After our cricketing misdemeanours against Chesterton, we needed a good performance against West Witney to get back on track. Things didn’t quite go to plan, however, as the Witney opening pair put on a hundred opening stand. Although Ryan and Duncan kept things tight to begin with, runs were coming and not many chances were being created. A couple of swings flew out of the reach of point but in reality there were no clear cut chances, and when Duncan “Wooly Mammoth” Wooloff pulled up with a groin strain after 7.3 overs it looked like we could struggle to get the wickets. That half over was expertly finished with 3 dot balls by Olly Taylor, who, we decided, is clearly so awesome at bowling that at that point he hadn’t been for a single run in League cricket all season. It also gave Summerset the chance to redeem himself as a sub fielder after not scoring any runs on Friday night (wink, wink).

James Mabbs and Barry took over bowling duties and kept things tight, again forcing some pokes just out of the reach of fielders, including a diving effort by Ryan at deep cover which would have been a champagne moment contender if he’d pulled it off. Eventually Ab Mabbs’ slower ball foxed Van Vuuren into slicing to Ian at gully and Witney were 110-1, although the run rate was no more than 4 an over at any point. Like taking the first trip to the toilet during a night on the sauce, the seal was broken and wickets then began to fall steadily as we wrestled back control. Barry saw for the other opener, Smith, by forcing an outside edge to point, where Ian took another catch, Wantage finally getting the deserved wicket after a few shots which another day could have nestled in the fielders’ hands a bit earlier.

Barry and Mabbs’ good work continued and Mabbs saw for the number three with a quicker ball. As his spell went on he began to really hit his straps and find some genuine pace, which was good news for us if not for Witney. That said, a twelve over spell must have been a tiring effort in the afternoon sun! Barry saw for another batsman with another slice to point where Ian “ball magnet” Challand took his third of the afternoon. Ben graciously pointed out that he was “bound to drop one soon” which proved the case as a spinning low chance was just missed soon afterwards. However the runs were at a premium as Barry finished his spell with 3-54 and Mabbs with 2-42. Colin then controversially called on Ryan to do some death bowling, but he struggled with his length and an injured leg so Colin decided to replace him with “5-for last week” Grant Summersbee. Grant got one deserved wicket in his 3 overs, another catch by Ian at cover after some telepathic calling between him and Barry. Grant and brother Dave were also involved in a sterling run out, which was good to see work out after our practicing last Thursday.

Witney finished their innings on 175-7, which looked to be slightly inadequate on a good batting pitch, especially after an opening partnership of over 100. However, they could take heart as they were one of very few teams to have wickets in hand at the end of an innings against us. Teas were provided by Ian (or at least he brought the food, even if he didn’t make most of it!) and were rated at a very solid 4.5 out of 5 teapots, the only sour note being no rocket ice lollies and a slightly anaemic cuppa. Pasta and potato salad though. And squirty cream.

With star opener NiB away, opening duties fell to Ryan, and he looked very positive, playing some very strong front foot drives to keep the scoring ticking along. With Ben playing a sensible anchor role at the other end, seeing out Witney’s leading bowler Clutterbuck, they put on a good 40ish before Ben was unluckily bowled off his pad from a ball going down leg. Most agreed it was a very unfortunate dismissal although not Ben’s figure of venom for the afternoon who decreed it “just a good ball”.

Ryan was caught off a full toss for a well-made 30 and Tim didn’t hang around for long before edging behind, so with Barry and Colin at the wicket we were potentially at a turning point in the game. Fortunately both were seeing the ball well, particularly Barry who is in excellent form at the moment. Colin was out as drinks were due, failing to jab down on a yorker from Witney’s resident slow bowler, which brought Ian to the crease at 80-4. He scratched around in unusual fashion, not seeing the ball too well, but fortunately Barry was seeing the ball well enough for two batsmen, and he played some excellent shots to take him over 50, including 17 off one over which really turned the game in our favour. Ian eventually fell for 19 after a partnership of 59 with Barry and Oatibix joined the fray. He added 7 before being bowled by the returning quick Ollivier, but Mabbs saw it through with Barry to lead us to a win by 4 wickets. Barry finishing on 81 not out.

Champagne Moment went to Summerset for his run out, which was excellent work. Strangely there were very few actual moments which took the breath away despite it being a pretty good all round performance.
Pig’s Ear went to Colin for an absolute metric ton of balls ups. To quickly document: Breaking the tractor. Ringing Ian at 11am saying “Oh no, I told you to do teas on Sunday but I actually need them today” only to discover that Ian already knew they were due for Saturday. Trying to twizzle his bat between overs and dropping it at his feet. Completely missing the point of some sort of “aid” joke. His socks were overlooked at the time, but watching him putting two pairs on each foot, all of them with more holes than a Coronation Street plot was a breathtaking sight.
MotM: Inexplicably this went to Ian for a few catches and some teas which he wasn’t even responsible for. Barry probably ought to have won it if we’re honest. Upon learning of the result he declared “war” on Colin!
Net Result: 28 points, only missing a couple of bowling points. Timmy doing the slowest boundary marker collection in history was an entertaining watch too.