner finishing up the bowling after Shackleton gave the crowd a look at his long gallop, things were kept tight at the climax, but the winning runs were struck with a single from Milner, a reminder to the skipper to get him out of his pattern of siestas and wine tastings, and to bowl him sooner! All in all a very good game, against a genuinely lovely team that we always enjoy playing. A hearty tea was served up afters, and the bar opened with beers for all, and a Dubonnet for Andrew. We'll be back to this glorious ground next year hopefully, with a win on our minds. Well played all, and thank you to Renault for hosting.
Oxfam CC at Cumnor Cricket Club ground. Twenty overs.
Hoping to break an annoying losing run Bodley CC head to Cumnor to take on Oxfam. Sun hot, first day of the Ashes and friendly opposition put everyone in a good mood and it’s always nice to play at Cumnor. Bod are fielding a strong side. Cumnor firsts are training on the pitch when we arrive, and present a stark contrast to Bod and Oxfam players as they go through a pretty uncomfortable set of drills while we stand around and catch up with friends or sit down and watch. Also noticeable is the large amount of flying ants around, just before the game starts they all take off and fill the air for a good five minutes before we can start.
Having found themselves in the middle without a coin Bod skipper Gareth suggest best of three boundary marker tosses. Looks ridiculous from the boundary, but Bod win the toss and elect to bat,
Dave’s Shackleton and Freeman to open. Oxfam have had batters that have taken the game away from us before so as it is our home game we can set the rules and impose a 30 and retire rule - plenty of batting to come so swing and run hard is the order of the day. The Oxfam opener bowls a tight and fast first over, But Oxfam’s second doesn’t, with a lot of loose deliveries that cause problems for the Dave’s to score off and for the scorer to keep a record of. His first over takes 13 deliveries to complete and is a recurring theme throughout the innings. Extras cost Oxfam 44 runs of a Bod total of 148, with a lot of deliveries unplayable. When Oxfam get it right their bowlers have a knack of dropping the ball on a length which proves hard to get away. Dave S and Phil both retire, Leigh scores well but the general feeling is that the total is a bit below par considering the fire-power in the batting line-up and the expected onslaught yet to come.
A quick turn round and Bod bowl, the skipper taking the gloves as regular scrum-half Neely is in Texas of all places, and immediately we are in trouble. One of the Oxfam openers goes on the attack from the start, playing shots depending on length and quickly retires after smacking Leigh and Stu for 6’s and 4’s at will. Some of the sixes looked to have dislodged bird nests in the towering trees circling the ground. The first innings showed all that slower bowling was the way to go, and despite the boundaries Bod are bowling well and the fielders are attacking the ball. Gavin and Dom carry on keeping a tight rein on things and a superb spell from Arthur picks up the wicket of Ben, Oxfam skipper and a good bat who has often scored big against us (for the Strollers as well) when Gavin takes a well taken catch fielding at point. Dom bowls well and picks up a useful wicket when Dave Busby takes a good catch and with Tim and Alec roaming the covers Bod manage to slow the scoring down after a number of Oxfam batsman got to 30 and retire. Then a controversial moment. A skier gets excellently caught on the boundary by Arthur, first parrying the ball up in the air and then catching second-time round. Big cheers and congrats to Arthur as the energy and noise levels go through the roof, only for the Oxfam team in the pavilion, who it has to be said have an excellent view of the boundary from their elevated position, call it a six as for them Arthur has stood on the line. A difficult decision to take but one that is (almost) universally accepted. The show must go on, and on it does. But then a bit of canny gamesmanship. Oxfam, to win, need to bring on their retirees, and a few of the tailenders seem to run themselves out to achieve this. So, 11 needed off the last over, and the opening bat back in. It's basically the world cup super-over, and Stu is Joffra Archer. A few singles, a wide and then a big hit out to deep mid-wicket finds Arthur, who rifles the ball back to the keeper, well in front of the stumps. With the gun batter tearing back for a second to keep the strike a dive for the stumps takes the bails off and the run-out is achieved. Phew. Another retiree comes in, again a big hitter, and with the noise levels now at fever-pitch, Joffra shuffles in. A dot and then a loose last ball, with four needed to win, sees a leg-side full toss fly to cow corner, where Shackleton has been deliberately placed for his good arm and normally safe hands. As team-mates watch, yell, and hold their breath, Shacks jogs calmly in and knocks the bails off just as the batters are attempting the third run with two runs needed. So, a close, boisterous game, played in friendly way, with a Bodley win off the last ball, what more could you ask for? Well played all, a great win, and a good time had at the clubhouse afterwards.
