In runs Harvey, to bowl what would be the last ball of the game, he delivers, the batsman pushes forward, it’s edged and… more on that later.

7 hours earlier

With the weather set fair and the strip looking newer than a test match pitch in Bristol we were all set to take on West Ilsley in what would be the first win-lose-draw game for Wantage CC. The straw coloured wicket, and the sun blaring, made us all think it was a no-brainer to bat first. Not something our skipper had to worry about though, he didn’t have to make such a tough decision, instead deciding to toss the coin wrongly and lose the toss. Luckily, the Ilsley skipper must had had other thoughts, and on winning the toss decided to have a bowl.

Opening up for us this week were Skipper and Robbo, striding out to rapturous applause from the rest of the team. That applause continued, as Skip got the innings going straight away with a 2 off the first ball, at the other end Robbo continued his good form with the first boundary in the 2nd over. It didn’t last though, a short wide ball, that bounced more than you’d expect, certainly more than Skip expected as he got a feather of an edge through to the keeper leaving us 10-1.

In at 3 was the newly promoted Bhu, who looked solid (or at least as solid as you can on one leg), playing straight and punishing anything loose, before misjudging the handedness of the Ilsley fielder at mid on when attempting a single, to be run out by about 5 yards for 14 (24-2). This brought Spenny to the crease to join Robbo, who hadn’t scored a run the 6 overs Bhu was batting. That was about to change though, in their 60 run partnership, Robbo scored 40 of them, most of which were straight back down the ground. The partnership was not without incident though, when Robbo chipped a dolly catch up to mid on, who dropped it, in which time Rob basically ran 2, with time for a chat in the middle too, and Spenny ran 0, luckily for them both there was no catch or run out. Relatively soon after Spenny was dismissed (85-3) caught at square leg (I’m ‘reliably’ informed, I don’t know what actually happened, I wasn’t watching).

This meant the recently demoted, and entirely out of form, Colin headed out to bat in a new role at 5, just in time to enjoy Robbo bringing up his 50 (72 balls). After 13 balls, Colin finally got off the mark with an edge through wide gully for 4, clearly Robbo was so disgusted by the shot he decided to miss a straight one from the 1st change bowler and be bowled for 50 (96-4). A fine base for the innings, and for the middle / lower order to push the total along.

Which they did, Bingo started well before being deceived by Charrington the 2nd change bowler (more on him later), losing his off stump to a snorter of a dipping delivery (107-5). This brought Challand out to bat, who put on a solid 50 run partnership with Colin, keeping the run rate ticking along at 5-6 an over, with plenty of boundaries and good running meant that 200 was starting to look a possibility. Challand mistimed a drive on 21 and was caught at long off (157-6), meaning it was time for Mabbs to take strike, with Father Mabbs umpiring, what could go wrong? Obviously, Mabbs missing a straight one second ball, and Father Mabbs having no choice but to raise the finger and give the plumb as plumb come LBW (158-7).

Coming out to bat at 8 was Harvey, with us needing another 42 off the last 6 overs to hit that 200 mark. With Will managing to tame his aggression, and Colin hitting boundaries on the strangely unprotected leg side the score raced along to 198-7 off 44 overs. Colin bringing up his 50 in 52 balls. So 2 needed in the last over to get the next batting point, the capacity crowd weren’t impressed when Will was caught at long off for 4, and refused to run to make sure he crossed so Colin would be on strike.

Out strode Chief, to christen the new bat, and hopefully get us over the 200 line. As if it was ever in doubt, after leaving his first ball for a wide, he glanced the second ball wide of gully and ran a 3, to take the score over 200. We finished on 205-8, with Chief 5 not out and Colin 61 not out.

As is now customary, we ate our own tea, and started to pondered fielding tactics, with the new format rules meaning we were contemplating how we were going to bowl Ilsley out, or face it being a draw.

Will and Mabbs opened up, tight as always, restricting Ilsley to 16 off the first 7 overs, Will bowling 3 maidens to start. It took until the 10th over to get the first wicket, when Walker, one of the opening lefties chipped a loose drive up to Skip at mid off, who had to run round and take a good sliding catch (26-1). Not a lot happened then for a while, the remaining lefty opener looking solid but undramatic, until the change of pace at least. To Chief’s first over he decided to run down the pitch 4 times and smash 12 off the over. The change at the other end, bringing on Challand, went much better, taking a wicket first ball (52-2). That should probably be where we stop talking about IC’s bowling, his first over went for 1, his next 2 went for 34.

Chief dismissed the #4 caught by Robbo at point (76-3).

Another change by skipper to bring Colin on to replace IC went well, took him 3 balls to get a wicket, bowling the aggressive number 5 batsman for 23 (105-4). At this stage, the game was very much in the balance, looking like the game revolved around the opening leftie who’d only given one half chance for a run out, where a more accurate throw to the keeper by Skipper might have lead to a run out. The rest of Colin’s overs went a similar way to IC’s, the Ilsley skipper hitting a big six, hitting one of the new houses.

The run rate had increased significantly, and with the score on 150 odd for 4 off 25, Skipper turned back to his opening bowlers. It was looking unlikely that the game was going to go the distance in terms of overs, if we were going to win we’d need to bowl them out. And cue the drama. In Mabb’s first over back, the Ilsley skipper got a big outside edge on a wide drive, which Colin caught one handed, jumping, above his head at 2nd slip (156-5). A couple of overs later Will got in on the wicket action, with the crucial wicket of the opener, pitching one up to him and watching with much enjoyment as he played all round the straight ball and was bowled for 77 (162-6). Fair to say at this point, we started to feel like we were back in the game, all the pressure was on the incoming batsman to get the raining 40 odd needed, with lots of time left.

Instead of releasing the pressure, Will decided to get another wicket 4 balls later, and another bowled (166-7)! More excitement from the rest of the fielders, a feeling that we had to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. That feeling increased an over later when Mabbs bowled an absolutely snorter to bowl their #7 in the middle of a wicket maiden (166-8). The runs had totally dried up, and the main worry now was whether Will and Mabbs had it in the legs to bowl enough overs to get the remaining two wickets.

Showing no signs of slowing down, Mabbs bowled the #10 (172-9), and finished his day wicket maiden, maiden, wicket maiden, and with 4 wickets to his name. The excitement was all about to happen at the other end though, with Will charging in and Ilsley only requirement 25 more to win. After lunging forward and bat padding one through short leg, Robbo made his usual signal to skipper to suggest he’d like to field there, much to the team’s amusement he was granted his wish this time. On with the helmet and box, and in runs Harvey, to bowl what would be the last ball of the game, he delivers, the batsman pushes forward, it’s edged onto the pad, and into the juggling hands of Robbo at short leg, who holds onto it and we win the game by 25 runs! Much (covid compliant) celebrations later, we made our way off the field feeling pretty bloody good about ourselves.

Pigs ear: Won by Spenny (3rd week in a row) in a rock paper scissors off against Robbo, both for being involved in the dodgy run/drop incident. Other noms for Skipper’s bad throw during our run out chance, Mabbs for his sulk, and Bhu for running himself out.

Champagne moment: Won by Will for bowling the leftie opener that opened the game up for us. Other noms for Robbo’s catch at the end, Colin’s catch at slip, Skipper’s catch and Chief running a 3.

Man of the match: Won by Colin for his 61 not out, a wicket, and a catch. Other noms for Will’s figures of 13.5-5-35-3, and for Mabb’s 12-3-36-4

On to next week, away at Marcham.