A bright day dawned upon Wantage, so for a change we didn’t expect our game to be affected in any way by adverse weather. This probably pleased both teams, as we were both looking to win in order to try and secure promotion. Shrivenham had a long shot, given that it was their last game, but they had been reasonably consistent so we knew we’d have to play well to beat them. Despite another late umpiring arrival, we got started at 1.30, bowling as usual (I’ve no idea if Colin won the toss or not but it doesn’t seem to matter either way). Duncan and Ryan both bowled tight opening spells – not giving the Shrivenham openers any loose bowling to capitalise on, although their caution meant that no chances came until a mad single led to a run-out which the umpire gave, much to the opener’s consternation. Though it was out only because the batsman hadn’t grounded their bat quick enough, there wasn’t quite as much doubt as the run out that followed a few overs later, as one batsman decided Mongo’s arm was worth a second run, and the other steadfastly disagreed. Fortunately for us, they decided the best course of action was to stand at the same end of the pitch arguing about who was out – it turned out it was the opener and captain, and we were looking well set with two important wickets down and our bowlers bowling well.

Duncan “Donuts” Wooloff continued his mission from the bottom end as he bowled his teasing line outside off stump (tempting like a cheeseburger to a fat bloke – I was desperate to use this during the match but unfortunately never got round to it, but I’m not going to miss the opportunity now). He ended up bowling his last 7 overs for 1 run, picking up 2 wickets – although 2 for 12 didn’t really tell the full story. Steve Yates had come on at the other end and bowled a good spell, deservedly getting two scalps but unluckily getting chinese cut and flicked for 4 down the slope to the short boundary. Luckily for Shrivenham, despite our tight bowling their 7th wicket partnership played extremely well, putting on about 60 to take their score over 100 and make it competetive. They were both out to good catches – one by Steve Yates at square leg off Barry, and the other a fantastic reaction caught and bowled by Ryan who had come back to replace Steve. The innings was finished off with a third run out and a diving catch by NiB from cover, although the Shrivenham players felt pretty aggrieved as they thought it was a no ball. They were discussing the issue as diplomatically as possible whilst the Wantage players, short on controversy for once, disappeared into the changing rooms.

After a fantastic tea (yes, yes, I made it), Colin and NiB opened the batting and faced up to Shrivenham’s demon youngster, Josh Kirk, who had taken 47 wickets so far this season (haha Barry, that’s more than you) and was desperately seeking 3 or more to make it to 50. Unfortunately for him, Colin and NiB looked more than assured, seeing off the two opening bowlers without a fluster, steadily creeping the score along to 50 odd before Colin committed his usual indiscretion by being absolutely plumb, cast-iron, no doubt about it LBW, in a decision which the umpire certainly didn’t apparently apologise for after the match. He had scored a good 22 from 10 billion balls, nonetheless, and had given us the perfect start – the sort we’ve been needing all season. This brought Ian to the crease, and he and NiB continued to dominate the Shrivenham bowlers, scoring at a solid rate, and whilst Ian’s innings in particular was far from chanceless (a couple of well aimed hoiks over cow went down well with everyone) they took Wantage through to 136 and a win by 9 wickets. NiB got another 50 odd not out and deserves a super-special mention for his first six in Wantage colours. The fact that the ball was a dolly full toss about 8 foot up in the air and was due to pitch about 3 feet outside leg mattered not a jot as he gave it the long handle and pinged it over the fielder, over the boundary and down towards the changing rooms.

Unfortunately for him, he was pipped to the Champagne moment award by Ryan’s brilliant Caught & bowled. Even more unfortunately, he was pipped to the man of the match award by Duncan, who was a worthy winner, although questions were asked about whether people really just wanted him to have Nessa for a week. The stains around Nessa’s orifice had indicated that Mabs had been having a good time with her all week – including a love bead incident that led to a DIY prolapse and a painting incident that left her in bad shape. On a slightly more sound note, Colin won Pig’s Ear for being, as noted, “absolutely plumb, cast-iron, no doubt about it LBW, in a decision which the umpire certainly didn’t apparently apologise for after the match”.

Anyway, finally a 30 points win, after our inability to chase small totals with ease the last two weeks. There was bad news as SSJ and Stanton Harcourt both won too, but looking at the table we can reassure ourselves that we are 21 points ahead of our nearest challengers – so as we knew already a win will definitely take us up, and even a decent haul of bonus points will put us in a very, very strong position should we fail to win.

Anyway, one more game against Dorchester and a chance for Wantage glory…