Simon Pettit, Fixture Secretary, led us on safari into the wilds of Oxford for a mid-week T20 away game starting at 6pm. That’s right, we were playing away! To make it complicated, it was against Oxenford CC but at the Keble sports ground on the Woodstock Road, not only in the Oxford rush hour but also just at the point where they were relaying the road surface, blocking access by car to the ground or the surrounding area. The opposition suggested we park in Summertown and walk, a park and stride tactic which wore out those with the mega-sized kit-bags. The most intrepid of supporters also found their way. Take a bow, Chris Greer, who scored throughout a testing match, Caroline and Tony.
Oxenford had two local rules. First, they bowl the first 10 overs of a T20 from one end, albeit with bowlers, batsmen and umpires still alternating, and then the second 10 overs from the other end. This was supposedly to save time between overs as the light can be a problem by the end of these evening matches. Given how long their own discussions were between overs anyway, I suspect this was instead designed to bamboozle the visitors, already reeling from the task of breaking into the ground. Secondly, while we bowled with a red ball, they bowled with a pink ball, at least until it got very dark and the ball was lost, to be replaced by a red ball.
Oxenford won the toss and batted first. With the second ball of the innings, Tim Cranston bowled their opener. Their captain soon followed, well caught in the deep at long-off by George Williams off Tim’s bowling. Then Oxenford had a good partnership which was eventually broken by Rob Barton’s caught and bowled. Rob also took a fine catch at long on to give Simon Pettit his first wicket of the match. His second was caught by me at short extra cover (with my left hand, on one knee, no fuss, just saying). Rob Barton’s second wicket was caught behind by Paul Wordsworth, who kept well throughout. Tim House bowled economically for 3 overs and I didn’t for one over. That left our opening pair to return, with George Williams taking a wicket in the 19th over of the innings, caught by me at short extra cover, and Tim Cranston bowling the 20th, combining with Paul Wordsworth to secure a run out off the last ball. Elliot Barton shone in the field but all played a part and 111 for 8 looked like too few.
Until, that is, we were 37 for 2 off our first 10 overs. Howard Lancaster and Russell Turner had blunted the attack of their opening quick bowlers but we needed to accelerate. Jon O’Neill and Tim House did just that in the match-winning partnership. Jon even accelerated all the way into the pavilion when he was run out. Tim despatched the first ball of their best and fastest bowler’s second spell for 6 over long off. The pink ball must have been knocked into St Edward’s playing-fields. This was when they switched to a red ball. Tim still scored a scintillating fifty before he was caught. We needed 12 from the last three overs. Simon Pettit was bowled. Oxenford CC brought the field in for our number 5, George Williams, who promptly hit a towering 6 of his own, over midwicket. There were many options in Middleton Stoney’s sparkling display for the champagne moment but this was the winner. When George was out, Tim Cranston and Paul Wordsworth saw us home with an over to spare. Suddenly, there was considerable support for Simon Pettit’s decision to seek an away fixture against strong opposition in the jungle of Oxford road works. Many thanks to Simon and to Oxenford.