Another year, another glorious Summer, and another Bodley tour, our seventeenth in twenty three years of playing. After last year’s flirtation with league cricket in Yorkshire the team this year visited Devon and Dorset, basing ourselves in Exeter for three nights of cricketing excellence. But the best laid plans... With our usual Friday evening twenty over game being cancelled late in the day Bodley set off with somewhat conflicting ideas of what constitutes a sensible departure time, subsequently arriving steadily through the evening. The first party made excellent time (to their later regret) and explored (...indulged) Exeter’s many inns, whilst the following groups arrived rather later for an emotional reunion before all headed off for a late night curry. Having done our best to prepare as inappropriately as possible for the forty over game the next day we all headed to bed in agreement that a Friday night game is a must next year.
Saturday morning brought the opportunity to wander round Exeter, and with a Lions match on offer some of the team skipped breakfast to watch that momentous victory, whilst others visited historical points of interest and middle-class cafes. As you will doubtless be aware our library’s founder was born in Exeter, and the spot was soon located, complete with blue plaque and mural commemorating the great event. Reconvening, the team headed off for the village of Thorncombe in North Dorset. Thorncombe Flyers CC are a team we’ve played three times before – twice on our Somerset tour of 2014 and again when they visited Oxford on their own tour. Bodley’s James Shaw has known the side for many years, and all consider them friends after the cracking games played between us – a bond that we will always be happy to maintain for so long as both teams play. New tourist, treasurer, and skipper for the day Phil Bennett won the toss and before we could claim Phil’s ineligibility to play in the hope of a different, more shaded outcome, we were fielding. It was a buggering hot day and as half the team made for the shade of nearby trees the skipper pointed out that said trees were in fact beyond the boundary, and all promptly took up proper positions.
The openers started tentatively and we felt that with a strong bowling attack we might finally win a game here, having lost twice on previous visits. This first wicket finally fell but this only brought about a dispiriting demonstration of hard hitting from Thorncombe’s tallest batsman at one end, and Thorncombe's chattiest batsman at the other. Our catching was giving the oppo more lives than the proverbial cat and it took bucket hands Robinson to finally break the partnership with a relatively sensational caught and bowled. A succession of low scores followed with Gav, Shackleton, Tim and James all in the wickets, but the powerful Thorncombe number three kept clearing the ropes throughout. After forty overs a total of 178-9 was a pretty pleasing sight on the scoreboard. Tired bodies retired to the shade of the splendid clubhouse for a delicious tea and a debrief on those catches. After very little debriefing but plenty of cake, we head back out, with a promising new opening pair of Webb and the evergreen Ackland. Things start well but Stu is soon out, bringing James in to join the classy Webb. A promising innings (a future opener perhaps...) is cut short and Shackleton joins James, building a decent score until an lbw sees James off and Neely joins his opening partner for an unusual middle order innings. These two are soon into their familiar routine only to be parted when Neely is well caught, leaving the score on 83-5 from 19 after a valuable 39 run partnership. Robinson then Philipson join Shackleton and the score ticks along, before the skipper comes in and sets about stopping a wobble as Bodley pass 100. Phil takes the commendable decision to simply give David the strike, and whilst he scores a modest seven, David ploughs on, driving, hooking and cutting his way towards a ton and hopefully a Bodley win. Phil is eventually out having built a 71 run partnership to take us up to 166-7 in the thirty fifth, and all looks serene. But then in a turn of events no-one - least of all next bat Busby - could foresee. In a freak occurrence David invites a huge fine from his teammates by playing an uncharacteristic cross-bat shot to be bowled for a superb 89. The score is 167-8 with three and a bit overs left and suddenly everyone is very nervous. Busby joins Jones and it’s twelve to win. A single from the rest of the over leaves eleven needed from three. Next over goes for a miserly three, then the penultimate over for an even less welcome two. So it comes down to the final over, Bodley needing six to win. Dot ball as Jones finds the field. Then the second ball is handsomely driven through the covers for four and Bodley breath a little easier. After another dot ball Jones pushes into the covers but only manages a single. Scores are tied, one to win. Busby lines up the shot, Jones backing up and on one leg thanks to a complete lack of stretches pre-match, but it’s a dot ball! A plan is hatched by the batters, and then finally the final ball is bowled. It’s full, straight and with plenty of flight, beating Dave and going through to the keeper as he hares off down the other end. Jones sprints but the bails are off and the run goes begging. A draw, and a bloody exciting one to boot. It's been a super game, with the result being a fair one for both teams, neither deserving to lose after similar innings with the bat and mixed fortunes with the ball. Well played everyone.
