Saturday 29th June 2021 – The 1st XI visited Jesus College, Oxford last week, home of Oxenford CC, a previous OCA rival over the past few seasons and who were currently sitting top of the table. The track was white and hard and looked at first glance that it might yield plenty of runs, on an overcast, but still warm day, but with rain potentially forecast later. Business as normal resumed with the return of the skipper from his holidays, who duly lost the toss and unsurprisingly, Westcott were invited to field first. Waqas and Rehman opened up the bowling (welcome back Reh) and Oxenford got off to a decent start as the two bowlers took a little time to settle into their rhythm, Waqas swinging the ball away from the batsmen and Rehman swinging it back in the other way. However, anything loose was easily dismissed to the boundary.  At 29 without loss, Waqas claimed his first wicket of the day, the batsman slashing a wider delivery towards Strongy at first slip, but the keeper Tony moved across him to take a comfortable catch. Rehman got back to his wicket taking ways the following over, with the other opener snicking a low ball towards the slip area, where a youthful looking Tony took a diving catch low to his right at full stretch, the ball nestling nicely in the webbing of his right glove. This slowed the run rate up for a while with two new batsmen at the crease and this allowed Waqas and Rehman to build up the pressure. With only four more runs added to the score, the Oxenford number three edged a swinging ball from the bowling of Waqas and again Tony took a full stretch diving catch, leaping like a salmon low to his right (deja vu) to leave Oxenford 34-3. The Oxenford skipper came out to bat, who has in the past scored a decent century against Westcott, so it would be a good wicket to get. Rehman duly obliged, with the home skipper attempting a cut shot and playing onto his stumps. Four down now and Westcott were firmly on top of the game. Habeel Khalid was offering some resistance though, despatching any loose delivery to the boundary, but the wickets were tumbling at the other end with some regularity. Waqas (4-39) then trapped the middle order batsman LBW and then took another wicket as Tony (again) took another diving catch low down to his right (claiming his fourth grab of the innings). Rehman then removed the dangerous left hander Partridge third ball with a full toss that the batsman clipped straight to a waiting JB at short mid wicket, to finish with 3-49 from 17 overs. The skipper and Alimar replaced the two opening bowlers, who had both bowled excellent 17 over spells and already done the damage, reducing Oxenford to 76-7. Alimar soon took his first wicket, a decent catch held by Rehman, however, Habeel was still at the crease and looked as though he might play a few big shots, but he promptly skied a delivery from Alimar, who ran into the mid wicket area and claimed the catch himself. One wicket left to get and the score was not even at the hundred mark. Skipper Strongy quickly wrapped up the last wicket, trapping the tail ender LBW with a ball that didn’t turn, to end the Oxenford innings on 101 all out in 41 overs, Alimar grabbing a quick brace for just seven runs.

The sky above was now looking rather dark, so Westcott were keen to get on with it, should the weather decide to be unkind. (We have been undone by the weather once or twice before at Oxenford, so maybe we were due a turn around in fortune). Rehman looked like he had never been away, taking the attack straight to the opposition bowling, despatching anything and everything, whilst Stuart settled in to anchor the innings and play the long game. Westcott raced along, the score reaching 30 in just three overs. A change of bowling slowed the run rate down however, but neither batsman looked in any kind of trouble and the score continued to mount, reaching 50 without loss, as the fielding team tried to get a wicket. Stuart looked in very good nick, playing a couple of lovely cover drives and Rehman continued with his usual style of see ball, hit ball… With the score on 80 in the 20th over, Rehman was finally out caught for 44 (having been dropped perhaps twice already?) and only 22 runs were needed for victory. A bit of left arm round seemed to do for Alimar, who was bowled cheaply by a “goodun”, and when Mikey got another “goodun” a few balls later, this brought the self proclaimed “Great Gary of Westcott” to the crease, but he also unfortunately failed to impress the scorers, out caught without scoring. Tanveer tried to finish the game with a big drive over mid on, but managed only to to cloth it straight to the fielder and he too departed cheaply. Hedders was still in the throws of padding up and hurried quickly out to the middle, conscious of being timed out and Westcott, who needed 4 runs to win, were now rushing around to pad up..!! Hedders was also out caught without scoring, which left Westcott six down, having lost 5 wickets for 17 runs (another deja vu – this time from last week). Enter Waqas to calm the nerves and he played a delightful back foot punch through extra cover to the boundary and Westcott had reached their target, albeit with a little bit of madness intertwined..!  A mention must go to Stuart, who finished unbeaten on 36 no, showing maturity and level headedness throughout all the craziness going on around him.

So, all done by 5.30pm, time to find a pub and have a nice cold beer, knowing that we had replaced Oxenford at the top of the table and pleased that the big dark cloud above had never emptied itself on us during the game. Moving on to next week, where Westcott will host Horspath CC, who are nicely placed in the division, so I am sure they will give a good account of themselves and we will need to keep up the energy and momentum if we want to stay at the top of the table.!!