Oaks Edge a Bourne Valley Thriller

Report from Nicholas Green 

After a week of optimistic weather forecasts led by our cheerful chairman, neither team thought we’d be getting a game in. By the middle of the afternoon, the trustiest weather forecast around (looking out our windows) indicated the game was on. Seemingly, St Mary Bourne didn’t think it would be either, as we arrived 30 minutes before the game to find them just starting to cut the wicket, paint the boundary, and the clubhouse taken over by a local daycare blasting all sorts of catchy children’s music.

Oaks Bowl First

The Hampshire Slam is an eclectic mix of all three Saturday teams, but Ian still looked to open strong with first-teamers Alex Brundle and Josh Carpenter. With the outfield resembling treacle, having only been cut earlier that day leaving grass clippings everywhere, we hoped it’d be hard to get the ball away to the boundary. This plan looked great for all of three balls before a full toss no-ball, followed by another loose one, meant Brundle leaked 14 runs off his first over and Josh not going for much less in the next.

Both men pulled it back in their second overs, going for 3 and 2 runs respectively, with Josh picking up the important first wicket. This wasn’t enough for cut-throat skipper Ian Bennet, though, as Brundle was removed from the attack for left-arm seamer Zak Newton, who looked to continue his great start to the season. Every bowler took a bit of tap, thanks to a hard-hitting St Mary Bourne side and extras costing double. All except Dan Jones, who continued his unplayable start to the season, going for just 15 runs off his 4 overs and picking up a couple of wickets in the process.

Jack Brundle, who hadn’t played at all over the winter, took a wicket with his first ball—a trusty straight half-tracker that many village cricketers struggle with. Similar scenes came from the chairman, dubbed the “Oakley Express,” who lives by the mantra “you miss, I hit,” picking up 3 wickets. Bob, our leading wicket-taker in the group stage of the Slam last year, seems to be slowly becoming a specialist.

A solid effort from everyone in the field with all three catches taken. The pick of the bunch was a pressure catch at deep square from Ben Robinson, finally dismissing their opener for 44. Tidy work behind the stumps from Paddy Staines, dealing with several wides and taking a swift stumping, restricted St Mary Bourne to 135—a lot less than we might have thought after 2 overs.

Off to a Flyer!

Out to bat first were Nick Green and Paddy Saines, with what can only be described as 7 minutes of carnage. After seeing himself in for all of 2 deliveries, Nick Green began teeing off, striking 18 runs off the first over, including creaming a 6 through cover so hard it barely got above head height. The next over was not too dissimilar, with Paddy taking a quick single and Nick striking the ball well over the clubhouse. This was met with one local shouting, “Can I remind you, that’s where they want to build a playground!” Perhaps not the best idea. Unfortunately, the bowler found his line and length and cleaned up Nick’s stumps for a short-lived 28 off 10 balls, at least leaving less than a run-a-ball needed. It wasn’t long before the same bowler cleaned up Paddy’s stumps and we started chewing up deliveries.

Ian to the Rescue! Well, Sort of…

Captain Ian Bennett continued his great start to the season, taking advantage of more dropped catches on the boundary, scoring at about 10/over. We were back on track. Hitting 3 sixes and 3 fours, Ian looked like he was heading for another 50, until a very good bouncer had him in two minds, spooning it back up to the bowler on 36. Not long after, Alex Brundle left (now umpire) Nick Green with no choice but to give him out LBW, missing a slow straight one heading for his middle stump.

Deano and Jack Steady the Ship!

Struggling to get the bowlers away, Deano and Jack relied on milking what they could, running for every wide and pushing for 2s where possible. But just as we fell behind the run rate, Deano was bounced out in a similar manner to Ian, bringing Josh to the crease. Now, as arguably the best batsman in the club currently, you’d imagine that Josh could see us over the line against a weakening St Mary Bourne lineup of bowlers. Instead, he chipped one to deep mid-off.

DJ Sees Us Home… Just!

With Jack Brundle still struggling to hit the ball off the square, stand-in first-team skipper Dan Jones came to the crease. Both men continued to struggle against the slow and steady attack, requiring all power to come from brute force. By the 17th over, we needed about 8 an over, which wasn’t looking likely at this point. Thankfully for us, village cricket was on our side when the usual St Mary Bourne opening seamer came on to bowl spin because of a dodgy shoulder. Giving away 10 wides and a loose half-tracker that DJ finally got hold of for 4, we were back in the driving seat.

Needing 7 to win off the last over, DJ continued to miss out, with three dot balls accumulating and the game slipping from our grasp. The next ball, DJ and Jack made use of some subpar fielding to come back for 2 runs, although the third umpire would have definitely been called for a very close runout. With 5 needed off two, DJ finally started seeing the ball just in time to deliver two blows to the boundary, securing the win off the last ball.

Huge thanks to St Mary Bourne, who are a good bunch of lads, for a great game. It was finished in style at the George Inn by both sides, who, much to our surprise, greeted us with praise having streamed the game in the pub on the television. Technology making even the most village of us feel professional.