Oakley Ladies Match Report

Just like the Mary Rose after her refit in 1536 the Oakley Ladies Team sailed into the Dummer Cricket Arena in their spangly new ‘we mean business’ kit. The ultimate definition of gear, with now a fair few training sessions of idea. With no Sunday morning warm up this time, there were some concerns that it might be like a nostalgic game of Twister where 1 wrong spin or a misplaced foot could end up feeling like we should have stuck to playing Pin the Tail on the Cricket Coach.

Our first game was against Trojans, and we opened the batting with Sarah ‘Safe Hands’ Shearing and our first tournament newbie Bex D. Runs were flowing from Sarah (just like the drinks in her Garage Bar) and she pulled out some big hits, lots of running and a cheeky little tap followed by an exquisite run. Throw in a wide and we were off to the start of our dreams. Bex warmed up nicely, but Trojans were on to us with some great fielding and our pair finished with no wickets lost.

Cara took to the field with the confidence of a someone who wasn’t playing her first ever match, stayed calm and was the ultimate wingman (probably a little too early to call her Goose) to our Maverick Bex B. Again, the fielding was tight and Bex faced the best bowler in the Trojans team. A few 1’s off the wall, and a couple of attempts of running with only one unfortunate run-out for the pair. Enter a pairing from the North Waltham Massive of Michelle and Sarah A; Michelle (also on her maiden voyage) saw most of the action and hit that ball with mighty determination whilst also keeping Trojans on their toes with the odd delightful little tap. They clocked up some commendable runs with just one wicket lost. Ruth and Penny were our last batting pair. Ruth had kindly not worn herself out cycling too much and displayed the energy of someone who had consumed an entire packet of Haribo Tangfastics all by herself. A huge 6 was followed by a scary shot to the ceiling that left us all squeaking, but in the Ruth we trust. Penny showed us how clever she was at batting with some great strategic touches. Fabulous calling between the pair gained us some much-needed runs with just 1 more wicket lost.

All warmed up, with a fire somewhere in our bodies, led to Sarah S stepping up to bowl our first over. Very few runs were gained by the Trojans and there was a near catch by Cara. Penny was next and we saw our first catch of the day by Safe Hands. The positive news was nobody was displaying any post roast dinner sleepy vibes and we all looked ‘lively in the field’.

Huge kudos to Bex D who kept her focus whilst bowling her first tournament over and only a few runs were given away. Michelle decided she liked stopping balls as much as she liked hitting them and defeated all Trojan attempts at getting a 6 off us. Following her stint as WK Bex B displayed her masterful nonchalant bowling with a near caught and bowled, a great stop by Cara at the back wall and our second catch of the day for Sarah S (no other body parts were involved this time). Ruth earned her stripes as WK and kept things neat and tidy at the back. Nicknamed Balboa in her youth (it’s probably best you don’t ask why) Cara entered the bowling ring with another near caught and bowled on her first ball but unfortunately no knockouts from the young-ish contender this time. Sarah S and Bex B saw us out on the last 2 overs with one more catch by Ruth, and we were Game Over.

As usual we were clueless as to what the actual score could be, however we would have been cracking open the Jaffa Cakes if anyone had been arsed to bring any, as we celebrated yet another WIN! Oakley 234 Trojans 227.

The second game against Winchester (and our second time playing them) was a bit of blur, mostly as this was my first match and I was concentrating on not looking like a wobbly new-born elephant most of the time. We were up to field first and Lori-Ann took the opposition (who are a great batting team) by surprise, with little gained by their first pair. Sarah S had taken on the Captain duties of organising us all then offered up a sublime caught and bowled, with Jen then gaining a wicket with a catch at the stumps. Claire B (aka the LGC and not very easily to be confused with the BFG) gave us 2 more wickets with her bowling and then a catch by Lori-Ann. Jen came in for her stint and nearly added one more wicket to our tally, followed by Bex B who helped the fielders keep runs to a minimum before Jen claimed another wicket. A huge well done to Letti on her first outing for the Oaks who showed some outstanding Gandalf like ‘thou shalt not pass’ wizardry stopping many balls going for 6 with mostly her legs then head, shoulders, knees and toes! Sarah S, Claire B and Bex B finished our bowling and we even managed to keep the 2 Winchester youngsters, who had scored quite a few tap and runs against us back in January, to only a few light jogs around the block this time.

