One of our longest trips of the season, to just South of Banbury, meant an early start to the day for the team – although rarely can there have been as few as four people meeting up the club for car pooling. In any case, after a journey up the M40 the majority of the team rocked up to the ground in good spirits, noting the grassy wicket. Ryan, whose own journey was somewhat shorter, mused that his ‘audition’ for his most local team might see him get a bit out of the pitch, whilst Barry suggested the dry, grassy state of the pitch might even see Chief get some turn (most agreed this was unlikely, not because Chief was unlikely to get turn so much as because he wasn’t playing). In the event, we’d have to wait til later to see what the pitch would do for us, because Barry lost the toss and we were put into bat.

Richard and Colin opened up to a very attacking field, with a packed slip cordon and two close catchers on the off side, which offered little protection to the short boundary on one side. Colin in particular made great use of the gaps in the field, racing along to 30 in double quick time, whilst Chappers unfortunately misread the pace of a full toss when on 8, and succeeded in plonking it to mid on instead of through mid-wicket for a boundary. This left him in some distress, although not as much distress as when he subsequently lost an enraged argument with the changing room door, and suffered a hole in his boot, sock, and indeed his foot. Luckily Dave Spencer had a first aid kit and was able to patch him up. Meanwhile, Dave Summersknee went in at three. The runs began to dry up a little as the field was dropped back and both batsman struggled to dominate the change bowlers, particularly the Broughton spinner. Colin did, however, bring up a deserved 50 and together they built a nice platform before Colin was stumped on 57 by a good piece of work from the Broughton ‘keeper.

That brought Mikey to the crease, in some good form after last week, but he soon lost Dave as his partner, who was LBW for 26. Instead, Barry came in at 5 and the two brought some faster momentum to the innings, running well between the wickets, and taking on the toiling Broughton fielders. Barry departed trying to despatch a full straight one and was bowled for 31, which brought Ian to the crease, replete with new bat, untested in any cricketing conditions, net or otherwise. He was able to continue Mike and Barry’s positive approach, although Mikey was somehow out stumped when the ball ricocheted off the wicket keepers pads and on to the stumps from a ball that went down the leg-side. “I can’t even celebrate that,” said the Broughton keeper, but Mikey had to trudge off nevertheless, the most memorable moment of his innings a top edged six over mid-wicket to the short boundary.

From there, IC put on a succession of partnerships, with Spence, Joey Jugs and Ryan which saw the runs pile up. A selection of full blooded drives and sweeps saw him to a quickfire 68, the most memorable part of which was an enormous six over the trees at long-on. With admirable support from the other batsman, the Wantage score was lifted to 262, although a procession of three wickets off the last four balls of the game took a little bit of the gloss off. It also provided a highly amusing incident where Pritchard was run-out off his first ball, although he was of the opinion that the decision was harsh. Tea was taken in good spirits as we contemplated our good batting performance.

Our bowling performance began excellently, with Barry taking an excellent catch at second slip off Ryan, before Grant castled the other opener and Mikey, on early after an injury to Ryan,also joined the act to leave Broughton at 10-3. This rather knocked the stuffing out of any potential run chase, although the fourth wicket stand had a bit more staying power. The story of the innings then became ‘dropped catches win matches’, as Dave began the festivities with a couple at mid-off – one very tough running around the bowler and diving to his right, the other a sitter straight at him.

Grant ended his spell and was replaced by Barry, and together he and Mikey bowled in tandem for a number of overs, tightening the screw and giving very little away. The exception was one ball from Barry which was short, down leg, and rightfully given the treatment for four – only to be followed up by some questionable verbals from Barry and an immediate wicket, Barry bowling Parsons for 24. In the meantime, catching chances were spurned by Chappers (a bizarre one-handed effort at a looping one at gully), Colin (one which zipped through off Mikey and was fairly tough) and Ian (a sitter at silly mid-off). Given the game at this point was meandering to a very likely conclusion, as Mikey continued to take wickets, some of the attitude towards the fielding left a little to be desired – although in fairness there was still a few bits of decent ground fielding, particularly in the covers by Joey.

There was still time for some more dropping action – Colin with a diving chance off Barry, Mikey with a chance driven back at him off his own bowling (which eventually cost him a 5-for) and Grant at silly mid-off. The succession of drops led one of the Broughton batsmen to suggest that our fielding was “worse than theirs”. It was hard to argue.

With Mikey finishing a full 12-over spell with excellent and well-deserved figures of 4-25 it was left to Steve Pritchard to try and prise out the remaining Broughton wicket. He did the hard work, causing the batsman to dolly one up in the air off the leading edge to Ian at gully. “Don’t drop it!” yelled Barry from nearby, clearly assuming no one would drop such a simple chance. To jeers, cheers and incredulous looks, the ball somewhat inevitably hit the floor, so Pritch’s miserable day was compounded, especially when the next ball the same batsman powered one through the leg-side for 4. Instead, it was Joe (who had the ball for a grand total of two deliveries) who had the batsman top edge one over the keeper, and a rare safe pair of hands was found in Ryan, who took the catch running round from slip and the win was completed by 182 runs.

All in all, an excellent batting performance and an excellent win, marred only by some truly abysmal catching in the field. At least the fines pot saw some healthy weight gain.

Champagne Moment was a not particularly tight affair, with two nominations. Ian’s 6 into the road over long-on ousted Barry’s slip catch in the first over of the Broughton innings.

Pig’s Ear was a much more tightly fought affair, with a number of nominations, including Ian’s 10th wicket drop, Chappers’ drop, Chappers’ foot-injuring strop, Pritch running himself out first ball, Joe holding up our innings by forgetting to wear appropriate underwear for batting and having to sort himself out, and Dave Summersbee’s second drop at mid-off. Chappers eventually took the honours.

Man of the Match had four nominees – IC for his runs, Colin for his runs and a strong keeping performance on a difficult pitch, Barry for his momentum-inducing 31 and 3-15, and Mikey for 20 runs and 4-25. Eventually Mikey, Baz and Ian had a three-way (hahahahahaha) Paper/Scissors/Rock game which eventually saw Barry controversially crowned the winner.

TFC was hotly contested, with Chappers, Spence, Pritch, and Ryan all coming under scrutiny. Eventually Pritch won out, and he immediately chose Mike as fines secretary for the following match. Uh-oh…