After a drive through the picturesque countryside of Dorset, Devon and Somerset the team change into civvies and convene for a night out. It’s getting late and all are more hungry than thirsty, so food is sought. Having enjoyed a curry last night (spicy for some, buttery for others) the party were keen for a change and promptly found a delightful Thai restaurant in the shadow of Exeter’s ornate Cathedral. After much negotiation involving representatives from Thailand, England, Yorkshire, South Africa, and Ireland, we were finally offered our own private boudoir – that really is the only work to describe it - where were cosily seated until two of the party (answers on a postcard) decided to take a table for two in a corner. A hefty fine was levied in their absence. The food was excellent, even if the owner came from a strangely Irish sounding region of Thailand. Satisfied with the day and full of prawn crackers, most of the party retired for the night, with a few hardy souls continuing on to a ridiculously grandiose Weatherspoons housed in a former Edwardian Orangery to discuss tactics for tomorrow.
Sunday. Often the best day of the tour, despite the inevitable creaks and groans suffered on the third day. Saturday night is usually a bit more laid-back than Friday night, so Sunday morning is usually easier on the body and soul than Saturday. First fry up of the tour for two of us as well, after rugby-watching the morning before. Having now done away with the once obligatory game of pitch and putt the sea beckoned, and a convoy of cars set off for the train lovers paradise of Dawlish. While most walked around one tourist shuffled off and had a swim, much to the disdain of local fishermen. Ice creams, rolls and pasties were enthusiastically bought before getting back in the cars to travel just north of Exeter for the game, against Broadclyst CC.
A lot was expected of the game, after all Broadclyst film their matches and post the highlights on youtube so Bodley were hopeful of a game on a beautiful ground against what seemed to be opposition similar to ourselves, in age, ability and attitude. Turning up it was soon apparent that the ground part was right, a stunning location on the edge of a National Trust country estate, though the clips on youtube hadn’t shown the slope going across the pitch, but age possibly wasn’t. Hearts sank as a group of youngsters were having energetic catching and batting practise in the outfield. Against this though was the warm welcome from the oppo, and the site of quite a few in whites of a similar vintage to the Bods. Gareth is today’s skipper, the weather is hot and having won the toss we bat first.
Matthew and Phil open. The bowling is amongst the fastest faced for many a year and both do sterling work digging in (to the delight of the skipper) and scoring where possible. Phil is unluckily run-out then Matthew is cleaned bowled bringing David Shackleton in to partner Gav. Bowling remains tight and some in the Bod ranks fear a tonking - after yesterday’s heroics would we even make 100? Gav caught chasing a rare wide one brings James out, and both get the shovels out before starting to take the attack to the oppo, who are soon forced into bowling changes. More pace but less accuracy and the score starts to build, we get past 100 and both are now playing some gorgeous shots, a straight spank back past the bowler from James particularly memorable. Another bowling change allows both batsmen to really open up, and despite the heat both are running between the wickets well. One thing that the skipper wanted to do was to pass yesterday’s total, a seemingly impossible task earlier but now achieved with ease. David hits a six off a beamer, James retires with a few overs left to give others a go and Tim and then Andy Mac join in the fun. We’re playing a timed game so the innings stops at 4.30 for tea with David 2 runs short of a maiden Bodley ton, which would have been much deserved. As it is he is fined for failing to make the big score, and rightly apologises to upset teammates. An excellent effort considering the bowling faced and some of the fielding, Bodley finish on 217.
Tea follows, a feast for eye and mouth. Scones, cake, mini Yorkshire puddings with beef, dainty sandwiches and glazed sausages all greet the team as we tuck in and settle down for what is unanimously agreed to be the best tea we’ve had. Which is all very well but gradually the decision to bat first and avoid the heat is regretted, especially by the skipper, who with the extra brownie doesn’t lead by example.
