On the back of an extremely frustrating result against Steventon the previous week (for those interested, Colin’s ‘full’ match report covers all of the gruesome details), it was very much a case of Wantage needing to bounce back well to remain well placed for promotion heading into the home stretch of the season. This week saw us travelling not too far away to West Ilsley, where we hoped for improved fortunes on a pitch that looks like it would offer a bit of something for everyone. 

There was some handing out of new Wantage kit prior to the game, along with a few grumblings as to how ‘snug’ it was for certain team members. These concerns would not have been helped by Bhu providing everyone with some excellent Nepalese snacks prior to the game, doing nothing for anyones waistlines.  

As the pre-game warm-ups were taking place, it transpired that Anand was stuck on the M40 and wouldn’t arrive for some time after the start time. Binners, as stand-in skipper for the day in the absence of Summerswipe, was also very keen to bat first. So, of course, he inevitably lost the toss (showing he’s another terrible Wantage tosser) and West Ilsley chose to bat first, leaving us to take the field with 10. The only positive was that Binners had gone out to do the toss in his keeping pads and so didn’t have to get changed having lost it. 

With Summs not present, the power had clearly gone to Binners’ head and he opened with an unusual yet innovative combination of Chief and Mabbs, mixing raw pace from one end with the natural movement of Mabbs from the other. This combination did the trick however and the Ilsley openers had a watchful start, with runs coming at a premium in the opening overs.  

Chief bowled a beguiling opening few overs and was unlucky to not pick up a wicket, however it was Mabbs who made the early breakthrough with one of the openings edging through to Tweeky in the gully, who clung on with some textbook crocodile hands.  

Anand did manage to arrive after 5 overs, however declined to take the field until after the 6th over, perhaps he’s not a fan of odd numbers? Either way, the following few overs passed with some good bowling and one expensive over from Chief, but no further wickets and Binners decided a change was needed and so Col was introduced into the attack, replacing Mabbs. He quickly removed the other opener, caught by Rob to leave Ilsley 26-2 and Wantage hoping for some more quicky wickets. 

At the other end Chief finished his spell of 9-1-38-0 and was replaced by Anand from the pavilion end, and he started tidily although without success. The two batsmen (M. Fowler and Healy) were able to tick the score along and pick up a few boundaries. Healy was the more prolific of the pair and was starting to motor before Anand removed him LBW leaving the score 76-3. At the other end Colin had bowled without further success and was replaced by the wily leg breaks of IC. 

Ian, through a very successful spell, managed to secure the wickets of not only Fowler, who was bowled after being deceived by a well flighted delivery, but also Taylor and Charrington in successful balls, both stumped in identical fashion charging down the pitch and being well stranded as the ball turned past them. The latter wicket was especially well celebrated by Wantage, with memories of how well Charrington had played the spinners in the return fixture at the forefront over everyone’s minds. 

Healy and Taylor had managed to strike some boundaries, however Barnes, in at number 6, took a distinct liking to Tweeky’s bowling (who was brought on to replace Anand) dispatching multiple boundaries and really pushing the score along. Tweeky was unlucky however to have him dropped by Alan at midwicket, but Barnes was punishing anything short and several shots found their way towards endangering the inhabitants of the nearby pub. He brought up a well-made 50 with another powerful blow and at this stage, with the score around 200-6 with plenty of overs remaining, a very sizable score was on the cards. 

This was fortunately not to be the case with some excellent latter-stage bowling first from Colin to remove the number 8, Dibble, for 25 and then Anand and Mabbs combined to wrap up the last few wickets. Anand was able to get Barnes bowled for an excellent 75 before Mabbs removed the Ilsley skipper, Channon, caught behind.  

Finally, Anand removed the number 11 with another LBW to leave West Ilsley all out for 236 off 44.2 overs, which was a strong total however could have been significantly more if not for the excellent bowling towards the backend of the innings.  

