The first weekend of August brought with it our penultimate Saturday home game of the season. It’s a good job that’s the case, since the day started with the now customary breaking of the ground maintenance equipment. This week’s culprit was Grant, who contrived to shear off the connector between the tractor and the outfield mowing blades.

Our pre-match fielding drills were well underway as the opposition arrived after their long trek from Great Horwood, and for a change the fielding looked quite convincing as most catches were taken and very few throws endangered the health of the people sat in front of the clubhouse. This momentum continued to the toss, which Colin won and elected to field after some morning showers.

The opening batsman Steve Willett immediately showed attacking intent and was keen to get stuck into any full pitched deliveries from Grant and Ryan. The other opener proved a good foil with steadier accumulation, and they ticked along at 4 an over without looking troubled. The breakthrough came off Grant, who showed admirable discipline by continuing to bowl a good length to Willett, who hit the ball to long off where Colin expertly took the catch. The other opener fell shortly afterwards as he looked to increase his scoring rate and gave Colin some more catching practice. The old adage ‘one brings two’ proved correct for this and several other occasions as wickets fell in pairs for most of the Horwood innings.

Barry then proved he’s cleverer than he looks by remembering that the number 3 batsman strongly favours the cut shot, and fields were set accordingly. He stuck around for a while and was bowled by Chaz just as he looked to be building a good platform. Most other batsmen came in and got a few runs, but we removed them before any partnerships became threatening. Highlights included an insistent Chaz taking a catch off his own bowling right in front of a startled Timmy “Simba” Lane and his ever-increasing mane, although Simba stole the limelight later on with a diving catch at gully that was worthy of any occasion. Chaz took two wickets in two balls to reduce the opposition to 122 for 8, and with the first ball of his next over completely fluffed his lines by delivering a frankly awful hat-trick ball that was nearly called a wide.

The score was in the 130s as the ninth wicket was taken, and field closed in to keep the number 11 on strike. Unfortunately the number 11 was Daniel Willett, who had inherited his father’s ball-striking ability and launched Mabbs for into the car park for six. The field quickly became more standard as Willett and his skipper Robby Taylor played very well and dispensed some tap to Barry’s bowling in particular. The last ball of the innings brought the final wicket and all-important bowling point as Mabbs bowled Willett to get himself a deserved wicket and the innings closed on 175 all out. In terms of bowling figures, Chaz finally got the wickets his performances this season have deserved with 4-42, and Grant’s 2-26 of 12 with 4 maidens was also impressive.

It was squirty jam all round at tea, provided by Grant who had been press-ganged into tea duties by the skipper and provided a fine spread.

The Horwood opening bowlers came steaming in off some of the longest run-ups we’ve seen all season, and were quite a handful with the tall Waddington moving the ball away while Robby Taylor bowled off cutters at a lively pace. Ben and NiB were however unusually fluent and the scoring rate from the start was at the dizzy heights of above 3 an over. After a sparkling wicket-keeping performance with two catches and no byes, Ben was looking particularly strong on the drive but fell for 12 as he belted a ball to short extra cover and the fielder clung on to the catch as it thudded into his chest. Simba then arrived at the crease and cruised to 15 before nibbling at a tempter from the excellent Nick Glister and a sharp low catch was held at gully.

New batsman Barry used the outside edge liberally early in his innings and was somehow dropped at cover off the consistently accurate Glister. He then settled in and together with NiB took the score over 100 as they worked the ball around and pretty much ended the match as a contest. NiB was then saved the inconvenience of buying a jug when he was adjudged LBW for 46 with the score around 130. Ryan was promoted to number 5 and hit a breezy 12 before falling to a sharp catch at point, which brought the skipper to the crease to see Barry past his fifty. Colin made up for the indiscretion of a horrible heave by playing a glorious cover drive that was lapped up by the crowd, and the winning total was reached for the loss of just 4 wickets which meant that we pocketed another maximum haul of 30 points

Pig’s Ear – Grant for the tractor breakage mentioned above, which was later followed by him looking to make an intimidating throw back at the batsman, pulling out of it, and somehow ending up throwing the ball past midwicket and allowing the batsmen to run a single. Honourable mention goes to Barry who became stuck on the fence at the road end and ended up ripping a large hole in the crotch of his trousers

Champagne moment – equal votes for Timmy’s leaping catch and some fancy footwork by Ryan around the sightscreen which prevented a boundary. The yelp of surprise that preceded his tiptoeing was particularly amusing.

Man of the match – equal votes for Chaz’s 4-42 and Ben’s flawless keeping.

To settle champagne moment and MOTM there was some genuine theatre as a best of three scissors-paper-stone series was played out. You could have cut the atmosphere with a cricket stump as Timmy was either advised or snogged by Daddy Nick Burton in his contest versus Ryan, and he eventually emerged victorious to riotous celebrations. For MOTM, Ben had the unenviable task of taking on Chaz and despite some coaching he was unable to make any inroads as Chaz ran out a comfortable winner.