Station Road Rendezvous, or a case of Déjà vu? Either way don’t get too excited about it.

It has been 17 years since the Village teams from Twyford and Marsh Gibbon clashed in cricketing combat and the dust needed to be scraped off the scorebook containing Marsh’s last victory at the other end of Station Road, which was almost 2 decades ago in June 2002.  Nevertheless, 7 players that graced the pitch in 2002, (in short trousers), were back to face off once more: The 2 Lyon’s and Roberts for Twyford and Chambers, Cross, Needham and Stuart Leonard for Marsh.  Indeed, news of this fixture had reached far and wide and former Marsh players also graced the boundary edge with; Taf Gibbons, Martin Deeley and even the Great Bolsh-man Ian Rawlings himself in attendance….would they revive the victories of old, or have travelled in vain?   

The sky was blue and the sun out, Skipper Stu, Vice Joe and those senior pros of Chambers and Kyle weighed up the decision on what to do if the coin came down as called? It was not as straightforward as expected, for the track was certainly hard, dry and flat, but had as many scarification grooves as a Max Bygraves Album.  What impact would this have if any, and would it best suit the seamer or spinner?

Captain Leonard made his choice and called correctly at last! “We’ll have a Bat.”

Openers, Joe Leonard and Paul ‘Borsky’ Thornton strolled out and set off with an explosion of runs. Twyford were lacking 2 players. Starting with only 9 players and a lose line was seized upon by Gibbon as Vice Joe crashed Roberts for 3 boundaries in the first over. 36 runs from the first 18 balls was as fast as HS2 will be when it skirts the ground later this decade. But the breaks went on when Joe nicked off and Borsky decided to walk past a wide one from Lyon to be stumped and Marsh were suddenly 37-2.

Pip Webb and Captain Leonard came to the crease knowing that a strong Twyford batting line up and lightning outfield meant that a good total was required and Webb looked in form as he punished any bad ball superbly, including two huge maximums from the impressive turning ball of Rory Lyon. Skipper was more watchful and left his partner to ignite the fireworks for now. 50 overs is a long time at 20+ degrees and he intended to keep Twyford out in the field for the duration. On 41 from just 49 balls, Webb miscued to long on from the bowling of Lyon, noting as he came back to the pavilion “that wasn’t meant to go there, and it was off the inside edge” despite very nearly clearing the fence.

Fox joined the Skipper with the score at 94-3 from just 15 overs and a run a ball would be assured if he remained at the crease, but that was not to be as he was returned to the pavilion for 7 after being judged LBW, off the bowling of Jackson. Next in was the swashbuckling socialite Shipperley – in a hurry to leave from the moment he arrived due to his hectic social calendar and the evenings’ dinner adventures that lay ahead for him. The talented left-hander put away anything loose and along with skipper’s constant additions the neon scoreboard progressed steadily.

A lively partnership of 71 between the pair was just what the Gibbon required to push towards the desired high total. Shipperley’s impressive innings of 41 from 46 balls including 3x4s and 2x6s ended under the umpire’s digit as he was also judged LBW from the bowling of Aslam.   No time lapsed before Skipper Leonard was the third LBW victim from the HS2 End, again to the bowling of Aslam.  A very patiently constructed innings of 53 from 95 deliveries ended before his real destructive force could be unleashed.

Jay-Z Chambers was now in the middle; The veteran of many successful skirmishes down Station Road, including his most famous adventure, when he stole away with his greatest treasure – Sally!  Who was back and watching on, knotted between compelling allegiances to husband and son (12 man) for Marsh, or birthplace Twyford?

Chambers and Michael Timms – also represented by his 3-month old son at the game to watch dad for the first time, kept the scoreboard moving, despite interruption when Borsky returned to military sapper mode crawling inexplicably under the sightscreen.  His attempt at ’whiteout camouflage’ failed abysmally and he was spied from the middle and all waited for him to slither off.

The classy Chambers manipulated the Twyford attack with singles and twos all around the wagon wheel.  Unfortunately, Timdog went for 12, but not before showing son William how to score a 5!   Kyle went first ball hammering one straight to point and declaring “that was the best shot I’ve played all year, how dare they put a fielder there.”   Chambers looking ever imperious reached 32 before being the last Marsh wicket to fall with the total on 232. Leaving Nathan ‘Crouch’ Callow and Grant ‘The Crab’ Cross to utilise the remaining deliveries unbeaten, with Crouch’s closing salvo a glorious straight drive for four. The Gibbon finished on 240-9 from their 50 overs. 

