Finally a competitive match, even if it was a cup game against an under-strength Chippy side. Fate had dictated that for the third season in a row we would be participating in the preliminary round, and this time in a new cup with some higher quality teams in. It was therefore an early opportunity to get tested by a division three side. Chippy won the toss and made the only sensible decision in the circumstances – asking us to bat on a very damp pitch which could only get drier throughout the day.

As it turned out, the bounce was variable throughout the day, so NiB and Ryan’s positive start was very beneficial – both playing some excellent front foot drives and cuts for four. Colin continued Nick’s good work after he was bowled and then Colin and Ryan saw us through to around 70-1 before Ryan was caught at long-on trying to hit the spinner over the top. We had a good platform to build from but progress from thereon was difficult as Jarvis and Molyneux bowled some tight lines, making it tough to get the ball away. Barry was bowled playing across the line to leg, and Ian was given LBW, although it [censored] which at least gave him the opportunity to moan for the rest of the day. Olly and Dave gave Colin some good support from thereon and scored 16 and 20 respectively. However, wickets continued to fall with regularity, including Colin somehow contriving to edge a ball 4 foot up in the air, straight to the keeper, even though he was aiming to hit it to somewhere in Berkshire.

So it was that despite our good start we found ourselves struggling to 133 all out. Duncan and Grant both looked a touch unlucky to have decisions go against them but we didn’t make the best of our good start, and Chippy were definitely favourites as we took to the field after a Nick/Kerry tea of the standard good quality.

Ryan and Duncan, though, were on top form, bowling in the right areas and making life difficult for the Chippy openers. Duncan forced one to chip to Ian at cover point where he took a catch diving forward and the second wicket partnership stuck around for some time without ever getting the scoreboard ticking. The bowling and fielding was tight and there were no easy runs being given away, so it was no surprise when Grant “Handbook” Summersbee snuck one through and took our second wicket. Duncan meanwhile caused himself his traditional bowling injury, being forced to bowl his last over at even slower speed than usual after getting a troubling groin strain.

On the plus side, however, this allowed Barry to attempt to get more wickets than runs, and attempt to re-create his bowling form of the last two years. This he did expertly, with a really tight spell that brought him a deserved 6 wickets, including the key wicket of Tew who had steadied the Chippy ship with a calm and reserved 22. With him gone, however, the wickets began to tumble and we ran through the middle and lower orders. Barry bowled four of them and forced two catches, although he also dropped a caught and bowled chance when he had four wickets, to everyone’s great amusement. With two wickets to get Grant “Navarone” chased an edge to the boundary, and secured a run out with a direct hit. It was an accurate bullet-throw and it summed up how polished our fielding performance was.
Ryan replaced Grant with one wicket still required and despite a wayward beamer at about three million mph, he saw off the final wicket with his 5th ball, to polish off Chipping Norton for 65, and secure a win by 68 runs. After a mixed batting performance it was excellent to see such a tight bowling and fielding show, with barely an error in the field. Stewie kept tidily, Colin apparently did another tree impression, and Barry dropped a catch – all in all it couldn’t have gone much better.
Champagne Moment went to ‘heartthrob’ Grant for his run-out from the boundary. Dave’s six was nominated too.
Pig’s Ear went to Colin for his hilarious dismissal. Barry also got a well-deserved nomination for appealing after bowling someone out, and for his dropped catch. He also had to collect the boundary markers as punishment for his duck.
Man of the match was Ryan for his 30 runs opening the batting and fiery opening spell. Colin was nominated for top-scoring on a difficult pitch and Barry for his 6 wickets.
Net result: Wooton in Round One of the cup after winning the only preliminary fixture. Let’s hope if we get anywhere this year we can remember the selection rules and not get kicked out…