The Oaks traveled to neighbours, Herriard, on Saturday where they were greeted by high winds and a constant threat of heavy showers. Credit to Herriard for getting the game on as it was an afternoon that felt akin to mid-October.
The Oaks batted first as shower clouds skudded across the sky in 50mph gusts, with Benjamin Robinson and a hungover Nigel Bishop opening. They got off to a gutsy start, putting on 30 for the first wicket before Benjamin was caught on 12.
Ian and Nigel Push Oaks on
Ian Bennett came to the crease and any fears of a collapse dissipated, with him and Nige settling in and tucking into anything loose. The partnership yielded 60 runs and The Oaks were looking reasonably positioned at 91-2. All the talk on the balcony revolved around whether Nigel should get pissed more often.
The Oaks were possibly a little behind where they wanted to be, so the accelerator was pressed and Ian departed for a decent 27. Nick Green came to the crease to push things along but got what no batsman wants the first ball. A straight one that stayed low. Result? A walk back to the hutch, with only the gale force winds breaking the silence. Cricket can be a nasty mistress.
It’s Tears on the Balcony as Nigel Hits His Ton
Still, Nigel was still there and now seeing red leather like it was a beach ball. George and Jack both came and went whilst rightly trying to be aggressive to push us along and the fear was we might run out of batsmen to support Nigel. However, Sam Holbrook came to the crease and hit some lovely shots in a quick-fire 23.
Sam also supported Nigel, who hammered one for 4 to complete an excellent ton. Nigel celebrated (almost wildly) with both arms raised as tears of emotion nearly flowed on the balcony. It was a great knock, a mix of control and aggression. After Nigel and Sam departed everyone threw the bat at the ball and a great little cameo from Will Rabley (23) and a few from Mike Bryant and Noah aided The Oaks to a decent, if not formidable 226 to defend.
Ton Up: Nigel Bishop Celebrates
Jack backed his new man and opened with debutant, Zak Newton and youngster Noah Beckell. Both started with a mix of jaffas and loose stuff as the two openers showed their class, waiting for balls they could hit. However, they stuck to their task and Zak started finding a good length, seemingly improving with every ball. He’s going to be a very useful addition.
Noah struggled a little with wides and was replaced by Sammy Holbrook who also bowled some great stuff among something a bit more rusty as The Oaks looked for the wicket they needed. The breakthrough eventually came when the Herriard batsmen went for two and picked the wrong fielder. Will Rabley probably has the best arm at the club and he fired the ball in from the deep with Ian Bennet doing the necessary. A superb bit of fielding.
Will Masterclass and a Vintage Vomit Inducer
With less than a hundred to win, Herriard were pretty much in command but The Oaks were sticking at it. It appeared from the balcony that if Herriard were to win, they would have to work for it. Mike Bryant came on to bowl and did what Mike does, attempting to change the course of the game. Mike picked up two wickets as Jack tried his arm at the other end, interchanging with George. Will took the catches in a masterclass fielding display.
Mike’s spell, if not putting The Oaks in command, at least offered hope. However, the Herriard opener was racing to a hundred and needed to be stopped. The Oaks needed a plan and George Lethaby came up with one that was as cunning as a fox that had just completed a first-class degree in Cunning Studies ay Oxford University. This involved a leg-side full toss that was obliterated by the batsmen, arrowing into the hands of the last person you want it to go to. That’s right, Will Rabley. The batsman, choking back vomit, had to depart for an excellent 87.
Herriard Regroup and Push to Victory
Herriard regrouped and pushed toward victory but not with the ease it looked like it might have been. For this, credit has to go to everyone in the field who battled away in awful conditions, with gusts so strong, a nearby tree smashed to the ground. After last week when we forgot that cricket is meant to be enjoyed, it was great to see everyone backing each other to the end. The dressing room after the game was a disappointed one but also one where everyone knew they’d given it a good shot.
So, loads of positives, the headline act being Nigel’s ton. Zak Newton and Sammy Holbrook both showed how valuable they will be in the coming weeks which is a big help in a side that has been low on bowlers. The aim now has to be a strong finish to the season and if everyone pulls together like they did yesterday, it most certainly will be.
Thanks to Herriard for their hospitality and for getting the game on. If they keep going, their ambition of getting promoted may yet be realised. They are a good side capable of gatecrashing the top two.
Up The Oaks!