Broadclyst to bat, with their opening bowler now opening the batting. After tucking into tea he tucks into the opening bowlers. Stu, who has managed to temporarily dispense with the shuffle but is now even slower, is tonked all over, including a straight six but then gets his man, with Matthew taking a sharp catch behind the stumps, something which is repeated a few overs later when the same combination account for another Broadclyst bat. New batsmen find it hard to score, Phil bowls well from the other end, and then when Gavin and Tim are first change the runs remain elusive. Gav, as is his want, takes some wickets and hopes begin to form in Bodley minds, we’ve got this, until we remember it’s a timed game, it’s not a case of stopping them scoring , it’s a case of getting them all out. But wickets carry on falling, and then the skipper has a moment of pure genius. ‘Dave, next over this end…’
There are t-shirts available of the Aussie innings at Trent Bridge last Ashes - James has one (and so does Dave now - Ed). First ball, fielders flagging under the heat, Dave whirls in ...bowls him! Brilliant stuff, inspired. Next up a Braodclyst young buck comes out, confident and bristling with youthful intent. The first three balls faced are leg-side wides which he ignores (no doubt something he deeply regrets now) the fourth is straight and high, he waits for the lift as it pitches on a good length ...which never comes and he is clean bowled under the bat. The look of disbelief at the umpire - surely that didn't just happen? - is priceless, as is the epic disbelief back in the pavilion. For him cricket is a cruel game but for Dave and the team it is a fantastic moment, one of the best in the long history of the team. The over is captured in glorious Technicolor on a popular video sharing website, link at the foot of this report.
With Broadclyst unlikely to get anywhere near our total the nature of the game changes, we need wickets to win. James and David S continue the excellent form with the bat by bowling well, Gav comes back on and we manage to pick up a couple, including a caught and bowled from the irrepressible Dave B, and the game ends with numerous slips, gullies and close fielders but to no avail, Broadclyst survive bringing to an end one of the best games played for a while, at the end of one of the best tours for a while. Drinks with the oppo after, and awards and fines. David S is Man of the Tour for two epic and game-changing innings, well deserved though special mention to Gav for some fine bowling in tough conditions and a wonderful slip catch the day before.
Four of the party head home after the match, the rest head back to Exeter to finish off the tour. The Hourglass, this year’s ‘where the bloody hell is he taking us’ pub from Jones, serves up some lovely Timothy Taylor, a kebab shop is hit on the way to a night-cap at the Weatherspoons before bed, and then one last fry-up the next day and home. A great tour, well done everyone for taking part. Until next year...
The team would like to dedicate this year's tour, and our match at Thorncombe in particular, to their former skipper Ian 'flyer' Rowley, who sadly passed away last Winter.
The entire Bodley fielding innings (set to start on THAT over, with a link at the end for Bodley batting. Enjoy!
After a trip down the M5 to a quiet and peaceful Somerset market town in 2014 followed by a quick trip across country to Winchester and it's boutique accommodation last year it was decided that we really should push the boat out for this year's tour, it having been a long time since we've had the feeling at the start of the Friday game of being a long way from home. So, Scarborough this year. Concerns about the quality of the cricket we may face are put aside as the struggle to get three games organized takes over, in the end we have to settle for two, a Friday night game against Filey and a Sunday against the interestingly named Bitter and Twisted.
A fleet of cars leave Oxford in good time, and in good weather, and head north. As we advance up country Remain signs are soon replaced by Leave, a stark reminder of how much an island those who voted to stay in are in a general ocean of 'Up yours Delores'. When we finally get there the weather in Scarborough is fine, and from the street we're all in we can see the sea, perfect. Andy Downey, formally of this parish but now back living up north, meets us and we count our luck at the sun. This doesn't last long, pretty soon after we start the trip to the game the heavens open the rain hammers down, double speed wipers can hardly cope. To add to the comedy value the directions to the ground prove less than perfect, at one point leading us down a dead end to the sea resulting in everyone having reverse back up a narrow street in a downpour. The rain stops by the time we get to the ground, but surely we can't play after that? To their credit the oppo think otherwise. A great effort by some of the Filey players get a playable wicket ready in under an hour after the rain, and the game goes a head. It is soon apparent how wide the gulf is between the two teams, and it soon seems as if there are two games going on, with Bodley just playing to their ability while Filey, with an XI made up almost entirely of first team players, make a game of it by dumbing down as much as possible; their over-seas player, a friendly Aussie quick goes behind the stumps, right-hand bowlers bowl left-handed (and gets wickets) an so on. Filey thrash us, good naturedly, but it's obvious that Filey, and their supports, can't quite understand how we can be so bad at the game and there is little friendly chat during the game between the teams. We do though have a good drink after in the club house and while some of the team are a bit unhappy at such a one-sided match we're all glad to have got a game in, considering both the weather and the lack of a match tomorrow.
