Format: 35 overs
Result: Lost by 8 runs
IVCC dismissed for C. Ross misconduct
Sunday saw the inaugural IVCC game against our Vice Presidents XI, captained by the inimitable Charlie ‘Bargain Hunt’ Ross, take place at Cutteslowe Park in North Oxford. An early nibble for a few at the pub before the game ensured the VPs arrived at the ground full of good cheer and ready for the challenge that lay ahead, their confidence no doubt bolstered by a few local ales served up by the lovely ladies at Jacob’s Inn. The Villagers, starved of so much cricket already this season by England’s customary disdain for seasonal weather, were eager to get things going and spend some time out in the middle. Chairman Meier accompanied the two skippers to the middle which saw the VPs win the toss and, after much deliberation, Charlie opted to put his side into bat and set a total for IVCC to chase. With Cable-Alexander opting to bat for the other team (not for the first time, I’m sure), he was promptly told to put his makeup on, pad up and a few minutes later saw the diminutive opener stride confidently to the middle to face his long-time friend Troth who opened, somewhat appropriately, from the disabled car park end.
Bad weather has robbed IVCC of a few matches this season, and with the local nets also out of action, actual time with bat in hand has been in pretty short supply. It was of no surprise then to find Cable-Alexander looking a little wobbly in his high heels early on, struggling for timing on both sides of the wicket. Troth, on the other hand, was surprisingly accurate given his lack of match fitness. He was ably supported by the skipper, ‘Fanta Pants’ Smith, steaming in from the bunting end. Both bowlers found good line and length and tested FC-A and his opening partner Ben Cater. Indeed, it was Cater who fell first, edging to Daylight’s safe pair of mitts behind the stumps off a pacey number from Smith in his second over. Whilst FC-A slowly played himself into form, he was joined by Abingdon Vale ringer Ram Baskaravelu at the crease. Ram was defensive for a while and the run rate slowed, putting the onus on FC-A to keep the scoreboard ticking over. With Smith (4-0-11-1) replacing himself with Dickie Tyler from the bunting end – this looked like a shrewd move from the skipper who knew that FC-A struggled against slower bowling. However, with an hour’s batting coaching at Lord’s under his belt just a week before, FC-A’s confidence grew and it wasn’t long before he was feasting at Tyler’s table of delights and pummelling a few pies to the boundary, including one massive straight six back over the bowler’s head. With Ram nurdling the odd single here and there, the rate increased and the game was on!
Troth (6-1-18-0) was removed and replaced with the less amusing of the two Rosses on show to try to stem the tide, and stem it he did! Continuing on from his sterling bowling performance at Stowe earlier in the week for the Pelicans, Ross was tidier than an OCD-sufferer’s panty drawer and opened with two consecutive maidens. Ringer Whittam was also brought on from the bunting end and indeed it was he who broke the C-A/Ram partnership by having Ram caught and bowled for 23. New man Feather was controlled at the crease and he formed a decent partnership with FCA. Ross Jr was pulled off by the skipper and then removed from the bowling lineup, finishing with great figures of 5-2-4-0 and very unlucky not to take a wicket. Whittam too finished with decent figures of 4-0-10-1. Matt Law was thrown the ball and he took a wicket with his very first ball, bowling FC-A clean through the gate to howls of delight from the home team. FC-A did well for his team, scoring 36, and should perhaps consider batting for the other team more often, or at least be curious.
For the VPs, C. Feather and Tredwell both build solid innings after Thompson was caught off Matt Law for 1. Feather was eventually dismissed for 22, clean bowled by a beauty from the Rumpshaker, Ellis (4-0-20-1); and Tredwell was left to prevent the VPs’ innings from collapsing as those around him faltered (the VPs moved from 76–2 to 128–6). Battersby was clean bowled by Meier for a duck; Powell was caught at square leg by Troth off Meier (4-0-24-2) for just 8; and the bearded wonder Daniel Watkins run out for 4 (one glorious boundary which he will happily relive in great detail for anyone unlucky enough to be within earshot). Tredwell was also run out towards the end leaving J. Feather stranded on 4* and the skipper and last man in, Charlie Ross, ending on zero, unable to Flog It for any more runs at the bidder end. The VPs finished on a highly respectable 170–9 and tea was taken.
