Stonor provided the opposition for our last game of the season. That’s ‘Stonor’ not to be confused with tea man ‘Stoner’. One is a large country park while the other is something of an abbreviation of that.
We batted first on a very stripey looking wicket & the pacey Kavanagh in particular extracted some lively bounce with an early delivery whistling past Keysey’s nose. It must have been an early delivery as the batsman was soon back in the shed having larruped a lofted drive to the long-on boundary where the only fielder within a 3 mile radius barely had to move to take the catch. Despite this, we progressed to a relatively comfortable looking 27-1 with Malcolm playing some shots – albeit being dropped twice in one over. As Keysey acknowledged ‘hes a very lucky man indeed. And with doubtful parentage too’ (Ive paraphrased). However we then collapsed with numerous batsman claiming various shades of unlucky (some genuine, some not so) and suddenly we were looking down the barrel at 59-8 despite West’s 27.
With an early finish imminent thoughts drifted towards the autumn and what we could now be doing with our spare time of a weekend … get the lawn mown for instance or re-acquaint ourselves with previously close family members … oh and a phenomenal hook for four from Nigel to deep backward square … probably some other sports on – F1 or Rugby maybe … Jake picking up a few runs and blocking the straight ones … must be an end of season do at some point …. what a straight drive by Walker for another boundary … pay some bills, and Christmas will soon be on us … wow what a shot from Jake pulled to mid-wicket inches short of a six … next year’s holiday to book …. and again – same place just out of the reach of the fielder ….. get the car in for an MOT … Nigel finding the ropes with embarrassing ease now… hang on a minute what’s the score?
Well yes, whilst everyone else was daydreaming these two Oxfordshire representative ‘bowlers’ had doubled our score to a much more respectable 120-odd!
With Jake finally gone, bowled for 25, younger brother Finn – not yet 11 ½ – came to the crease to join Nigel who is old enough to be his great-grandfather. Little did Nigel realise as he staggered from one pub to the next whilst celebrating his 55th birthday that he would one day be batting alongside the infant who had just made his own way home in a similarly blurry haze from the maternity ward.
Surely our plucky defiance was about to end? Well not quite. While Walker continued slaying at one end, Finn stoically defended the other and kept out 26 balls – many delivered by the prolific (6-fer) Austin. Finally as our innings was drawing to an end anyway Walker was given out LBW for 35 – the highest score any of his team mates could ever remember him getting (although this clearly eliminates anything prior to middle age).
With the pitch playing the odd trick or three there was a general consensus that our 134 could be very competitive and buoyed by his innings and well refreshed by a splendid tea, Walker returned to the field to open the bowling. In partnership with the other Spearman on show, Stonor were tied down as they themselves found the conditions bowler friendly. Keysey took two slightly better than average catches behind the stumps whilst Walker helped himself to a c & b. With first change Gokani also weighing in the hosts were restricted to 32-5 after 20 overs with just 20 left to play.
With the game clearly in the bag our thoughts again drifted… wash the car, paint the shed … well bowled Raj … might get to the cinema at some point … good effort Stan … catch up on some of those TV dramas everyone is talking about … well bowled Nick ,,,
Not a lot appeared to be happening during this passage of play except our esteemed Chairman taking one for the team in the euphemistic mid-ships whilst fielding in a very silly position which soon became a very recumbent position. We all wish the twins a full & speedy recovery Mr Chairman, Sir.
And then we came to the pivotal point of the game.
History is littered with individuals who, against all odds, have reached the pinnacle of their chosen vocation before then having the good grace to step back into obscurity from whence they came before they got found out as a fraud. Think Florence Griffiths-Joiner, Nigel Farage, Edward VIII, Syd Barret, Zafar Ansari.
Malcolm West had similarly reached some dizzying heights this season as captain, promoting as he had Rob Kerr and Spearman’s P & J to the top of the order with remarkable results. He wasn’t done there either as he had proved in our previous match by bringing himself on to bowl and taking the prize wicket first ball. Everything had turned to gold for the tactically minded one.
Thinking he could fool all of the people all of the time however, he again brought himself on to bowl at the business end of this game. A rather working class buffet was dished up (plenty of it but not necessarily of high quality even by buffet standards). Stonor batsman Powell who was well set and seeing it like a football immediately identified that the emperor (who doubles as the club s welfare officer) was no longer wearing any clothes and dealt with the fare accordingly.
SCOREBOARD PLEASE! … dum-de-dum … Jesus how many? Come on guys let’s get serious …
Bartlett did manage to keep us in the game with a two wicket burst but Stonor were closing in on victory with 7 down and 7 overs remaining to get 30 runs.
With the penultimate throw of the dice West decided to flog the dead horses that were the opening bowlers; Walker & Spearman (P). These two had by now bowled over 400 overs between them in the season (in all forms) and had both royally seized up like a Blenheim roller. With the field now doing a passable impression of the okey-cokey the results were predictable and with just 4 to win, Oxfordshire U14s District leading wicket taker & opening bowler Jake Spearman was let loose on the opposition with just a hat-trick required to claim glory. 3 balls later the game was indeed over although alas, not in our favour.
So, genius one week, jelly bean the next, the skipper had done himself up like a kipper. If only he’d taken a leaf out of Flo-Jo’s book and quit whilst ahead.
We retired to Pishill to lick our wounds where predictably Keysey didn’t put his hand in his pocket but rather more surprisingly kept it up in the air as he nominated himself for the captaincy role next year (note to the committee to check the constitution to see if one can nominate oneself for office).
Personally I’ll be voting for Nigel Walker – the man can do no wrong.
An interesting winter awaits.