Saturday 28th August 2021 – A crucial game at the top end of the table and one that Westcott CC needed to win if they were to retain any hope of a final push for promotion this season. On a green, but dry and hard wicket, the skipper won the toss and Oxenford were asked to bat first, with Westcott needing to keep Oxenford to a low total if possible. Rehman took the first wicket in the fourth over, clean bowling the opener, with a beautiful in swinging delivery. The umpire had other ideas though, his right arm outstretched, signalling a no ball where Rehman had overstepped the crease. So, no wicket and the two openers took advantage of this piece of fortune, smashing anything wide of the stumps to the boundary and the score raced along to 50 very quickly. An early change of bowling was forced and Tanveer got the nod to take over duties from the Westcott Lodge End. Tanveer bowled quickly, but couldn’t quite generate the bounce he was looking for, but still managed to hurry the batsmen up somewhat and he worked well in tandem with Alimar, who took over at the Pavilion End and bowled an excellent spell, picking up regular wickets, finishing with figures of 4-28. This included a good caught and bowled effort, followed by a great grab by Strongy above his head and a one gloved diving catch by keeper Tony away to his left, before bowling an off cutter that clean bowled the opposition skipper for a duck, which reduced Oxenford from 75 without loss to 94 for 4 in short time. So, Westcott were back in the game and keen to capitalise on the quick wickets and get through the remaining batting line up. After drinks, it was time for some slower bowling and Roy and Strongy took up the mantle, both bowling tight lines to restrict the batsmen from scoring and between them they bowled the next 10 overs for just 29 runs. The skipper showed off his knack of being able to take wickets though, grabbing three in the process, including performing a juggling act for a caught and bowled effort and manipulating a cleverly worked LBW decision to finish with figures of 3-19.  It was now time for Rehman (2-20) to return to mop up the tail and this he promptly did, taking two successive wickets in his first over back and Oxenford were all out in 37 overs, for what seemed a gettable score of 142.

With no DLS laptop calculator needed this week, it was a straight run chase and Westcott had plenty of overs to get to the total if they batted sensibly and did not give their wickets away cheaply. A new(ish) player to the Oxenford team opened the bowling and showed some good pace, but this did not seem to bother either Roy and Stuart, who made a good start and the score moved along to 34 before the first wicket, when Stuart edged one through to the keeper. However, Dale got a swinging delivery that trapped him in front and Tanveer was also trapped in front the following over, with both batsmen out first ball, to leave Westcott on 34 for 3. So, some repair work needed to be done, but the team was still confident of chasing the total down. With Roy batting very well and playing some lovely drives and pull shots, skipper Strongy joined him at the crease and the pair added a further 30 runs before Roy was bowled for 42, when looking good for a big, match winning innings. Poor Rehman still can’t catch a break, playing a lovely drive for four and then getting out bowled a few deliveries later. So, 73 for 5 and Alimar and Strongy looked to get the Westcott innings back on track, both playing a watchful innings against the Oxenford slower bowlers and the score moved steadily on to 94, before Alimar was also trapped in front when on 18. Finbarr also played very maturely, working the ball around for singles along with the resistant skipper, who was clearly not going to give his wicket up easily. Unfortunately Finbarr chipped one up to mid wicket, which brought Waqas to the crease with only 28 runs required from 20 overs remaining. Waqas played a couple of lovely clips off his pads for four, but he too fell to a LBW decision from the returning opening bowler, who was bowling quickly, but full and straight. So, only 13 runs to win with two wickets remaining when Tony joined the skipper at the crease and the pair were determined to finish the game off. However, it was not to be, as the skipper was bowled by a late, in swinging delivery, that removed his leg stump. In fairness, a distraught Strongy had batted doggedly and with determination for a long time, so he was understandably annoyed at getting out so close to the finishing line. Nick Solway joined Tony, but the bowler bowled another unplayable delivery the following ball, which cleaned up Mr Solway and Westcott were left an agonising 13 runs short of the required total. What this means is that Oxenford have all but secured promotion with one game to go and leaves Westcott in fifth place, but well clear of the bottom half of the table. All credit to Oxenford CC and we wish them well for next season, but it feels like an opportunity missed for the Westcott team.

That said, we need to lift our heads next week for an away trip to Horspath CC, who will not be easy to beat and ensure that we finish in as high a position as we can in our first season of Cherwell League cricket.

Don’t forget this Saturday 4th September is the Club Presentation Evening back at the Club, so if you haven’t already done so, please let the Chairman know of your attendance on the Whatsapp group, so the Committee can cater for numbers for food and drinks etc. Also, if you have any trophies from last season, please let the Chairman know as well soonest 🙂