Bouyed by a win against the league leaders last week, we arrived at Chalgrove in a confident mood. The sun was shining, there was a slight breeze; it was a day for thinking outside the box, creative shot play and resourceful fielding. Skip was already thinking outside the box or rather the carpark as he preferred to leave his car in a local allotment amongst the cabbages.

Skip lost the all-important win – draw – loss toss and we were asked to bat first. Probably not what Skip would have chosen but on the bright side, we hadn’t warmed up. Colin and Bhu opened up. Colin fell early bowled by a ball that kept very low, those waiting to bat assured each other that they would definitely “get forward” to negate the vagaries of the pitch. Timmy Lane fell next LBW which brought in Spenny. Spenny, a man of expansive front foot drives and the lower limb length to get further forward than any, rejected these natural resources, opting for a hack off the back foot resulting in Yousaf’s second wicket, bowled.  Malik got his second wicket when he bowled Bhu and in the blink of an eye Wantage and Grove were 11 for 4. Skip and Jonny were at the crease. Those back in the hutch and those yet to bat agreed on the importance of a calm partnership. Unfortunately, one run later Yousaf bowled Jonny and the hokey-cokey of an innings continued. Alan joined Skip at the crease and both showed fine application. For the first time in the innings, creative shot play included prioritising hitting the ball with the bat. This partnership added 15 runs. Alan faced 43 balls before being bowled by Yasin. Skip was looking very solid when Jimmy joined him. The pair added 19 with little fuss, they took the score to 46.  Salim was bowling. He had started with 3 maidens but Skip had just hit three fours in his last two overs. Alas, the boundary hitting did not last. Skip was bowled for 21. We were 46 for 6.  Harvey joined Jimmy. For a short period runs flowed as the pair added 21. Salim dismissed Jimmy LBW for 16 and very shortly after Liaquat bowled Harvey. Tweaky joined Chief with the score at 68 for 9.  We are not sure how many times Chief has mentioned how seldom he has been dismissed over the past season and a half. However, again, he had the opportunity to remind us as Tweaky was last man out caught at mid on for 5 off Liaquat. Wantage and Grove had been dismissed for 74 in 42 overs.

Early wickets were needed and in his third over Jimmy trapped Hettiarachchi LBW for 3. In the next over, Harvey bowled S.Ahmed for 1 and  4 overs later he dismissed N.Ahmed LBW  for 5.  Radley were teetering on 24 for 3.  This soon became 29 for 4 as Harvey bowled Pike for 17.  Chief replaced Jimmy whose opening spell was a tight 12 for 1 off 6. In his fourth over Chief bowled Khan for 2. The ball did not take the traditional route of hand – pitch – stumps, Chief opted for the far more creative and decidedly outside of the box: pitch – bat – back of bat over batman’s head – pitch – slow roll – stumps. Radley were 45 for 5, still needing 30 runs to win. The game was in the balance. Tweaky replaced Harvey. The spin twins bowled well in tandem. Jimmy dropped a difficult chance off Chief. Yasin and Rehman batted carefully and made the most of short or over pitched deliveries. Tweaky had Rehman caught at point by Skip for 12, but the game was over following a full toss by Tweaks the next ball as Malik found the winning boundary.

Wantage and Grove put up a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful defence of 74 runs.  The Radley team were a lovely bunch and we look forward to the return fixture in Wantage. All that remained was to retire to the pub, oh and Dave had to collect his car from the vegetable patch.

Awards – Pigs was hotly contested with Colin giving away 5 penalty runs for not protecting his helmet (giggity). Mabbs also nominated for dropping Yasin early in his innings and following up with multiple hat throws (solid drop and stop material). Harvey was also nominated for a skier from the same batsmen that initially never looked like getting near him, although when the ball landed a few feet from him it was considered a refusal. The winner this week was Spenny for his hack off the back foot.

Champagne moment was not so hotly contested, although noms went to Skip for the first 4 of the innings when the top 5 couldn’t muster a boundary, and also to Chief for having the ball on a string to bowl Khan in a remarkable fashion. Harvey took the award this week though for a ball that took the very top of off stump to remove Pike.

Man of the match was between Skip for his innings to help ensure the game didn’t finish before 3pm, but the winner this week was Harvey for a 3-18.

– Will