With last week’s attempts to change our sequence of win at home, lose away, by only getting a winning draw, it was time to see if we could do any better than losing away… So off we plodded to the always wet Wootton and Boars Hill.

Would it be dry this time? Would it heck, with reports of heavy rain on the A34 on the way over there spreading quickly. Luckily, just after the rain subsided the grounds team turned up and put the covers on. When they were taken off again however, you’d have been remiss to think it had ever rained in Oxfordshire. A dry, cracked, straw colour strip met the eye, wonderful.

Many of you reading this will be well aware of Skip’s consistent toss record this season, 7 tosses, 7 loses. Luckily however, today was the day for change, and Skip magnificently won the toss, and elected to have a bat. We have to pause here to question whether this really counts as winning a toss, in the WLD format, there is a decent advantage in batting second. But with Will H being struck down with covid at the last minute, Scotty the replacement (and our only) front line seamer was unlikely to be at the ground in time to bowl much had we bowled first…

So we did some batting, with a strong line up on paper, could we get enough to put the pressure on and cover for our weakened seamer attack today?

Colin and Robbo opened up, a watchful start from both, on a pitch offering some early inconsistent bounce. Robbo swaying out of the way of a couple of sharp bouncers from Cam King, Wootton’s opener. It wasn’t until the 10th over that things spiced up a little, Robbo deciding to get an ankle booboo running a slow two, hobbled around for another over or so before declaring that he can’t last much longer so will have to play aggressively and hit out. In the 12th over he decided a new tack was in order, to play a floating dabble sweep to Billy Webb, and get bowled. Not the dramatic fireworks promised! (Rob O’Kelly Bowled Billy Webb for 16 off 33)

Timmy joined Colin, meaning both bats on display were Colin’s, what an honour. Tim got off the mark second ball with a 4, in fact of his eight scoring shots, five were 4s, most (if not all) were behind square on the leg side. This famous sweep shot of TPL was to get him in trouble though, sweeping one too many and being pretty plumb LBW (Tim Lane LBW Billy Webb for 23 from 36).

With the score on 99-2 off 23 overs, a decent base had been set, time for the middle order engine room to cash in. And cash in they did… Spenny early on a pull shot floated a catch to mid wicket (David Spencer Caught Edward Burn Bowled Billy Webb for 3 off 7) and Chitty “leaving” a straight one to be bowled off the bat (Jonny Chitty Bowled Billy Webb for 2 off 9), both falling victim to Billy who now had 4 wickets. New bat Challand came next, and tried to join everyone else back in the clubhouse nice and early, chipping a dolly catch to mid off early doors, luckily this was dropped. Ian did start to get going though, with his usual array of confident lofted drives down the ground, before he picked out deep mid wicket from a full toss from the young leggie (Ian Challand Caught Cameron King Bowled Louis King for 14 from 21)

In the middle of that drama somewhere, Colin brought up his 50 and continued to rotate the strike with the odd 2 thrown in for good measure.

Bhu came out in the 36th over, 11 to go, the score on 149-5, Colin on 73*. A quick rebuild, then time to try and push whatever target was possible. Which is exactly what Bhu did, few singles to start with, then a flurry of boundaries, mainly picking tight gaps in the well defended leg side field, took Bhu to a really well made 40* off 43 balls. At the other end, Colin finally decided to try and push on a bit, hitting the leggie for a couple of 6s over midwicket, the second of which came in the penultimate over and caused a quick signal of “10 more” from Skip in his direction. Could he get 10  off 7 balls, to bring up Wantage’s first hundred of the season? No. He could not. Only adding 7 (11122 – power hitting!), left him carrying his bat for 97* off 133 balls.  

We’d set 215-5 off our 47 overs, could we defend it, could we bowl them out in 43 overs?

Confidence was high, Scotty bounding in from one end, and Chief ready to out think the openers from the other end… unfortunately the Wootton openers had other plans, playing in their normal aggressive style, Nik King and Ben Procter started strong, stayed strong, and finished strong. The innings really hinged on a couple of very difficult chances early doors, Procter nailing a drive to Skip at mid off which he couldn’t hang on to, King slicing a drive, agonisingly just within fingertip reach of Jonny at point, and ones just over the heads of Tweeky at slip and Robbo at square leg. If any of those chances had of stuck it could have been a very different day.

But they didn’t, and instead the openers rocketed along, Chief going at nearly 7s and Tweeky at 4 and a halfs were the only bowling able to get any level of control. Skip’s experiment of bowling himself went well, couple of wides, couple of no balls, and in total 13 from his single over. Not the worst figures though, IC managed to go for 30 from 2 overs…

Tweeky did get us a wicket, King caught by Jonny for 70 (Nik King Caught Jonny Chitty Bowled Timothy Weekes for 70 off 61), unfortunately Procter was already onto 118 at this point and the score on 202.  

Billy Webb came out to join Procter and they finished the chase soon after, Webb finishing on 4* and Procter 126* off 96 balls (seventeen 4s and five 6s). Not a bad knock for someone who hasn’t played for a couple of years!

Pigs ear was wrapped up by Skip for the drop, honourable mentions to IC breaking the scoreboard trying to not put up Nelson, for Spenny to  get out on Nelson anyway, and to Robbo for heading out to bat with two right handed gloves.

Champagne moment needed rock paper scissors to split Colin (for his 6) and Skip for winning the toss. Skip taking it with a dramatic 2-1 victory.

Man of the match was Colin for his 97 not out.

We go again next week at home to Chappers’ Steventon.