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Sun 12th Jun 2022 vs. Bacchus XI (A) @ Abingdon Vale CC

Match report

One of the most anticipated fixtures on the calendar finally arrived and did not disappoint anyone as the standard of cricket from both teams almost matched the standard of victuals on the boundary.

For the first time all season the villagers did not wake to gloomy grey conditions, rain and thunderstorm warnings; instead Oxfordshire was illuminated by a beautiful June day, with just a few puffy white clouds and a gentle cooling breeze from the south to make it a perfect day for cricket. It was like the Gods were smiling on this fixture and certainly one God in particular, Bacchus – the God of wine, festivity and, surely, cricket – had a vested interest in this fixture as his chosen XI met IVCC for the only the second time in the heavenly setting of Great Tew Cricket club. After last year’s dramatic finish and narrow defeat in Abingdon, the Villagers had a thirst for vengeance but not as much as a thirst for the fine wine, good food and excellent company that travels with the Bacchus XI (including, this year, a parrot.) By gentleman’s agreement and befitting the friendly nature of the fixture, IVCC were invited to set a total for Bacchus to chase. There was a confident air in the Village dressing room (even before the drinking had started) as both Gareth Ellis and Dickie Tyler requested to be put up the order. A decision both would soon regret.

Ellis opened with the usual stalwart, Fergus Cable-Alexander, and they saw out the first over quite convincingly. The second over started with Gareth surviving a very (VERY) close looking LBW decision and he decided to celebrate by gently chipping his next ball to mid-on for a simple catch, returning to the dressing room without troubling the scorer.

FC-A made a couple of fine shots before his off stump was removed from the turf by a fantastic inswinger that he still has not seen, departing for 6. Ben Davies was joined at the crease by the self-promoted Tyler who played a couple of good blocks to survive the fast pace of the Bacchus openers before being undone by an unplayable (YES, unplayable!) googly from the new bowler, adding another duck to his collection and leaving the Village in the awkward position of 11-3. All was not lost, however, because as he left the field forlornly muttering something about, ‘the ball of the century’ he was replaced by the redoubtable Ali Meier.

Meier, unburdened from the role of opener, soon settled into a lovely rhythm, patiently seeing off the opponent’s first line bowlers and, along with Ben Davies, soon rallied the IVCC score giving the Bacchus supporters something to worry about almost as much as their broken bottle opener. Davies set about punishing any loose bowling and sometimes even looser fielding – finding the boundary several times including a spectacular 6 into the leg side causing the first lost ball of the day – before eventually snicking one to the keeper and walking for a very good 39, and an innings-saving partnership with Meier of 74 now making the score a slightly more respectable 85– 4.

Ali continued on with his fine knock as he was joined by a series of familiar IVCC faces. Conway came in and scored an admirable 13 before being fingered (lbw) by Gareth, although Sam did begrudgingly admitt that it was,‘yeah…pretty close.’ Berry and Ross both came in and helped speed up the scoring; Bobby Boundaries living up to his name by only dealing in boundaries, and Ross dispatching the Bacchus pace bowler for the biggest 6 of the match which landed somewhere in Soho Farmhouse before they both departed for 22 and 21 respectively. Replacing the skipper and making a change from the gnarled and grizzled old faces that had preceded him, was Aaron, Cool Aaron. He sauntered out to the wicket not looking like a man on debut. He survived a few fine deliveries before attempting to launch a slower ball high into the air to be easily gathered in mid-wicket, unfortunately joining club zero on his very first outing.

