Saturday 19th June 2021 – What a contrast in the weather to the previous week. The week had seen plenty of rain throughout and conditions were not going to be pleasant on the Saturday either, as the rain clouds were looming, with further rain forecasted for later in the day. Westcott arrived at Aston Rowant CC and were ushered around the main ground to the secondary pitch for the match against the ARCC 3rd XI. With the skipper currently wetting his toes in the Cornish sea on his holibobs, it was left for Tony to skipper for the day and he started well enough, winning the toss and inviting ARCC to bat first on a wet track, which did seem reasonably firm still. Waqas and Alimar opened up the bowling attack and Alimar took the first wicket in the second over, trapping the opening batsman LBW with a ball that stayed relatively low. The umpires kept a firm grip on the wides however, forcing Waqas to bowl straighter, which worked in his favour as the ball started swinging away later from the off stump, causing both batsmen problems. With the score on 23, Waqas nipped one back the other way and took the bails off the top of the opposition skippers stumps, leaving ARCC two down, on what was a tricky, but certainly not an unplayable wicket. (One of those days it seemed where you would have to grind out the runs and be resilient). Waqas claimed his next wicket a few overs later with a fine caught and bowled attempt and soon after, Giles took a decent catch from a skied ball and Waqas had three wickets to his name. So, four down for 52 and Westcott seemed to be in control. After a good, tight spell of 12 overs straight, Waqas was given a blow, with a view to bringing him back on later at the end of the innings, whilst Alimar continued at the other end, bowling a wonderful line and length, with neither batsmen getting him away on a regular basis. Fitzroy came on to replace Waqas, bowling his usual quicker “fizz” ball and Stuart took a good catch in the deep mid wicket region (far away from his usual gulley position) to remove the ARCC number six, who had looked like he wanted to get on with it. However, the opening bat Eaton remained more problematic to remove and although he was not really doing any damage to the run rate, he was, nevertheless, closing in on his half century and providing stability to the innings. Alimar took a neat caught and bowled chance in his final over (17-5-34-2) (great spell) to leave ARCC 84 for 6 and JB took over from Alimar the following over, quickly grabbing a wicket as Tanveer safely pouched a mis-timed drive at mid on. Waqas replaced JB after a quick spell and finally removed the stubborn opener, who by now had passed his fifty and was trying to shuffle across his stumps and heave everything to leg in an attempt to score some big runs. Waqas quickly clean bowled the next batsman and thus claimed his “5 for” (16-3-52-5), before Roy ended the innings, clean bowling the final batsman and ARCC finished on 134 from 50 overs, a total that did seem a little under par.
With the murky rain clouds definitely looming larger now, Westcott were keen to get out there and make inroads into the total, conscious of the impending rain and making sure to stay ahead of the run rate. Tiz opened up with Stuart to give a left/right handed opening combination, which seemed to disrupt the bowling a little, as some erratic deliveries were faced. Stuart though snicked off to first slip with the score on 15, which brought Alimar to the crease, who looked extremely comfortable and settled into his innings nicely. Tiz played a couple of lovely angled shots through the third man region, before being bowled for 17 and in came Tanveer, intent once again on dominating the bowling attack and this he did, playing some beautiful front and back foot cover drives, as the score moved quickly along to 81. Alimar was unfortunately then trapped in front for a useful 23 runs, but only 53 runs were required to win with 7 wickets remaining and there were plenty of overs to do it in. The weather was even being kind now, with the big rain cloud now bypassing us to the west. ARCC sensibly decided to take the pace off the ball and replaced pace with some swing bowling from one end and spin at the other. This seemed to cause problems for the batsmen, who now struggled to get the ball away as easily as before, but surely there was nothing to worry about?! However, in the space of nine runs, Tanveer (28), Roy and Waqas were all out caught from the swing bowler and the game took a change of direction. From being extremely comfortable, Westcott managed to make the final 50 runs required into a marathon effort. At 110 for six and 20 odd overs left, Westcott let the bowling attack dominate and the overs started running down, without the scoreboard really moving along. From what I would suggest was a lost cause for ARCC, they started to believe they might actually get something out of the game and became more chipper in the field. With Finbarr holding the fort, Giles went in and struck a few hefty blows over mid wicket to get the scoreboard ticking again, but was unfortunately run out just as he looked like he might be the hero of the hour. So, 7 required from 30 balls.. (By this stage Strongy was pacing anxiously up and down the Cornish coastline 200 miles away, asking for ball by ball updates!) Surely one big blow or one good shot to beat the infield and Westcott would be home and dry… an edge for four would do…..but no, the tight bowling by ARCC was proving to be extremely tough to get away. Another run out in the penultimate over, this time Finbarr, brought the skipper in with JB and 5 runs were needed to win in the final over. How the heck had we got into this position? A few quickly dashed singles left Tony on strike for the final ball of the game. The scores were level, so at least Westcott couldn’t lose the match. The keeper came up, the field came in close and the bowler bowled a fairly decent yorker length delivery… Tony played a straight drive and …. it went straight into the bowlers hands, who turned and ran to the non strikers end to run a scampering Tony out, to keep the scores level.
Interestingly, but of no consolation at the time (or even now – 5 days on), Westcott were nine wickets down with two not out batsman at the end of the match, making the result a draw with scores level. Westcott are therefore awarded the winning draw by virtue of a higher run rate (given that ARCC were bowled out, they were deemed to have batted their full available overs, which for the purpose of run rate calculations is 53 overs). Fair play indeed though to ARCC for sticking at it, but I must say we all felt like we had actually lost the match, not drawn it. Anyway, a post match pint always helps and so does the arrival of the chip van!!! Thanks to Tiz and (I think) Hedders for providing a chippy supper for everyone!!…. I will leave it there, but think that everyone will have had their own reflections on the game and realise that we must use this as a lesson if we want to be a real threat in this division. Anyway, looking forward to the Oxenford game on Saturday, where a win will see us go top of the division, so all is not that bad!! 🙂