Saturday arrived and the forecast looked good for our first cup game of the season, in the Airey Cup. Having reached the final of the Telegraph Cup last year, but unfortunately finished second, we were keen to begin another good run in the Cup format. Our opposition for the day were Faringdon, who we hadn’t played for a number of years due to the disparity in levels between the two clubs. Thanks to our rise up the leagues in the last few years we now share the same league as Faringdon, so the Cup game would at least prove to provide us with an indication of the quality of the opposition for the league games later in the season.

Upon arrival to the ground both teams took to the middle to inspect the wicket, which as normal was in great nick. Wantage followed this up by getting straight into fielding drills for a warm up, whilst Faringdon opted for the more “England” style of playing a small sided game of football. Then it was time for the toss, which Barry won and decided we would have a bat first on a good looking wicket.

The game started just ahead of schedule with Mike and Chappers opening the batting for Wantage. The first couple of overs were negotiated without too much trouble, both opening bowlers getting a hint of movement. Eventually it was the opening bowler Oglesby from the road end that did for Chappers in the fourth over; mixing up some well pitched up deliveries with the odd short ball thrown in. It was the latter that did for Chappers, with one that elevated quickly flicked his glove and caught his shoulder on its way through, before ballooning up to the keeper to take the easiest of catches behind the stumps. This saw skipper Barry come out to the middle to join Mike. Barry started well with some solid defence and knocking the ball into gaps to take a couple of singles. But in the eighth over Barry was also victim to Oglesby receiving a well pitched up delivery that moved in, beat the bat and hit middle stump half way up, leaving Wantage 16-2.

The absence of a number of regular top four batsmen due to personal commitments Dave Summersbee, promoted to number four, walked to the crease to join Mike. Mike was playing some very solid cricket, punishing the bad balls and defending or leaving the alone balls that didn’t allow him to play shots without risking his wicket. On the other hand Dave was struggling to get Oglesby and first change bowler Tomes away, with both digging the short ball in on numerous occasions and Dave wafting his bat at the ball without a successful connection.

Having put on 23 runs together Mike was then caught behind having got a faint edge to the Faringdon wicketkeeper. With the run rate at just over two an over Bramley came to the crease and provided a bit of impetus to the innings scoring a number of well needed boundaries off the first change bowler from the road end, Giles. Due to age restrictions Tomes had soon bowled his allocation of overs for the spell, so Faringdon made a change bringing on spinner Robertshaw. Although the first couple of balls were a little lose, Robertshaw was soon bowling well, varying his flight and speed of delivery although not getting much turn. Then came a moment of controversy, Robertshaw bowling a ball to Dave which clipped his font foot and was held by the slip; Faringdon were adamant it had hit his bat but the umpire was unmoved and agreed it had hit the toe. The next couple of overs passed and Wantage had made it to drinks at the halfway point three down for only 53 runs on the board.

As often is the case, drinks brings a wicket, only three overs later Bramley trying to work one to the leg side, missed the ball and was wrapped on the pads trapped LBW for a useful 18 runs. IC came and soon went having only faced a couple of balls, getting a faint edge off Robertshaw to the keeper. This brought Steve “Birthday Boy” Pritchard to the crease, who was off the mark quickly with a single into the cover side. Dave tried the same ploy only a couple of balls later calling through Pritchard for a quick single (which may or may not have been there), the fielder in the covers picking the ball up neatly and dispatching it into the keepers glovers with Pritch caught a foot short of his ground. This sent Mabbs in who was looking in good touch again following some useful runs he had scored the previous week, taking nicely to Giles who had been bowling very tightly, hitting three boundaries in one over, leading the Faringdon skipper to remove his bowler from the fray.

Dave on the other hand was still scoring at very slow rate and finally notched up his first boundary of the innings in the 32nd over (his 68th ball faced), which was greeted by sarcastic applause from the sidelines. Mabbs hit a couple more nice shots but was caught out when trying to work a ball off his legs which hit him on the thigh, but the umpire felt it merited raising his finger. Mabbs walking away rubbing his leg the whole way off the field. This meant Grant joined Dave in the middle at 99-7, wielding Chappers’ bat as Dave was borrowing his.