Back to base, a drink and then a curry. We find a Thai/Indian and settle in, soon the cobras flow and orders for curries at both ends of the heat scale are made. I try and match Gavin, master blaster of the hotter items on the menu. He asks for a Jungle Curry, so do i. A steaming bowl arrives, heavily laden with chillies. Bloody hot, even with the chillies pushed to the side of the plate, feel pleased with myself at the end only to look up and see that Gav has finished his, chillies and all. A search for a late night pub proves fruitless and even the harden club goers turn down the chance to visit a dingy looking night-club on the way back, deciding that the dodgy entrance down a narrow alley more suited to knee-tremblers and unhygienic practises didn't look too inviting.
Saturday is day of no cricket. The squad split into three groups, with one going to Whitby, one exploring Scarborough while the third; James, Gareth and I decide to do the coastal walk to Robin Hood's Bay. Loading up with crab sandwiches from the harbour shops and with Andrew Milner coming along until the next bus-stop, the group walk along the seemingly never-ending beach while happy families play on the sand. Andrew turns down a chance of one bus-stop after another, and soon we climb out of Scarborough and on to the path proper. 7 hours and 16 miles later we make it to Robin Hood's, knackered - despite an unscheduled rest stop at a National Trust tea room, against Gareth's grumpy advice not to stop walking - but well satisfied with our lot, Andrew in particular has put in a sterling effort in ignoring numerous chances to turn back and we all have a number of pints in the beautifully sited Bay Hotel before an interesting taxi journey back, a quick shower and meeting up with the rest of the team to discuss the day over plenty of beer and fish and chips. Who'd have thought that the local branch of Wetherspoons would have such a range of Belgian beers?
Sunday is the type of day tours are made of. Yorkshire are playing at Scarborough and some of the team watch the morning session before journeying on to the ground of our opponents,the wonderfully named Bitter and Twisted. We can tell this is going to be our sort of match when they set out the rules. Retire at 50, pretty standard, and everyone bowls 4 overs, which certainly isn't. The bitters are a mixed bunch with some young and older players in their ranks and they score a respectable 180 off their 40, against a wide range of Bodley attack. The rule about bowling means that occasional as well as hardly ever get to turn their arms, resulting in welcome wickets for Gareth, Dave Busby and Andy Mac. Despite an excellent start from James and Tim Saunders and a bit of heroics towards the end the team fall short of the total but have had a great game. A drink with the oppo after, and a vote for the man of the tour (Andrew for his epic hike the day before, in which some of his team-mates reveal that he passed a few bus-stops without realising it and they didn't think it right to let him know this).It was interesting to watch the oppo while this was going on, with the younger players wondering what was going on while the older more experienced looking on with what i'd like to think of with some respect.
Back to Scarborough. With a good tea we didn't need a meal straight away so looked for a pub that Gareth had read about. After a seeming never-ending journey we stop in front of a frankly unimpressive building, totally lacking in any sort of pub-like appearance. Glad we made the effort though, as inside was a treasure, with plenty of good beer on tap and a whole host of Belgian beers too. After a few we all got the munchies and went off in search of a take-away, bringing it back to the pub and leaving an ever growing pile of rice and noodles on the floor before venturing back inside to have more drinks. I can remember having a few conversations with some drunk locals at one point, accents made thicker by beer consumed and not understanding a word they say, before a brief chat about next year and then bed. A bloody good tour, sod the results.
