It was a lovely day for a game of cricket. It wasn’t too cold and it wasn’t too hot. A slight breeze blew across the wicket drying it into a perfect batting surface. Eleven Wantage players gathered at the bar alongside ex-Wantage players and guests of Geoff Bailey and brought their blood-alcohol levels up to the perfect levels at which cricket can be played; Enough to settle the nerves and not too much to have to decide which of the two balls that are coming towards you that you should play.

Traditionally the President’s XI batted first with the captain, Ian
“Chopper” Danne and Kevin Bailey facing the initial overs from Duncan
“Lurch” Wooloff and Barry “Ka-ka” Martin. Chopper and Kevin Bailey saw off the openers. Lurch was pacey but seemed to be suffering from an elbow injury and bowled his first four overs for 11 runs and Ka-ka bowled 6-0-24-0. Lurch was scalded by one of the umpires for an “unnecessary” LBW appeal and asked not to do it again. I think that they had a different view from Lurch on the spirit of this match.

Peachy replaced Lurch and bowled with his new shorter, yet just as efficient run up. The first couple of balls looked good but Chopper must have decided that 2 balls were enough to assess Peachy’s action and dispensed the next ball for six. Four overs later he did it again. While this battle was going on, Tim “Tweekey” Weekes had warmed up and replaced Ka-ka at the other end. He took his first wicket in his second over. Kevin Bailey hitting a ball in the air to Lurch, after scoring 20 runs, and was replaced at the crease by Rob Austen.

In his fifth over, Peachy finally managed to get revenge for Ian Danne hitting him for six and put a straight one down that Ian was trying to dispatch over Peachy’s head but decieved by the lack of movement off the seam, it bowled him (score 35).

Rob Austen and Mark Newbold both put on good totals before forgetting how to run between the wickets and being run out for 23 and 26 respectively.

Peachy finished his overs 6-1-27-1 and Tweekey 6-0-18-1. Both tidy bowling performances.

David “Muppet” Henson, bowling seam up, bowled well. The book says that the wicket of Derek ‘Jonah’ Jones was a “cutting yorker”. I can’t confirm this from where I was standing, but it was certainly a good ball. Muppet’s bowling was proving difficult to hit. His sixth over was a double wicket maiden – Nice! A perfect time for me to take him off. Chris Martin was Muppet’s second victim having scored no runs. Muppet, 6-1-26-2.

Colin “POD” Mercer finished off the bowling attack with Lurch taking his last two overs after resting his elbow for a bit. POD bowling tidily, with the exception of his first over that went for 12, 5-1-29-0. Lurch’s final figures were 6-0-22-0.

It should be noted that as Captain of the team, I should know exactly where players are throughout a fielding session. Now this gets a little complicated when you get bowling changes and you have four fielding settings due to batsmen of different styles, especially when one is right handed, the other left. Increase this complexity when you have other players who move the field around when your back is turned because “there was a hole”. But this week took the biscuit. I looked over to where Lurch should have been fielding and he wasn’t there. There was a President’s XI man there who I thought was spectating. Where was the gangly Lurch? As my eyes trained around the field looking for him, they were distracted by a figure on the
roof of the clubhouse. There he was, carrying a Union Jack across the roof to hang on the flagpole. I dispair!

The President’s XI finished on 158 for 6. A tidy total, but probably not quite enough on a good batting wicket.

After a lovely cuppa, some succulent scones and fabulous fruit cake,
everyone was ready to continue… well nearly ready. There seemed to be time for a bit more cake and another cuppa… Eventually sufficient players had taken to the field for the game to continue. Ian “Bows” Rollinson and Ben Putt opened the batting. Graham Newbold and Steve Penney opened the attack.
The lack of pace was spotted by Bows and Ben and after eight overs we were 40 for 1. Bows being removed by an LBW from Graham’s fourth over. Carl “Carlos” Wooloff replaced him. Geoff Wooloff came on to “sort him out”. Unfortunately for Geoff, it was Carlos who sorted him out (at least initially). With a short backswing, Carlos heaved the ball back over Geoff’s head for 6. A cheer erupted from the crowd and Lurch started heckling “Ha – That’s you out of the will. I get the house now!”. However, after two respectful foward defensives, Geoff had his revenge bowling Carl on 29.

We now had a healthy 72 for 2 off 15 overs. Ben had his eye in and looked very comfortable. I strode out to join him. Geoff and Chops Danne were bowling. They both looked quite good, so we played the straight ones sensibly and saw them off. Expecting there to be little or no bowling to follow. Geoff Bailey’s overs were a little expensive so he was removed after two. Derek ‘Jonah’ Jones and Rob Austen bowled the remaining overs.

Ben was eventually bowled by a lovely off spinner from Jonah that seemed unplayable. A lovely 46, jug avoiding, runs. I was dismissed shortly after by giving away a straight forward catch to Mark Newbold from Jonah’s bowling, having scored 30.

Muppet and POD were next. Muppet playing lovely text book strokes as usual, POD getting caught at mid-wicket for 3. It was a great catch, the ball travelling hard at ankle level, but plucked away from the turf expertly. Muppet and Ka-ka picked up the run rate a little and finished the game in the penultimate over. Muppet not out for 19 and Ka-ka not out 11.

Bowling figures: Graham Newbold 5-0-20-1, Steve Penney 4-1-27-0, Geoff Wooloff 5-0-23-1, Ian Danne 7-1-21-0, Geoff Bailey 2-0-17-0 (ouch), Derek Jones 6-0-29-2, Rob Austen 5-0-20-1.

A nice close game, everyone did something. Dave Morgan provoked a laugh when he appealed for a caught behind only for the ball to drop out of his gloves mid appeal. There was another drop behind the stumps too. Unlucky Dave. Dave was not alone though. Graham Newbold and Derek Jones also put catches down, and on the Wantage side, Nigel Coppendale dropped an easy one at point.

The beer flowed well into the evening with