Tea is so often the undoing of a cricketing side, with players re-emerging onto the pitch weighed down not only with expectation, but also a few beers, and countless cheeky pork pies too. With the rest of the IVCC team lucky enough to be able to sleep it off on the touchline, Meier and Mark Law waddled laboriously to the middle like two men whose biggest problem was lack of bowel control rather than ball control. With both batsmen happy to play themselves in for a few overs, checking the bowlers out and allowing the ranitidine to kick in, the initial scoring was predictably slow. Ben Cater, who just 3 months previously had undergone a hip replacement, was courageously opening from the bunting end and finding decent line and surprising pace considering his 3-yard run up. With the young and energetic J. Feather proving to be accurate from the other end, IVCC had scored just 2 runs from the first 4 overs, and both bowlers had a maiden to their name. Law soon found his rhythm though and cracked a series of fours down the hill to the cover boundary, and Meier was perfecting his Boycott impression by nurdling the singles to try to keep his more aggressive partner on strike. Law had racked up 21 tidy runs in 25 minutes before he was caught off J. Feather going for a big one.
This brought Tim Morton to the middle, US Marine Corps cap still ever-present, a man who scored a whopping 143 runs in his previous innings. Perhaps weighed down by the expectant crowd that gathered on the sidelines expecting some big hitting to cow corner, Morton was decidedly scratchy at the crease and struggled for any kind of fluency. With Meier, as always, dealing strictly in singles due to his weedy arms not being able to hit the ball off the square, the run rate slowed to the point of flat-lining so that it was almost a relief when a dance down the wicket and a swipe and a miss saw Morton stumped for 6 off the leg-spinning Kiwi, Powell. Big hitter ‘Daylight’ Rob Berry was sent to the middle to try to beef up the IVCC total. For a man who only deals in boundaries, his 8 runs surprisingly came in only 1s and 2s before he was caught going for an almighty heave off Powell. With Ram ‘Rod’ Baskaravelu (7-1-26-1) bowling frustratingly decent line and length, and Powell (4-0-20-2) doing a decent Warney impression and getting some decent turn, IVCCs scoring rate slowed even further.
Meier accidentally scored a couple of boundaries before his technique was found out by the beguiling flight of auctioneer Ross Sr, who tossed one up that spun through the gate and left the diminutive Chairman collapsed in a heap on the floor for 25, outdone and outbid. Whittam had time to nurdle 2 singles before a brief rain spell brought the players off the pitch. Whittam had clearly seen enough, retired himself hurt, and made a hasty exit ne’er to be seen again, bringing Ross Jr in to join the Rumpshaker in the middle once the rain had abated. The eagerly-anticipated Ross v Ross battle was on, with the one with slightly more hair getting the batter of his old man by launching him cleanly over the boundary for a maximum. Rumpy (9) was unlucky to be caught by FC-A running in from square-leg, not long after he’d shelled a much easier catch.
Matt Law came in and milked a few singles before being caught leg before for 5 off Ram, bringing arguably 2016’s most impressive IVCC batting partnership of Ross and Smith together, with a steadying of the ship and a captain’s innings required. Some clean hitting and hard running between the wickets saw these two accelerate the score sharply upwards before Ross was trapped LBW by the returning Cater (7-1-39-2) for an excellent 37, and the skipper was caught by his opposite number, Charlie ‘I’ve already dropped three’ Ross, off Tredwell (2-015-1) for an admirable 31. This left an awful lot for Dickie Tyler and last man in Troth to do, with Chewie Tyler bowled by Cater for 1, and Troth being bowled by Feather for 5 runs with 8 still needed.
So a memorable first VPs game came to a close with a hard-fought game played in the right spirit, and with IVCC generously gifting the win to their benefactors. Huge thanks must go to Nick Irvine who channelled the spirit of the great Dickie Bird and solidly umpired through both innings with his usual charm. Appreciative nods and imaginary caps are doffed to those spectators on the touchline – wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, babies. Last but not least, we must thank our VPs and the team for a great day’s cricket and we look forward to welcoming them all back next year to compete for the Camel Cup.
Ali Meier Chairman 20th July 2016