Chemistry/Pharmocology (Jack Cox) at Balliol College ground. Twenty overs.
On the week where we celebrate the marvelous moon landings, Bodley sought to launch themselves into the Jack Cox Plate (the Cup seems too giant a leap this year), and with it the chance to plant our flag on the dull grey surface of that estimable serving platter. A strong team had been assembled, with Bodley occasionals Asad and Ollie joining regulars only just recovering from the rigors of the annual tour. Skipper Neely won the toss, and wisely chose to bat with rain forecast for later and a decent line up to send to space. Freeman and Shaw left the capsule and walked gently along the turf to open the batting. For Freeman, this was one of the best days of his storied life - playing for the UK's, if not the world's pre-eminent Legal Deposit Library cricket club, is surely up there with the other pinnacles of Dave's life. More on that later. The pitch at Balliol is best described as a firm, polyester carpet laid within a building site next to a creche for scientists. As such, it is not conducive to good bowling, and is surprisingly unhelpful to attacking batsmen. Nevertheless, Bodley got off to a good start and a target of 140 minimum was broadly agreed to be about right, should we get there. Unfortunately, Shaw was soon caught behind by the wicketkeeper, a scrum-half if ever there was one. This brought Ollie to the crease, and the runs ticked along. Freeman, enjoying himself more than Jack Leach enjoyed Lord's, was sadly out for 21, having looked set for retirement and complementary pipe and slippers. Next up on the launchpad, out strode the skipper, and before you could say dark side of the moon, the ball had disappeared for 6 into the tennis courts and 17 had been scored off an over - as many runs as there were Apollo missions. What a time to be alive. As with all highs, there are inevitable lows soon after, and once Neely retired for a well-constructed 31, the rate dropped and wickets fell at regular intervals. Asad broke his bat trying to send the ball into orbit, Jones and Robinson swung the bat rather less destructively, Philipson and Miten came in peace, Dave Busby entertained, and finally Ackland ...erm, also entertained. At the end of the innings Bodley had racked up a bare-minimum 122-8, Defendable, maybe, but not normally enough on the Balliol runway.
Bodley's fielding innings rather went by in a bit of blur for most of us, as the ball splashed down in space, the short boundaries were peppered (just how many fielders should you put on that tennis court side?!), and one of the Chem/Pharm openers blasted 33 from barely 5 overs to retire with all of his sides runs at that point. Not a good a start if you weren't a scientist. Asad picked up the other opener with a plumb lbw, and shortly after Freeman plucked and edge out of the air at slip, arm swinging wide to catch the ball like a barn door opening in the breeze, causing team-mates to congregate in congratulation as Dave leaped like a salmon in celebration. Having swung the game back our way, it just as rapidly veered away from us, despite some energetic chasing and boundary saving. The next batsmen in both went stellar into the 30s to retire, before a streaky four won the game in the name of science. Twenty, maybe thirty more runs, and we'd have been over the moon, but it wasn't to be. But we play this sport not because it is easy, but because it is hard. And by the end of this decade we will win the bloody Plate!!
Well played all, a good match where we just came up short against a slightly better team on the day. Drinks and social afterwards was great fun and reminded us all why we love this game so much - especially Dave, who really did have one of the best days of his life.
St Clement's Strollers at Magadalen College Ground. 20 overs.
