Third Saturday game for Marsh and the third wet one. All was looking good by midweek with hot blue skies and a dry hard track, then came the thunderstorms. With no roll on covers to protect the wicket such heavy rain meant only one thing – Bat Second.
And that is exactly what Stonesfield chose to do. Jamie Burns has been here often enough to know the score as well as any Marsh player.
Humid overcast conditions and a wet surface spitting hand grenades all favoured the bowlers but Joe Leonard and Chambers Senior dug in. Then the disastrous 8th over and Joe got the edge to 2nd slip and Vadivale missed a dying 2nd ball to be bowled, 16 for 2 off 8 overs. Skipper joined Chambers and they started to rebuild, including the innings’ Champagne moment when skip extra cover drove for a 75 metre maximum.
Chambers fell for 19 in the 20 over and Marsh were 51-3. Both Club Skippers were now at the crease and Tommy fresh from a fifty for his ‘In-Betweeners’ just 4 days earlier continued where he left off, settling in and then pushing on. Just as an encouraging partnership was building Stuart failed to clear the ring this time (19) and Marsh were 77-4 with only 16 overs remaining.
What would be a par score? Earlier thoughts had settled on 150 to 160 but with improving batting conditions it was hard to call. Normally the TV Analyst interjects at this point with some thoughtful statistics from previous matches and WASP starts to irritate the viewer – So, over to Marsh’s own irritating Analyst….. “Silver Fox Stato.”
“In the 30 years of OCA cricket at Home – Marsh has batted first a total of 103 times and won 60 of the games. However, Marsh’s lowest winning score is 119, having scored a lower total on 20 occasions and losing them all. So, 119 was the historical minimum for victory. Looking at scores achieved slightly higher than 119, the scorebooks show that when scoring between 120-140 results are equal at 8 wins and 8 defeats. From 140 to 150 Marsh has won 6 and lost 5 and so history shows us that a score of 140 is still a winnable position with WASP at 55%.”
The 150 minimum was still a fair way off when Richardson joined Guns at the crease. Unfortunately Sammy is not fully conscious of what ‘crease’ means in the context of a batsman. The effective Gubbins was getting good turn and bounce and drew Sambo stretching forward only to miss the ball and survive a stumping appeal. Next ball same thing, different outcome. This time stumped. But “NO!” pleads Sam to Umpire Croxford. “My foot is on the line – look!” Oh dear Sam, you need to be ‘Behind’ the line in this game……
Mikey Herriott joined Tommy and struggled to hit the ball with just 1 from 17 deliveries, as did Crouch in his first ‘golden’ game this year. 37 overs used and Marsh were at 114 for 7. Could a late push get the score nearer to that statistical parity? Then Tommy fell for a gutsy 42 from 57 balls, a quick rate in the context of the game. Needham (10) and Mitchell (11*) and a boundary from Timdog used every ball of the 45 to smear Marsh to a total of 142 (It could have been one more if Timmo had not been run out at the bowlers end, by the wicketkeeper, off the last ball!)
Over again to ‘Silver Fox Stato’…. “Historically Marsh has scored less than 142 and still won on 4 occasions and so it’s not unheard of. In fact the closest to this total came only last year when registering 139 vs Eynsham and then bowling Eynsham out for 92 to win.”
Skipper briefed the side at Tea and it was clear that a top bowling display would be required to repeat the Eynsham exploits.
Three hours had passed since Marsh faced the first delivery and a much drier and improving track faced Burns and Redknapp opening for Stonesfield. It was still humid and the new cherry should swing. Needham and Callow got balls in the right area, but no reward until Callow trapped Redknapp playing across the line one time too many. 30-1 in tenth. Marsh were offering the leg side from Needham with only one in front of bat to try and induce the mis-timed drive and it worked in the 13th over when Holley was superbly clutched by the towering Mitchell. At this point the game was still alive, but Burns was not being drawn from his bunker. Skipper continued the offensive, even without any runs to spare and had 6 round the bat off Needham (12-5-21-1) but no luck.
Richardson also threatened with consistent line and length, but no one else could drop onto a straight line and with no margin for error Skipper had no choice but to rotate through every bowler searching for some penetration. Burns accumulated from the far too frequent loose balls and earned a match winning half century as the game slipped away from Marsh. A last ditch spell from Callow brought a couple of consolation wickets with sharp catches from Chambers and Sambo. Stonesfield reached the required total in the 40th over for the loss of 4 wickets.
So over to the Analyst Stato for the closing comment…
“History was made in this game after all! For the first time Marsh gave all 10 outfield players a bowl! Some were economical (Needham at just over one run per over) and some were not…..Nevertheless, I am confident that some Positive records will be smashed next week at Yarnton & Cowley, as we return to League action.”