Warborough & Shillingford is a very dangerous place to be if you’re a British actor, as you’ll almost certainly be murdered. In fact, if the fictional murder rate was translated to reality, this would be the most dangerous place on earth thanks to the BBC’s decision to film most of Midsomer Murders here. What a location to choose though. Nestled in the rolling Oxfordshire countryside, it’s a picture-perfect place for a game of cricket, surrounded by thatched houses and an excellent pub. Even the red-kites soaring above seemed to know they’d found a good spot.
With such an excellent pub, it was rude not to enjoy a refreshment before the match (only one!) as the gathering Scotties did their best to ensure the quiet atmosphere in the pub garden did not remain so. Some bloke called Justin turned up, and we thought it best to move over to the cricket club before many copies of the Daily Tory-graph were curled up and used against us in a real-life murder.
Warborough & Shillingford had 10. We had 12. The balance had to be re-dressed, and guess who was selected to represent the opposition? “Chris Langley!” We hear your cry. No dear reader, he only turns-coat for those fellows at the Butler XI. The author himself. Not a little perturbed, but also relatively glad I would be playing some cricket, Warborough took to the field with their Kolpak player (me) and the batting was opened by Messrs Slatter and Watson. A wily old chap from the other end was really managing to get some life out of the pitch, and down went Slatts for only 1, off not many deliveries. Danny followed a short while after with 17, and in chasing one of those 17 I pulled my hamstring. Off to the boundary I went, sulking. Bugger.
Messrs Ward and Lilley of W&S’ford made the most of the day with ball in hand. Ward bowled some cutters that swung back in whilst Lilley had a ball so slow, the batsman had played it into the next county by the time it reached them. Or they thought they had, as they heard the death rattle of the stumps behind them. Notably, Prateek Shah gave the most honest and un-scotties-esque answer of all time to his dismissal: “I missed it”. Luckily, we had Ayman Nackvi to help us out on this occasion, who steadied us at the crease with 49 not out and was ably assisted by the Brett ‘The Beard’ Hawson with 27. The pitch certainly had some life, although with 170 on the board it was game on, for sure. What Ayman did to deserve the Skipper declaring for tea, leaving him stranded, on 49 not out, we’re not sure.
Declaring for tea? Ah yes. The timed game. Have you heard the saying “The English invented cricket to give themselves an idea of eternity? Well, the timed match is for those who found the concept of ‘eternity’ far too adrenaline-filled. In a timeless place like this, it seemed fitting. However, it meant that what came in the second half got rather exciting.
The tea was excellent, and the setting just as wonderful on a long trestle table. It could have been a scene from … well, Midsomer Murders. W&S sit at the top of the coveted tea-table-trophy in my mind this year, although we still have some extremely strong contenders lined up. Blunham may be warming the ovens already. Out strode the Scotties, knowing that they may (quite literally) be some time.
Whatever Ant Thickett eats in his weird cream-cheese biscuits at tea, I think World Anti-Doping might have taken a keen interest in today’s batch. Ant’s length-and-line was at worst awkward for the batsmen, and at best unplayable. It seems a very cruel reward that he only took one wicket, but his figures of eight overs bowled with three maidens for only 9 runs gives you an idea. Take a bow, Ant. That’s not forgetting Mr Hawson. King Louis and the band struck up their favourite tune as the Jungle VIPs at the other end started slashing and missing whilst he swung around the place and justly took two wickets. However, they had some good batsmen on their side and it soon started getting tense. Very tense, indeed, as the Scotties started looking to secure the draw. It’s utterly pointless to try and convey the excitement from the side lines, but one very old man dropped his hat in the final over, which is probably the most emotion he’d shown since the French revolution. It was quite the day. Even the police turned up to have a watch, just in case any murders happened afterwards.
In the end, a valiantly played draw as W&S fell 6 runs short of their needed total in the final over, and a key spell of death bowling. Thanks to the timed format, the result was a draw. Cricket once again, was the winner. The Scotties now remain in the curious position of played four, won two, tied one, drawn one. Warborough & Shillingford, as always you were an absolute bunch of gents. It’s a special place and a special tea, and what a nice pub. Fab day, see you next year!
Ah! Nearly had you didn’t I? No no, we’re not quite finished. I know you were still wondering about that bloke Justin and his match stats. With the bat, 5 runs. With the ball 3 overs, for no wickets, going for 28 runs. Perhaps his girlfriend will be less keen to read about that this week.