<< back to match list

Sun 17th Jul 2022 vs. Middleton Stoney (A) @ Middleton Park

Match report

As is customary, Olly proved himself to be a useless tosser again and we had to take to the field in soaring temperatures in the Downton-esque grounds of Middleton Stoney. The pitch looked decent enough, a bit green perhaps and with one divot on a length that really, most definitely, shouldn’t cause any trouble surely (wink wink), but certainly a huge improvement on Appleton’s minefield from a few weeks previous. Relative youngster, Nick Brown, took the new ball and whose pace immediately caused problems for the opposition skipper Mr T. House who was opening the batting. The first ball took an edge and flew over second slip for 4. Two dot balls followed, before the fourth ball reared up a little off a length – nay, divot – and caught the old Etonian under the ribcage. After a few moments, he resembled Fergus after too many shandies – all wobbly-kneed and dizzy. Nick the wolf had huffed and puffed and blown this House down.

This brought Mr Carpenter (sorry, I tried to write a pun about carpentry but nothing woodwork) to the middle to join the bouncy Mr Springer. And this pairing slowly ground out two decent innings and an exactly 100-run partnership, offering few chances despite excellent bowling and an impressive fielding performance, with everyone contributing with some fantastic stops and impressive athleticism that belied our advancing years. Both Messrs Morton and Brabham putting in some excellent stops in particular on the leg side, whilst Sam was his usual chirpy and energetic self on the off side. Even Meier behind the stumps managed to stop a few (though his penchant for leaving those he thinks will hit the stumps and watching them sail through for 4 byes can be a little… expensive). It was the Italian Stallion, Attillio, who managed to break the partnership, clean bowling Springer for a well-crafted 66 with a beauty that clipped the top of off stump. The Villagers were in the game.

And from thereafter, wickets fell semi-regularly. After a slow start (and initially bowling a slower, more controlled line), Olly was finally starting to move it through the air nicely, bending them into the right handers like a cricketing Uri Geller, and he took the wickets of Cork and Cole with relative ease. Not to be outdone, Nick returned to bowl two lightning-quick beauties to remove Shah and Holmes. Nick bowled with great control and, more importantly impressive speed, – something often lacking in the IVCC bowling attack, and it’s a shame we don’t see more of him in the hallowed blue and yellow.

DB also bowled particularly well and was unlucky not to take a wicket all day, despite his best efforts. Here is a man, 57 years young, with a face wisened with years of every conceivable type of experience life could throw at him, yet with eyes as young and sharp as a Jimmy Carr comeback. The fire in the belly roars on, there’s plenty of life left in this old dog. At the other end, Daylight lacked his usual pinpoint accuracy and this in turn kept DB sprightly upon the legside boundary. But Daylight/Mr Cricket/Bobby Boundaries kept plugging away, and was rewarded when the returning House holed out to Attillio at deep mid off who took an expert catch under pressure. Dickie Tyler, who had earlier refused to bowl claiming back issues, was brought into the attack late on and bowled the best he has all season for his two overs. I suspect the fact he didn’t already have 4 pints in him had something to do with it, but this is pure unfounded speculation at this point. If he carries on bowling like this, I hope he has a bad back for the rest of the season. Wonderful stuff from the Wookie.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the entire team as a whole for a brilliant performance in the field. Bodies were put on the line, flung about with gay abandon, palms were stung with firmly driven leather, cheeks were flushed… It sounds like a kinky Friday night in Fyfield, to be honest. Fergus can confirm.

After a sumptuous tea consisted of a foray into the world of cricketing sandwiches (the lesser-spotted salmon sandwich finger was a particular delight), freshly sliced melon so succulent and juicy it would make your wife blush, cake so moist you needed a towel to mop up afterwards, and the usual assortment of miniature pork products, Fergus and Sam ambled heavy-footedly (?) to the middle. The ever-popular Fergus looked iffy from the off, however. Brow-beaten by a long toil in the field in blazing sunshine, his mind perhaps still pondering whether that third slice of cake was a good idea, he wafted airily at a few before edging one behind without troubling the Ulsterman in the scoring hut, to be sure to be sure. Sam blasted one meaty hit to the boundary before he too departed to the opening left arm from Morley, slanting deftly across the right hander and forcing Sam to drive airily into the covers.

The batter who makes everything look effortless – including general beard maintenance – Tim, was in the middle earlier than he wanted. He must sympathise with Joe Root at this point. It was, however, sad to see one spit up off a length and catch him on the thumb, requiring him to retire hurt. After further assessment at A&E, Tim has broken his thumb in two places that puts him out of the IVCC fixture list until September at the earliest. A big loss, and we wish the man with the lumberjack shirts a speedy recovery.

Promoted up the order, Daylight had somewhere more important to be. And it showed as he briefly unfurled his arsenal of biffing strokes before being clean bowled by that man Morley again. Up the other end, the impressively-bearded Kamal was bowling a tight line of in-swingers to keep the Villagers on their toes. Meier entered the fray with the score at Not Very Much for 3, and he and DB set about trying to stabilise an innings that was in danger of crumbling like the tea-time lemon drizzle. The slow rebuild began and these two nurdled their way through a tricky period of tight bowling from the Middleton Stoney attack, and the score started to creep up. Chasing 190 to win, with big hitter Sam out early and Morton already on his way to the John Radcliffe, this was always going to be an uphill battle.

When DB was bowled by an unplayable delivery from speedy youngster Cummings uprooting his off stump, star batter Ross joined schoolchum Meier in the middle with no recognised batters left and a job to do. In typical Olly style, he opened his account with a huge hoik for 6. Meier at the other end was batting in treacle, but did his best to nurdle singles to get Olly the strike. One memorably huge straight 6 clattered into the sight screen and, with 8 an over the required run rate, IVCC hearts may have dared to believe. Meier eventually holed out to mid-off for 27, overtaking Sam as the season’s leading run-maker so far, but leaving Olly and the bowling unit with a lot to do.

Despite a morale-boosting visit from everyone’s favourite cunstable, Officer Harding, during the innings, heads hung low when Olly was out not long after, having been struck on the back leg clean in front by the return of Kamal for 42. Tils looked solid and looked to work the ball into the gaps before dinking one back to the bowler for a caught and bowled for just 7. Nick was in next, and he flung his wood about with flare and the kind of energy only a young man with no children has. He was joined by last man in Dickie, who looked to block out the remaining few overs to secure the draw in a rearguard stand reminiscent of Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar’s Ashes heroics in Cardiff to rebuff the Australians exactly 13 years and a week ago to the day. The crowd stood to applaud Monty and Jimmy’s efforts in 2009, and similarly here the crowd of sweaty Iffley Villagers, respected VPs and their ever-youthful wives, club legends, and one man and his dog stood to applaud Nick and Dickie off the field, a hard-fought draw and a cider just rewards for their efforts.

With Nick gobbling away seductively at a sausage, the sun set on another hard-fought but very enjoyable game against our friends at Middleton Stoney, but our search for a first victory over them continues. We look forward to seeing them again next year.

Ali Meier Chairman 18 July 2022