Despite these entertaining cameos, however, the innings really did belong to Meier. After he made his 50 he really opened up producing some wonderful shots and continued to look comfortable in the crease – despite some questionable sledging from a man in school shoes in the slips (‘This man’s got more blocks than a LEGO set’ being Ali’s particular favourite). Far more comfortable than his usual opening partner, FCA, who was watching on from the boundary rope when Rob ‘Statman’ Berry pointed out that Ali needed to get to 66 to overtake him in the all time IVCC run scorers. Fergus wasn’t bitter though when Ali passed it with a superb glancing shot steering the ball down to the boundary for 4 and when he carried his bat on 72, supported at the end by a fine defensive effort from G. Trinder (0 not out), he left the field to well-deserved applause and double pat release hugs having equaled his highest score and setting a commanding total of 205.

The good news at Tea was that a replacement corkscrew was found! The Riesling, cider and English sparkling wine flowed, washed down the usual spectacular spread put on by the Bacchus supporters club. However, Skipper Olly Ross was soon chivving his players along to get back into whites and out onto the pitch before the Old Rosie was cracked open and he lost them for good.

Despite the lateness of the hour, the unrelenting sun was still scorching down on the Villagers as they took up their fielding positions and more than a couple of them started to regret their second helping of pork pie or fifth can of cider and hoped this innings could be finished off before the ice in the cool buckets at the boundary melted completed.

Up stepped Daniel Trinder to oblige.

Not getting a bat thanks to his son’s stonewall defense in the last couple of overs and spending most of the Village innings umpiring, the veteran pace man had his game face on as he opened the bowling from the pavilion end and soon went to work putting pay to the Bacchus top order. 2 straight balls taking out the stumps and an LBW saw off the first 3; their no 4 batsman stepped up did not hang around – perhaps because he’d left his missus talking to School Shoes on the boundary – and played some outrageous shots, speeding up the run rate quite a bit before being fooled by a Trinder slower ball which was effortlessly taken by Trinder Jr at mid-on.

Wickets from George Trinder (2– 19), Dickie Tyler (1– 22), and Berry (1– 30) as well as some surprisingly fine fielding at times (special mention to the terrier-esque Cool Aaron, chasing and saving many a boundary and a decent shy at the wicket for a near run out) put the Villagers in a comfortable position with the tail coming in. We should have remembered, however, that this tail was waggier than a Royal Courts of Justice libel trial.

At no.7 in came Henry Spencer-Underhill a man whose name troubles the scorers almost as much as Fergus Cable-Alexander. The same Henry Spencer-Underhill who had won Bacchus last year’s match in Abingdon. He hit big and he hit hard, and the score started to steadily crawl towards the target 206 runs. The Village bowlers were not done yet however: Dan Trinder returned to the attack, looking for his five-for and got it in the most village moment in a match that included a man umpiring with a parrot on his shoulder.

Tiring in his 7th and final over, Dan released his ball early, thinking it was heading for the batsman’s head and being the gentleman he is, he apologised. At which, the no 10 batsman, not fancying a cherry on his face, stepped out of the way of the wicket. Unfortunately for him, Dan had misjudged the trajectory of his ball which turned out to be a perfect full toss hitting the top of middle stump. It was a rather sheepish celebration for the 4th Michelle in IVCC history (5-36), and first since his son's five-for in 2019.

A final wicket showdown was set, with James ‘School Shoes’ Nesbitt coming out, still in his school shoes and now wearing a fleece borrowed from his dad. HUS did a fine job of farming the strike and continued his rampant demolition of the village bowlers. with 2 balls to go in the second to last over, with 13 runs needed, Ross bowling from the Farmhouse end, Tyler and Ellis, fielding at mid-off and on respectively walked in, to try and save the single to stop the in-form batter keeping the strike. Ross bowled and HU-S mistimed it straight to Tyler and, although it missed his hands completely, it came to rest in the gentle cushioning of his cider-filled gut, thus heroically winning the match for the Village.

While it’s not necessarily fair to say that cricket was the winner, as the sun set on the glorious West Oxfordshire view I am in no doubt that the God of festivities looked down on all that had been achieved in his name and smiled. Man of the Match to Dan Trinder for his wonderful five-for.

Dickie Tyler, 15 June 2022