Excellent weather and a decimated team were the talk of the day as Chesterton came to town for our fifth game against them in two years. We had struggled to ten players, although Nordic kindly agreed to field for an hour despite being a busy man in the midst of organising a party. It was a crying shame that as a club we couldn’t get eleven men out for our biggest match of the season; something which looks likely for the rest of the season as well. Colin won the toss, however (“it’s a miracle” – noted the scorebook) and chose to field.
Ryan and Mabbs opened the bowling and both bowled excellently, with very little short stuff and there were two early deserved wickets. Ryan forced two edges in two balls; the first flew for four and the second nestled nicely in Colin’s keeping gloves and we were away. When Ian took a catch diving forward at mid-off next over we were really in the driving seat. The bowling remained tight as Baz replaced Mabbs after a short four-over spell (necessary in the scorching heat) and we attacked the batsmen hard. Colin took another catch and then we got a controversial wicket when Lewis appeared to edge into his pad and behind for Colin to grasp, diving forward. The umpire put his finger up after some consultation between he and the square leg umpire, much to the anger of the batsman.


That wasn’t to worry us, however, as we continued our good start throughout the innings. Lee Price hit some customary thwacks including a six into the field off Mabbs, and although there were a couple of tough catches dropped; a caught and bowled chance each for Barry and Mabbs, and a diving chance at mid-off by Ian we still felt our performance was strong. This was backed up by our regular wicket taking, including a number of catches behind the wicket for Colin, off Will and Baz. Dave also added to his growing reputation as a mid-on fielder, gaining the nickname “Floyd” as he became another brick in the wall which was first put up last week at Charlbury.


Ian took over from Barry after an eleven over spell, and was hoiked for six over cow corner. This was immediately followed by a stumping, after the batsmen tried the same thing again. Colin did his best to miss the chance by dummying the stumping, but luckily made contact on the second go and we had Chesterton 8 down.
Ian bowled left-hander Morse the following over and Ryan cleaned up Appleton to finish Chesterton’s innings on 141 all out. There were 2 wickets for each of our 5 bowlers and 5 victims for Colin behind the stumps. All in all it was one of our best fielding and bowling performances this year (particularly considering we had ten men for all but an hour of the innings) so we were extremely pleased with the first part of the match. Only 37 overs had been bowled so Chesterton were understandably keen to have a few overs at us before tea; something which was of great benefit to them and little to us. Still, despite one scare when NiB was dropped at mid-on, he and Mabbs saw us through to tea at 16-0 and we were sitting pretty, confident that good things could happen.


Unfortunately Appleton was to be our nemesis again. Despite a couple of batsmen looking comfortable against him (particularly James) as a whole we looked clueless against his brand of skiddy attacking bowling. He tore the heart out of our middle order with Barry, Ryan and Colin going for a combined 8 runs between them and we simply had no answer. A couple of moments of excitement occurred as Ian belted a full toss over the nets in the far corner for six and lost the ball in the process off the off-spinner, and OT hit two belting cover drives off Appleton, but too many people gave their wickets away too easily as we slipped to 60-odd for 5.


At this point Colin gave Steve Bramley the call back, hoping he could come and bat at eleven. This he agreed to do, and he rocked up with us 7 down to great controversy. There had already been plenty of hot air out in the middle, most of which was to do with the weather, but it got even hotter when Dave mentioned to the umpires that Steve would be back to bat. The umpires found no reason in the rule book not to let this occur but one or two of the Chesterton players were understandably less gracious, although Steve was on our teamsheet, and his only crime had seemingly been to have gone missing for long enough for Chesterton to have a nice extra gap in the field when they were batting.


Anyway, before he went out to bat, we had some more wickets to lose, and after Will played on from Appleton PicNic entered the fray for his first Saturday bat of the season. If only we had put him in earlier, for his first action was to have Jimmy Appleton put his hamstring out; forcing him to hobble off the field supported by two of his team mates. It was a big shame for him after bowling so well although he’d have been happy with 6-20. PicNic took the opportunity to hit 9 runs, including a gloriously unorthodox on-drive for four. Alas he followed that up with a swing and a miss and was bowled, to leave our last pair Dave and Nordic at the crease.


They stayed together for a time before Nordic was run out after Dave attempted a slightly too cheeky single, so we were all out for 93, with Dave remaining not out on 4 – and also completing the unique position of having never been out against Chesterton! It was a very poor batting performance as a whole, made all the worse by the fact that we had played so well with a decimated team in the first half of the game. So it looks like the promotion race is off for this year. Best of luck to Chesterton who did enough to win this game and now sit in second place; although by their own admission they are going to be struggling to find a team themselves for the rest of the year. Perhaps Fringford fancy their chances after all!


On a more positive note, we then attended Steve’s party and got wrecked, not least due to a horrendous drinking game which involved Ian losing a lot. Colin also behaved like a massive fanny over what Ian would write in the match report for the second week in a row. Specifics are limited on what that behaviour actually entailed, unfortunately.


Champagne Moment was Ian’s 6 over the nets by the barn. Also nominated were PicNic’s on-drive smack for 4, and an exciting moment when we were awarded 5 penalty runs when the ball hit a keepers’ mask which was lying on the floor behind him.


Pig’s Ear went to Will for somehow contriving to throw the ball into the back of his own head whilst in the field. Also nominated were Colin’s dummy stumping, an overthrow by Ian which missed the strip by a good 20 yards, and a dancing misfield by Dave running round to mid-wicket.


Motm was Nordic for helping us out in adversity! Also nominated were Mabbs for a solid batting and bowling display, and Colin for his keeping. Ian wanted to vote for the team’s performance in the first half of the match, but this was vetoed.