Format: 40 overs
Result: Won by 153 runs
Bibblical downpour reigns over Abingdon
IVCC’s 2016 season started with a trundle down the A34 to Abingdon Vale on a cold Sunday afternoon by the river. With the game there on the Saturday called off due to heavy rain and a waterlogged pitch, those on the teamsheet were left eagerly awaiting the Facebook update to confirm our game was still on. We were in luck as the heavens remained closed and the captains marched to the middle for a toss off. Never one to miss out on a good toss, and with club talisman Smith otherwise engaged in London running the marathon, Ellis ably took up skipper duties for the day.
IVCC were to bat first and with Cable-Alexander spending the afternoon on a dress-making course in lower Shropshire, the ever-present Meier welcomed a new opening partner in cricketing veteran Mark Law, making his IVCC debut after a strong showing in pre-season nets. Law started strongly, judging the susceptible bounce early and soliciting his first ball to the cover boundary. He courteously continued in that vein, countering with masterful and sustained strokeplay all around the wicket. Law accelerated the score quickly and without incident, whilst at the other end Meier was happy to play the accessory, nurdle the singles and keep Law on the stand in the witness box.
With 33 runs from 27 balls, Law was looking set to make an impressive debut score only to feather an edge behind and be sent down on appeal when he had, until that point, looked completely beyond reproach. This brought Winter to the middle, moved up the order and offered the chance to bring about a score that his ability so richly deserved. Expectation was high as Winter had spent the… errr… winter honing his cricketing skills on the beaches of Jamaica. Meier meanwhile was scratching through an innings at the other end, but a late cut here and a straight drive there kept the scoreboard ticking over, allowing Winter to warm himself up and play himself in. Resolute in defence, and merciless in attack, these two slowly accelerated the score, with ‘Iceman’ Winter in particular hitting some shots on the off side that were particularly pleasing to the eye. There was one huge maximum from Winter that bounced off the roof of the pavilion that drew oohs of delight from the visiting side on the boundary.
AVCC are sponsored by a local curry house, and three of their employees had been drafted in to the team this day to sure up numbers. They were easily identifiable by the fact none of them wore anything even remotely white (perhaps they were feeling a little….chili?). Still, they had turned up and were encouraged by their captain to trundle a few overs. Keen to curry favour with his captain, one of these chapattis (apologies, no scorecard available to give names) tikka his chance and was happy to rice to the occasion, and he started to find a spicy line and length. Meier was naan too pleased to be done by a slower bahji, bowled for 36 from 57 balls. With Winter looking cool as a cucumber raita at one end, skipper Ellis kept korma and played watchfully at first before he, too, enjoyed some of the less threatening bowling we’re likely to face this season and plundered runs all around the ground. It was a solid partnership, despite the occasional dodgy run call (par for the course when batting with Ellis. Allegedly…). It was sad then to see Winter lose his cool and run himself out just 7 runs shy of his first IVCC half century after such a solid performance. Clearly the pre-season training in Jamaica had paid off and perhaps we should consider a pre-season training camp there before the 2017 starts.
Newcomer McConnell had made the long journey up from south London with Winter and was perhaps frustrated that he hadn’t got to share the middle with his companion (and, some would say, father figure) and was caught for just 1 run on debut. Next up was Daylight, who swaggered to the middle with the usual confidence that befits a man who infamously only deals in boundaries. It perhaps came as some surprise then when Daylight called Ellis through for a quick single off his first ball and Ellis only just made it home safe. The boundaries predictably followed for Daylight, making 24 from just 14 balls before being clean bowled by a 14-year old rookie. Daylight wasn’t happy about it and showed Vardy-esque dissent as he walked off. Lucky for him he won’t be forced to miss the next game. Ellis meanwhile had his eyes set on a maiden half ton for IVCC and perhaps it was this that disturbed his concentration as he walked into a plumb LBW decision for a highly respectable 42 from 54 balls. So much of cricket, batting especially, is in the head and with 4 batsmen all falling with half-centuries within their reach, IVCCers clearly need to sure up their mindsets as the season progresses.
Hartley provided an entertaining knock as ever, also featuring a rather large six, with powerful hitting resulting in 24 runs from 18 balls and a nice red-inker to start the season. There was time for a brief cameo from Troth who ran himself out for just 2 – incredibly, the first time ever that he has been out for IVCC and cementing his status as IVCC’s Jimmy Anderson. For those stats fans amongst you, this was a biggie: IVCC posted their highest ever score of 227 for 7 from their 40 overs; Winter, Meier and Ellis all notched personal bests for IVCC, with Meier’s 36 the highest score by someone batting at #2 in all formats, and Winter’s 43 the highest score by someone batting at #3 in a 40 over game. Impressive stuff no doubt, but until both teams have batted, it was difficult to tell just how good that score was and so, with bellies full, the clouds parted like the waters of the Red Sea were parted by Moses and we took the field in glorious sunshine and the eyes of the Lord upon us.
Some people believe that Jesus was the son of God, bestowed upon us to help save us all from damnation. Those huddled in their winter jackets on the AVCC clubhouse benches might lay claim to having seen the second coming on 24th April 2016 as Dan Bibb made a triumphant and mesmeric return to IVCC.
With the pitch proving to be rather stodgy and offering some grip for the slower bowlers, Ellis shrewdly opened with Troth and Bibb. It wasn’t long before Bibb made the breakthrough, disturbing the furniture like a crafty woodsman. With one, comes two, or so the saying goes. And sure enough the AVCC wickets continued to fall in fairly quick succession. The quicker bowling of Troth (4 overs, 0 for 13) and Hartley (5 overs, 0 for 10) kept the batsmen honest and the score low and it quickly became apparent that AVCC were well behind the run rate and an IVCC victory was well within our grasp. But as the skies turned grey and the pitch was bathed in drizzle, the groundsman called the teams off and the plucky heroes of the Village feared the worst.
Luckily, the sun always shines on Will Taylor and so, with family in support, he willed the clouds to disperse so that he could take his moment to shine. And so we bore witness to another miracle that day as the cloud parted, the teams retook the field, and the young(ish) mortgage advisor (indeed, the only IVCCer to actually live in Iffley Village) took the ball from the football ground end. Having carried an injury throughout the winter and been unable to train or partake in winter nets in any fashion other than as a sidelined beer drinker, it was no surprise he was a little rusty. But after a few questionable balls, he slowly found some line and length (not always both at the same time, very tricky) and returned respectable figures 0 for 16 from his first ever overs for the club.
With newcomer McConnell pitching in (5 overs, 0 for 15), it was up to the slow spin of Bibb, Meier (2 overs, 1 for 4) and Law (2 overs, 2 for 4), and a Troth–Daylight run out, to rattle through the rest of the wickets before the weather turned sour again. Bibb in particular bowled with apocalyptic accuracy and devilish dexterity to which the opposition simply had no riposte. Dan finished with IVCC’s first ever Michelle Pfeiffer (6 overs, 5 for 10), and moved back into top spot as the club’s leading wicket taker. Not bad considering he missed most of last season due to a self-imposed hiatus. How nice it is to have him back! AVCC finished on 74 all out from 26 overs, and a win by 153 runs was secured.
“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” – Plato
Ali Meier IVCC Chairman 5 May 2016