Enough, or slightly below par?  The track had played a tune that Tom Jones, never mind Max Bygrave would have been proud to croon and there definitely were still a few chords left to be played out this afternoon.

Tea was taken in the sunshine accompanied by Kyle’s leek sandwiches and cake supplied by Vice Joe’s better half. With the suncream and deep heat applied, badly in one respect…Caution is always advised when applying the hot stuff in the pant region Mr Callow.  Or, perhaps, he was just preparing to come steaming in!

Indeed, Kyle and Crouch opened up and immediately got into the swing of things producing excellent line and length before Callow castled the dangerous Elkington for just 5. Chairman Kyle was looking to make a vast improvement on his midweek performance for the Oxfordshire OAP’s and responded well knocking over Twyford’s other opener Jackson with a little tickle of the off-bail and Twyford were 20-2 from 7 overs.

In came the Goff, Twyford’s in-form man with a century the previous outing and he looked dangerous again with a couple of early lusty blows.  The innings foundation began as the pair of Goff and Aslam roared to a 50 partnership and got Twyford on course. Until that is, Skipper brought Chambers into the bowling attack and the demise of Aslam as he was caught skewing to square leg and grabbed by the constantly laid back Webb; 76-3. Nio respite as Chambers struck again immediately trapping his second victim of the day as Rory Lyon was on his way back to the pavilion first ball.

Marsh kept the pressure on the open wound with the introduction of medical man Fox at the other end and the tall medic bowled Sam Lyon, and followed up sharply after with the wicket of Bridges being superbly snatched inches above ground by Crabby Cross at second slip, 102-6 from 21 overs.

With the fall of each wicket Skipper took the opportunity to keep his troops focussed and repeatedly insisting that all should stay calm and not get TOO EXCITED…!  

Fox then took an unfortunate blow to left thumb fielding off his own bowling and with claret spurting everywhere had to take a few moments off the field to patch himself up. “You’re a doctor – deal with it.” Chambers Junior was certainly pleased with Foxy’s temporary exit as he could join dad in the middle as substitute fielder and give him some pearls of wisdom from Mid-on.

Come-Dine-With-Me Shipperley was tasked to finish off The Foxman’s over and very nearly took a wicket with his only delivery of the game.

With scoreboard pressure high and The Gibbon electric in the field, apart from Crouch who preferred diving over the ball rather than stopping it, Goff had to go big and took one too many chances and skied one off Chambers and was easily pouched. Was this the end for Twyford?  105-7 from 24 overs left the Twyford team needing 135 at 5 per over which was not out of the question, but with only 3 wickets in hand. The return of County Boy Kyle to complete his allowance solved the riddle – and the demise of Twyford Skipper Roberts on 16 and Best on 3, both snaffled behind as both edged the swinging ball to Skipper and Vice in turn.  Twyford were now looking down the barrel at 136-9.

Short drinks break and Shipperley was on the phone to his guests advising that he was only going to be 90 minutes late to host his own dinner party!  Foxy returned with his thumb professionally strapped up (by himself) and despite a couple of lusty blows from number 11 Akram, Foxy claimed the final wicket of Shafaqat as he swung across the line and errantly verred to the gleeful Webb to pouch at backward point….very slowly, of course.

19 year Deju-vu for The Gibbon who were professional throughout and were led directly from the field of play straight to The Crown Public House by Skipper Leonard for a very well deserved pint…..whilst Shipperley headed home for canapes….and no one got Too Excited at all!  

This week the Gibbon face Cairns Fudge at home in the first venture into the mysterious world of Win-Lose-Draw cricket. Much to the delight of Chairman Kyle who cannot wait to relive his previous life from 1874 when he scored 3 runs from 48 overs…and Crouchy who cannot wait for the opportunity to bowl 15 overs straight through….

A special thankyou to the Scorers on the day, especially the whooping Mullis, whose tourettes of joy each time a Twyford wicket tumbled, were audible from the middle!

“Dont get TOO EXCITED!!!”