Saturday 22nd May 2021 – Well I must admit I didn’t expect to be playing cricket on Saturday. I made my sandwiches for the second week in a row, filled the flask with hot coffee, did my obligatory stretches and waited impatiently for the text from the skipper saying the game was off, watching the live text on the Cherwell website rattle up the number of fixtures already lost to the weather. I was already planning an afternoon of doing absolutely nothing on the sofa. However, no text seemed imminent, so therefore the game must still be on…..

All credit to the Bledlow Ridge groundsman for getting the game on. The pitch was still wet, but seemed firm enough. The umpires had inspected and deemed the ground suitable to play on, so we were starting on time. The home team won the toss and elected to bat first. Westcott took to the field in an almost watery sunshine, with a strong breeze coming in from the top end of the ground. Bledlow started off brightly, despatching anything loose straight to the boundary and the score quickly shot to 30, before a clever field placing allowed Waqas to pick up his first wicket, caught by the skipper at fly slip. Waqas picked up his second and third wickets a few overs later, clean bowling both batsmen and the home team were 60-3. Unfortunately though, a crucial dropped catch (no names) and some “wayward” bowling seemed to change the course of the innings and the home team motored on to 113 before the fall of the next wicket, with Tanveer taking a tidy catch down by his feet off the bowling of Alimar. The skipper bowled his usual tidy spell, slowing the run rate somewhat, but a plethora of wides, no balls and penalty runs (the ball hitting the keepers helmet behind the stumps) seemed to keep the score ticking along. The return of Rehman at the bottom end grabbing three quick wickets helped keep the score down as well, but by the time the opening batsman was eventually caught on 70, Stuart taking a good catch over his head, the damage was done and with rain now coming down, the home team ended up on 209 -8 in their allotted overs. (Not wishing to make too much of a point, but 46 extras is rather too many in my opinion and we need to learn how to reduce that number very, very quickly!!)

Taking tea in your car is never going to be the highlight of the day (bloody Covid) and Westcott were keen to get going to set about chasing the total down. With the ground now baked in glorious sunshine, we had one eye on the weather (storm clouds looming in the distance) and one eye on the DLS score (needing 20 overs completed for this to become applicable). However, an early quick single was attempted and left Stuart short of his ground in the second over. Rehman then played on to his stumps, Dale snicked off into the keepers gloves, Alimar mis-timed one and all of a sudden, Westcott were four wickets down for not very many. Cue Tanveer, who batted extremely sensibly and restored some sanity back into the Westcott innings. Tony joined him at the crease with the score on 93-5 from 23 overs and although we were 25 runs short of the current DLS target score, it seemed more prudent to play for the full 50 overs (only 4 an over needed) and attempt to win the game in the more traditional way, rather than trying to get ahead of the DLS target and potentially being bowled out cheaply attempting big shots, if the rain that was threatening did arrive. Tanveer was just starting to open up a bit when he was out LBW to a good delivery that straightened on him and this brought the skipper to the crease, muttering that he had to borrow a bat as he didn’t have his own for some reason (sounds like a personal admin problem to me!). The skip and vice skip continued to push the ball around into the gaps, taking singles and hitting the occasional four, but although the light was fading and the drizzle was unwelcome, the total was still in reach with 5 overs to go. (We had actually clawed the DLS score back to par by this point.) Tony however, followed Rehman’s earlier example and played onto his stumps when on 34 and the skipper was bizarrely run out the following over for 33, with the bowler attempting a caught and bowled, inadvertently deflecting the ball onto the stumps, leaving a stranded skipper well out of his crease at the non strikers end. Finbarr tried to hit a few big shots, but his earlier injury (hamstring – obviously hadn’t done his obligatory stretches earlier) restricted his movement somewhat, Hedders was given out LBW and Dave was caught trying to drive one over mid on, to leave the Westcott total short by 29 runs, in now somewhat wet and gloomy conditions, with the main light source coming from the orange glow off the electronic scoreboard at the top end of the ground.

A competitive and somewhat enjoyable game of cricket however, with a few lessons to be learned by Westcott along the way, as we embark on our Cherwell cricketing journey. Note~ 50 overs is a long time to bat and by valuing your wicket and batting long, will prove to be fruitful.

Nice to be able to have a drink with the oppo after the game and we very much look forward to the return fixture later in the season, where we will welcome the Ridge Bears to Westcott.