United Oxford Hospitals won the toss and put us in to bat first. Nick Moorman and Tim Riley opened. Andrew Thomas on his debut for our club, and on his first game back after missing a season and a half through injury, came in at number 3. Mark Ford-Langstaff was at 4, Danny Clark making his season debut for us was number 5 and Sathya Vadivale was at 6. So we were confident of a 200+ score, with any of those capable of making a hundred. Nobody did although they all played some elegant shots. They were out for 31, 26, 30, 22, 30 and 12, respectively. We did not score 200+. The constant feature of our innings was the opposition’s accurate bowling and impeccable fielding. Their first three bowlers were left-armers. Their team could catch with either hand.
We only reached 182 through Sathya Vadivale and Paul Wordsworth at 6 and 7 scampering some quick singles in the dying minutes of our two and a half hours at the crease. When I say at the crease, they were not stumped, unlike Mark Ford-Langstaff. Nor were they spotted coming off the line, unlike the Scotland women’s goalkeeper in the football world cup. But Sathya did indulge in some lateral movement along the crease to facilitate his full array of ramp/switch/reverse hockey strokes. Apart from not working anyway, the ability to play the ball off middle stump to any part of the inner circle where there was already a fielder would have been the highlight of this cameo, were it not for the running between the wickets, which kept the crowd amused as can be seen in our tweeted photos
In particular, Sathya should have been run out on one occasion by twelve yards but took flight, like Superman, to make his ground. The similarity was all the more obvious because neither Superman nor Sathya were weighed down by holding a bat. Yes (wait, no), in the flurry of yes/no/wait calls that left their fielders bewildered, Sathya was not just stranded in mid-pitch but had turned into Batlessman.
He survived that scare but gave way in the last over whereupon Marc Swan came in and so the two medics in our team (two more than the United Oxford Hospitals fielded) were able to walk off at tea, undefeated, with Paul Wordsworth on 12 not out and Marc on 1 not out.
Our club chairman, Peter Van de Kerkhof, served a first class tea. UOH then batted much as they had bowled and fielded. Asif Kamal took two wickets, Danny Clark and Mark Ford-Langstaff one apiece. David Lewis bowled well. Paul Wordsworth completed a busy day by opening the bowling and completing the match as wicket-keeper, when Tim Riley had to depart for Blenheim. In contrast to OUH, we showed how not to catch with either hand and how not to stop boundaries with both hands and all parts of the body.
We had three glimmers of good fielding, a sharp leg-side stumping by Tim Riley, a safe catch by Danny Clark and a spectacular running catch by Nick Moorman, which won our champagne moment award. Marc Swan showed surgical precision … at the barbecue. Mark Ford-Langstaff kept his feet on the ground while serving behind the bar. OUH out-stayed us at the post-match celebration, having out-played us all day, but then they had more to celebrate.
Graciously, OUH ignored the claims of their players to give their own champagne moment award to Sathya Vadivale for the entertainment value of his dive for safety.
Thanks to OUH and to a big crowd, including one of my grandchildren, Joshua, aged 4, who had travelled with his mother from Cambridge to patrol the boundary. Our daughters have an online ban on photos of their children, quite sensibly, since Joshua might not, in later life, wish to be associated (through his mini-Middleton Stoney cricket jumper) with our fielding display in this match. Otherwise, I could share a photo of Joshua coaching Nick Moorman in the art of catching which clearly stood us in good stead. Many thanks to all who played on the boundary and congratulations to those who played well on the other side of it.