This past Sunday saw the Captain Scott Invitation XI take on the Butlers XI. This is a long standing memorial fixture between the two clubs to pay homage to their founders, Harry Thompson and Gareth Butler.
Due to some alcohol fuelled animosity, late last year, between our Skipper and a member of opposition, that will go down in the annuls of history as “Hatgate”, the Skipper was more jumpy than a teenage girl at her first horror movie. He was in, he was out, he was shake it all about… Firstly he wasn’t going to play, then he was only going to play the first innings, finally he played both, but had to leave early as he’s not only a Skipper nowadays, but a responsible father and Monday was a school day.
Only the second game of the season as the Oxford College games had been non-starters due to the weather (or rather the reasons given for cancelling). Spirits in the change room were high with six of the team having played in the season opener. 11 opinions regarding the state of the wicket with 10 suggesting their plan of attack would be to win the toss and bat. Sean, 50 pence in hand, wandered out to the middle and proceeded to lose the toss which resulted in Scotties being put in the field. The Skipper confessed later in the day, had he won the toss he would have fielded (true story – honest guv!) and this is proof of why he is the Skipper.
Opening with the miserly pair of Vara and Hawson, the Butlers XI got off to a slow, but steady, start making only 26 without loss off the first nine. Knowing that we had to get to the 21st over so the bowling numbers would work the Skipper made a tactical change and brought the slow left-arm pair of Alastair “Billy” Smail and Ketan “KP” Patel on to see if they could find the elusive wicket. With the opening pair trying to increase the scoring rate, their number one had a rush of blood to the head and went for an airborne pull towards mid-on where the Skipper had positioned himself. The first Champagne moment of the day… the skipper stepped deftly to his right and lightly lept (yes, Sean can leap lightly) to take the ball squarely in the middle of his meaty right hand. 60 for 1 in the 14th Over. It should be noted that while the opening pair were strolling to the middle, Mr McCormack (a long-time Butler XI member), clearly pointed Sean out and was heard to say that anything along the ground four foot either side of the Skipper would result in runs but not to hit it anywhere in the air within his vicinity. You could see Mr McCormack, as the wicket fell, mentally yelling “I f*****g told you so!”
With the first wicket falling to the mesmerising bowling of Alastair, he proceeded to bowl a peach of a delivery the third ball of this sixth over (which turned out to be a wicket maiden) and take his second wicket of the game, which pitched and turned and took the top of off stump. Mr MacCormack was out with 53 off 50 balls against his name and the team on 85 for 2 after 19.3. The fall on MacCormack’s wicket sent a shiver up some of the spines of the Butler’s long tail. In marched another long time member of Butlers, one David Nicholson. KP had started his spell with a couple of long hops, but had tightened his line and length to a point where runs were again drying up. A firm shot directly to fine leg, a suicidal run (called for by David Nicholson) and the second Champagne moment, a direct hit from David Stoddart left Mr Nicholson well short and a three ball duck, against his name, in the scorebook. 85 for 3 in 20.4 overs.
End of the over (one ball later) saw drinks called and while we were all standing quaffing orange cordial from plastic cups we were enlightened that the message for the incoming batsman was to “survive until drinks”. With much mirth it was asked what next message would be and we were told that it was to bat though to the end of the innings. Drinks also brought about a bowling change and Stoddart’s good work in the field resulted in the ball being tossed to him. It was obviously Stoddart’s day and the very first ball of his spell had Brian Mack trapped in front and after lengthy consideration the dreaded finger of the umpire was shown. Suddenly the Butler XI were 85 for 4 after 21.1. KP bowling his final over bowled preceded to put a “1” in the wicket column against his name when the sixth batsman’s off-stump was knocked back after his eyes lit up and he had a massive hoick across the line – wrong shot for a great ball. 91 for 5 in 22.4 overs. Would the innings go the full distance?
