Here we are again, welcome to the 2023 season, and with the introduction of our 2nd XI, twice the match report reading to be done! You’d think that’d mean I’d keep this brief, we’ll see…

Abysmal weather over the last few weeks, including washing out 86 of 87 games across the Cherwell league meant that today’s visit of Dorchester was the 1’s first action of the season. Dorch, a team we’ve become pretty familiar with over the last few seasons, turned up with only 10 (which it subsequently turns out means they’ve been docked 10 points by the league for, which is utterly ridiculous), and missing some key regulars for a variety of availability reasons and disciplinary offences reasons. Sole objective, over even the accuracy of this report, is to make sure that I don’t have to re-write the thing after complaints from the oppo, wouldn’t that suck to have to do, hey IC?

The other new thing for this season is our Skipper, and his apparent ability to toss. “100% record Spencer” as they don’t call him, won the toss (jug?) and decided to have a bowl. No real surprise there, on an overcast day, with a pitch that’s been under covers for about 14 years. This meant it was time to show off our excellent fielding skills, which we did, in the warm up, but more on that lat… pretty soon.

Opening up was Will Squared, and it didn’t take them long to combine for the first wicket of the season (jug?), after “Psychic Spencer” adjusted Will B’s fine leg, Will H proceeded to target McComb’s pads, the lefty middled one off his pads, straight down Will B’s throat on the very short fine leg boundary. What a gift of a start!

It was then time to be patient, other than some terrible chat about the #3 being a righty wearing lefty gloves, Spenny dropping an absolute sitter at 1st slip, and reports coming through of some tarry trousers, little else happened, with both Wills bowling well and restricting Dorch to 20 odd from the first 10. On came Scotty S to replace Will B, and Chief to replace Will H, who continued the display of strong bowling. Soon after Scotty getting his first, clean bowling other Dorch opener Rudling for 11.

At 60 odd at drinks, we felt like things were going pretty well, not getting wickets, but restricting Dorch nicely. This was the moment that “Psychic Challand” was about as happy as he’s ever been on a cricket pitch, “Drinks brings a wicket lads”, and for the first time ever, it actually did. Scotty with his second the very first ball after drinks, Rockall with the big edge snaffled by Tweeky diving forward at deep slip/short fly slip/really short 3rd man.

Excitedly we pressed on, thinking this was the breakthrough that would open up Dorch’s weakened team. We were wrong. Houseman came in at 5 and was the pick of the Dorch batting line up. A mix of solid defence and power hitting saw him finish 79 not out. Not a chanceless 79 however, but neither was Redhead’s 20, or Neil’s 5. Must admit, I lost track of who dropped who, but the fines were pretty damning… quicker to just list Chally, Chitty, Scotty and Tweeky as the people not attributed with drops.

Tweeky came on to replace Scotty (9-1-35-2), which caused quite a lot of the drops, maybe 4 of them, imagine those figures, but instead he finished with 6-0-27-0. At the other end IC replaced Chief (9-0-32-0), and found the massive outside edge of Redhead (who’s a walker, but just didn’t happen to walk this time, hi Ady) and wasn’t given, much to the strop of Colin behind the stumps. Meant that IC also went wicketless ending with 4-0-19-0.

Back came the Wills to finish off the innings, Will B picking up his two wickets, first Redhead bowled and then Pugh caught by Chitty. Between them, they dropped three c&b chances, an honourable mention for one of Willbo’s, which he dropped onto the stumps to run out Neal at the non strikers end. Will H finishing 8-1-37-1 and Will B 9-1-36-2.

All round a really strong bowling performance, but a terrible fielding one had let Dorch get at least 50 more than they should have, and set us 192 to win.

Our first chase of the season got off to a strong start, with our now regular opening parring of Colin and Timmy, seeing off Neil’s opening spell and getting us to 45 before Timmy decided to smash the cover off a wide half volley from McComb and be caught by the keeper for 12 off 32 (that’s a strike rate of 37.50, for those tracking the all-important, and ongoing, strike rate battle between our openers). Even if McComb and TPL weren’t sure he’d hit it, the keeper, umpire and Colin, sure thought he had, so off he went, eventually.

This gave Will B the chance to continue his strong day, but alas, a swinging yorker first ball was too much for him, and he was bowled for 0.

Spenny’s turn, always nice facing hat-trick ball, but a confident forward defensive, quashed that fun. Soon after replaced with different fun, after seeing off other opener Airs, Spenny took a liking to the length bowled by Pugh, and smashed a quick fire 34, taking advantage of the short leg side boundary. Colin at the other end wasn’t being anywhere near as much fun, but brought up his 50 just before drinks, where we were in a really strong position at 106-2.

Remember earlier, when IC got us a wicket the ball after drinks, that never happens? Well lightning struck twice, when “I fancy a red inker Spencer” had a wild heave at a dragged down offy from Houseman, to be clean bowled for 34.

Time for Chitty to rebuild, or to play the best shot of the day (so far), smacking Houesman for a massive 6 over long on, over the fence towards the road, from just his second ball. After the field spread, Chitty continued to attack, hitting an even better shot, clearing long on for another massive 6 to the same spot. 27 off 10 balls. The 11th ball saw the end of Chitty’s bat, exploding into nearly as many pieces as balls faced. After much hilarity with a Dorch fielder offering Chitty a broom, “Generous Spencer” lent a bat, which I suspect Chitty wishes he hadn’t accepted. Ball 12 was a mis-timed drive just getting over cover, ball 13 saw the same mis-timed drive, not get over cover. Off walked Chitty, to be sledged by the oppo for being “too talented”, always tough. Chitty had time to swap bats back with Spenny, before strop of the day saw him “drop” his bat into the changing rooms.

At 137-4, we were still in a decent spot, but needed a partnership, that never even came close to fruition. Instead, it was the beginning of another great Wantage CC collapse. IC bowled for 0 (even though he’d scored a run), Carl bowled off his foot for 0, Colin c&b for 58 (from 87, yep, strike rate of 66.67, 1-0), Will H bowled for 0, Scotty c&b 0, Tweeky c&b 0. We collapsed from 137-3 to 143 all out. 7 wickets for 6 runs.

Absolute shocker, and no new shower gel for us this week.

Awards, Tweeky’s diving catch at somewhere near slip got champagne moment, narrowly beating out the first wicket, bowled Will, caught Will and one of JC’s 6s.

Pigs was Colin for calling for a catch that no one else would have got to, and then not getting there himself, homework to be confirmed after next week’s lineup is announced.

MOTM also Colin, for his 58, and for stuffing Scotty 2-0 in rock paper scissors.

As ever, a massive thank you to Stefan Pilcher and Tweeky for the ground work to get the game on, to Dave Mabbett for umpiring, to Dave Richardson for opening the bar, and everyone else involved off the field.