With only 10 overs left in the innings there was a clear need to increase the rate, this meant Dave and Grant kept busy between the wickets looking for singles and running hard for a number of twos and threes. Grant hitting a couple of boundaries to help him nearly catch up with Dave in the scorebook. After an unsuccessful short spell from the opener Hamer, going at a run a ball in four overs, Tomes had returned to bowl from the road end joining Oglesby to finish off the overs for Faringdon. As he did in his first spell he was keen to bowl the sort ball more often than not, which initially both batsmen were struggling to make contact with, but then from nowhere Dave and Grant produced what was later described by Harvester as “cricket porn”. Dave scoring boundaries playing the pull shot off Tomes four times, including walking down the wicket to the bowler and hitting a huge six square of the wicket over a tree and into the field. Grant followed this up by hitting Oglesby for a six over midwicket and Dave also dispatching the same bowler for six straight down the ground. It was Dave and Grant that saw Wantage through to the end of the innings putting on 78 together in the last 10 overs with Dave and Grant finishing not out 61 and 34 respectively. This meant the final score had reached a potentially defendable 177-7 after the 45 overs had been completed.

After a short and well needed break for tea, the Faringdon openers took to the field. Grant and Mabbs opened the bowling for Wantage both bowling very tight spells, with various deliveries deemed probably too good to get an edge by the batsmen. They were both replaced after short five and four over spells respectively by Ajay and Mr Harvey. Ajay struggled with both line and length in a short spell and was replaced by Mike at the field end. The decision by the skipper to make a change had an immediate impact, Mike bowling one a little fuller which nipped back and hit the Faringdon opener plumb in front of his stumps. As often is the case one brings two with Mike again producing some magic in his next over; this time for the other opener to edge the ball finely for Chappers to eventually collect after juggling the ball not once, not twice but three times.

At the other end Harvester was bowling some excellent stuff going for only four runs in his first spell of four overs. Skipper Barry was sticking to his strategy of short spells for the bowlers and brought on birthday boy Pritch, everyone (none more so than Dave) hoping he would have more joy with the ball than the bat. Unfortunately it didn’t start well, bowling a few short balls which the batsmen got stuck into. At the same time Barry brought himself into the attack replacing Mike and with his third ball made the breakthrough with the number three batsman edging behind for Chappers to collect at the first attempt leaving the visitors 59-3 off 23 overs.

On the sidelines it appeared the FA Cup Final was taking more of the opposition’s attention than the cricket. The departure of the number three batsman saw Nigel Hume in a bright yellow helmet come to the crease, who immediately took to Barry’s bowling hitting three fours in one over. It appeared Hume was eager to get the game finished so he could watch the football, but he went for one blow too many, spooning a delivery from Barry into the skies which Dave ran around and got underneath to take the catch. The Faringdon number six batsman Giles joined Oglesby at the crease and immediately went at the ball hard off the bowling both of Pritchard and Barry. Barry brought himself off and Grant back on, which allowed for the interesting contest from the first innings between Grant and Oglesby to continue, but this time the former with ball in hand. It was Grant who had the last laugh celebrating with a “Freddie Flintoff” style fist pump, bowling a peach of a delivery which moved in and clipped off stump.

Tomes joined Giles in the middle and it was clear that the big wicket was that of the Giles. But he continued to play his shots, scoring quickly and bringing the required run rate down significantly. Barry tried changing up the bowling a number of times in but it didn’t matter who the bowler was Giles still took them on hitting a number of sixes over midwicket and mid-on regions off Harvester, Pritchard and Grant. Eventually Faringdon wrapped up the match winning by 5 wickets with just over two overs to spare; with Giles the clear game changer in the Faringdon line-up. On the plus side, at least this season we won’t have to worry about Sunday Cup games for the rest of the season and can now concentrate on working on our position in the league.

In the awards for the day Champane Moment went to Dave for the huge six he pulled into the field; with the other nomination for Grants six. Pigs ear went to Ajay for his wide which was caught at slip by Mike; with nominations for Dave for running out Pritch on his birthday, Dave for forgetting milk and Barry’s misfield in the covers. Man of the match was won by Dave for his 61 not out, with other nominations for Mike and Grant. TFC went to a classic game of rock, paper scissors between IC and Steve “birthday boy” Pritchard, which the latter won and now has the honour of being fines master for the next two weeks as we have no game next week.

– Dave “Beater” Summersbee