Oaks Lose to West London in Good Spirited Friendly

Report from Billy Turner 

On a warm, sometimes hot day at Oakley Park, an eclectic mix of Oakley players you only get on a Sunday hosted West London CC. There are not many other ways to describe a team that featured a First XI batter, a Second XI bowler, two colts, a debutant, and a scorer besides eclectic. I was not entirely confident before this game, and when Captain Kris Tucknott referred to me as ‘one of the senior players,’ I knew we were in trouble. After being assured we were not against the entirety of West London, Kris pretended to do a toss and let the opposition captain know that we would bowl first.

Oaks Bowl First

Kris turned to Zak Newton and George Bird to open the bowling. Both bowled good lines to start the innings, with George picking up an early wicket thanks to an excellent full-stretch catch from George Rowley. It could have easily been two wickets, but Billy Turner at first slip decided to let the ball hit him in the chest instead of catching it, much to the amusement of Josh Carpenter. Josh told me that Sundays are very fun after this. Kris turned to George Rowley and Harrison Bird to continue the good work of the opening bowlers. Harrison picked up a wicket with a lovely full delivery, finishing with a very handy 1-15 off his 4 overs. George was unlucky not to get a wicket at the other end, seeing the batsman sky the ball numerous times. Unfortunately, the ball either found a nice place to land with no fielders nearby or a fielder incapable of catching, of which there were a couple. This would prove to be a theme for the innings.

West London were 110-2 at drinks, which also saw the introduction of spin duo Alex Holman and Kalum Sapumanage. The batters fancied the slower stuff and, with a solid platform, decided it was time to kick on. Some big blows were struck and there was a long time spent looking for balls in the field. It wasn’t really the fault of either bowler, just batters looking to tee off. Alex did pick up a wicket though, thanks to a catch by George Bird. George then came back on to bowl some more. In an effort to prove he was the better George at fielding, George Rowley immediately took a leaping one-handed catch to give George Bird his second wicket. Rowley claimed his fourth catch of the weekend, so those who are taking part in the Oakley fantasy team this year may want to take note of that. This did little to slow the runs that were now coming at an alarming rate. More catches went down, more sixes were hit. To try and close out the innings, Kris brought Zak back on and turned to the experienced Josh Carpenter, but this did not change the batting approach. Honestly, it could have been Brett Lee bowling and these batters were still going to have a swing.

Zak was able to pick up a wicket with his bowling and then got a very smart run out. I say smart, but the batter nailed it back to him and it clipped his toe on its way to the stumps, running out the non-striker. I’ll give Zak credit as it did look like he made some attempt to move his foot to the ball. Josh, meanwhile, toiled away at the other end with no reward. He said he counted five drops off his bowling and I’ll take his word for it. I did take pleasure in reminding him Sundays are fun. Unfortunately, we did not have a team of George Rowleys in the field, so none of them stuck and many of them ended up going for four. I would happily call out the drops, but there were so many I can’t remember who dropped how many, but few walked away without a drop. It meant that West London finished on 275-6 off their overs, thanks to 14 sixes. It later transpired that we actually only bowled 38 overs instead of the allocated 40, which everyone was happy about because they had certainly had enough. Everyone except Billy, who looked like he had seen a double homicide when examining the state the scoring was in and did his best to salvage it. George Bird was the pick of the bowlers with 2-49. Either way, it was a big total to try and chase.

The Oaks Reply

Oakley began the chase with Kris partnering himself with debutant Avi Vasant. Avi obviously decided to try and go hard at the large total, taking a massive swing at his first ball. Unfortunately, he missed the ball completely and was clean bowled. There have probably been worse debuts. Adam Triner came out to join Kris and began working on his defensive technique. Kris, meanwhile, played some shots before departing for 21. Josh came to the middle with the attitude of someone who knew if we were ever going to get anywhere near the total, he would need to score the majority of the runs. However, Adam was soon out for 2, given out LBW by Alex. He assured us all it was plumb otherwise he would not have given it, but either way it led to Jeff Triner going out to umpire to show us how it’s done.

