Excellent First XI Battle to Thrilling Victory

Report by Brad Compton-Bearne

Oakley made the short travel to promotion rivals Hartley Wintney for a close fought game. Due to holiday season the Oakley side was maybe not as strong as it could be but there were plenty of capable players in the team.

Stand in captain Dan Jones, in true Oakley fashion lost the toss and Oakley were put into bat. Maybe the possibility of rain impacted this decision as the pitch was a road and one straight boundary was about as small as Warwick Davis. The 30 yard inner circle was about a metre away from the rope.

Good Start

Oakley started well seeing off the new ball until Dan Jones got out for 15 (I didn’t see how he got out as I was watching the England women’s game in the bar at the time. I presume it was an absolute peach of a ball). In came Michael Wood to support Paddy Saines and the two motored along well hitting some nice shots to get the score up to 81 before Michael Wood was caught trying to play a big shot. He departed for a well worked 40. In came Oakley Superstar Josh Carpenter who was looking for some big runs on a good deck.

At drinks captain Dan Jones and Paddy had a chat and said for people to bat around him. Paddy agreed and then decided to go out and do exactly the oppositie by hitting a 2, then a four and then shortly after getting caught playing another extravagant shot. That said, Paddy played well for his 37 and obviously decided he doesn’t take orders from Dan.

Brad Hits Out

In came Brad off his astonishing batting form with an average of 2.5 in his last 4 innings. Thankfully first ball Brad managed to get off the mark with a 1 and the fortunes changed thereafter. With the short boundary and a spinner on, Brad decided to make the most of this boundary and clubbed some lusty blows over the ropes. Brad reached his 50 in probably around 20 balls before hitting a few more sixes and then inevitably getting caught on the boundary for 69. In total the partnership with Josh put on 100 runs exactly and got Oakley to 220-4 with around 8 overs left leaving license for everyone else to tee off.

Alex Brundle, Ian Bennett and George Lethaby then came in but none of them could really get going. Thankfully down the other end Josh Carpenter was going well and brought up his 50 with a valuable knock. He then clubbed a few more big sixes to the long boundary and Oakley finished up on 269 off the 45 overs. A good total but on this pitch we knew this was probably about par.

Defending 269

With some notable bowling options out of the team, Oakley knew that some maybe not so key bowling figures would need to bowl some overs. We could have potentially had another very good bowler but it turns out Josh has channelled his inner Ben Stokes and decided he is no longer able to bowl.

As usual, Stefan Kaltner opened up the bowling and was economical and challenging that off stump. He was soon rewarded by bowling the opener to leave Hartley Wintney 20-1. Alex Brundle was bowling well at the other end and not going at an expensive rate to put the batters under pressure. Then on came Brad who managed to pick up a wicket with the guy caught on the boundary to leave the score 55-2 and Hartley looking behind the game. Thankfully for them the next batter came in and must’ve wanted revenge for what Brad did previously as he smashed a quick-fire 50 hitting some nice sixes to make Brad considered making up a mythical knee injury which means he can never bowl again.

Finely Poised

Sam Holbrook on his return to the Oakley first team, bowled some testing spin and was rewarded by getting out the guy with the quick-fire fifty thanks to some good glove-work from Paddy to get the stumping. A valubable wicket as the game looked to be slipping away slightly but with the game at 149-3 off around 28 overs it was finely poised.

Hartley’s opener was still at the crease looking assured on around 70, his other partner down the other end was taking his chances having been dropped a couple of times. Well, maybe dropped 3 times, as Woody may as well have dropped him twice in one attempt. Thankfully Dan Jones soon got the wicket. However, with the score 207-4 with 10 overs to go it did look like Hartley may have this in the bag. Oakley knew if they kept going and the opener was to get out we were right in this.

George gets the Key Man

Stefan came back on and got the number 6 out. George Lethaby was then bought on. Despite poor recent form, George bowled very well and was finally rewarded by getting the opener caught on the boundary thanks to good hands from Josh Carpenter. The opener departed for a very good 94 and Oakley knew this game was back for taking.

Did Oakley cease on their opportunity? You bet they did. Stefan and Alex Brundle both came back on to bowl the final few overs and it seemed the new batsmen in struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking. 6 an over soon became 8 an over and the pressure was on the batsmen to score. This pressure then caused wickets to fall. With 3 overs to go Hartley needed around 32 and Dan Jones bought himself back on true heroic fashion. He bowled a very good over for around 6 runs leaving Hartley needing 24 off the last 2 with two new batsmen in.

Turning the Screw

Alex Brundle bowled a very good last over for around 4 runs too and a wicket leaving Hartley needing a very big over to win the game. Oakley also needed one wicket for max points. Two dots started the over followed by what looked to be another dot. Ian then decided to throw the ball which got 2 overthrows, Brad then decided to throw the ball back to Paddy only for it to hit the stumps and they took another run. This meant Hartley with 3 balls to go could technically still win the game now with 3 sixes. Thankfully they did not do this and on the final ball Dan Jones bowled the batsman to get Oakley 24 well earned points.

It was a fantastic bowling, fielding and batting effort all round. MOM had to go to Josh Carpenter and his fantastic boundary catching which turned the game for Oakley. It looked lost at some points but the team spirit lived on and ultimately won this game for Oakley.

Two games are left and promotion looks unlikely.  However, two wins to finish the season will be a good way to bow out.