Congregation at Mansfield Road for kit collection and dispersal among vehicles was scheduled to occur at 12:30ish. Raj came, then left, then returned, while only Chalky's body arrived. His mind and stomach seemed to be somewhere else. Tony Mc had forgotten his sunglasses in his haste, ensuring a bright, sunny day.
The plane to travel to Ascott via the A40 was waylaid by Charles, who arrived at the Wolvercote roundabout one car before Skip, and decided that the route via Woodstock and Charlbury would be far more pleasant. It did mean we went via Begbroke, Skip's car doing at high speed so that:
Two carloads eventually found Ascott, then the ground. Tony Mc and his Volvo were nowhere to be seen, so we went in search of him. Comedy moment: mobile phone conversation with Chalky, asking him where they were just as they came into view, which continued as drivers Skip and Tony Mc conversed sans mobile.
At the ground we discovered that it was probably a 2:30 start, since there was only 3 oppo there at 2:00. This gave us time to peruse and discuss FHM's list of the 100 Most Rootable Women on the planet. Chalky didn't tell us which one he had spent the night with. Those of you who weren't there (and those that were) will be pleased to hear that the list - and more importantly, the photos that go along with it - has been added to the kit for future discussion. By the way, Jennifer Lopez at Number One?
Once again we batted first. Raj turned down the chance to open the batting, apparently not aware that this meant he probably wasn't going to get a bowl, even when Skip responded to Migwara's volunteering to open by saying that he wanted Migwara to bowl. Migwara's enthusiasm was not dented by his dismissal in the 4th over, as usual bowled by a ball that wasn't as wide as he thought. Lawrence and Skip did well, especially when the left-arm quimmer came on. Having made 44ish, Lawrence succumbed to the too-good-to-refuse rubbish. The quimmer's bowling improved when I got out there just before drinks. Just after drinks, Skip skied one from the left-arm non-quimmer. Rich and I managed not to run each other out (just!) before he hit one down their captain's throat. Martin was bowled by the only ball their "spinners" got to turn, while Charles hogged the strike at the end. We made 190.
At tea there was some discussion as to how I was batting. I plead the "Matt Benson excuse" - that the bowling was quite good and that I was providing a solid foundation for the team. Others have described this as "minding my average". For future reference, please let me know if you would prefer if I would either:
Tony Mc opened the bowling down the hill, forcing Martin to work up it. One of their openers was pants, and was given for the second adjacent lbw appeal. Number 3 was not much better, showing all three of his stumps and enticing Martin to uproot the middle one. This brought to the crease their other batsman. By this stage, Tony Mc had managed to slip four byes through me. Realising there was nothing to be gained by standing up, and tired of my fingers taking a beating, I decided to stand back. My judgement was rewarded when Tony got an edge which settled pleasantly in my gloves. Chalky wasn't impressed with their number 5 - "You can tell he's rubbish just by looking at him." Martin got him lbw-style. Chalky's next contribution to our fielding effort was to tell Skip to put Lawrence at long-on for their skipper, who obliged by hitting one straight to Lawrence off Martin. Rich replaced Tony Mc, and after drinks slipped a corker through their remaining batsman. Number 8 lasted one ball before getting an inside edge which I accepeted happily. Rich got their Number 7 with a caught-and-bowled and should have got the Number 10 as well. In Chalky's defence, the chance did got straight to him not particularly quickly and he had to move his hands - he did well to get to it. Skip switched himself and Chalky at deep cover and took a catch off Migwara to remove Number 9. Number 10 was happy to block anything straightish and hit anything shortish. Number 11 was of the same mind, but his technique was less sound, and Rich ended proceedings by dislodging the off stump, claiming his 4th wicket and ensuring a 30 run win for Manny Road.
Not a bad day. Nice facilities, pavilion and tea-wise (pity about the ground and wicket), decent oppo (no kids and not total Begbroke's). One carload headed for the pub while two others returned to Oxford, this time via the A40. Tony Mc's passengers were treated to Frank Sinatra singing Christmas Carols. I felt at home - in Australia we actually play cricket at Christmas time.
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