2005 might have been a memorable year for English Cricket as we wrestled back The Ashes from the convicts, but in sleepy old Marsh Gibbon it is known as the year when our swashbuckling Skipper – Ben Procter – lead us to a Summer devoid of a single victory from 16 attempts!
So, it was fitting that after 9 straight defeats, new Skipper Leonard steered us to our first victory this year over the Club where Procter sought solace after that fateful year – Wolvercote. And in so doing maintained Mr Procter’s record as the only Skipper to fail to win a game in a season.
The day started same as usual with Skipper losing the toss on a warm and muggy day. Wolvercote unsurprisingly chose to bat on a dream surface, with a fast dry outfield in order to take advantage of the good run scoring conditions. Opening bowlers Kyle and Callow needed to bowl tight with the ever positive and usually free scoring Stewart-Liberty looking to pounce at any opportunity.
And bowl tight they did, thus with the batters’ frustration mounting at the lack of scoring options, Callow got the breakthrough with a delightful slower ball to Manzoor who edged and was snaffood by Vadivale at gully. It looked like Needham had bagged Stewart-Liberty too as he edged to the skipper wearing the gloves for the day. But alas, the melted butter from his earlier bacon roll caused the ball to slip free! Kyle bowled through going for only 2.5 per over and did get reward with the wcket of Babbs.
At just 90-3 (another wicket for Callow bagged by Foxy) off the first 24 overs Wolvercote were below par and seeking risky singles to keep the board clicking in the absence of boundaries. .
T-Leno replaced Crouch continued recent good form to with the wicket of Pinhol (16) nicked behind to the Skipper (Butter dried out now). However with Stewart-Liberty still at the crease and passing his half century, Marsh knew that his wicket would be pivotal in the game…then came the moment. Stewart-Liberty made the mistake of looking for 2 to Timdog on the fence. The call came and much like the World Cup final to come next day, Timmo raced around the boundary (Jason Roy esque) and fired it straight over the stumps, easy pickings for Bacon roll gloves to do the rest and that was the dangerous Stewart-Liberty gone for 66.
The bowling partnership of Vadivale (10-4-23-3) and T Leno (12-1-60-3) tightened the screw on the visitors, as both troubled the batters constantly. They reduced Wolvercote from 135-5 to 168 all out, including a fantastic in-swinging yorker from Guns to dismiss the resisting Gupta (12). With superb fielding and safe catching from Foxy, Kyle, Skipper and nicest man Mansfield, Marsh completed the job bowling Wolvercote out in the 43rd over for a below par 168.
Debutant tea lady Mrs Abbott (happy with her bearings after having taking an elongated tour around the village the week before when trying to find the ground) thrived under pressure and produced a glorious spread which was enjoyed by all. Especially the selection of gluten free cakes (obviously!) which even got a mention in the opposition Ground Report, will live long in the memory.
The Gibbon openers took guard with the message from the skipper that only one good partnership would see us to victory……turns out that Two were needed!
Spuddy Honour and The Nicestman opened up, but Spud was not to be part of any partnership as he waddled back (quack) 6th ball. Skipper joined Archie in the middle and the pair proceeded to grind through the impressive Wolvercote opening attack, especially the ever dangerous Gupta (12-2-23-2). The scoreboard ticked slowly, very slowly, Archie kept a cool head at one end and Joe kept it clicking from the other.
Archie eventually went edging to 2nd slip for a very hard fought 8 from a mammoth 48 balls and an hour at the crease, an innings of Boycott proportions, yet not to be underrated in importance as the partnership had taken the score to 40 by the 16th over. Skipper was getting comfortable with the bowling and actually hitting cut shots as opposed to just swishing at them!
Kyle joined Skipper briefly and a further 20 runs was scratched off the deficit by the time he drove uppish to extra cover. Just over a ton required and 24 overs left. Next was Guns, who didn’t hang around long being beaten all ends up by Gupta for a couple (good bat that). Then came the irrepressible Lofty Foxy determined to impress the Pater. He did actually look at 4 balls before straight driving his first boundary and continued to regain the Marsh impetus with more lusty blows to the fence (and more straight bat too!).
Skipper needed a partner and Lofty was the man. Joe reached his 50 off 67 balls and was congratulated by a bumper crowd of people and dogs! Skipper and Foxy nonchalantly took the total past the ton and perhaps the required partnership to win the game was at hand? Or perhaps not….as the partnership added 48 before they were parted….
With the scoreboard looking satisfactory from the skippers point of view, he got a pull shot wrong and was caught for an excellent 66. In typical Gibbon style it was going to be a struggle. Emphasised acutely when JAbbott entered and with his very first ball pushed a safe on drive which was mis-fielded at mid on. What don’t you do to a mis-field? JAbbott is now familiar with that golden rule….Pinhol’s direct hit from 30 yards ended the Wild Boy’s day abruptly.
Foxy was still there and continued to put away the bad ball until a peach from James nipped the off bail, sending him back for a very important 31.
At 109-6 off 31, Timmo joined Jules in the middle for what turned out to be all important winning partnership the skipper had requested. Timmo manufactured boundaries from the returning opener. It doesn’t matter where they come from so long as they come….through your legs to fine leg is fine!! With experience and class of Jules, nearing 8,000 runs for the club at the other end, the pair knocked the ball into gaps and drove the occasional important boundary to slowly and surely reel the game in.
In the 43rd over with the partnership at 50 (Jules on 20 and Timdog on 25) Timdog hit the winning run, much to the delight of the cheering Gibbon crowd and finally Skipper could stop comparing himself to Procter! (There’s a thought?!) A much deserved win for The Gibbon whose efforts did return the result this time.
Spuddy Honour was elected Pig for the day for his early ducking, diving over the ball and being beaten in a foot race by an old cripple! The beer tasted that little bit sweeter, especially as the skipper was paying for the first round…..well, when we actually see the colour of his cash he will have paid for it!
The Gibbon welcome Div 1 newcomers Middleton Cheney next at The Recreation Ground and look forward to playing Cricket minus the stress of having a zero in the wins column.
Procter’s legacy lives on……