Sarah S and Jen were our first batting pair with some consistent scoring from both players, we did have a few giggles as we used Winchester’s tactics to tap and run and only one wicket was lost. Hannah and Claire faced some good bowling and couldn’t really play the batting shots we had practised, and we lost another wicket. Bex B and Letti managed a few runs with Bex trying her best to place the ball and just one more wicket was lost.Then the moment of unknown as Lori-Ann and a wobbly Nikki came in as the last pair. Lori-Ann faced the tougher Winchester bowler who kept things spicy by also adding a few wides into the mix and Nikki, who was mostly just willing herself to not be sick and not get out on the first ball, managed to add a few extra runs.

You could see the relief in the Winchester Team when they realised they had won – 238 to Oakley’s 218 . Last time they had scored 260 to our 231 so progress had been made by the Oaks.

Third place points were up for grabs in our final match against Alton, and we wanted them as much as Ian and Gordon want to sometimes curl up in a quiet dark room after our training sessions. Claire started our bowling with a wicket, then a near catch and a great stop by Jen saw only a few runs gained. Jen followed next and showed some super-charged bowling with not a single wide and a few nearly, but not quite, wickets. Cara put on a masterclass and came close to claiming a wicket on her first ball, Penny kept an excellent wicket and Ruth gave us another divine catch. Ruth was then up to bowl which saw an instant catch by Cara and some nimble fielding by Lori-Ann to stop the ball being hit to the wall. Penny was our next bowler and gave very few runs away in a consistent over and with help from a great stop by Michelle. Lori-Ann again kept things very tight, and we finished off with another over by Cara and a catch by Lori-Ann. Our last bowler Claire allowed only a couple of runs on her watch and Ruth was now vying for the title of ‘Safer Hands’ Miller.

At this point you would have thought it was probably a bit late for those that like to be in their fluffy PJ’s at this time on a Sunday night (mainly Nikki, Hannah and Letti), however the force was still strong in the Oaks and out we came to display our whizzy batting.

Michelle struggled with her bowler and most of our runs were gained by wide balls and Claire tried a plucky run but didn’t quite make it. Jen and Sarah A faced a fair number of wide balls again with Sarah A managing to sneak a few runs off the wall and a great call to ‘Runnnnnnnnnn!!’ by Jen saw our score creep up. Lori-Ann and Cara came in and most runs were again gained by wide balls and a few singles. Lastly the dynamic pairing of Penny and Ruth stepped out and Penny put every bit of guile she possessed into some beautiful ball placements and gained runs with every single ball. Ruth tried to go for the big 6’s but Alton’s fielding was on point and only the singles off the wall gave us runs.

We all stood around smiling like the proverbial fools who had provided the entertainment but yet again had no idea of the score, until Hannah put us out of our misery by declaring Alton 213 – Oakley 236. The sweet third place points were ours!

And so, we ended our second tournament with 14 points overall and (we think!) a tied second place in the league with Overton.

I’m sure I can speak for most of us who grew up inspired by a certain 1982 TV episode of Fame, that the powerful and motivating words of Dance Teacher Lydia Grant were resonating in our hearts, as we drove off into the starry night.

‘You’ve got big dreams. You want fame. Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying in sweat’.

I think some of us are yet to sweat but we might just be starting to have those big dreams.

Special thanks to Hannah and Penny who have now added another WhatsApp hashtag to their bows by keeping score, and to Ian and Scotty for not only always being with us in spirit but in actual real-life person too! We might invest in some Oakley colour Pom Pom’s for their next cheerleading gig.

On we travel to the 3rd Tournament in March

Woman of the Match – Cara G for her sublime bowling and catches.

Whoopsie of the Day – Nikki P for thinking we were playing Overton in our last match and exclaiming loudly ‘Bob is going to be so happy with us!’