After a spot of tea in the shade, and a lager-shandy for the umpiring Mabbett Snr, it was Wantage’s turn to bat in the chase to knock off the imposing total set by Ilsley.  

The Wantage innings started as it usually does, with Colin taking the first over and immediately pinching the strike with a single off the final ball of the initial over to then face the 2nd over as well…luckily he took a liking to the left arm opener at the far end and dispatched two boundaries from his first over to leave the score 12-0 off two and give Wantage a solid start.  

Things didn’t pan out quite so well for Rob however. The umpire had clearly spotted that his parents were partaking in the local pub facilities and decided, in the interests of familial bonding, that Rob should spend some time with them. Therefore when the ball struck his pad in the third over, despite having taken a very healthy edge on the way through, the finger was raised leaving Rob to depart on 4, and for him to depart the ground early and spend some quality time with Mother and Father. 

This terribly unfortunate turn of events brought Bhu (he of Nepalese pre-game treats-fame) to the crease and both he and Colin progressed the score along nicely, with Bhu appearing possibly his most fluent of the entire season with a couple of lovely driven boundaries through the offside. This solid 60 run partnership was broken with Bhu wandering in front of his stumps and being given LBW for a well-made 23, bringing Spenny to the crease with the score 77-2. 

Spenny struggled initially to get to grips with some challenging bowling both from the legspin of T. Fowler, but also the quicker pace of Healy – the latter was unlucky to see a genuine nick disappear between the keeper and first slip when, on another day, it would have gone straight to hand. 

Despite the occasional scare the score was ticked along steadily and Spenny, in particular, took a liking to the 5th bowler from Ilsley, depositing successive maximums into the pub to get the scoreboard moving. With 30 overs gone the score was 145-2 and Colin brought up a very well made 50 (off 75 balls). The required rate was at this stage approaching a run a ball, cue some nervous murmurings on the Wantage sidelines. 

These were unfounded as the partnership proceeded to take 60 off the next 6 overs with Spenny getting to his 50 with a lusty straight blow for 6, and four successive overs disappeared for double digits to bring the required rate down significantly. 

Ilsley decided that one final throw of the dice was needed and returned to Brown, the opening bowler from the far end and the leading wicket taker to date in Division 6C. He immediately showed why he was at the top of the tree, inducing Col to chip a catch to short cover and he departed for a well made 66 (off 99 balls).  

At the other end Spenny was still motoring and moved to his hundred the following over with a 4 followed by a straight 6 off Healy, leaving him 104 off 68 balls (his first 50 took 48 balls, the next 50 took just 20). He was promptly dismissed the following ball however, wandering across his stumps and being well yorked by Healy. 

As always with Wantage, there was a chance that the remaining chase could have been messed up, however Binners and IC had other ideas. The game was comfortably closed out by IC hitting a couple of signature cover drives to the boundary to give Wantage a 6 wicket win with more than 5 overs to spare, which was an excellent result given the imposing total set by Ilsley. 

All-in-all it was an excellent all-round performance and the perfect antidote to a tough result the previous week, and leaves Wantage well placed to continue the promotion charge. Thanks are due to West Ilsley for an excellent game played in the best of spirits, and we wish them well for the remainder of their season. 

And so, to nominations: 

Pig’s Ear was Chief for a long barrier at cover with the ball along the ground (not at any concerning pace) which then went straight through the gate resulting in a boundary. Alan was also nominated for dropping a relatively simple chance off Tweeky’s bowling and, thus, comprehensively ruining his figures.

Champagne Moment was deservedly won by Tweeky for his catch off Mabbs at gully, also nominated was Spenny for an excellent cover drive.  

MotM was won by Spenny for his 104, also nominated were Colin for his all-round performance, as well as Anand and Mabbs for their bowling efforts.  

Result: A win for Wantage, securing 25 points, plus the additional 1pt for Mabbett Snr as umpire. Next week we host Marcham, hoping to build on this result with another strong performance. 

– Spenny