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Wed 20th Jul 2016 vs. Isis (A) @ Queen's College

Match report

Iffley Infidels see off Isis in close run-chase

IVCC arrived at Queen’s College for a match against a touring side from the Middle East with the hot July sun blazing a trail in the clear blue Oxford skies. After a run of recent bad press, Isis were keen to let their cricket do the talking and earn back some goodwill from the west, while IVCC were hoping to register their third win of the season.

Captain Bill lost the toss and Isis elected to make first use of the hard, grass-free pitch. With a short boundary on one side and the outfield looking short and fast after the recent dry weather, surely a high-scoring game was on the cards?

The players took to the field to the sound of battle cries from both sides; left-armers J.R. Hartley, usually seen with a fly-fishing rod in hand, and Miles Johnson launched the opening salvos for the Village. Hartley struck an early blow when he sent a stump-seeking missile through the defences of Ramu Vellayapan (2). This brought Dom Henry to the crease, an explosive batsman who was intent on bombarding the long-on boundary with fiery blows from the outset. Bill worked hard to contain the danger man, but despite the peculiar sight of three men on the boundary in the “Daylight arc” between midwicket and long-on, Henry continued to find success with his only, albeit very effective, shot.

Slow-left armer Dan Bibb was called upon to lob some grenades at Henry, but each barrage was sent back to where it came from, with change. Eventually, after Bibb, Smith and Olly Ross had taken their share of punishment, the skipper speared one onto Henry’s poles and duly congratulated him on a fine innings of 38. Isis’ other opener, Suresh (23), started more circumspectly but soon started to launch his own airstrikes towards the boundaries; thankfully for IVCC, Ross managed to skittle him before he could cause any extensive collateral damage. The rest of the innings played out at a more sedate pace, less of a war and more of a light skirmish, with Isis limping somewhat to a modest total of 118 for 5. Garr joined the party late-on as Cav & Ross safely defused Isis incendiaries to give him reward for what was, for the most part, adequate bowling. JR was undoubtedly the pick of the bowlers, as-ever looking a class apart and ending with miserly figures of 1 for 9 from 4.

IVCC set out for the chase needing 119 to win from 20 overs. Aware that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, Smith elected to push diplomacy over aggression and attempted to overwhelm Isis with as many initials as possible from his top four batters. This plan appeared to pay early dividends as W.V.P. Taylor flummoxed the Isis bowlers with his unorthodox technique and cavalier approach to running between the wickets, and F.W.A. Cable-Alexander rotated the strike and picked out the boundary with ease. FWA and WVP worked well together until Ferg picked out extra cover for 19 to bring an end to a very entertaining opening partnership.

WVP battled on with O.C.A. Ross before his own innings came to an end when he chipped to square leg for 15. It was a fine knock, befitting of a career-best, and included a superb bludgeoned four through mid-wicket which brought the joyous sight of Will punching the air in delight.

This brought in R.G.D. Berry to complete a run of four successive batsmen with at least four initials, and it was clear that Daylight was in no mood to hang around as he smashed his first ball for six over long-on. Then followed: three to deep backward square; four through midwicket; six over long-off; four lofted over extra cover (the best shot of the lot); and finally a skyward hack which was caught at mid-off, Daylight dismissed for a game-turning 23 from 9 balls.

Daylight’s short blast of heavy artillery brought IVCC closed to the required rate, and at the other end, Ross was happy to pick off Isis attackers with sniper fire and keep the score ticking over. He failed to find a regular spotter to keep him company for the rest of the innings though, with Smith (1), Johnson (6) and Ali Meier (4) falling on their swords in with the finish-line in sight. (Statto’s addendum: the brief Ross/Johnson partnership is believed to have been the first time two left-handed batsmen have been at the crease together for IVCC).

Olly then took a leaf out of Daylight’s book and swapped his rifle for a cannon, launching three successive boundaries including a huge six over midwicket to get IVCC within a few runs, before finishing off the chase with a cut for four through backward point. Olly finished on 48 not out from 31 balls; a textbook example of how to pace a run-chase, with plenty of twos and a well-judged acceleration as the overs ticked by. At some point during his late spate of boundary-hitting, Olly passed Bjorn Pedersen to become IVCC’s highest-ever run-scorer. It’s a record which may not last long, as Bill is only 15 runs behind; it will be interesting to watch these two vie for position at the top of this table.

So this writer is trying (and failing) to avoid finishing this report with a paragraph starting with “So”, and will simply note that this was a good victory in a match played in the right spirit, despite Isis’ apparent political leanings. For a group of guys who reportedly want to destroy the west and all it stands for, they certainly do play cricket in the right spirit – and I think we can all agree that that’s the most important thing, right?

Yours in cricket, Gareth “Garr” Ellis