We got dicked. They blew us away. We got completely and utterly thrashed. But before things get out of hand, let's put everything in perspective: Shipton-under-Wychwood is the national village knockout champions for the last two years running, as well as the Cherwell league division one champions 2002. Six of their players on Sunday were regular first team players, of which four played in the village finals at Lords. So they came with a pretty strong team. Evidence of this was pretty clear from the start. Their whole team were there early to check out the pitch and throw some balls around before half of our team even arrived. And unlike the average Manny road opposition there were no kids and no elderly (sorry Deb). To sum things up: They played like the professional league side they are, and we played like the very good Sunday team we aspire to be. They stopped every single and boundary possible; we let a couple of boundaries through our legs that could have easily been stopped. They bowled accurate and straight; we bowled wide and wayward. They batted savagely and aggressively; we played it safe and defensively.
After losing 9 out of my last ten tosses (yes, statisticians this is correct) for Manny road, I finally, finally won the toss and immediately decided to bat on a belter of a flat pitch. Mutterings of 250 should be the target floated about as me and Benson strode to the crease. We batted well and went at about 4 an over against their two opening bowlers. Their first change bowlers were a couple of young spinners and Benson tried to go after their offie but hit it to mid-on, who took a brilliant running catch. Pricey and I added a quick 51 in seven overs until I got out to the same offie trying to increase our slow runrate. At 127/2 after 30 overs we were well positioned for some major fireworks in the last ten. Now who better to have James Watson walking to the crease, already riled up because of some inbox cluttering over the past week, and being kept from batting for at least 30 overs. But, alas, it wasn't to be. After two quick singles he hit a long hop straight down deep square legs throat, only to realise that these village champions dont drop any catches. In walk Animitra Deb, a man eager to show his worth as a batsman. In fact so eager that he has been sitting warming up his pads for at least 30 overs in the past couple of games, waiting even wishing for James Watson to finally lose his wicket. So eager was I to grant him his wish that I decided not to umpire during Watto's short spell at the crease. And what an innings he played. He added 47 runs from the last 5 overs, hitting the ball so well and so consistently that at one stage the opposition had five fielders on the legside boundary all in front of square, and he still managed to find the gap. He reached 47 not out, helping us to a total of 193 for 8 after 40.
A splendid tea was had on the little mound just to the right of the pavilion. The oppo was so impressed with the tea on display that they swamped our little tea table for near 10 minutes, only leaving us some sandwiches and a small quantity of cakes.
Now yes, we were about 50 runs short of our initial target, but we went out to field all eager and fired up to show our worth against the village champions, thinking that we were in with a chance. But we were soon put in our place, with a bemusing display of batting. Our subcontinental attacked were hit out of the attack with such ferocity that the field was left in total bewilderment (Deb did get one of the openers though). I quickly brought on Watto, thinking that his "I bowl fast and straight"-approach will stop the onslaught. Watto steamed in, bowled a beautiful fast delivery straight at middle stumped, he turned around, ready to appeal for the coming very obvious LBW, only to see their left hander clip the ball straight off middle, racing toward the square-leg boundary. Watto dumbstruck but completely impressed with what he says was the "best shot ever played" at Manny road. I brought on Benson, trying to slow down the pace with his gentle offspinners. Their left hander had other ideas though. Now we've all been wondering about the glass structure of our newly built pavilion, questioning if it could hold true against the regularly onslaught of batting we see every week at Manny road, especially the Sam Dean "legside hoick". The question has been answered boys, and the conclusion is: every piece of glass on that pavilion is reinforced. Benson bowled a low full toss only to see his ball, land on the roof of the pavilion, roll on to hit the apex of the roof, and on its way down, hit every level of glass, making sure that we werent left wondering anymore. Several bowling changes saw Martin getting a wicket, who ended up with 1/34 off 6 (a great spell considering); Pete getting another, and me getting two, but none of us stopped the boundaries from flowing. They ended up scoring 198/5 off 27 overs; with only 28 singles, and all the rest either boundaries or sixes. All in all; 27 boundaries and 7 sixes (84% of their batsmen's runs).
OK, we were short of our target, and we batted too slowly. Maybe it was the lack of bad balls that we are so used to; or their stopping of runs that normally will go for fours; or maybe it was that we decided to accelerate too late. Whatever reason we may give, they were the superior team, and we might never see batting like that again at Manny road. So how did we measure up against the best of the best? After pub analysis revealed that we dont practice fielding enough, we dont have properly structured nets, and we will always just be a bloody good Sunday team.
Dropped Catches: Tom (x2) - £1; Hamaad - 50p
Comatose Fielding: Julian 50p; Pricey 50p; Hamaad 50p; Pete 50p
Pub Showing: Julian 50p; Quentin 50p
Benson: £1 - Immobility in the field (x2)
50p Glass testing
Booth: 50p - Deliberate bowling of wides
50p Hen night attendance ("Trisha-fine")
Deb: 50p - Nigel impersonation
Watto: £1 - Outrageous stumping appeal
- Appealing on "best shot of the match"
Pricey: 50p Adultery fine ("I dont care; I just want her brownies!")
Q: £1 Captaining abuse
£2 Demonstratively out-classes sandwiches
Nominations for awards:
Deb "Best Sandwiches of the year"
Q - "Worst Sandwiches of the year"