Saturday 7th August 2021 – With the skipper Strongy away on his holidays, Tony took over the captaincy for the day and promptly lost the toss, on another Saturday that looked to be determined by the weather gods. Rain showers were forecast throughout the afternoon and that is what we received. The track was dry and reasonably hard though and interestingly the visitors Long Marston CC chose to bat first. However, without even a ball being bowled, the expected rain came and the covers went on. After a quick squally shower and some drying time, the game started with four overs already lost from each team. Hedders somehow had managed to glide unnoticed into the vacant first slip position (not sure the skipper will get that back now!), politely nudging Finbarr out to second slip with his elbow and Alimar strangely found himself wandering around in the gulley area, covering the vacant space left by Stuart, who wasn’t playing either. Waqas and Rehman opened up, both bowling extremely well and there was plenty of swing to be had. Rehman had the ball hooping in late into the right handed batsman and Waqas showed great control over his away swing action. With no runs on the board, Rehman struck early, a brilliant delivery that took the opening batsman’s bails off. With both bowlers being extremely difficult to get away, Westcott took charge and the score had only reached 16 when the second wicket fell in the 11th over, with Waqas bringing one back into the batsman and knocking over the stumps. Rehman followed up shortly after, again bowling the batsman (proving there is something to be said about bowling at the stumps). Long Marston needed someone to bat long and the incoming Robinson looked like he might be that person, playing a couple of lovely flicks off his legs and a late dab past third man, to score the first boundaries of the afternoon, but he would need support if Long Marston were going to set a decent total. Another rain delay (quick cuppa tea opportunity) saw the overs further reduced to 44 and 39 each and when the batting team re-emerged in glorious sunshine, it was Westcott who once again applied the pressure, Finbarr taking a great catch low in front of himself at short mid off (well positioned skipper!) to give Waqas another wicket, who followed up shortly after a with a LBW decision to grab his third wicket. Golden arm Alimar took over from Rehman at the Pavilion End and started off very well, grabbing the key wicket of Robinson for 28, who tried to dab the ball down to third man one too many times and a low thick edge was neatly caught one handed by a diving keeper in front of Hedders at first slip, who by this stage had firmly dug himself into the ground and was refusing to budge.  With Long Marston now five down, someone needed to get on with it and the incoming batsman Chapman tried to do exactly that, smashing a couple of quick boundaries, which forced the fielding team back onto the 30 yard fielding circle. Roy took over from Waqas and bowled with great control, flighting the ball nicely, offering the batsmen the big shot if they wanted it and the field was set accordingly. However, it was Alimar at the other end who took the next wicket, a cleverly disguised slower ball fooling Chapman into the drive and Tanveer safely pouched the catch at mid off and Alimar promptly bowled the new batsman the next over. Roy took his first wicket, a nicely flighted off spinner that nipped back between the batsman’s defence and the batting team were struggling at 78-9. However, a dogged resistance by the final pair saw Long Marston get up to the hundred mark, with young George Walter hitting a few lusty blows, before “golden arm” Gary came on, needing to bowl the final over of the innings (bad calculations by the skipper!!). A first ball appeal for caught behind was turned down by the umpire, but Gary promptly trapped the no 11 batsman in front with the very next delivery, to leave the Long Marston total on 101 all out. Overall, I must say that the team fielded very well and the ball return to the gloves was also of a high standard, so well done to everyone..!!

Tea was taken as the rain clouds loomed once more and just as the Westcott opening batsman strode out to the middle, the heavens opened yet again and once again the covers went back on. With more overs lost, Westcott now had 33 overs on offer, but that should be enough to get to the required total. Tony opened up with Rehman, who promptly went into “smash” mode (Rehman that is.. not Tony) and the score raced along to 27 from the first three overs and a change of bowling at both ends by the fielding team was pretty much forced if they wanted to contain Rehman in this mood. However, Tony managed to splice a wide delivery to point with the score on 36 in the fourth over and this allowed Roy to enter the middle, who hit a lovely four, before trying to clear the boundary at the Pavilion End and was safely caught just inside the line. By now Rehman had passed his half century, which had included seven fours and two sixes and the total was on 78-2. Another big six from Rehman was followed by him skying one when on 58 and unfortunately Tanveer clothed one straight to mid wicket when on four, but with only 20 something required to win, Alimar played a lovely pull shot for four and Waqas finished the game off in the fifteenth over, hitting consecutive boundaries to surpass the Long Marston total with six wickets remaining. Overall, a good solid performance by the team in testing conditions and good to get back to winning ways ..!!

As always, thanks to the umpires for helping to keep the game going and thanks to the Long Marston boys for staying for a couple of drinks afterwards and Westcott CC wishes them all the best for the remainder of the season.

Next week is away at Tiddington CC, where the playing format changes back to the 50 over Win-Lose format, so bowlers need to expect to be “wided” for anything down the leg side and a free hit be given for any no balls (Rehman!), as the skipper tries to remember how the power plays, fielding restrictions, limited overs and DLS work.!! … Welcome back just in time Strongy 🙂