On an overcast but rapidly improving morning we made our way (north for a change) to Cropredy. Several individuals cited bad traffic for their tardy arrival times, but the skipper let this go – possibly because he wasn’t sure even of what day it was, let alone the time. Whilst we were expecting the going to be a little less than firm given the recent weather, we were a little shocked by the wicket – unfortunately some local drainage issues had meant parts of it were underwater as recently as Wednesday. A good toss to win then, which the skipper promptly lost and we were inserted.
Our dynamic opening duo (more on them later) got us of to a steady start given the conditions, with no pace in the wicket there was little value in any shots but with the score approaching 20 Paul Smith was a little early on a leggy delivery and chipped a leading edge which was gobbled up, and we was replaced by Smith Jr. With the pitch remaining low and slow we ground our way to 44 when Howard was bowled. Four, five and six then came and went pretty cheaply for 4,1, and zip – so having tried to dig in a little we were suddenly in a world of trouble and Rich, Smith S (no relation) and skipper Dave were back in the hutch with the score 54-6. With Deddy wobbling in familiar territory next up were Adriaan V and Rob Barton, with the sun drying the wicket these two went about building a (spoiler alert) match-winning partnership. Rob was steady whilst the more closely cropped Victor played the enforcer role with some good hitting and intelligent running between the wickets. When Adriaan was finally cleaned up the score had moved onto 133 – at the start of play we sensed this might be enough but with drying conditions we felt a few more runs were necessary, Will cleared the ropes into the cow field before departing, Alex went cheaply before Rob Barton finally holed out and we were done for 153.
The now normal bring your own tea was enjoyed – the twins tucking into their sausage rolls and Stu opting for just roll-ups before we strolled back out to the middle for the second half. The never seen before 11-man fielding practice that preceded this was indicative of our confidence and (relative for DCC) our youth. We actually only tossed the ball around a few times but no-one dropped it, this was plenty good enough for us.
Very early on in the second half we were reduced to 10 men when a Will had to depart suddenly, but there seemed to be very few gaps in the field – particularly in the gully and backward square areas where Paul & Howard were prowling like a couple of hungry big cats, at least this is what they’d have you believe if you were listening in….
In a match where the winner would be the team that bowled the straightest, Stu very untypically started with three deliveries on or down leg – the Cropredy batsmen looked to want to get on with it right from the start but this looked a risky strategy once Stu found his line and it wasn’t long before opener Cooling chopped a cutter onto his stumps. Another brief flurry of runs followed before another straight one from Stu found the timbers and both openers were gone with the total on 32. Alex bowling up the hill had struggled for consistency before producing a beauty of a delivery that lifted from a length and took the top of off stump, and when Noonan cut Stu straight to Smith Snr at gully Deddy looked to be on top. The home team however continue to play with intent and three sharp C&B chances all hit the deck, but still the runs were not flowing freely.
Rob Barton replaced Alex from the bottom end and soon picked up a couple of wickets, one of which was snaffled with go-go-gadget arms by Alex at mid-wicket when the ball looked to be sailing well over his head. Stu finished with a miserly 3-12 from his 9 overs before Tom Smith came on and cleared up the tail with a very steady and straight spell to finish with 3-4.
A good game despite the pitch, and a mention for the umpire too, who stood at both ends and was consistent and fair throughout.