The second week of the Season and Marsh faced last years double winners: Witney Swifts. Fresh from their 9 over annihilation of Stonesfield the previous week, Swifts arrived at The Gibbon with all the talent that had brought them league and cup success last term. The games don’t come any tougher.
The first game at home for Marsh and the pitch was flat, hard and dry, thanks to the new ‘nappies’ that had protected the surface all week during incessant rainfall. Skipper tossed well and had the option. What to do? Have a bat was nagging at Joe, but if there was anything in this white pitch it would only be early on and so he called it: We’ll have a Bowl.
It was up to Kyle and Crouch to take the cherry and deliver on the skipper’s hopes against the powerful Swifts batting order. Perhaps the 5th ball of the innings was a bad Omen as Godwin was too quick to drive and lofted the ball to Webb at extra cover who could only spill the gilded chance. Despite that early set back the bowlers kept runs in check with only 30 coming from 8 overs. Then came Needham’s own double. Hume was too keen and drove the slower(er!) delivery to Shipperley. Next ball and Asque was timberless. Geoffrey would have been pleased…..30 for none became 30 for 2.
Swifts needed to regroup and they did. Slowly but surely. Shippo replaced Crouch and surprised the batters with some challenging pace as his opening 5 overs cost only 14….but no further wickets. The game was poised as Swifts ground to 72 of 20 overs. Time for Skipper to tantalise the batters with his indescribable tweakers. And so the fielders disappeared into the distance and down came the tweaks. It wasn’t going quite to skippers plans though as Godwin and Seacole found the boundary more often than not adding 50 runs in 7 overs to take the score to 122 after 27. They say that if at first you don’t succeed – Give up! But Joe was having none of that and eventually got his man as Seacole completed his half century and then holed out to buckets Rodnight on Cow Patrol.
The game was now flowing at a quicker pace as runs and then wickets started to rain in. 31st over and the Skipper/Rodnight combination worked again, as now Godwin found the milkman in his corner. That 5th ball drop only costing Marsh 69 runs….
Into the last 10 overs with Swifts on 183-4. An excellent platform and a very large total looming with plenty of batting chomping at the bit watching Joe’s loopers land. The Abbott had now replaced Shippo and struggling to settle as the batters sought to cash in on their solid position.
Though Jaybone wasn’t getting involved with his bowling, he was the next man to clutch another J-Leno bamboozler. Charlie Fisher this time mistiming. 192-5 off 37 overs. Skipper made sure that the fielders were kept in the thick of the action, with first Timdog showing us his rabbit-hole hip-hop and Jules telling himself to dive, but not listening!
Swifts Skipper Foggett had been successfully missing the boundary riders off his opposite number, but Joe eventually wore him out and Shippo clung on to an exocet which would have otherwise embedded itself deep into a tree! Skipper finished with 4-69 from 11. Jay-bone turned 211-6 to 212-7 bowling Townsend and Shippo (9-0-37-1) and Kyle (12-2-42-3) returned to apply the squeeze at the death, taking a wicket each and conceding only 12 runs in the last 5 overs to keep Swifts in check at 232-9 off 45.
Another legendary D. Leonard Tea. Oh, to be back home again and feast on a Marsh Tea!
Was this a par score? A strong Marsh batting line up was assembled and required 5 an over for victory on a good batting track. Similarly, a powerful Swifts Bowling line up was ready as J-Leno and Chambers Snr took to the middle. A decent start for Marsh with 20 from the first 5 overs incorporating punching drives from Skipper. Then……
Skipper tired of chasing and missing short wide deliveries and decide to top edge one to the keeper instead. Then Chambers feathered one behind too and it was 40-2 from 12. The new Fines Master with ‘Charlie the Pig’ watching on was brooding and building at his new number 3 birth. Successfully picking the odd bad ball to find the fence, until like those before he edged behind. 61-3 from 17. Still in the game. Plenty of batting to come.
Webby had been steadily wiping out his debt with a measured control of 4’s and 1’s in equal measure. Guns was supporting Webby well and a rebuilding was taking shape as the total ticked to 90 from 24. Something akin to jumping off a cliff edge then followed……
Webb on 33 from 45 balls was adjudged in-front to George Seacole and in double quick time Guns went for 4 and then Rodders, Abbott, Crouch and Timms were all bowled by Seacole for a collective 4 runs: 90-3 became 106-9 whilst Shippo watched on from the other end….. Thankfully Rupert cracked consecutive boundaries to bring up the 2nd batting point before cruelly running out Kyle without him even even getting a chance to face! (OK – I ran myself out – Tw@t!) And with that Marsh closed on 114 from 30 overs….
Charlie was well fed and it was a pleasure to host the Witney boys again.
A good battling effort from Marsh but no chinks in the Swifts Armour, perhaps this Game will be their Throne for a few seasons more…