At this point scoreboard pressure was the Captain Scott’s twelfth player and he was playing his part, putting crafty little messages into the minds of the opposition, making them see run where there weren’t any… a ball was hit firmly and directly to the fielder who calmly threw it to our experienced Aussie keeper. Slatts whipped of the bails with the batsmen well out his crease and Phil James has his first Run Out in the colours of Captain Scott. 95 for 6 with 10 overs to go. Stoddart then bowled their captain with only a further three runs being added to the total. 98 for 7 and Butlers were on the ropes…
Kaps Vara was reintroduced for his final two overs and proceeded to take the next two wickets, the first of the two producing the penultimate Champagne moment of the match. Vara delivered a half-tracker which the batsmen swivelled, latched onto the ball and pulled it powerfully behind square-leg straight into the breadbasket of KP and there is stuck, very much to the surprise of KP as well of the other 10 fielders but we would take it. 103 for 8 quickly followed by 105 for 9 after 31.4 overs.
At this point the tail wagged (slightly) and with three balls left in the innings the final Champagne moment. While the bowler, Mr James, was returning to the end of his run up, the Skipper asked David “He-who-could-do-no-wrong” Stoddart to move to his right. It went something like this, “David, move five paces to your right, a little more… more… a little more… perfect, don’t move!”. Phil ran in and put the ball on a length, the batsman obviously forgot it was a game and that every run counts and seemed to quite purposely hit it directly to David, who snapped up the chance to add a catch to his run out and two wickets. All 10 batsmen were back in the hutch two balls shy of the complete innings.
Laurie doing the scorebook confirmed the batting matched the bowling and the final final score was inked into the book. 117 for 10 in 34.4 overs. With that tea.
25 minutes later, the batting order given to Laurie (by the way Sean, you’re number four), Kaps and Slatts were champing at their respective bits (we share a lot, but not bits) ready to post the Captain Scott repost. After a brisk start Slatts needlessly ran out the top run scorer this season so far when the score was on 25. In walked Dan Watson, admitting that this was the first time this year he’d picked up a bat. He and Slatts put on a further 14 runs before Slatts cut an innocuous ball straight to point. Walking off cursing himself for offering his wicket so easily, you’d not be mistaken thinking you were sitting on the dockside in Liverpool and not the wonderful countryside in Oxfordshire.
This released the Skipper (by the way Sean, good to see you’re number four), spurred on by “Hatgate”. The Skipper and Watson then played some wonderful strokes against some mediocre bowling put on a partnership of 41 before Butlers brought back opener, the lanky Al Reynolds, who struck twice in the 17th over to bowl Watson for 34 and follow it up with the wicket of the Skipper for a tenacious 13, who was looking spend some time in the middle with one of his younger siblings, Jamo-Love. Alas it was not to be and after a partnership of one, Scotties were suddenly 81 for 4.
This brought Paul “PAD” Daniels to the middle. In Al’s second over of his second stint he produced a peach of a delivery that took the edge of Jamo-love’s bat and safely into the glove of the Butler’s wicket keeper. I say safely, but it was a great catch low to his right, off the laces of the first slip, but the release of the ball following the catch was so quick, had it been a league game and points, not only pride and boasting rights were riding on the result it would have caused the standing umpires to review Law 32.3. The Spirit of Cricket being what it is and the Gentleman that Jamo-Love is the Scotties found themselves staring down the barrel of the gun at 82 for 5 when only 12 balls previously we were sitting comfortably at 80 for 2.
You only get one guess at who joined PAD in the middle. Those of you that weren’t at the game and said David Stoddart, give yourselves a pat on the back for firstly, having paid attention to this match report and secondly, made it this far! So David joined his Alma mater in the middle and with Al’s blood up and the Butler’s Skipper sensing a opening brought back the other opener. David and PAD had to weather a inspired spell of aggressive fast-paced bowling which saw them only score two runs in 30 balls, but with both openers now bowled out and the return of the second line attack, PAD assumed the role of attacker, while David tried valiantly to farm the strike (singing, take some wickets, get a run out, have a catch and score the winning runs, under his breath – sounding like Dennis Waterman from Little Britain with “Star in it, write the theme tune, sing the theme tune”).
PAD oblivious to David’s dream, of hitting the winning runs, pulled a rank long-hop over the top of mid-on for four which brought up the winning runs. Captain Scott Invitation XI 118 for 5 with 2.4 overs still in the locker.
Unfortunately Sean, now donning his responsible-father-cap had already headed for home and was only able to enjoy the result over the phone within the confines of his Lexus. Mind you the celebration when he got home seemed to be one of note!
Man of the match went to David Stoddart for his all-round performance on the day.
The full scorecard can be found here.
The Skipper said it best, “Great Win today Scotties, well played, out played and out fought The Butlers XI…”