Saturday 12th June 2021 – El scorchio…!! It was gonna be a hot one… let’s hope the skip wins the toss!! Nope, toss lost again, but, like last week, Westcott were invited to bat first. With Rehman still not available after his illness (we wish him all the best with his recovery), Tony was once again given the “nod” by the skipper and he and Stuart strode out to the middle to face the Tiddington attack. Unfortunately, Stuart got an absolute beauty first up, the ball pitching on a good length and nipping away just enough to catch the edge of Stuart’s bat and was taken gleefully by the keeper behind the stumps. There is sometimes nothing you can do apart from shrug your shoulders, nod at the bowler and walk back to the clubhouse. Dale strode purposefully out to the middle, intent on scoring some runs, already being heckled by a couple of his mates playing for the opposition. Tony got the scoreboard going with a nice drive through mid on, but in the second over, Tony then played another straight drive that came back off the bowler and hit the stumps at the non strikers end. Unfortunately for Dale, he was out of his crease and so also had to depart back to the clubhouse. So, the score was 5 for 2, the away team were “chipper” to say the least and this brought our resident run machine Tanveer to the crease. The bowlers remained on top for a few overs, both bowling well, whilst the two batsmen fought to repair the initial damage. You won’t keep Tanveer tied down for too long though and he started to play some shots, hitting a couple of nice boundaries as he started to look comfortable again. However, with the score moving onto 30 odd, Tanveer was given out LBW whilst on 14 which brought Roy out to the middle. He immediately looked to dominate the bowling and played a couple of lovely whipped wristy shots through mid wicket for four. Tony continued to provide the anchor role and the scoreboard started to move along nicely again. Unfortunately for Roy, but funny for everyone else, Roy inside edged a delivery that flattened him completely as the ball hit him clean in an “unfortunate area”. A few offers by the oppo to “rub it better” were heard, but no one actually physically volunteered, so it was left to Roy to suffer the pain himself. A few questions as to whether Roy was wearing a protective box was later identified as a confirmatory yes, but the ball had hit him on the outside of the box and had actually trapped another ball somewhere inside it….oooff.. I can feel the pain rising in the pit of my stomach as I write this…. Not to be deterred, Roy channelled his focus into his batting and started to dominate the opposition attack, scoring freely as he and Tony took the score above the 100 mark in the 24th over.

So, Westcott were back to some kind of parity after their unfortunate start. A change of bowling however saw the end of Tony, trapped in front LBW for a useful 39 runs. Alimar continued his run of bad luck, this time pulling a (high-ish) full toss behind square, only for a diving fielder to appear from behind the square leg umpire and take a fabulous catch. So 103-3 had turned into 105-5 and Westcott were in a familiar precarious position again, where a few more quick wickets could lead to an under par score being posted. Waqas joined Roy, who passed his first 50 for the club (congrats Roy) and the scoreboard started to move again. However, Waqas got done by a ball staying low and Roy flicked one straight to mid on, having scored a very useful 58. A little bit of confusion unfortunately saw Finbarr run out whilst attempting to run a quick single, the usual Yes – No – Wait – Maybe – Yes – I mean No scenario, that I am certain we have all been (or will be) privy to during our cricketing careers at some point. Tiz then chopped onto his stumps playing at a wide long hop and suddenly Westcott were 148 -9, with over 10 overs left. Thankfully though, the skipper steadied the ship with the help of Hedders, who played a couple of nice shots off his legs, and they managed to push the score up to 181 before Hedders was given out LBW, leaving the skipper 16 not out at the other end in the 49th over. A difficult total to gauge on a wicket that had been a little tricky to bat on, but, as Barry said, “it’s the same for both teams and you need to apply yourself on it”. Wise words indeed…

So, let’s see if 181 was indeed a good total on this wicket. Early wickets were required to allow Westcott to try and control the game, as Tiddington would now have 51 overs to get to the total, as they were awarded any of Westcott’s unused overs from the first innings, in this case, just the one. (Lots of new rules to be learnt and understood as we move forward.) Waqas and Alimar opened up, but the swing that was so clearly abundant in the first innings seemed to have disappeared somewhat. Both bowlers know how to move the ball around off the seam though and this they did, Alimar trapping the opener in front with one that nipped back in and then in the next over, cleaned bowled the number three, again with the ball coming back in off the seam. Waqas trapped the other opener LBW with a full pitch delivery, but it was a moment of magic that gave Waqas his second wicket, Stuart taking a fantastic one handed catch away to his right at gulley, simply plucking the ball out of mid air. At 35-4, Westcott looked in control of the match, but with the dangerous Brooks still to bat, the game was not over just yet. Alimar took another wicket to end with excellent figures of 3-19 from his 8 over spell, before Strongy replaced him at the Pavillion End.

The key wicket was certainly going to be the big hitting Brooks, who was showing glimpses of his ability, but Waqas and Strongy kept him relatively quiet. Waqas bowled 13 overs straight, never seeming to tire, finishing with 3-40 in another excellent spell of bowling and was replaced by Roy, bowling his quicker off spin (his actually turn, unlike the skippers). Tiddington at this stage were 6 down but only needed 80 to win and with plenty of overs to do it, were still in the game if they batted sensibly to the end. The middle / lower order hung around with Brooks, who needed to score now, but the two spinners kept him restricted, ensuring the right fielding positions were in place. Strongy eventually picked up the wicket he wanted, the batsman playing a back foot shot towards mid wicket, but the ball took a leading edge and a lunging skipper managed to grab on to the ball from his own bowling. So, 75 needed from 19 overs, but with only three wickets remaining it seemed a tall order, but in fairness to the two younger batsman, they continued to score some runs, playing a few sweep shots along the way, as Strongy tried to get the batsman out LBW. Roy at the other end was regularly beating the bat, but the last few wickets were not so readily forthcoming. Note~ This is where we need to learn to be patient and keep working hard – the wickets will come!!. And so, the wickets did come – in a flurry. With 8 overs to go, Roy clean bowled two batsman in quick succession and the following over, a mix up between the last batting pair allowed for Dale to whip a ball back into Strongy at the bowlers end leaving the batsman well short of his crease. So, this left Tiddington 49 runs short of the total required and a victory for Westcott. A good game of cricket played in the blazing sunshine and some well deserved refreshment was taken in the bar afterwards. And the showers were used as well (thanks Shifty)! Thanks to those from Tiddington who stayed for a drink and we look forward to the return fixture later in the summer.

Next week’s fixture is away at Aston Rowant CC, where the team will look to follow on it’s good run of form, hoping to make it “four from four”.