Having lost narrowly just a week ago, DCC first team travelled down the A34 seeking a comfortable win to remain with a chance to stay afloat in division 4. Little did they know what was to unfold at the picturesque West Ilsley ground on a sunny afternoon (The only minor hitch was the direction of the wind, which was blowing from the fertiliser processing plant towards the ground!). Skipper Rammy’s plan to surprise his team with a decision to bat first was scuppered by his inability to call correctly at the toss. It didn’t matter much as West Ilsley invited DCC to bat in perfect batting conditions.
WI made early inroads. Opener Hugh White received a ‘parfum ball’ that jumped at him and the edge was held smartly at slip with surprising alacrity by the fielder whose age profile matched DCC more than their opposition ! Martyn and the ever steady Gerry Duncan eased the nerves with a solid partnership. Martyn played some attractive strokes and flayed the ball around before he was unfortunately dismissed one short of a well-deserved half century. Skipper Rammy hung around for a bit and set the stage for Manny Verma to run the show. He hit some powerful shots, one of which carried on sailing a long way despite a strong head wind. His innings had a fair measure of customary hilarity too. We figure his equation for this game was every ‘π ÷Ω x√∞’ delivery would be biffed. He got to his half century and looked good for more but perished in trying to up the ante even further and get the score past 250. The Roberts clan’s brave attempts to maul the bowling were sadly unsuccessful but Rob Preston found enough time in the middle (3 balls) to hit a powerful six. Amidst all this mayhem, was Gerry ‘Rock’ Duncan, who eased his way to yet another half-century just in time before he ran out of overs. After reaching his fifty he unleashed some boundaries to prove that he is not all Glenn Turner but has a fair dinkum of Brendon McCullum in him too. He had successfully negotiated 45 overs yet again for DCC. 10/10 for technique, finesse and patience. DCC ended up with 236 – an under par score given the batting conditions and the strength of opposition batting.
After a fantastic tea marred by sandwich vandalism (Joe Roberts, guilty as charged!) DCC took to the field. There was genuine desire and enthusiasm to grab a win.
West Ilsley began their reply confidently and briskly in keeping with a team that had racked up scores of 278, 297 and 255 in their three previous innings. DCC’s hopes of a win were receding until wickey Hugh ‘stumped up’ lightning reflexes to dismiss their opener. It was an effort that won him the “Jedi Moment” award. He had stood up to the stumps to Rob Preston who was bending his back and wheeling his shoulders to generate decent pace. The batsman overbalanced a wee bit and was crestfallen to see that the bails had been whipped off in a flash.
DCC had seen a lot of Ilsley’s No3 Adam Barnes who had scored heavily in the earlier fixture between the two teams. He continued where he had left off, striking the ball handsomely. Martyn Collins was generating good pace with no luck. Skipper Rammy had signalled to young George Welch to loosen up and replace Martyn the next over. Martyn chose this signal to come up with a piece of magic. In two balls, he had dismissed two of Ilsley’s most dangerous and in-form batsmen. First, he had Adam caught at short midwicket by Olly Roberts. The next ball was an absolute beauty – pitched outside off and jagged back at pace rattling the stumps of the bewildered batsman. Suddenly DCC sniffed a chance. Manny was bowling with control at one end, keeping the run rate in check. The asking rate was mounting and something had to give. The strangle forced Ilsley batsmen to take risks. (Around this time, the chairman and his lovely lady left the ground. Rumours that they headed home to pray for a DCC win are unconfirmed!) One such risky effort was marked by a brilliant pick and throw from fine leg by Martyn resulting in a direct hit at the non-striker’s end to run out the final real hope for Ilsley. Their last recognised big hitter was gone. DCC seized the chance and limited their opposition to 225-6, winning by 11 runs. There was jubilation in the field and every player delighted in a hard fought victory. Martyn Collins richly deserved the “Man of The Match” award.
As if the game was not exciting enough, there was drama off the field too! Vice captain Sam Shadders was nowhere to be found – in person, by text, on whatsapp and over the phone. The team had negotiated the problems of getting team card and the match ball to the game (Gerry found a card in Windmill pavilion and Rammy nipped in to Try Sports and bought a ball). There was serious concern in the team ranks and everyone was relieved when he finally turned up about half way into the first innings. It transpires that he had slept through the morning and well past match time purely sheer exhaustion (sherbet was not culpable). It has not yet been decided if this qualified for a “Sleeping Beauty” title or the “Rip Van Winkle” award but there was no dispute that he was the “Dud of the Day”.
We stayed back for a pint with the opposition and the umpires. There was happiness all around after an exciting game. Everyone had contributed to the win and the players basked in evening sunshine. Right through the second innings the skipper was ably assisted by 10 lieutenants shouting advice in the field and geeing up the rest of the team. The team spirit epitomised everything that the club stands for and strives to achieve.