2XI vs Hartley Witney 3XI (Away)
After a disappointing performance to open the season, the 2s looked to get their first win in the board away at Bramshill Police College against Hartley Witney 3XI.
Change was plentiful in the team selection, headlined by a debut for James Birch, an early appearance from Uni by Sean Merriman, and the return of the new-appointed captain from his jolly Down Under.
The first challenge of the day for many was finding the entrance to the ground, as the police college’s back entrance was unsurprisingly well hidden. A panicked phone call from Ed at 12:45 was quickly resolved, although it mattered little as the proceeding colts game didn’t finish until gone 12:50. The new skipper strolled out to a green and slightly soft wicket, and under grey clouds, swiftly lost the toss and was inserted into bat.
Henry’s very late arrival was rewarded with the honour of opening up, alongside James Hampson, who himself had an early rise to get to the game from London that morning. The two handled the opening few overs well, however James was constantly peppered with balls rearing up to head high off a length on this soft track. After taking advantage of a couple of full balls, the third attempt was hammered to mid-on, where the fielder performed a juggling routine, and he was caught at the sixth time of asking. 21-1 quickly turned to 25-2, as Henry soon followed after slapping one to point. As the new captain walked out to join his predecessor, work was needing to be done to see out the rest of the openers at the very least.
After successfully navigating that task, with the only damage being a seam-mark on Ed’s right cheek after a ball rolled up his arm, Odiham started to find more joy against the change bowlers. A young off-spinner came on, however the longer pitch was something he clearly wasn’t used to as too many short balls were pulled or cut away by the Odiham pair. The partnership passed 50 as OGCC reached drinks 82-2, with eyes on anything above 180 as a target. However, soon after the rain arrived, first just as a light spit, then gradually intensifying to a constant light rain that prompted conversations between batsmen and fielders after every over. Yet the game ploughed on, and the 100 partnership and 50 for the skipper both came in the 28th over, with the HW captain opting for two experienced campaigners to break the deadlock.
But not such luck ensued, and with the raining clearing, Ed passed 50 in the 31st over, quickly followed by the 150 partnership in the 33rd, with Odiham now quickly approaching the 180 target earlier set with 6 overs remaining. 200 passed with 4 overs still remaining, but then Hartley Witney finally got their breakthrough. Ed, having been previously dropped at least twice in the deep (maybe 3?), hit one straight up for the bowler to claim himself to depart on 79 and leave the partnership at 190. Having crossed on the wicket, the skipper continued the fight and, with the help of another misfield, brought up his 100 with a boundary (he would later discover his dad thought it was just 50). Moments later, he too was caught, this time the HW skipper doing the job, leaving James Birch and Oli Hall to close out the finally few overs. That they did, and Odiham was mighty happy with the 244-4 they had posted.
After perusing and consuming much of the sandwiches and mini sausage rolls on offer, OGCC took to the field feeling confident about their chances. The ball was thrown to Mark Hurst, who promptly bowled two wides to beginning the innings, and with HW openers pouncing in anything short and wide, got off to decent start. But then Sean struck, firstly with an perhaps generous LBW decision, then bowling the no.3 via the inside edge, leaving the hosts 48-2. The skipper entered at 4, and immediately went after Jamie Le Roux, who had come on the replace Hursty, attacking anything short as JLR struggled with his length. A quick-fire 50 partnership off 38 balls was brought up as the skipper continued to play aggressively against both Jamie and George Cox, who nearly yorked him but for an inside edge.
But the breakthrough came soon after as George hit the top of off-stump to dismiss him, and broke the bail in the process, and led to a flurry of wickets soon after. Brought on in place of Jamie, James quickly dismissed the remaining opener, and followed George’s dismissal of the number 6 with his own of the no.7, both of whom came and went without troubling the scorers. With the hosts 122-6, the match looked their for the taking, however a fight back by the no. 5 and no.8, along with some dropped catches, meant that Jamie’s redemption wicket was crucial in breaking the partnership at 60. Their 8 fought on however and passed 50 despite James’s c&b of the number 9, meaning the game was far from over until the reintroduction of Sean brought back-to-back wickets to see HW fall short by 22 runs, all out for 222. Sean finished with 4-20 and James with 3-26, capping off a terrific Saturday debut.
A maximum points win to bring us to 1-1 on the season, and we host former CD4 Donnington 1XI next week at the King Street Oval in search of a repeat performance.
By Jamie Read