Charlbury CC v Exiles, 5 July 1998

The Church bell tolled at 2.30pm as this timed game began in the lee of the mellow Cotswold village of Charlbury. Still no sign of Captain Tony Brook, flying back this morning from his Brother-in-law's wedding in Dublin. It is an indication of how keen Tony is on his Cricket that he was in bed by 11pm and this is the second time he's had to take a plane to get a game of Cricket. By the wonders of mobile telephony the interim batting line-up was relayed to VC Paul Shorrock who lost the toss and was asked to bat, which is what he would have chosen anyway if he wasn't to be lynched by his batsmen. As in many village Sunday teams Charlbury mixed youth and experience, a timeslice through their Cricketing history past and future; there was probably 45 years between the oldest and youngest members. If this wicket was typical then I expect Charlbury to produce more batsmen than bowlers. Merry bowled medium off two paces and was tidy in his first spell whilst young Woyer's (?) left arm over was posing few problems and he was soon replaced by Captain Horn who reeled off a metronomic 14 overs. Keith Marchbank and Sean O'Connor made the most of the helpful conditions to build a partnership of 84, although after a flurry of 2, 3 and 4's Sean subsisted on a diet of singles which suited Keith who prefers to allow the fielders to do the running and hit seven boudaries in his 47 before he became Horn's first victim, bowled whilst going back to pull. James Booth carried on the good work and hit the first six of the game to the long straight boundary. Sean was running out of gas as he closed on a half century and Horn managed to get one to nip back through the gate to bowl him on 45. James went next, well caught by the Captain off his own bowling as he attempted another drive. Nick Coleman having arrived in a loaned Alfa Romeo GTV 3 Litre knew a thing or two about acceleration. He applied his foot to the proverbial gas with some scurried threes, quick singles and a couple of boundaries in better than even time as Charlbury permed the bowlers across the generations. Rohan West our new New Zealander Wicketkeeper, positively put the pedal to the metal with 32 from 10 scoring strokes including two straight sixes. It is fair to say he enjoyed his first northern hemisphere knock, perhaps as much as the rest of the Exiles who have been desperate for wicketkeepers on occasion, a batting keeper is a real boon. He fell bowled to Merry, returning from the far end. this allowed Captain Tony to continue his party mood, unburdened with his usual need for caution. He opened his account with a late cut to the pavilion for four and played some delightful shots in an undefeated 25 as the clock moved towards tea. Nick was bowled by Merry for 27, Soumitro Nagpal was run-out for one, Naem Khan ran to the wicket slogged four in three balls and was bowled by Merry, Effie strolled out and hit three twos and tea was taken with Exiles well satisfied with their afternoon's work so far on 223 for 7 (although the scorebook had been added incorrectly to 213).

After Paul Shorrock's first over the Exiles were expectant of an early breakthrough, the ball beating the edge of Peter Epps bat four times as the lefthander swished at the ball slanting across him. Rohan's cries of "Good nut!" giving a twist to Aussie Pete Milne's fondly remembered shout "Top nut!". Effie Usman complained about having to bowl into the wind and resorted to spin in his third over which if anything reduced his effectiveness. Collier edged Shorrock over the slips for four but there were precious few chances until Waseem replaced Effie and had a classic fast bowler's wicket, Collier lobbing the catch to Rohan running to leg off the shoulder of the bat. This brought the other Epps to the wickets and together the brothers forged a hundred partnership as the Exiles struggled to penetrate. A few run-out chances were fluffed and a few catched were shelved, two sharp ones in the slips that hurt Nick Coleman's hand and pride in equal measure. James Booth had the easiest chance at square leg but perhaps the saddest was Nick's reluctance to attempt a catch in the deep that bounced in front of him. Naem Khan and Soumitro also bowled fruitless spells and as the rate required for victory climbed the running became more desperate. James made up in some way for the dropped chance with a direct hit run out from square leg. Another run out claimed the third wicket, allowing Merry to make merry, his lustily swung bat missed more than hit, but when he connected a boundary was the usual result, most strikingly when he hit Shorrock into the car park for six. Unbelievably Peter Epps was still there, having carried his bat for 88. Charlbury 197 for 3.
So, a drawn game in which neither team ever looked like winning. The Exiles are not used to the differing disciplines of the timed game but the batsmen from both sides enjoyed the chance to improve their analyses. Charlbury have implemented a "Fanatsy League" system into their games which adds a level of interest that was lost on the toiling Exiles bowlers.

Next week is the season's only "Double Header", The Hornets away at Milton Abbas on Saturday and Nuxley at Home on Sunday so a logistical headache for the management!

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