Sometimes - not too often, thankfully - but sometimes, you play a game that leaves you wondering what on earth just happened. This was one of those, a bit of a mismatch with a bunch of youngens bolstering a normally decent team and a no contest being the result. A tour-weary Bodley team arrived hoping for a gentle mid-week game under a pleasant sky on a lovely pitch, but couldn't match the accuracy, intent and sheer skill of the bolters in the Strollers ranks. There were excellent performances from Phil Burnett and James Shaw with the ball - the former being on a hat-trick at one point as normal service resumed after the openers had retired. In the field necks were craned as sixes rained down into the trees, but a Strollers total of 170-odd was not half bad given the state of play half-way through the innings. An early wicket and things would have been much more interesting, but them's the breaks.
With bat in hand Bodley fared a little better, first ball going for four as Phil tonked them from the off. Wickets fell at regular intervals as Bodley tried to hit out against a selection box of bowling but nothing to make the eyes light up. With a close field and plentiful resources to call upon the total looked a tad beyond us this time, though a heartening rearguard from Ben Parish and Dave Shorten proved most entertaining as the three slips were made to look entirely unnecessary and boundaries built the score. With six needed off the last ball to get us to a century, we almost got there only to be caught near the ropes - probably a fitting end to a funny old game. Roll on our next fixture, and a return to winning ways! Credit to all who played and threw themselves around in the filed, bowled when pressed into service, and batted with keenness, calmness, and a smile.
Inkpen CC at Inkpen. 30 overs.
Inkpen is a suitable name for opposition to a bunch of librarians. It’s also a sleepy little village in Berkshire which always seems just a little bit too far to travel to until you are there and it suddenly seems worthwhile. The pitch has all the eccentricities of a village ground, slope across the pitch and very short on and off-side boundaries mean you don’t want to bowl down leg (which is, of course, just what happens) with a wicket which is on the livelier side of interesting. Oppo are darned friendly and round our level, games in the past have always been close so despite the distance it’s a fixture to hold on to.
Skipper Jones loses the toss and a new opening partnership of Shaw (Jnr) and Webb (Jnr) to open. Bod are fielding 3/4s of a Father-Son combo with James keeping Dan company while Malcolm makes a welcome return filling in for the recuperating Mike, who umpires and scores to make up for it. At least they’ll still be a ‘Webb, M’ in the scorebook, something to confuse statisticians in years to come. The team also welcome Miten, travelling all the way up from London to air his Bodley whites. It's all change for Bodley, and new partnerships through the order, exciting times.
Bodley off to a good start, helped by some wayward bowling from Inkpen, extras soon racing ahead of any scoring shots before both Dan and Malcolm start to find the middle of the bat. With a short outfield runs are scored more often than not in boundaries but with youth on their side both run some quick singles as well. Malcolm is out first, top edging to the wickie so Matthew goes in at three and gets off the mark straight away. Dan out soon after so Leigh comes in and starts to hit out before Matthew is out going for a second run. James in but Inkpen start to bring on some quick and accurate bowlers and the runs dry up. Despite not being able to bat together father and son combine well during James’s innings with Dan giving his Dad out caught behind, to add insult to injury James is then accidentally whacked in the neck by the oppo wicket-keeper when going for the catch. Gareth blocks a few then whacks a few to aid a recovery as Inkpen's terrific young swing bowler impresses everyone, before making the short walk back to be replaced by Tim, then Miten, then Dan’s friend Max, then Dave Busby and the reporter, none of whom cause too much trouble for the scorers. Bodley all out for 157, not even batting out their overs, which considering it is a 30 over match is pretty poor. Extras score pretty highly, something which will prove important as the game reaches its climax. Credit to Leigh for top scoring for Bodley with 28, next best those extras!
Tea, which is always good during innings break, even when it’s not. Today's feast was built around a central core of generously stuffed baps - many containing Philipson-befuddling coleslaw - and a glorious variety of cakes, crisps and fruit. All was gulped down with tea, and the players waddled off to pursue excellence in the second innings.
