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!