Having fallen further behind Cairns Fudge last week after the ridiculous OCA rulebook gave us 5 points for a rained off game, whilst they were able to play a game and win 30 points, we knew that we needed a good win today to try and catch up again. We also knew that Cassington were a team we should beat, having won by 9 wickets earlier in the season, and with a squad of 17 to choose from we had an embarrassment of riches with our full squad. Colin was still struggling after his 27 hour walk last week so Barry took over captaining duties. Cassington’s stand-in skipper made the strange decision to field first on winning the toss, despite only starting the game with 7 men. This meant there were plenty of early gaps for Ben and Nick to utilise, and this they did, going at more than double their usual speed to put on an excellent 100 partnership. Early highlights included Ben breaking Barry’s bat he had borrowed, causing him to borrow another bat. He was kindly brought 4 to choose from, and Grant was delighted when his willow got the nod. Ben used the bat to good effect, leaning back and glancing a four to the boundary from off his chin and hitting some powerful shots through the offside.

NiB was steadily accumulating at the other end, hitting some nice shots but nothing too aerial until he hit a one-handed shot for six towards the clubhouse to bring up his 50. Ben had already brought his own 50 up, and batsmen down the order were starting to wonder whether they were likely to get a game as the openers looked under very little trouble. Just as we were wondering this, Ben was adjudged LBW and Timmy Lane was brought to the crease. He continued where Ben had left off, hitting plenty of boundaries and providing more than adequate support to NiB’s ever-growing score. Nick eventually spooned a shot into the leg side for the single that brought him his hundred and he celebrated in typical muted fashion with a raised bat. No badge kiss though! The Wantage fans decided this was because Nick is not a fan of the cheap, throw-away gesture, but he seemed pleased enough nonetheless. He was perhaps less pleased the next over as he was run out backing up after the bowler flicked a straight drive onto the stumps. He did however receive a standing ovation for his efforts, and if you’re going to get run out backing up, you could pick a worse time than just when you’d scored your hundred.

With five overs remaining Barry then Ryan entered the fray and scored 5 each, both selflessly thinking of the team first as they were out to wild swings. Ian then chopped onto his stumps first ball as we still managed to get a middle order collapse into a total of 278! Mongo saw out the hat-trick ball before despatching his next 3 balls for two sixes and a four. The last over brought “Limmy Tane” his 50 and a final total of 278-5, our biggest league total since Wantage CC were re-incarnated 3 years ago.

The Cassington innings began slowly, with Butterworth struggling against Ryan’s pace, and he eventually fell to a good pitched up ball from Ryan. The 2nd wicket partnership hung around for some time as Barry chopped and changed the bowlers to try and find a breakthrough. Grant eventually managed to dislodge one of them, and then a few wickets fell steadily, nearly all bowled. Grant posted excellent figures again of 4-29 off 12 overs, unfortunately just missing out on a 4th 5-for in four weeks. Barry at the other end got the number 3 caught at backward point for 45, and the team relaxed somewhat. This was perhaps not the best decision as Fuller and Hardwick gave the ball some tap as Cassington searched out 200 runs for maximum batting points. The Wantage fielders were entertaining themselves in various ways, not many of which had much to do with cricket as the competitive edge was slightly missing. Ben found a few worms to give to Barry, Ian made a few lame ice cream gags and Tim Lane described Barry as “Marry Bartin” which amused Duncan endlessly.

Eventually Duncan took the last two wickets in two balls as NiB took a good catch at long off and Chaz took the winning catch at cover and we finished up winners by 85 runs. It was the end result we wanted, if not the most satisfying game to play in. That said, our top 3 will probably argue that it was an excellent day as they all posted good scores to provide Colin and Barry some competition in the stats race.

Man of the Match of course went to Nick for his 100, meaning that Ben, Tim and Grant who all put in excellent performances were somewhat overshadowed.

Champagne Moment went to one of the sixes. I don’t remember if it was Timmy’s hook, NiB’s slog over cow or Mongo’s thwack over the bowlers head. All good hits though. It also meant that Ben is the only member of the top 6 not to have hit a six this season!

Pig’s Ear went to Barry for attempting some rather risky footwork on a ball thrown in from the boundary. He ended up kicking it about 30 yards away and injuring his shin. Ian also had a nomination for his first baller which amused Chaz greatly.
The only other thing of note was Chaz booting Liam’s plastic football over a neighbour’s fence and being forced to go round and ask for it back.