Dan and Leigh opening the bowling, all tight lines and speed but Inkpen, worryingly, soon get up to and then beyond the run-rate. Inkpen look like they have some big-hitters in their ranks so it’s a relief when Dan breaks the partnership with a caught-and-bowled, followed by a great catch from Miten. James comes on with a spell of good accurate bowling that slows the run-rate down. The writer of this tale soon joins him and manages, despite not doing anything with a ball since September, to keep the momentum created by James very much with Bodley. Runs dry up, apart from the occasional delivery down leg which is treated with the respect they deserve (Tim grabbing a great catch tight to the boundary line off a no-ball particularly galling) before both James and I manage to take key wickets, one of which is a wonderful catch by Matthew behind the stumps. Malcolm and Matthew then finish off the overs with Max going behind the stumps, both bowling excellently well before a master-stroke by the skipper, bringing on Dave to bowl the penultimate over. Inkpen need around 24 but find it impossible to get Dave’s perfectly flighted loopers away. He even gets a wicket, inducing the Inkpen bat down the wicket only to get stumped by Max. Matthew bowls at the last over, Inkpen still needing around 20 but tight bowling and keen fielding combine to reign them in, Bodley win and thank the cricketing gods for the extras column in the Inkpen innings.
Thursday 4th July. Osler/Green/Templeton, Jack Cox Group stage. Twenty overs.
Our second Jack Cox game, with one rain-off and one victory so far seeing us standing mid-table and looking good for the Plate (the Cup is all very well, but plates are more useful). Skippper Matthew Neely had very impressively won the toss the previous day by way of an expected mini-exodus of Osler players in the second half, and taken the offer of batting first. The pitch looked green and plasticy, whilst the outfield was grassy, and green. As this match was some days ago and I do not have the score book to hand, I will attempt to recount events as best I can...
The kick-off was fumbled by the winger but the opposition defence effected a ruck and made hard yards over the gainline. Hang on, that didn't happen. Daves Freeman and Shackleton strode out to open the batting for what must be Bodley's most correct and attractive partnership. As expected, these two settled in very nicely and the runs began to flow, whilst the Osler fielders worked hard on this years Edinburgh Fringe routine, with one-liners the order of the day. In between the hilarity Bodley ticked along to the halfway mark for somewhere in the region of 80 runs. Roughly. Shortly after that Shackleton was out, and Freeman retired shortly after a brief partnership with new player Joe. The skipper joined Joe and then, after some more Ken Dodd impressions from the fielders, Joe gave way to new Bodley buck Jagdish, who gave way to serial swinger Tim Philipson, then Gareth Jones came in only to be told he had a hole in his bat, more misses than Henry VIII, and - there's more - more blocks than a Lego set. Well, as you can imagine, batting whilst being entertained so royally was very hard indeed, and Bodley rather faded away from what could have been a big score, to posting about 130. Not bad, but outside the comedy circuit Osler are known for being a bit good with the bat, most of the time. So, with tea consisting of a mars bar and a trip to the loo, we quickly headed back out for the second innings and hopefully more belly laughs.
Bodley are not exactly disciples of Steve 'oh do shut up' Waugh or disgraced Australian cricketing comedian Steve 'sandpaper' Smith, but nevertheless we took to the task with relish and tried to entertain our opponents as best we could, the cricket having now become almost secondary to the task of mentally disintegrating our enemy. That second innings exodus of players failed to materialise as those concerned opened the batting and swung like millionaires. After some cutting asides and a canny fumble to lull the batter into ever-more daft shots, the first wicket fell and Bodley looked well on the way to victory. Sadly, as sometimes happens when players swing for all they're worth, the swinging comes off and the runs fairly race along. Thirties were blasted, the short boundary was peppered, catches fell agonisingly short, and by the time the much more accomplished middle-order came out to bat, the match was all but over as a contest. Well, sometimes you just get beaten by the better side, and Osler certainly were that on the day. It's fair to say a lot of work is needed before either routine is ready for the Fringe though, so not all good and something to take away from the game for Bodley. Keep calm, and carry on.