Saturday 5th June 2021 – The hottest day of the year and the skipper lost the toss… but, Westcott CC were invited to bat first.. bonus. Long Marston CC is a lovely ground, with an excellent set up, but, the boundaries are huge!! In the absence of both Rehman and Dale, Tony was selected (forced) to open with Stuart and the two of them marched out to the middle (probably a good quarter of a mile walk) already sweating under their helmets. The Long Marston bowling was not as quick as expected, but was extremely accurate, with both bowlers giving very little away. Westcott made a careful start, intent on setting a decent base for later in the innings, but runs were really not easy to come by. Stuart did play a couple of lovely cover drives for four, but the total meandered slowly onto 47 from the first 18 overs, before the first wicket fell, Tony snicking one into the keepers gloves off the first change bowler, who was bowling lots of left arm, slow, wily deliveries. Alimar also fell foul to the left armer, cleaned bowled for just six, which brought in form batsman Tanveer to the crease. Stuart was given out LBW for a solid 22 runs and this brought Fitzroy to the crease, itching to get some batting in after getting “pad rash” for 25 overs the previous week. Roy made a good start, looking very aggressive and hit a couple fours to the boundary, whilst Tanveer played himself carefully in. The total started ticking along nicely, passing the hundred marker and the innings was starting to build momentum. Unfortunately, Roy clipped one straight back to the (left arm) bowler in his last over and was out for 26, just when it looked like he might go on and get a big score. Waqas then managed to flick a full toss on his legs straight to a diving square leg fielder and the Westcott total was now 140 for 5, from 37 overs. It seemed like the game was in the balance as another couple of quick wickets and Westcott could be struggling to get to the 200 total they wanted. Cue Tanveer, who for the third week in a row, decided today was his today and went into destructive mode, passing his fifty with a fiercely smashed four back over the bowlers head. Tiz was given out LBW, still chuntering as he headed into the pavilion about the ball hitting the middle of his bat (no one is ever out LBW in their own mind), but George hung around with Tanveer, scoring a useful 15 or so, even taking a blow to his head, but fortunately was able to carry on (with his good looks still in tact). With only a few overs left, the score had now gone past 200 and 250 even seemed in reach. Finbarr tried to get on with it but was out stumped, which brought the skipper to the crease. Never before have I seen Strongy run a “three”, but in an attempt to help Tanveer get close to his possible hundred, the old timer stretched out his hamstrings and supported his team mate, who was by now into his eighties. And then another surprise, the skipper ran another “three” in the same over. Fingers were poised on mobile phones, expecting to have to dial 999 and call for an ambulance for the heavily puffing captain, but he rolled back the years, sucked it in and set off again for another quick single! With three balls of the innings left, the skipper had the strike (Tanveer was now on 99 not out) and promptly smashed a full toss away for four. Two balls left… the wily old boy sensibly pushed a single, giving Tanveer the strike for the last delivery. So, could Tanveer do it? Only one needed for a fabulous ton. Thankfully the bowler decided to bowl a full toss, which Tanveer drove straight back over mid off for four and Tanveer celebrated his hundred!!! Well batted Tanveer!!! Interestingly, I had kind of taken my eye off the scoreboard, as I was more interested in Tanveer getting to his hundred, but was pleasantly surprised to see that Westcott had amassed 252 for 8 wickets from their 50 overs.

With the sun still beating down, Westcott took to the field, hoping for a good start and to apply some pressure onto the Long Marston batsmen. Waqas and Alimar opened up and I must say Waqas bowled the best spell I have seen from him, pitching the ball up and allowing it to swing away beautifully. Alimar at the other end bowled his usual tight lines and although there were a couple of aggressive shots from the opening batsmen, the bowlers seemed to be very much on top. Alimar took the first wicket, Tiz taking a good catch above his head (about knee height for Hedders) and Waqas followed up at the other end, the batsman snicking one in to Tony’s gloves. With only 25 scored from the fist 13 overs, Long Marston would need someone to get in and make a big score if they were to going to win the match. A good skipper always knows when to bring himself on to bowl however, and, in an amazing spell of bowling, took six wickets for 12 runs, decimating the chasing teams chances of even getting close to the Westcott total. Roy supported the skipper at the other end, bowling with some “fizz”, picking up the wicket of the wicketkeeper batsmen (a good catch by Finbar low to the ground), who had been showing some resistance to the bowling team. Another good catch from Hedders off Strongy’s bowling and the wickets were tumbling, with the score not yet even on 50. A quick stumping helped the skipper to his sixth wicket and the opposition were now 9 down. The last two batting pair were resilient to say the least, so some creative bowling was required to pick up the final wicket. Hedders bowled a great leggie second ball, and the batsman edged it straight to Waqas at 2nd slip, who decided that we all needed to be out in the heat of the day a little longer and promptly dropped the catch. Seven (yes – seven) overs later, George finally trapped the final batsman in front and Westcott hurried off to get out of the sun and into the bar. A great result for the team, winning by 178 runs, with some fantastic personal performances on show, but we still need to make sure that we finish teams off, especially as the playing format changes this week to a win / lose / draw format. A nice couple of cold beers did the trick and it was good to chat with the LM boys and we wish them well for the rest of the season (apart from the return fixture at Westcott of course.!!)

Next week we are at home to Tiddington CC, where we hope to continue our winning ways. Finally, well batted Tanveer and well bowled Strongy..!!! Shabash!!