The fight to stay up started on what looked to be a rain-soaked day at Oakley Park. However, the rain gods obviously got their schedule muddled up and let us off with some decent cricket weather.
Alex won the toss and chose to bat on a decent looking track, well prepared by Ian during the week. The Oaks got off to a steady start with Will and DJ knocking it around until DJ (4) edged one into the keepers’ gloves.
In stepped Matt Burrell. Unfortunately, soon after that Will got a big turner which clipped his off stump when on 10, and The Oaks were two down. Alex Brundle and Matt kept the scoreboard ticking until Matt (who was looking in great form) skied a long hop and went for 18.
George Lethaby unfortunately picked out the only man on the boundary to depart for 11. Then, in stepped Josh, mum on the sidle line recording every move for his upcoming GCSE’s (hopefully she has a language editor as well). Both Alex and Josh worked well together and were getting us into a great position but as usual with this season, lady lucky just doesn’t fancy us, and a direct hit onto the stumps ran Alex out on 14.
Stefan Kaltner, having been pushed up the batting order due to a few decent knocks over the last couple of weeks came to the middle. He and Josh showed their class with some blazing stokes and good running but again Lady Luck shook her head and Josh (20) drilled a full toss back at the bowler who gleefully accepted the catch.
Ian and Clive tried to give a good rear guard for Stefan but unfortunately both went for 2 and 8, respectively. At this stage we were looking at getting rolled for about 140. Fortunately, Stefan and Mike managed to put some good bat to ball and get a quick fire 50 run partnership. Stefan fell in the last over for an excellent 34. DB stepping in with one instruction to “get Mike on strike” which he did superbly, only to have Mike miss a slower straight ball. Mike’s 27, including three sixes, was a great tonic for his troops.
The Oaks ending up on 188 all out. Par perhaps?
Still pumped from a decent batting performance The Oaks were up for this fight. Two quick wickets from Josh and Stefan had Ryde on the rocks. However, something that’s plagued us this whole season is a right-handed left-handed combination. Mike managed to pick up the right-handed bat to slow Ryde down.
At drinks Ryde we’re 70/3 and the match was in the balance. Strike bowler time. Josh steamed in from the Oakley Hall end and clean bowled the left hander and gave him a send-off after a feisty little battle. Clive struck soon after, leaving Ryde 5 down.
Ryde managed to steady the ship again and get a couple of batsmen in until Alex cleaned one up with a low full toss/yorker. Game on. The Oaks fought hard and kept the chat going in the field but unfortunately things just didn’t go our way. A couple of catches went down, half chances didn’t go our way and some streaky shots brought Ryde right back into the game. Oaks needing one wicket to win and Ryde needing one run to win with four balls left.
Ryde managed to scramble through for the win in a cracking encounter and it was relegation heartbreak for The Oaks. However, the grit and determination that was shown by the lads was a victory in itself. If The Oaks tighten up on a few things (wides etc) they will bounce back strongly. Anyway, they must reset and get ready for next week to end the season on a high. The Oaks owe it to themselves and the other promotion chasers to give Ferndown a good battle.
Opponents, Ryde, are all set for promotion, so for us to run them so close, gives us huge encouragement for next year. What we must do is build a nucleus of a team for some consistency and a Second XI that pushes hard for First XI places. They are not far from that and if we keep our existing group and add just a couple more quality players, we will bounce straight back.
Up the Oaks!