Bampton in the Bush CC vs Blenheim Park CC – 20th September 2020

So soon
Too soon
This twisted
Troubled and truncated
Season that nearly never was
First burst brilliantly to life, burning brightly with victory upon victory
Then faltered slow amid inevitable availability woe
Peppered with sanity breaks
Bowling masterclasses
Batting collapses
And now today
Too soon
So soon
It ends

As is traditional the Blenheim captain lost the toss but happily was asked to bowl on a beautiful south Oxfordshire afternoon. Our dynamic opening bowling partnership with a combined age of 130 showed their usual personality traits. Stan’s Caribbean flair, toss it up and have a go but miss and I hit vs Nigel’s “you will score runs over my dead body lad” approach. With cautious batting and no breakthrough in sight and the “I can’t bowl at that end, I might hurt my ankle” left arm quick insisting on bowling after Nigel. Stan gave way to the young cycling turk of the BPCC line up
“Wheels” Spearman.

After a few overs of having his trial outswingers carted around the park he went back to tried and tested inswing to devastating effect. With two in two spanning an over end seeing both openers back in the pavilion trying to drive against the swing and we were looking at another possible away hattrick (and likely a much more deserved one). The incoming no 4 saw the ball take his bat shoulder and loop over the crouching tiger of Stan prowling at square leg but fall safely behind. Wheels made up for it though snaffling his man several overs later to finish the pick of our bowlers with 8 overs 3-27.

With Nigel completing a typically miserly 8 overs for just 11 runs but unable to bag any wickets. It was Toms turn to test out the middle of the wicket, and out turn to chase some leather. When he pitched it up he was unplayable but we discovered when he didn’t these boys could cut and pull well on a true track. Phil “the big 5” Spearman (bowls like Rhino, catches like a crocodile) replaced his son and also took a bit of tap as the Bampton middle order realised they had to get on with it. He did pick up 2 wickets with the usual wily flight and variable pace and a 7-2 legside field which the
batsman insisted on playing to leg…go figure. The returning Stan picked up a couple of wickets and also got some tap as Bampton went up a gear remembering the innings and summer was nearly over. Our recent turn to death bowler JVF was unable to staunch the flow as Bampton accelerated
to 165 which to us looked like a formidable target. (anything over 120 had looked formidable to our batting this season without Lee playing).

As we sat socially kettled on the outfield enjoying some lovely end of season cakes Skipper cycled through many batting line ups before deciding Wheels Speaman should join our ever present opener Phil to lead our reply. And it looked an inspired choice as they took us to 40 in the tenth over before
the first wicket fell. Keeping us up with the rate and baring the brunt of the Fine opening Bampton attack with some great running and some sweetly timed classy driving. Ironically it was a change to weaker bowling which did for both of them with both succumbing to something loopy, eyes alight
they dragged out and two smart stumpings saw us nervously eying the score board again. Simon pushed the score on nicely looking in good touch and then joined by Martin the innings was consolidated. Before Simon was caught bowled, a sharp take by the bowler and out hobbled skipper
West at 5. At 70-3 in the 19th over we were again drifting behind the rate and with just JVF and the tail to come it was time for some heroics.

Knowing there were 8 overs of returning openers to negotiate before the end of the innings West and Cox set about making late summer hay against the friendlier change bowlers. Reaching the boundaries often and mixing this with uncharacteristic quick singles and snaffling of byes. With one
returning opener seen off the other came back and tightened it up with tension clear along the knowledgeable travelling support and the boundaries dried up it was twos and hurried singles that kept the scores ticking along close to the rate but never ahead…40 of 10 then 23 off 5 as Bampton clawed their way back into it. But with 19 required off 4 and a return to change bowling at both ends Coxy cut loose (yes do not adjust your screens you are reading this correctly) carving the bowling up and taking us to a memorable victory and himself to an unbeaten 53. Our third wicket partnership having put on 96 in 18 overs (West 37 no and Extras contributing a healthy 19).

So at last our batting finds its form on the last game of the season, having to start all over again next year. And finally a thought for JVF, a rare thing indeed for a BPCC no 6 to have his pads on for 20 odd overs, an even rarer thing to not have to go to the middle during that time.

We retired to the local hostelry to enjoy a few drinks at Martin’s expense, promising even Nigel to join us in rare team unity and bonhomie. You are only as good as your last game…and we will be unbeaten for at least six months.

So as the leaves begin to fall, it’s time to take leave of cricket.
To hibernate in local hostelries, and in alternate sports.
To retreat to warmer climes and to reflect on times.
Of spilled catches and unequal matches.
When we scored a few runs, while Shaws scored tons.
When we bagged rabbits and chased leather.
Until we do it all again, together.
On the South Lawn.
With the eagerly awaited dawn of next season.

Report: Malcolm Percy Bysshe fucking Wordsworth West