Format: 35 overs
Result: Won by 6 wickets
IVCC made the long trip to southern Warwickshire for a re-match of last season’s fondly remembered opening fixture. After a Saturday which was unequivocally wetter than an otter’s pocket, and with a weather forecast that could only be described as “iffy”, the prospects of a full match didn’t seem to be too great as the game got underway in light drizzle.
But happily, in a season where they have not been kind to us, the weather Gods were smiling on IVCC for a change and the rain soon disappeared and allowed us to play out a fun and exciting encounter against charming opposition for the second season in succession.
El Capitan won the toss and chose to bowl first – a wise move with plenty of moisture in the ground and clouds overhead. He opened with himself from the Abbatoir End, and presumably regretted not testing the batsmen as much as he tested wicket-keeper Stocky or Garr at fine-leg. Bemoaning his wides, Bill decided to listen to self-appointed vice-captain Daylight and pulled himself out of the attack after only three overs.
Garr opened from the Lane End and after a ropey first over, soon found his rhythm, testing the batsmen outside off-stump. He was unfortunate to see several good balls rear up off a length and beat the outside edge; the one time he did find the edge, a very difficult chance went down in the slips.
Daylight, starting his run-up from just outside Shipton-on-Stour, replaced the skipper and steamed in to bowl seven decent overs of mostly sharp, accurate bowling in two spells. However, it took the introduction of gentle giant Dickie Tyler to earn a breakthrough; Long Compton opener Francis Jeavons picked out the skipper at cow-corner almost immediately and Long Compton were 66 for 1 from 18. New batsman Lynch fell into the same trap, slipping the noose around his own neck and watching in horror as the proverbial horse ran away and straight into the hands of Bill on the boundary.
Dickie’s second wicket brought together the home side’s most productive partnership between opener Badham and number 4 Ed Jeavons. Jeavons is clearly a man from the Daylight School of Batting (now taking bookings for winter 2016/17), eschewing subtlety and classical techniques in favour of making use of a big pair of shoulders and a good eye, and he wasted no time in repeatedly mashing the ball to the fence as IVCC’s change bowlers toiled away. He hit eight boundaries before being caught by Garr off Stock’s bowling for 47. Badham (61) continued plugging away and was only dismissed in the 34th over, bowled all ends up by the skipper, who had returned to bowl an excellent second spell in the death overs.
After some disastrous fielding in the final over of the match from someone who will remain unnamed (let’s call him “Schmergus”), Long Compton finished on 177 for 4, a challenging but attainable total for the visitors.
The tea at Long Compton last year is something that IVCC’s players still talk about to this day, and this year’s was no disappointment, featuring a superb home-made cake and quiche to go with some delicious sandwiches and perfectly brewed tea. After the sumptuous feast had been devoured, openers FCA and Ali set out to start the run-chase.
It’s worth reminding readers at this point, that after a couple of overs of this fixture in 2015, Long Compton bowler Ashley Adams had decimated IVCC’s top order and left them reeling at 2 runs for the loss of 3 wickets. The sight of Adams at the top of his mark was not a welcome one then for the Village, but Ferg soon settled any nerves in the spectators’ gallery with a couple of well-timed pulls to the backward square leg boundary.
Ali, as ever, was more watchful at the other end and set about the painstaking task of constructing a picket fence out of leg-glances and nurdles behind point. Ferg (39) looked in great nick as he punched a sublime cover drive through the in-field for four, but soon found himself walking after (apparently) edging Jeavons Junior’s leg spin through to Jeavons Senior behind the stumps.
Dan Watkins, the bearded wonder, made a brief cameo at the wicket but saw his stumps splattered all over the place by his first ball from the brisk Adams, bringing together IVCC’s premier nurdlers Ali & Garr. The pair manoeuvred the ball into gaps well and ran hard between the wickets, racking up an excellent partnership of 72 at a run-a-ball (despite only hitting four boundaries), breaking the back of the chase.
Ali had happily played the junior partner role in his opening stand of 81 with Fergus, but accelerated well, batting with great confidence and showing exactly how one needs to bat as an opener in this kind of run-chase. It was a lovely moment when he brought up his maiden half-century with a swat through mid-wicket for four, and everyone in attendance enjoyed celebrating it with the popular chairman.
Ali departed for 66, caught off Pitcher in the covers, and left it to Garr (34no) to see the chase through. There was still time for Tim to charge down the pitch at Badham and gift him a wicket, allowing the skipper to come in and hit the winning run.
Both sides agreed that this had been another enjoyable and close match, and a fixture that needs to be repeated many times over. This writer certainly looks forward to the renewal of the Long Compton-IVCC love-in in 2017.
Gareth “Garr” Ellis, aka The Rump-Shaker