Format: 35 overs
Result: Won by 8 wickets
Borne out of a desire to play competitive yet friendly cricket in the right manner against opposition of a similar ilk, IVCC’s final match of what has been a remarkable second season was the perfect reflection of this. Proving undoubtedly to be the best ground the team has played at to date, Great Tew was bathed in glorious sunshine as the homemade sandwiches and store-bought sausage rolls were bundled into the clubhouse fridge, and the wicket carefully inspected. With members of the opposition running slightly late, it was agreed that IVCC would field first, and so after a brief catching session in the outfield with two cricket balls and a rugby ball, the XI took the field for the final time this season, eager to end the season on a high.
Mid-season debutant Evans has proved to be a real find for IVCC this season, and a true all-rounder replacement for Pedersen (remember him?). He took the new ball from the road end and, despite a stuttering start, soon settled into his usual tight line and length. With the skipper taking the first overs from the pavilion end, Sibcliffe struggled to gain much momentum and it wasn’t long before they were 15 for 3, including a broken bail for Evans, and an early finish looked to be on the cards. Fortunately for all concerned, the next batsmen looked to steadily rebuild their innings and push their ailing team towards a competitive total. After an early injection of pace, Smith turned to Tyler who’s deceptive gentle trundlers have been the undoing of many a batsman this year. By this time, the Sibcliffe batsman had played themselves in and looked to attack Tyler, whilst being kept fairly honest at the other end by Ross.
Wicketkeeper Cavanagh injured himself in the previous match against Isis, and was still struggling to regain his fitness, so the gloves were thrown to Berry who, despite a predilection for throwing off his gloves and chasing after everything that slipped past him, performed admirably behind the sticks. It must be comforting for the skipper to know that should regular keeper Cavanagh be injured again, and Chairman Meier not wish to break a nail behind the stumps, he has a third option to call upon. With aspirations of becoming a serious bowler next season, Meier was chucked the ball to see what he could offer from the road end. Mixing up some nicely flighted balls with some absolute dross, Meier bowled one of their younger batsman clean through the gate with a beautifully flighted offie which brought local celebrity and sports presenter Mark Pougatch to the crease. With the elder batsman at the other end well settled and racing towards his 50 (despite offering up a number of catches, including one sitter which Watkins was ‘unlucky’ to drop, thus ensuring he is a shoo-in for the Daniel Watkins Award for Fielding Prowess* for an unprecedented second season running), after a tidy start from Meier, the batsmen started peppering Meier to the legside boundary with ease and the skipper mercifully thanked Meier for his contribution to the opposition’s score and withdrew him from the attack.
By this time Smith (bowling with his usual ferociousness) had bagged a couple, Evans and Tyler both had a clean-bowled to their name, and even Meier had bagged a brace (the second a simple catch for Ross). From the pavilion end Ross was looking threatening, and in an unexpected turn of events, Cable-Alexander was called upon to bowl his first balls in anger this season. With his ungainly approach, FCA’s first ball was an absolute peach: pitching less than a metre from his own foot, bouncing four times, and rolling past the batsman at the other end. As he was familiar to some of the opposition, the titters and good-natured catcalling from the boundary only seemed to inspire the young(ish) double-barrelian into tightening up his line and length, and he was duly rewarded for his persistence when skipper Smith took a very, very difficult catch over his shoulder at mid on. With figures of 2-0-23-1, FCA can be happy enough with his bowling jaunt for IVCC this year. Considering the increase in the quality of his bowling in the nets this season, perhaps there’s a chance we’ll be seeing more of this potential all-rounder bowling next year. However, given the not one but two catches he dropped earlier in the innings, he has some making up to do with the skipper first. Luckily the skipper finished with a 3-fer, so was in good spirits when those chances were shelled.
