Saturday August 18, 2018: 12.00pm. 40 Overs
Toss: Post Modernists, Field
Nepotists: 6-257, 40 Overs (Hoar 76, Styles 72, Sheldon 40)
Post Modernists: 9-179, 34.3 Overs (Styles 3-37, Mason 2-26, Sparrow 2-37)
Catches: Sheldon 2, Styles 1, Price 1, Werren 1, Hoar 1
When the email from Post Modernists was received in the days before the Isis Trophy, requesting an 11.30am start against the usual 12pm, and without any mention of whom sent it whilst informing them of the earlier start, the Nepotist replies came back; “Did Woody ask for this?” and “I bet that was Woody!”, and so forth. It seems each other year, this my first as 'Chairman of Selectors' so never in receipt of Oxford emails, Woody would invariably ask for an 11.30am start and invariably never ready to play any time before 12pm.
(*The later was indeed a preferred time knowing several Nepos would be struggling (below) after a night celebrating victory in the Steve Werren Invitational Golf Tournament the day before, especially knowing all the beers were on Steve following his 'Happy Gilmore’!)
Having arrived early to unpack the horse, set up the laptop for scoring, and pour coffee down my throat without scalding, I was set to go by 10.45am. It should read as no surprise to those that know Woody, come 12pm he was still in his Hugo Boss slacks, Burberry Shirt, Holland & Holland Sweater, Barbour Jacket, and 'Oxfords not Brogues' debating whether Post Modernists would bowl, given they were only 8 with barely enough to field let alone 'abled' to rotate deliveries with anything akin to ‘troubling the batsman’.
Some 25 mins earlier under much distress by Woody and persuasion by me, and without walking to the middle instead standing in the doorway of Woody's fitting room, the Nepotists lost the toss, which resulted in us being asked to bat by way of Post Modernist historically being rubbish! If they batted first, the Nepo’s would castle them smartly and be left chasing a handful of wides to win and the concept of ‘making a game of it’ lost before lunch was served. So, this sporting gesture saw Woody finally in his whites and 10 Post Modernists on the field at 12.20pm, some 2hrs 15mins after my arrival!!
For all the fear of the PM’s not ‘making a game of it’ must have been smartly forgotten when Ali Baloch (PAK) was caught behind in the 4th for 0 with the Nepo’s just 18. Ali promised a big score today, but I think I’ll bring him in much lower down tomorrow to give him the chance to get some runs against what could be a weaker or at least a more wearisome bowling attack in the latter overs.
The early loss brought Magic Mike Sheldon (AUS) to join Carl Hoar (ENG) and the early PM’s excitement was quickly nullified as they put on 87 (this clip viewed near 27,000 times) before Magic was bowled for an excellent 40 off 49 off a non-excellent ball that bounced twice before him. Law changes are not high on the study list between Sunday afternoon friendlies so it did surprise that as recently as last week law 21.7 (give or take a month) changed from two bounces being legal to only one bounce before it reaches the bat or popping crease. Mike said he should never have missed such a crap ball so deserved his comeuppance at 2-105 in the 21st.
This dismal dismissal brought another dismal display from Time Hardy (ENG) after as he ran some 36 yards collectively to be run out for 1 off two balls. Having driven the ball to mid-off, Time called for the run as soon as it left the bat, knowing it was heading to the only player most unlikely to trouble Time at the non-striker’s end, Woody. The controversy came when Carl, in a non-text book display of backing up, wrongly called “No” and stood his ground. Time ran 19 yards before turning back, and if ever there was a chance to save himself it was hitting the ball to the only player most unlikely to under-arm the ball toward any stump with threat of speed or accuracy, Woody. Time alas ran that 1 yard too far before turning back to be run out by half a yard after the keeper collected Woody’s wayward toss, the Nepo’s 3-106.
In what threatened to be Rich Price’s (NZ) best inning for quite some time, adding 40 with Carl for the 4th wicket turned out to be just another near 30 as he was caught by the only player most likely to drop any chance his way, Woody, for 28 off 23 and another big score goes begging. With 146 the total, Carl was joined by the in-form Ryan Styles (AUS) looking to snatch the Club Champion Trophy from our legendary opener.
Together they put on 41 before Carl was dismissed after yet another match-winning 76 off 100, leaving Jim Mason (AUS) and Ryan to crack 69 off the last 7 overs, before Ryan was once more unluckily given out by LBW Time Hardy, a decision that looked about as out as Time or Carl would not have been had they both just run. Disgruntled at losing another 7 points, Ryan solemnly strolled off in the wrong direction for a beautiful 72 off 48 leaving Jack Phelan (NZ) the honours of facing the last (extra) ball of the inning and walking off with a strike rate of 100; something that matched the quality of lunch and tea, the Nepo’s 6-257 off 40.
If Post Modernists live up to history, defending 257 should be a walk in an Oxford Park for the Nepo’s, even with only 10 men after Bilal Niaz’s (PAK) late withdrawal. Surprisingly Woody and his men were not the pushed over this year, and it took near 35 overs to confine their fate to a Sunday bronze medal play off, leaving the Nepo’s to play in the final for the 9th consecutive year.
Opening the bowling without luck, I came back on late inning to eventually deliver 7-1-37-2. With Ryan opting for further rest just 15 mins after Time gave him out, Rich trundled in from the pavilion with the new cherry to make the breakthrough in the 6th over, their 1st XI ring-in caught at 1st slip by Ryan, with 37 less to get.
It was not until after another near 50 was added, thanks to Ali for taking the Pink Wig once more, before Ryan made the 2nd breakthrough, and for the first time in a long time at Oxford the Nepo’s were, to use an expression, struggling. PM’s were not exactly on top of the rate either, though helped by Time with his un-Brett-like out-fielding that yielded ‘4 all run’ to a ball that barely passed square leg. A bewildering moment that did yield a good laugh once the shock subsided.
At 3-95 in the 16th, after Ryan got his second wicket, was when the Nepo tide turned though at 4-110, then 5-129 in the 21st, we still weren’t ‘knocking them over’. Rich was replaced after 5-1-26-1, Ali was dragged after 4-0-26-0, and Ryan ran out of puff after 5-0-37-3, which left Jim and Mike to bowl in tandem and break the PM’s back to come home respectively 6-0-26-2 and 7-2-19-1. The Nepo’s into the final by 78 runs, fittingly after the best catch of the day, taken sharply by Steve Werren (AUS) to dismiss Woody after Woody had already set off for what he believed to be a three to fine leg. Alas, the ball went only as far as the outstretched and falling left glove of Steve, the accidental cricketer.
Yours in Nepotism,
SCHWIM MOMENT: Time Hardy’s non-Brett like fielding by allowing the batsmen to run four. Time charging after the ball, and in picking it up, still some 15m from the boundary, launched a throw that landed barely at the feet of the square leg umpire as the batsmen completed three. With the umpire, batsmen, and 9 other Nepo’s standing around looking at the ball stationary between the umpires feet, the batsmen ambled their 4th.NACA: Steve Werren for casually announcing as he and walked back on after tea “I hate having a shit with tape on my fingers as after I wipe my arse there’s always the stench left on the tape!”
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