An early meeting up the club saw a few hungover faces, but everyone was in good spirits for the game against Brill, which was begun at 12:30 to allow us to get back for PicNic’s wedding in the evening. We arrived after driving to the wrong side of the ground, and were surprised to see a damp pitch which wouldn’t have looked out of place at the Glastonbury festival. There was a radio recording going on next door to our changing room, and the next-door-toilet was a brutal assault on the nose even by Wantage standards, but none of this really mattered once the coin was tossed and Colin chose, quite sensibly, to field.
Ryan opened the bowling, and played the Duncan Wooloff role almost to perfection, as he kept a tight line and didn’t give anything away throughout his twelve over spell. The only thing which let you forget it wasn’t Duncan was the lack of complaining about “not getting the wickets he deserved”! He did, in fact, take 2, bowling someone with a yorker early on and forcing a catch to NiB at cover. At the other end, Grant bowled tightly for most of 8 overs, only one over getting a bit of tap as he let fly with 5 wides and got hit for a couple of fours.
Brill’s opener Fitsell was scoring slowly but clinging tightly to his wicket, so the scoring rate remained between two and three an over even as Mabbs came on to replace Grant. Ryan finished his spell after only going for 20 and immediately Chaz got a wicket as he came on to replace him, Ryan taking the catch at mid-wicket. Chaz began to dominate proceedings as his recent wicket-capturing form continued and he tore through the Brill middle order, getting the left handed Mansfield caught and bowled and Judd well caught by Mabbs at point. Only a fine catch at mid-wicket by Barry off a very ill looking Mabbs interrupted “Charlie’s” dominance. Mabbs was performing wonders, considering every other ball he was hacking up yards of luminous green phlegm. He was strictly banned from shining the ball with his mucus and high fives were off the menu lest we caught his plague, so elbows were the weapon of choice for congratulations.
Barry eventually replaced him, and although he failed to get a decision on a caught behind, he struck soon after, getting Green LBW, and then a caught and bowled next over. In the meantime, despite getting struck for two mighty sixes by Kavanagh, Chaz saw off the innings, taking an excellent 5-28 and deserving the majority of our bowling plaudits. Ryan, displaying a cricketing knowledge beyond his age, declared that the total of 117 was actually pretty competitive as the pitch was, as one of the Brill batsmen declared, a “pudding”, with variable bounce and the potential to break things. NiB was to discover this to his cost in our innings.
Ben and NiB opened as usual, and looked pretty settled until Ben was unlucky to poke behind off his legs, before Colin was caught behind. He felt he had edged into the ground but the umpire, 11 Brill players, NiB at the other end and most of the Wantage team felt he probably hadn’t. So having scored 99* in the return game he was unfortunately unable to make a century for the season against Brill!
Barry was next in and looked confident and assured as usual, but took on one too many shots and was well caught at cover and suddenly Brill’s total looked a long way away, especially once Ryan had edged to slip. Ian played some airy shots in a style as far removed from NiB as possible, and it was not a great surprise when he was bowled by a good yorker from Kavanagh, who was bowling a tight spell and according to Brill’s own report deserved some luck for a change. Dave Somerset was next in and kept a cool head as he usually does in these situations, adding 12 good runs in a fine partnership with NiB which steadied the ship somewhat although when he was also out bowled to a full toss things were looking very dodgy with 40 runs still required.
Stewie and Chaz both fell for ducks although both at least survived a few overs each, giving NiB the chance to extend his run scoring. The adrenaline was pumping hard now, as he later revealed he no longer felt the pain in his thumb suffered from an injury in the field and his new bat had its virginity taken after he cracked his faithful old Newbury. Grant entered the fray with about 30 needed for victory and looked calm and assured, which was more than could be said for his watching team-mates. Nick began to hit the bad ball hard and true as he dominated proceedings, playing some excellent flicks off his pads over square leg, and a couple of excellent off side dabs. All this despite wearing a ball on the helmet, after a good length ball leapt up and took him in the head. It was to the dump with the helmet, and Colin’s green lid at least got the chance to spend some quality time in the middle as NiB wore it to finish his innings. Grant was oozing confidence by now and between him and Nick they took us to within 15 before both were dropped in the space of 6 balls. Grant tested the fielder at cow corner before NiB was dropped by Brill’s sub fielder (on after an emergency call out for Brill’s keeper) at mid-off in what would prove to be crucial fashion.
As it happened, Nick was still there to slam a full toss over backward square for six off the 4th ball of the 43rd over to take us to victory. The Wantage players were ecstatic, even Dave despite the ball cannoning into his car. NiB looked delighted in the middle as he threw his arms up in the air in an unusually dramatic display of emotion and we were relieved and happy to come away from the wind turbine-assisted match with 28 points.
We didn’t hang around for pleasantries although Brill were an excellent bunch who played cricket in the right spirit (batsmen who walked! A rarity for the season) and certainly on this evidence don’t deserve to be in the relegation zone. Instead we were off to shower and suit-up in preparation for the important event of a Wantage CC wedding! Even Toby the plastic Australian turned up and a good time was had by all. Barry performed a memorable dance to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”, the Eton Mess on offer was astonishingly good, and Timmy Lane and Chaz brought out their braces. Ping, Pang, Pong was also enjoyed by an extensive section of the Wantage playing staff and supporters, although Barry was less impressed, declaring “Why are you all playing Chinese games when in ten years we’ll all be able to play Chinese games?!”. I’m sure there was some logic in there somewhere. He soon left to eat buffet straight from the table with his fingers.
The festivities were finished with some sprinkler dancing as Nick and Kerry began their life as a married couple – let’s just hope they don’t give up on doing teas!
Motm: NiB, obviously, for a brilliant 58* which won us the match. Chaz’s 5-for was also worth mentioning.
Pig’s Ear: Colin for his complaints about his dismissal.
Champagne Moment: Undoubtedly the winning runs, which could have had Dave’s windscreen out if it had only gone another metre!