Our final win/lose game of this part of the season was against league leaders, East Oxford, and following a fairly dismal performance the previous week against Challow a much improved effort was needed by Wantage.

Matters started poorly as skip continued his form as a dreadful tosser (5 tosses, 5 losses) and East Oxford unsurprisingly chose to bat, so we took to the field with the regular guns of Mabbett and Harvey looking to get us under-way with an excellent start.

And what a start it was! Following a tight maiden to open from Mr Harvey, Mabbs secured the first wicket the following over by spearing in a devastating yorker to remove the number 2 and leave East Oxford 2-1. 2-1 quickly became 2-2 with Megatron pinning the other opener LBW the following over and after 4 overs East Oxford had limped to 3-2 and Wantage were well on top.

Following another tight over from Will there was a moment of controversy; Mabbs made a ball leap on the batsman who appeared to glove it behind, to wild appeals and it initially appeared that the umpire had given the decision. With the Wantage players all gathering a congratulatory huddle, following some words from the batsman the umpire clarified that he had, apparently, been pointing at the pad that the ball had hit in his opinion.

This clarification was somewhat poorly received and led to some highly questionable Wantage chat for the subsequent overs, however the batsmen took it in their stride and steadied the East Oxford ship over the following overs. Boundaries began to flow more regularly and after 6 overs each, the opening bowlers were replaced by Willbury and Chief.

Willbury started tidily however the batsmen brought up their 50 run partnership in 13th over, his first, with the score 53-2. The partnership was broken in the following over by Chief, enticing the number 3 to hole out to Colin and he departed for 29. The number 5 was quickly removed by Willbury at the other end, with a thin nick through to Binners, and the score was 58-4.

Although more quick wickets would have been lovely, Butt and Hamid batted very well for East Oxford and they progressed the score along with relatively little fuss. Casual singles were interspersed with some mighty blows from Hamid, including one onto the roof of the clubhouse. At drinks after 23 overs, East Oxford were 104-4 and well set to kick on to a sizable total.

As previously though, a couple of quick wickets kills a bit of the momentum and first Chief, removing Butt for 32 following a great high catch from Ryan, and then Willbury clean bowling the number 7 for a duck threatened to peg the scoring rate back with the score 119-6.

Mobin came to the crease at number 8 for East Oxford and set about trying to up the rate, striking a number of clean boundaries and acting as excellent support for Hamid at the other end, who went to a well made 50 and had the chance to score significantly more with well over 15 overs remaining in the innings.

With the runs flowing again skip turned to express pace and beguiling flight in Colin and JC (Penney) in the hope of closing out the innings. Col had a rough first over going for 9, which also featured perhaps the worst piece of fielding seen in recent history – a ball was clipped slowly towards Chief at fine leg, who somehow contrived to allow it through his legs as it tricked into the boundary for 4. As regular match report readers can imagine, Colin took this with all his usual good grace and humour. He was rewarded in his following over however, pinning Mobin LBW to remove him for a brisk 28 to leave the score 170-7.

This dismissal precipitated a rush of wickets to end the innings; four balls later Hamid, who had batted so well, was bowled by Colin attempting what can best be described as a reverse paddle to depart for 63. Penney removed the number 10 the following over for his first wicket for the club (jug), inducing an aerial shot that was pouched by Summs at long off and then Harvey was reintroduced to hopefully close out the innings. 5 balls later he rewarded the skip’s faith with a loopy caught and bowled bringing the East Oxford innings to a close, all out for 182 inside 37 overs.

East Oxford had threatened a very sizable score with three 50+ partnerships and were well placed at several points, however regular wickets and not using all of their overs left them on a target that was very gettable, however would require some good batting to get there.

After a spot of tea, Col and Summs strode out to get our innings underway. After a watchful start, Skip departed early – caught one handed at slip off the bowling of Ahmadzai for 1 and Timmy Lane strode to the crease, keen to get his first runs of the season on the board. He was still on 0 three overs later when Colin departed, flirting at a ball a little close to him and edging behind to depart for 14 and leave the score 17-2.

Spenny joined Timmy at the crease and with both batsmen on zero, some care was needed and both batted with caution to begin with. Both had some luck; Limmy Tane had a relatively simply chance put down at slip, and Spenny fenced a bouncing ball just in front of gully, however other than these chances both batted sensibly. Timmy put away a couple of strong boundaries, and Spenny played a couple of lovely straight drives, one 4 and one for 6, holding the pose on each occasion on the off-chance a camera was around.

Timmy’s innings was sadly brought to a close in the 18th over, as he tried to turn a ball into the leg side but managed only a sizable leading edge to be caught for 16 and leave the score 63-3. JC joined Spenny and with around 100 needed both set about sensibly chipping into the total.

Lots of good running was interspersed with bad balls being put away, and Jonny was the grateful recipient of a 5 as a scampered single was followed by 4 buzzers, to the amusement of the watching crowd. He was the fortunate recipient of a life (pretty standard) as a simple chance to long on was not only put down by the fielder, but he suffered a finger injury which forced him from the field for the rest of the game.

The score was 98-3 at drinks and the pair went passed the 50 partnership in serene fashion soon after as runs began to flow comfortably with the field set back. The partnership was finally broken in the 30th over as JC pumped a full toss straight into the grateful hands of midwicket to depart for 31, however the 80 run partnership had broken the back of the total.

Binners immediately set about knocking the remaining runs in quick fashion, battering his fourth ball for a maximum over the leg side before repeating the shot a couple of overs later. Although Spenny was bowled to depart for 69, and Binners was removed LBW for 27 shortly later, the calm hands of Mabbs and Ryan knocked off the remaining runs, with Mabbs stroking a glorious cover drive to win the game in the 37th over.

All-in-all it had been a relatively comfortable chase and, relatively, drama free by Wantage standards – an excellent return to winning ways.

And so, onto the awards:

Pig’s Ear: Was unanimously awarded to Chief for his ‘attempted’ fielding at fine leg. Also nominated was skip for a throw that went straight into the ground in front of him rather than anywhere useful, but he was never in danger of winning.

Champagne moment: Ryan won this for his excellent catch (first for the club, getting his name on the jugs list). Also nominated were Spenny for a lovely straight 6 into the road, and Mabbs for his superb yorker to remove the East Oxford opener.

MotM: A tightly fought content, with Spenny’s 69 (6 votes) narrowly beating out Mabbs’ 7-2-33-1 (5 votes).

Result: Wantage & Grove CC (26 points) defeat East Oxford 2s (9pts) by 4 wickets