On a day when the British and Irish Lions only just managed to turn over a 14 man New Zealand, 12 Villagers made their way to Oxford to take part in another game characterised by unusual numbers.
After watching the Lions game, the main body of Villagers got on the Oxford tube only to find themselves stuck in Notting Hill waiting for tourists, Hooray Henrys and other cads to decide whether or not they wanted to board the party bus, whether or not they had luggage and even whether or not to join in with choruses of “Weather with You” and “Fall At Your Feet”. The delay resulted in a delayed start time of 2pm as Miami Vice Cressey tossed up having shared pictures of the track and insights into the psyche of the Demijohns captain with bus-bound skipper Thompson. The toss was lost and the DJs chose to bowl first on what looked like a classic Oxford surface, hard and true with a lightening outfield.
In the Nick of time Thompson and Troja strode through the gates with the rest of the Village in tow to allow JdM and Abrar to strap them on and head out to face the first over of the day. The first over eventfully saw JdM pump two cover drives to the cover fielder, one along the floor (a good shot for 0) and one unfortunately straight into the hands of said fielder. Morgs came and went to one that he couldn’t understand how it had broken through his usually tight defence and a mix-up between Bosh and Abs saw the latter heading back to the hutch run out for 4. This left the Village 18-3 after another disastrous start whilst batting first. Bosh (21) and Cressey began to rebuild before the late inswing of Keaton beat Bosh who departed for 21. Tim de Wit contributed to a 9 run partnership with Cressey with a solid block before being bowled by another huge inswinger. This brought the excitable TdM to the crease as he and Cressey began the rebuilding job (47-5) by attacking the bad balls and racking up the boundaries in lieu of any obvious singles being on offer. Toby was clearly the dangerman for the DJs as they quickly set the field back and tried to build pressure at the other end. The tactic failed to work however as the run rate stayed around 5.5 an over for the duration of the 66 run partnership between the two. TdM (43) drove over the top and swept well whilst Cressey (32) profited almost entirely from the cut shot before both perished caught and bowled in quick succession first to Lucas and then the impressive slow-left armer Earle. Frustratingly Toby finish 2 runs short of 1000 runs for the club but this brought stalwart Troja to the crease, himself needing only 12 runs for 3000 club runs. Having slowly worked his way to 10, Troja faced up to the demonic loopy (leg?-) spinners of Vigor. By his own admission Troja was only focused on getting to 12 and ‘then starting to play proper cricket’, so at the sight of a legside Vigor looper, he decided to gently paddle the ball for 2, but instead got a horrible top edge right into the hands of the man on the 45. 2,998 Troj and another week to wait…
At the other end Bossy showed no such nerves as he applied his usual tender touch by bludgeoning three 6s in his brutal 41. Fielders on the boundary don’t bother this man who looks at every delivery as if he is going to murder it before patting 50% calmly down into the ground and absolutely massacring the other half. One of the ‘gentle pat’ style shots saw his downfall however as he knocked one back into his stumps to be bowled. With clear instructions not to be out first ball, Bilal was out first ball, which brought number 11 Pitcher (3 smashed 4s for 13) and number 12, captain Thompson, together to nudge the Village up to a respectable, but gettable 180 from 36 overs (all out with 12 men on that pitch is a bit of a boo boo).
DJs bowled well but their real tactic became clear as tea emerged and the Village proceed to gorge on sandwiches, sausage-based snackettes, quiche, doughnuts, crisps and fruit before heading out to field.
Former Village correspondent (23 exquisite match reports*), batsman (2181 runs from 94 innings inc. 25 instances of red ink), bowler (72 wickets from 341 overs) and apparent fielder (*5* listed catches from 100 matches!!!), Alan “Bomb” White opened up for the DJs against Bossy and nemesis Thompson. After seeing off a sharp opening over from Bossy, Bomb was undone by the straight one from Thompson as he Nicked off to keeper JdM (a good catch diving in front of first slip).
With the match over, all that remained was to dismiss the DJ batting line-up fo’ real. The Village were superb in keeping things tight with the ball to reduce the DJs to 40-5 from 13. Skipper Thompson ripped out three of the top six with Bossy, TdM and a Bilal run-out (!) accounting for the rest.
The run-out in particular deserves closer scrutiny. Troja ripped and bounced his first delivery to see the left-handed batsman edge it over the keeper and slips, Bilal ran around the ball and performed some sort of cricketing style séance, which resulted in the three batsmen (classic runner situation meltdown) doing a extraordinary rendition of Let’s Twist Again in the middle of the pitch and JdM destroyed the stumps and top soil to see the dangerous Bachelor run out without having even run. It has been posited by certain Villagers^ that the non-running batsman in a runner situation shout not be permitted to give explicit running instructions to the two running batsmen but in this case it may have actually led to his demise so we’ll leave it.
By this point the DJs innings wasn’t far away from the Villager’s own position of 47-5 but the lower order power of VCC did not emerge from the DJs until it was too late. The procession of wickets continued albeit with Thurston, Lucas and Earle adding lower order runs with some power hitting out of the top drawer, especially the extra cover 6 from Lucas! The innings ended with another Bilal collector’s item as Pitcher floated one up to Lucas who sent into high into the air. Villagers held their breathe, then let it out again and took another one as the ball turned towards Earth, Bilal got EVERYTHING behind it and pouched it with consummate ease. The DJs were dismissed for 135-11 on a day when 22 wickets fell on a flat pitch, Bilal performed two fielding miracles and two Villagers fell two runs short of significant milestones.
A good performance to build on was followed by beers, curry, Eurobar and Oxford Tube home (yes there are videos). Well played Village and on to next week.
*number may be in dispute