So the IVCC fielding performance was one of real contrast: when the ball was played along the turf, the fielding was a more than equal match, with an exceptional diving stop at point from Ross in particular drawing coos from the WAGs on the touchline. Cavanagh and Watkins were diligently busy, with Watkins his usual vociferous self, and Cav by now sporting a Mediterranean-esque tan for his afternoon’s exploits. Taylor, currently nursing a highly questionable wrist grievance apparently not from self-serving carnal pursuits, was keen to hide himself away in the deep boundary to prevent any further trauma. Desperate not to let the team down, and always keen to indulge in the post-match quaffature, he had steadfastly refused to put himself on the ‘off games’ list and heroically put his body on the line for his beloved IVCC. Sure enough, down at third man Taylor ended up seeing rather a lot of the ball and dealt with everything that came his way with surefire dexterity. In contrast, IVCC’s catching once again proved to be rather abysmal with a flurry of chances being dropped throughout the innings, including the skipper (taking the difficult chance but dropping, a simple one on the mid-on boundary, much to his chagrin). The old adage of ‘catches win matches’ always rings true, and IVCC’s lack of fielding practice and expertise under the high ball is something that should be noted and most definitely worked on for next season if we wish to continue to win matches.
With Sibcliffe’s two dangermen reunited after their 50 not out retiree returned to the middle at the stub of their innings, IVCC probed and probed but struggled to get them out in the September heat before the returning Evans took the final wicket, clean bowled, to leave Sibcliffe at a respectable 174 all out. With a leisurely lunch enjoyed by all, FCA and Meier strode to the middle, hand-in-hand like two star-crossed lovers, and took guard with the sun beating down and nary a cloud in the bluest of Cotswoldian skies. The batsmen were joined out in the middle by Ross Snr, a wily cricketing brain and one of IVCC’s staunchest supporters, who kindly offered to umpire the second innings. With both batsman keen to take the opportunity on an excellent batting track to finish their season on a high, they looked calm and filled with resolve in the early overs; solid in defence with the good balls, and imperious (FCA hitting the opening bowler back over his head for a delightful 4) and deft (Meier’s late cut flattering to deceive) with the bad ones. Having been unsettled in the previous over when bowled at when unready, the next over saw Meier lose concentration and get bowled by a decent yorker for 7, bring Ross Jr to the crease.
Both batsman soon looked settled and enjoyed exploring the wide expanse of the The Taylor Oval with a flurry of attacking shots, including one glorious cover drive for 4 from Ross that he held for just a little too long to avoid an arrogance fine in the skipper’s post-match analysis. With FCA looking better than he ever has at the crease before, he was duly rewarded with a magnificent 50, his second in a row, that was only sullied by the comedy moment of the opposition having to forcibly remove him from the crease due to the ’50 and retire’ rule. FCA wanted to bat all day, clearly feeling a maiden ton was within his grasp.
As FCA lapped up the plaudits on the boundary ropes, a Cheshire cat grin as wide as Vanessa Feltz’ waistline, Winter marched to the middle with the game evenly poised. Winter is a fine batsman, with a grace and composure reminiscent of a young David Gower in his pomp, and he looked poised for his 12 before a questionable LBW umpiring decision (NOT by Ross Snr, one hastens to add) too had him back in the hutch before he really got into his stride. One feels a big score is only round the corner for Winter, and it would be nothing short of what he deserves considering the long distances he and supporter-in-chief Chrissy make to support this club.
New all-rounder Evans was next up, fresh off 50s in his last three innings for his home club, and he and Ross set about taking apart the Sibcliffe bowlers and easing the required total ever closer. Ross in particular played one backfoot drive for 4, off Pougatch no less, which he will surely be dining out on for years to come. His retirement on 50 brought Berry to the crease, and man who doesn’t deal in anything but boundaries: cleanly dispatching Pougatch for the only maximum of the game over cow corner on just his second ball faced. Evans and Berry saw us through to the finish with style and with overs to spare to end the season on a high and leave IVCC with figures of Played 11 Won 7 Lost 4, which is an incredible achievement for a club in such infancy, and is a testament to every person who has given over their time to the club either as a player, supporter, chef, host, or as opposition. That famous lover of the sound of leather on willow, Mother Teresa, once said “None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful”, and there can be no doubt that were she alive today, she’d be proud to be sporting the famous yellow, blue and red of IVCC.
Ali Meier Chairman 7th September 2015
*sponsored by Teflon