Availability concerns once again threatened to be an issue on Friday with the loss of a couple of players, equally concerning were the “storm” forecasts issued by the Met Office. The modern way is to predict a storm (for liability related reasons) just in-case, after Michael Fish’s 1987 Hurricane blunder. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqs1YXfdtGE
Friday rain looked to have put the game status as “unlikely”, however the accompanying strong winds and Oakley’s covers gave us more of a chance of some sort of play.
The 12:45 Phoenix meet didn’t quite go to plan with the Paine twins forgetting the scorebook and heading back to Bitterne Park to retrieve. Nick “Nostradamus” Granger was his usual cheery self moaning about the heat, weather and general woes of life. Otterbourne’s Colin Hutton appeared at the pub to “tag” along with his second favourite team and to provide us with vast riches of Umpiring skills, complimenting the ever present Nobby.
The beautiful Oakley Park was to host our game, Oakley have been playing cricket there since 1849 although I am pretty sure the main Waterloo line would not have been conceived in that year cutting through the beautiful Hampshire countryside to one side of the ground.
A friendly chat with our opposition players prior to the game highlighted the disappointing season they had had but very determined to maintain their current league status. Their website, which is a good read, had quoted the following “The First XI travel to the picturesque surroundings of the Atomic Weapons Establishment to take on AWE Tadley in what promises to be a thrilling encounter with mid-table places up for grabs, whilst the second string entertain high-flying Twyford, the runaway leaders who appear to be operating approximately 300 Leagues below their level”
Ground preparation was ongoing due to the inclement weather on Friday and a green tinged but very flat surface was to be the playing deck for today. Toss was won by skipper Moreland of Twyford and with the weather and relevant table positions we were to bowl first.
Twyford took to the pitch with ten, our under 15 colt due to arrive later following a job interview! Ducker was unleashed with wind slightly over his right shoulder. Reidy opening from the road end. A quiet first few overs told us everything we needed to know about the surface, excellent considering the weather, flat with lowish bounce. In over four Reidy brought about the first wicket, bowling opener Brundle for 0. Savage was to follow when Ducker got one to follow the batsmen and despite trying to withdrawal the bat, was caught behind by Nick Moreland.
Oakley then really struggled with Ducker taking a further two wickets, although on this occasion never really finding a good rhythm in the blustery conditions. At 24-4 there was a potential that Twyford could beat the weather and bring a close to this match early on. We were then to leave the ground for twenty minutes when heavy rain swept in, prompting the return of the covers.
Returning after the brief interruption Oakley’s skipper Lethaby batted positively and with some untidy over’s, including Reidy having to hold the ball the wrong way to even get it vaguely straight, John and Matt Paine were to take over from the openers. Lethaby hit some powerful drives before he was yorked by Paine junior for an encouraging 23. Compton-Beame was to provide excitement, swinging so hard at a couple of deliveries that he spun around like a whirling-dervish. He did connect with a few that quickly travelled to the boundary but was to be undone by the evergreen John Paine. Paine senior was then to take a superb diving (fell over) catch off of his own bowling. Funny that, he claims he cannot see the ball when someone else is bowling and a catch falls his way!! Matt Paine then took two more, one excellently caught by Moreland, redeeming himself around his drop earlier on in the day and next ball bowling the number 11 for a golden. Oakley had gone from 84-5 to 90 all out, just enough time for Jon Bance to dirty his whites with a series of pointless and aesthetically unpleasant dives.
A good array of sandwiches were gratefully accepted by Twyford although some of the more experienced players were much keener on getting out and batting before tea. The umpires were unable to make any decision so it was down to the tea lady to help them out!
Batsmen quickly padded with eyes looking to the South-West. Oakley were keen to slow things up hoping that the weather might save them and who was to blame them. Moreland and Bance opened, Moreland positive and wanting to face the first cherry. A beautiful cover drive from the skip had us off and running. Bance’s first ball in over two was to dumbfound the “boring batter sledgers” within his own team, disappearing right out of the middle into the cornfield for six.
Moreland then provided Oakley with their only wicket of the day, a poor forcing shot before the pace of the pitch had been fully understood, the gamble had failed. Reidy joined Bancey, again and as normal was belligerent . A plethora of fours and sixes followed and in over 12, 92 runs were on the scoreboard and the game was done, Reidy pulling one more to the square leg boundary. The weather hit the ground some thirty minutes afterwards and would have almost certainly curtailed events.
Congratulations to the lads once again, a good win with ten (what happened to the eleventh?) and we are champions of Regional 2 North. Thanks go to the Oakley lads, a good bunch who I am sure will regroup and comeback stronger next year, there are certainly a few good young cricketers there. Twyford appreciate the kind words on your website this morning.
A multifarious beer range at the Phoenix once again had a few of the ale drinkers in a quandary, luckily common sense prevailed and Summer Lightning was selected, although the Tribute was very refreshing. Moreland was to make a presentation to Nobby for his umpiring this season, two bottles of his favourite beer selected carefully from the vast array at the South’s premier supermarket chain. Two bottles were supposed to given to Jon Bance, I am not sure why but one had disappeared during the transfer from skip’s car to the pub, how did that happen…
Thanks go to Paul at the Phoenix for his hospitality, to John Paine and Nick Moreland for their continued organisation of the club and to Nobby for umpiring once again. Also thanks to Colin Hutton for guest umpiring today.
Lastly to all the players at Twyford, a thoroughly enjoyable year. I am handing over to the sub-reporter for the last game at Hunter Park against Compton and Chandlers Ford, so expect the usual dirge from him!
Oakley 90 all out
J. Paine 3-15
T. Ducker 3-18
M. Paine 3-27
Twyford 92-1 (11.5 overs)
A. Reidy 43*
J. Bance 40*