...and a brief greatest hits from our weekend of defeat, enjoy!
Bodley’s cricketers have recently just from their annual three day tour, enjoying three days of gorgeous weather, three games against friendly opposition, much curry and quite a few lovely local ales in Winchester.
First up on Friday evening was a twenty over game against a team of Doctors from the local hospital. Bodley bat first and Tim Philipson (Reader Services) and Tim Saunders (friend of the team) scored well as others either flitted or flailed around them to give us a total that the opposition got close too but not past. Andy MacKinnon (OLIS, I think?) held on to his traditional sharp catch to turn the game in our favour whilst others bowled and fielded well (mostly, ahem) to see us kick off with a win, which hasn’t happened for a while. Drinks with the opposition were swiftly followed by a curry and then a few more drinks before bed.
Saturday morning was spent discovering the joys of Winchester before setting off for the days match. The team were originally set to play a team from Newbury but they’d pulled out disastrously late leaving us without a fixture. A raft of emails were sent out to clubs asking for a game and, after a few days anxious wait Hawkley CC offer us a match and how glad we were that they did. Hawkley have the most beautiful of grounds, fielding on one side of the ground opens up a vista of gently sloping farm land topped by a heavily tree’d wood while turning around the village is laid out before you, gorgeous flint houses hidden amongst the trees and a fine church spire, with the elegant club pavilion directly in front.
The game, played in sunshine throughout, is a timed match. Bodley, batting first, go through till 4.30, then tea is taken and the opposition then have a set time to either beat our total to win or, if that proves a step too far, at least not get out and get a draw. Our total is a good one, just creeping over 200 with a thumping driven four off the final ball of the innings from Gareth Jones (Special Collections), after James Shaw (Document Delivery) and David Shackleton (Reader Services) had both scored entertaining 50’s. Tight bowling from Bodley manage to keep the opposition in check, and the slow flighted deliveries of Andrew Milner (Official Papers) and Gavin Robinson (Facilities) manage to pick up some crucial wickets but unfortunately we couldn’t get enough, and the game ended a draw, which was probably the best result considering the excellent spirit in which the game had been played and the beautiful surroundings. A drink with the opposition and a finishing up of the tea left the rest of the evening free to have more drinks in one of Winchesters best pubs, the Black Boy, a labyrinth building full of little nooks and crannies and bizarre furniture (including a stuffed giraffe, neck and head only though) which the team explored to the full.
Sundays game was played following a heavy downpour, which we liked to think affected the pitch and caused it to do unpredictable things. At least, we’d like the think that was the reason behind the team posting such a small total – only Stuart Ackland (Maps) and Andrew giving the bowlers any real trouble. The opposition were thus able to win with some ease, though it being the third day/game of the tour after a late night out physical ailments may have also played a part. Either way no-one covered themselves in a great deal of glory here, though Matthew Neely (SCWMSS) kept very tidily on a tough track and James took some nice early wickets. After a quick drink with the opposition in another lovely pub the team headed back to Winchester and, after one last curry during which next years destination was discussed (Whitby maybe, or South-West for the sea) the team departed, some to travel back to Oxford and some for a few more drinks and one last night before the journey home. For the record Man of the Tour was David Busby (Reader Services), for a memorable innings on Friday (a Bodley legend in the making), a peach of a ball on Sunday, and an iron will to find Winchester’s hidden gems.
So a win, a draw and a loss – not too shabby and a result that bodes well for the rest of the season. SA,GJ
'I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.'
So wrote Herman Melville, and so often goes the Bodleian Cricket Club, ever hopeful of finding the distant shores of a friendly opponent in whose ale-houses we can avail ourselves after victory. With a perennial optimism bordering on the certifiable, Bodley tend to head straight to the seaside, or to far-flung corners of the country where the standard of cricket might just be poor enough to flatter us, but knowing full well that even the senior's social Sunday league is beyond us. But the pain of defeat should never diminish ones appetite for the next challenge - especially when you've been careful to choose places with so many fine pubs, curry houses and top-class (ahem) bed and breakfasts.
We just love touring, and we love it regardless of the result - if you think we look like good opposition, get in touch, we might even bring you some beer. Here's an interactive map of our travels so far...