George Rowley joined Josh and then shortly departed for 2, edging to slip who actually held on to it. The Oaks found themselves 44-4 as Kalum joined Josh, with the only silver lining being we were looking at an early finish. Josh had other ideas though and decided to launch two massive sixes into the field back-to-back as a sign of intent. Kalum then put Jack Brundle to shame by asking for a drink after facing his ninth ball and only two overs out from the drinks break anyway. Just as it looked like a recovery was on, Josh sent one straight into the air in the 19th over which was eventually caught. What’s that old saying about catches and matches? Josh departed for 43 off 34 and was genuinely gutted not to score more. His desire to accumulate is outstanding and I know he will score many more runs this year. The Oaks were 103-5 at drinks as George Bird joined Kalum in the middle.

Kalum decided to take the lead role as the senior batter and hit some solid boundaries, including a six of his own as a form of revenge for getting hit when bowling earlier. If his previous impression of Jack was good, then he took it to the next level at this point, laying down on the pitch and refusing to bat until he had his third drink. Play was delayed as we rehydrated him, hoping that we wouldn’t have to do this again. Unfortunately, it seemed this delay affected George, as he was out for 4 shortly after. Zak came in next with a nosebleed at the fact he was batting at 8. We hoped it would be a chance to spend some valuable time in the middle but he was out for 1 shortly after. Harrison came in and departed for a golden duck to leave Oakley 159-8.

Alex joined Kalum who had limped his way to 49 and had barely played a shot since his last drink, and he was soon caught one short of his 50. Unlucky Kalum, but still a good effort. Billy came out at 11 after heroically batting himself down the order. He claimed this was to give people who will play more league cricket than him more batting time, but really he was just quite happy to be scoring and having a beer with Josh. After hitting his first ball for 3 with an almost genuine cricket shot, he sensed that literally everyone wanted to go home. With this, a couple of balls later, he selflessly launched himself down the wicket, missing the ball with an almighty swing and consequently being stumped. At Square Leg, Kris half-considered calling a no-ball for the keeper taking the ball in front of the stumps. However, he thought of the cold beer waiting for him and signaled out to the delight of everyone. Well, nearly everyone, as I am sure Alex would have liked to have faced a few more balls. Sorry mate. Oakley ended on 165 all out from 31.2 overs, just 110 runs short.

Post-Game Appreciation

Although the Oaks were well beaten, after spending a day reflecting on the match, there are positives to take from this friendly. Both Birds bowled well, George proved himself to be an excellent fielder, and Josh added a few more runs to his total for the year as he looks to score a record amount. In fact, many worked hard in the field, particularly Zak and Josh. Thanks to West London for giving us the match and to Kris for putting the side together and captaining the day. It is crucial we continue to get these Sunday games on to give people at the club more opportunities to develop.

Thanks go to all the people who came up to support the team throughout the day, including the Bird parents, Noah and Dan Beckell, DJ, Brundle, Stef and family, Ollie Rabley, Jeff Triner (big thank you for also umpiring for a bit), and Ian Simpson, along with some members of the victorious women’s team (apologies if I missed anyone). It was genuinely nice to have members of the club come out on a sunny Sunday to have a drink and enjoy watching cricket. Thanks as well to the players who actually stuck around to help tidy up. My personal highlight of the day was sharing a beer with Alex, Kris, and Josh after the match, as we watched the sun slowly set on Oakley Park. I’m often regularly reminded by opposition players how lovely our ground is, so it was nice to take a moment to appreciate it with some top blokes.

On we travel to our next Sunday fixture. Whenever it is, if you find yourself free, pop up and play or just have a beer and appreciate what an excellent club we have here.

MOM: Josh Carpenter. Taking time out to increase his 2024 run tally despite an A Level exam the next day. He loves runs more than life itself.