“Too Good, Too Young, Too Hot!”
It seems each morning and each day in the past week the temperature had been rising, little did we know it would peak on the sunny Sunday where Blenheim Park CC would host the South Wales Hunts. Everyone arrived at the pitch side to witness what could have been the largest Blenheim boundary in history, Skipper Malcolm West thinking that this large playing area would suit the cricket of the lads.
Malcom went in with the Hunts skipper to do the toss, the thoughts of all 22 players was “please bat first”, Malc loses the toss and Blenheim were sent into almost 30-degree heat to bowl at a young and excited South Wales Hunt. The Hunts got off to a slow start as Blenheim openers Weedon and Angol kept the run rate low, Angol using his Birthday magic to get fantastic figures of 7 overs for 25 runs and an over in hand. 16 overs in and Hunts were only up to 66 runs, Blenheim had a few chances with a dropped catch and some opportunities for run outs as Hunts pushed the singles but all to no avail. It was after the 20th over that the hunts started to push with batsmen Williams and Enslin both pushing to 50, Keyes and Spearmen Senior entered the bowling attack at a difficult time in the game, the heat was definitely starting to take its toll and the Hunts started to pick more gaps in the field and pick up 2s and 3s with only the odd shot hitting the boundary. Keyes short stint saw a few shorter balls than he would have liked, and the Hunts openers were so comfortable at the crease that they ceased any opportunity as they looked to push on. Keyes lasted 4 overs and went for 23 at this point both Batsman had got to their 50 and were looking strong. That was until McCall came into the fray, as in his second over he was able to find the breakthrough for Blenheim. A ball outside the off-stump was swung at aggressively by Williams (63) and edged into the mittens of Rob Kerr who celebrated in typical Kerr fashion running down the side of the square towards his adoring fans and teammates. Blight entered the crease for Hunts and at this stage Enslin was nearing a 100, Skipper Malcom West was becoming a little bit more annoyed with the standards slipper for the hosts, McCall left the attack and on came Bartlett, meanwhile Spearman was bowling from the other end in typical Spearman fashion, he even said to Weedon “this run up I’ve got is making this hard” which is disgraceful as he comes of 5 steps and 4 of them he walks for.
Back to West’s feelings about the fielding, it was the 25-30 over, the heat was killing us the gaps were being exploited boundaries were coming quicker. We were chasing a lot of ball Boardman was melting, Simon was wishing he had factor 50 on, and Malcom was fielding on the boundary. The ball was casually hit to him, he waits for the ball to approach, picks the ball up and in one big action winds up the underarm throw, little did he know he let go of the ball too late and gifted 4 runs to the Hunts and we threw it back over his own shoulder and over the largest boundary in Oxfordshire. This made the fans day, with some calling it a champagne moment. In the 30th over Enslin reached 103 and was retired in the 35th over to give the other lads a bat, incredible innings from him. The last 5 overs saw the hunts try to smash us around the park as they had the freedom of wickets to play with, Bartlett was able to take the wicket of Blight (3), Stan Angol came back on to pick up the wicket of Lodhi (21)with a fantastic caught and bolwed which was smashed back at him. And McCall took Doolittle (15) and with McCalls wicket Hunts declared with 3 balls of the innings left.
Blenheim spent lunch trying to recover from a big effort in the field, only needing 5.5 an over didn’t seem an impossible task, but the lads were tired and feeling the effects of bowling. While Hunts came out buzzing and rattled through their overs with immense speed. Boardman and McCall went out to bat first, the Hunts opened with Saunders and Dell who looked to do a lot with the new ball. It was a really tough 10 overs but neither wicket fell and the openers finished their spell. McCall saw this as an oppertunitiy to have a bit more of a go but little did he know their bowling attack was very strong, the first over of change bowling saw Lodhi bowl 2 no balls and then on the third no ball of the over McCall was caught behind, luckily a no ball was given. McCall (10) didn’t learn from his mistake as he took a swipe at one outside off stump and was then caught behind by star man Enslin. In the next over Boardman who feeling the effects of the sun saw his eyes light up as Mulvhill came on to bowl spin with the 3rd ball Boardman took an alight swing and that was the end of his time at the crease stumped by the best keeper to have graced the Blenheim grounds. Into the crease came Keyes and Parker two of the Blenheim’s best with the bat, it didn’t take long for Keyes to start having a go at the spin bowling starting with a four and getting 2 sixes in a row, which didn’t please Stan as he was rudely awoken to the shouts of “heads” and at the last minute was able to dodge a huge 6 from Keyes. Parker batted sensibly with him and Blenheim were able to reach 70 before a falling wicket. Keyes (30) was caught and with that a definite shift in the game as the next over saw Parker (12) LBW from Lodhi. The Hunts were in full flow and loving the hallow turf of Blenheim with the banter increasing in the field. Inge and West entered the crease and it wasn’t long till Mulvhill was at it again taking Inge for 2 runs while West kept at it in his own fashion of hit everything really hard. Bartlett came into the game and scored a 4 but once again Mulvhill (4) had him stumped. Mulvhill taking 2 wickets in an over spelled a mini collapse for the hosts as their hopes of any sort of win was out of the question. 7 down and only 86 runs to Blenheim’s name.
It became a matter of pride for the hosts, getting to over 100 and seeing what happened from then, after Wests giving away of runs he batted like a man who was looking for redemption from his own players giving every ball all his effort but no one could stay with him, Weedon caught from Mulvhill for 0. Kerr Bolwed for 2 from Doolittle had West thinking no one wanted to stay with him, Spearmen entered at 9 and looked the best of the last 3 batsman to have gone in but could only get 6 before Khot bowled him out. Leaving the one-armed Angol to come in and have a birthday hit, 2 balls later and he hit one into the arms of fielder and that spelled the end of the Blenhiem chase. All out for 113.
Overall a great game but the team that bowled first would always have had a tough time in that heat, the spirit of the game was great and most players were in the Woodstock Arms after the game for food and drink and a Happy Birthday sing for Stan Angol who was 25 this week. A big difference in class at the end of the day but we hope to see the South Wales Hunt back again. Stan bowled superbly and the batsman of the day and overall man of the match taking a superb catch would go to the Hunts Enslin scoring 103.