Format: 40 overs
Match Manager: A.W.Meier
IVCC SCHOOLED IN STANDLAKE
For a moment, IVCC were in with a chance. And then the game started…
The inaugural visit to Standlake for our first ever fixture against Oxford Downs will not go down as IVCC’s finest performance. They have a very impressive club here, fielding 3 senior league teams, a host of junior teams, probably the finest clubhouse we’ve seen, top quality practice nets, and some rather tasty match teas. As such, we knew there was a strong possibility that being able to draw on such a wide pool of resources would mean that they would be fielding a strong side. We did not expect them to have a peppering of 1st XI players drafted in for extra practice.
The Downs’ opening pair were two very decent batsman – one a current 1st XI player and the other an-ex 1st XI player – tore into our attack immediately, with Tim Ellis’s first over going for 9. Harding up the other end showed slightly more control, but still the runs flowed frequently for both batsmen. Third bowler, skipper Ross, was also shown little respect and was despatched with unfamiliar regularity to the boundary. With a lightning quick outfield, it became apparent all too quickly that we were in for a tough day in the field and we’d need to put in a better fielding performance than we had during the week at Appleton.
Sadly, we faltered again. At least at Appleton we could blame the driving rain for our ineptitude in the field. Here, with a crowd of club locals and IVCC WAGS and children watching on, there was just no place to hide. Indeed, even the WAGS who, let’s face it, pay barely a cursory interest in the actual game, commented at the changeover that we were getting our arses kicked. Thank you for the moral support, ladies.
4th bowler, the mighty Dickie Tyler, was brutally attacked by the opening pair as they looked to accelerate their score; the Wookie was unlucky to see 53 runs from his 5 overs, despite bowling a decent line. The team’s fielding ranged from dependable to lamentable – a number of misfields, and at least 5 dropped catches did little to help back up the bowlers. One lofted drive to deep mid-off was dropped by Harding, a couple of tough chances in the covers slipped through Conway’s fingers, and Woodcock was culpable for a couple of sitters at mid-off too. Fines were indeed heavy at the end of the game.
On a very decent batting track, the oppo were at 150–0 after 21 overs. gulp One opening batsman kindly decided to retire on 70-odd in an apparent selfless gesture to allow his teammates some time in the crease, but it could also be seen as taking pity on a bowling attack short on ideas. However, in a rare moment of inspiration, IVCC’s think tank started thinking outside the box. In order to free up Daylight to offer up some of his devilish tweakers, the original IVCC wicket keeper, Meier, took up the gloves behind the sticks for the first time in at least 3 years. With Daylight bowling a decent line and Meier making keeping look easy, it was suggested that perhaps this role reversal was a better idea than keeping Daylight tied up behind the stumps and should be made more permanent. As Troth was showing excellent control from the other end, the runs started to dry up and the Villagers exerted a modicum of control over proceedings.
And with pressure, comes wickets. Working a Troth delivery down the legside, an easy 2 looked on the cards for the Downs batsmen. They didn’t count on an excellent one-handed pick-up from Daylight who swooped in from the fine leg boundary like a majestic eagle and threw hard and flat in to Meier. Confusion reined out in the middle and both batsmen were stranded up one end. Channelling The Dude from The Big Lebowski, Meier underarm bowled from one end to the other to splatter the stumps in what was arguably the greatest thing ever seen on a cricket pitch ever (“Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man”).
One wicket brings two, some people say. Those people are dicks. Despite the tireless efforts of the bowlers and a renewed effort in the field (Taylor’s penchant for fancy fielding footwork seems to be catching on), the wickets column for all six bowlers remained locked at zero and it was to some relief when the Downs skipper mercifully declared at 278–1 off 37 overs. A delightful tea (the sausage sarnie is a disappointingly rare offering in the match tea offerings of Oxfordshire) followed as the Villagers licked their wounds and refuelled ready to try to claw back some semblance of dignity.
As pints were poured, FCA was welcomed in the middle with a 6-man slip cordon and a young chap opening the bowling running in nearly from the boundary ropes. But FCA is not a man easily scared by such cheap intimidation tactics and he caressed the first ball through the covers for a gentle 2 to immediately take the sting out of the oppo’s tail. Indeed, the first over went for 8 and the second over went for 12, including a huge 6 driven over the mid-off boundary by Ferg as, briefly, IVCC were above the run rate and something huge looked on the cards. As is customary with IVCC, we often flatter to deceive and are the architects of our own downfall. FCA and opening partner Ross having an unnecessary mix up in the middle and Ferg being run out for a well-made 13.
Ross was his usual studious self, carefully watching anything straight and happy to show off the extravagant Radley Leave whenever the opportunity arose. Joined by Conway, the run rate slowed as they looked to consolidate and keep wickets in hand (the thought of batting for a draw already in their minds). Despite some particularly lofty, loopy bowling, Conway was earnestly punctilious in his approach, blocking anything remotely attacking his stumps so he could attack the bad balls when they came. Despite a strong start, he was caught on the back foot LBW for 23 when he looked set to go on and make a decent score for himself.
Woodcock, Meier, Ellis and Taylor didn’t really trouble the scorers much. A brief display of power hitting by Bobby Boundaries was all-too short. Tonya hit 3 nice boundaries off a few balls before departing for 12 – missing the straight one; and Troth hit a few tidy shots to the leg side before being harshly given out caught behind. With Ross nearing a century at one end, last-man-in Tyler’s job was three-fold: (1) don’t get out, (2) get Olly to his century, and (3) bat out the last few overs for a draw. I’m happy to report that Dickie did all three with such aplomb (one booming drive for 4 back over the bowler’s head brought raucous whoops of delight from the IVCC bench) that, had Olly not got his century, then Dickie would have been a shoe-in for Man of the Match.
A respectable 224 for 9 off 38 overs, with some help from some generous bowling options selected by the opposition captain and a great knock by Ross allowing the Village to save face somewhat with a draw, despite the obvious gulf in class. A difficult but enjoyable day for the Villagers, and we hope we are invited back next year.
10 June 2019