Checkendon CC vs BPCC – 29th August 2021

Our latest excursion took us to Checkendon in the heart of the Southern Chilterns – a hastily arranged fixture after the Swifts of Witney, um, swiftly dropped out. We were somewhat perturbed to arrive at this rather green and pleasant land to find some fairly spritely looking individuals actually warming up on the outfield and wondered if this was to be another one of those tedious mismatches

Having won the toss and electing to bat, Phil Boardman’s work was mostly done shortly afterwards after unusually being removed early doors for 10 at the top of the order. This opened the door to Blenheim’s youth policy to prove that the last time they all batted together and amassed 160 runs for one dismissal was not an aberration. Well, they failed. But not by much. George Kerr (38) and Jake Spearman (46) put on 92 for the 2nd wicket before both departing in rapid succession but this only brought ’18’ year old* Ollie Boardman to the crease who continued the good work and remained not out on 33 at the innings close.

George’s dismissal was a curious thing. Having larruped the ball hard into short extra cover’s shin, the resilient young fielder not only remained on the field but remained in the same short extra cover position, only for Kerr to apologetically lob up the easiest of catches there the very next ball. It was as if he had tried to remove the fielder completely, failed, and played a premeditated prod into the newly vacant area only to find it wasn’t vacant.

Coxy snuck in with a cameo, Hughes teased us with hints of innings played in years gone by and Rob Kerr, as always, played the match situation perfectly scoring 5 off 4 at the end. Messrs Gokani, Angol, Spearman (Snr) and Walker did not bat in the 35 overs allotted but nevertheless the team had amassed 174 -5 and the hosts therefore required exactly 5 runs an over to win. Tea was taken and supplemented by a splendid Victorian sponge courtesy of the Kerr family.

In a change to recent times Walker and P. Spearman opened the bowling and it was Walker who made the first breakthrough castling the young opener in the 7th over. However all Blenheim bowlers found it hard going and having been used to helpful conditions on the South Lawn, this track offered little and even less when straying even slightly short or wide. And whilst the ‘Check’s were often behind the required run rate, the consensus was that they were ahead of the game having lost just the one wicket until late in the innings. Jake Spearman and Gokani were both given a go to no avail (although both had very catchable chances put down) and although George Kerr caused more issues than most, the batsman remained in situ as the game appeared to be drifting to a climax in the hosts favour. Enter Sir Stanley Angol, legend of Blenheim. Yes Stan entered the fray at 112—1 after 23 and initially results were predictable. But then! I’ll leave it to others to decide if it was complacency, arrogance or simply just a spin bowling master class (or possibly all of the above) that led to the Angol 3 wicket maiden. Yes reader you read that right – an Angol 3 wicket maiden!

Such a phenomenon deserves more air space. The first ball of Stans 3rd over was hoiked to cow-corner where Jake took another stunning catch (or routine catch if you are Jake) to see the opener finally depart for 72. A classic case of bowling to your field. Next ball with the batsman having crossed, Angol saw the back of Checkendon’s no.3 who had seen enough and decided that it was time for a reverse sweep off one of Stans straighter deliveries. Well how difficult could that be? With all the time in the world, a complete hash was made of the shot, the stumps were re-arranged and Stan had seen the back of the two top scorers in consecutive deliveries. With Blenheim sensing blood, and Stan more sugar, the field closed in for the hat-trick ball. This was survived but Hughes then made his most telling contribution of the day by suggesting that Ollie move 3cms to his right at leg slip. It was to prove critical next ball as Stans leg side delivery was prodded straight down Ollies throat. Stan and Ollie (& Dave) had together contrived another fine mess for Checkendon.

On the 40th anniversary of Botham’s Headingly miracle (or thereabouts), Blenheim sensed their own sensation was now within their grasp. Kerr (G) returned for another lively spell and was rewarded with his own 2 in 2, finding the woodwork on both occasions. At 165-6 and still 10 runs required at the start of the penultimate over, all results were still possible.

But, alas, it was not to be. On a day when two very catchable chances went down at key moments and few were spared a mis-field (with some of the more reliable fielders being unusually responsible), we were left to wonder what might have been. Special mention should be made here of David Hughes who not only was not responsible for a mis-field but was panther like when fielding on the square.

We retired to the local hostelry – The Black Horse – a delightful spot literally in the middle of nowhere – just down from Lower Bumblefut. Stans jug avoiding 3-fer at least extended to a round of Nobbys Nuts and we all made merry before departing various different ways through the woods to return home.


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