Saturday started like so many have done in this year; rushing from the house to the car trying not to get too wet before driving to the ground with the windscreen wipers on. With most people at the ground and only two bags in the changing room the optimism of the game going ahead was clearly lacking.
With the rain falling gently the umpires declared that the game would be reduced to 25 overs if any play was possible. Not long after the rain stopped and the new covers were removed to reveal a track in good condition, Ian won the toss and decided to bowl first. Mikey “lucky to be alive” Konschel opened up from the northern end getting a wicket with his third ball to put Wantage on the front foot. His opening partner was Grant “decide my own fines” Summersbee who bowled a fantastic spell of 7-1-2-27 including an excellent caught and bowled. He should have had at least one more if Barry “accents” Martin had caught a dolly at deep cover. A possible snick through to Colin “coke styled” Mercer could easily have been given on another day.
After Mikey started to get carted round the park the skipper decided it was time for the introduction of James “bring your own tea” Mabbett. A good opening couple of overs including a sharp catch from Timmy “Hodor” Lane at cover and a brief rain break, were followed by some punishment from Wescott’s attacking left hander at number 5 who took a liking to the pitched up ball. James ending with figures of 4-0-1-23.
Taking over from Grant, Barry started a miserly spell which importantly included the wicket of the aforementioned batsmen caught by Duncan “slower than a fifteen year old spinner” Wooloff. That wicket allowed Wantage to turn the screw with Duncan taking over from James for a two over spell including a second catch for Grant, to finish with figures of 2-1-1-11. With Barry still bowling an unusual lack of four balls Mikey was brought back on to attack the tail. His first ball clean bowled the batsman before he started on a new plan of get the batsman to hit it to Ian “twinkle toes” Challand at mid-off for the last two wickets. Mikey took the last wicket in the final over as Westcott (who only had 10) finished with the score on 100. His figures were 6.1-0-4-28 while Barry at the other end finished with 5-0-1-9. A good bowling effort had left us chasing what we thought was a below par score for an all-important win.
Teas were provided by Picnic and were accompanied by a little bit of Home Alone. Duncan looked very proud of his ham and coronation chicken sandwich.
Opening the batting were Colin and Mikey to a chorus from the middle order of “we won’t be required today”. After a tidy opening over Mikey got to face his third ball which he duly nicked straight to slip who held on to give Westcott the start they needed. Barry joined Colin at the crease and as the pressure increased Colin punched one out to cover to be caught, leaving Wantage at 7-2. Dave “too middle class for Wantage” Spencer arrived at the crease and set about rebuilding with Barry until he was caught behind going back to one. With the score on 25-3 and Timmy heading off to join Barry, there were some murmurs about needing a partnership but all too soon Timmy had been bowled and Wantage were struggling on 39-4 in the 12th over. Next to join Barry was Richard “left the jockstrap by the bed” Chapman with only sixteen balls from the openers left. No more wickets fell to the openers but spells of 7-1-0-25 for Waqaz and 7-1-4-17 for Hussain left Wantage requiring 5 an over from the remaining 11 overs.
Having taken four off the fifteenth over and already having four from the sixteenth over Barry missed a straight one for 19 leaving Wantage teetering at 55-5. Ian strode out to the middle with a change of willow hoping for a change of fortune. Things started well as he picked up one off the final ball to leave us needing 45 to win from nine overs. That soon became 45 to win from eight overs as a combination of good bowling and trying to over hit resulted in no runs and the run rate climbing. A square drive for 3 at the start of the next over was followed by more dot balls before a discussion between the batsmen to change the emphasis and push the singles. A run off the final ball was followed by six singles in the next over, and we began to get some momentum going. 35 required from 36.
The twentieth over was probably the turning point in the game, a single off the first ball was followed by a dot, the following ball was fumbled down the leg side allowing a bye and bringing Richard back on strike. The following two balls were hit for four, one over extra cover the other mistimed but clearing mid-off. All of a sudden Westcott heads were down and Wantage were on top. A two from the last ball meant Wantage now needed 23 from 30. The next over started with two singles from the first four balls before Ian managed to find the boundary off the last two balls. 13 needed from 24; Wantage now favourites. The left-armer moved to bowl over the wicket and after a single and two extras Ian was bowled for 15 off the fifth ball of the over. James came out to join Richard with 10 required from 19 and immediately got off the mark with a quick single. The first ball of the twenty third over James picked up three to bring Richard back on strike. A four off the next ball through first slip left a wantage needing 2 to win from 16 balls. Unfortunately Richard was bowled for 29 next ball but surely the game couldn’t be lost from 99-7?
Stewart “breathing exercises” Bulpitt was next in and was cleaned up first ball bringing in Duncan who survived the remaining two balls of the over, 2 from 12 required. James played the first two balls of the twenty fourth over very watchfully before pushing hard at one that went straight to short cover who made a mess of catching it but clung on, 99-9. Out strode Grant, a luxury to have someone as capable with the bat at 11 but that did not stop Ian and Colin being unable to watch. First ball Grant pushed it through cover and as screams came from the boundary they grabbed a single to tie the game up. One run needed from eight balls, but Duncan was not going to hang around getting nervous. Planting his foot he swiped the ball square on the leg side, the ball looped up and for a moment everyone on the sidelines held their breath before seeing the ball clear the fielders.
A tense game but a good win for Wantage in the end. Champagne moment went to Timmy for his catch with nominations for Grant’s caught and bowler, and Ian for a balletic piece of fielding down by the sightscreen. Man of the match went to Richard for his match winning innings of 29, there were also nominations for Grant and Mikey for their bowling. Pig’s ear went to Barry for breaking everything (namely a bench and some guttering) and TFC went to Colin because it was about time.