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  • 13 Sep AVCC v Wohanka Invitation XI
    15 September 2020

    On a hot, sunny day - perfect for cricket - we took on a new fixture at our picturesque Garston Field. Our neighbour, Richard Wohanka, of nearby Rushall Manor had brought together a formidable invitation team made up of largely young tyros from London and some from Wiltshire to take us on - starting what, I suspect, will be an annual event. Starting at 11am, the wicket looked really good…freshly trimmed and rolled; it looked in good shape and with a hint of dew and dampness. Graham won the toss and decided to put the Invitation XI into bat, with the intent of using the best of the wicket for bowling, and also not fielding in the worst of the heat. We also welcomed back Joe Wookey, taking a day off from paternal duties for his first match (for anyone) of the season and looking remarkably trim. Bruce just made it back from Church on time, and we kicked off slightly late at 11.10. Graham gave a short welcome speech to our visitors and then we were off….. The plan started off well. Michael Rae had their highly-rated opener (V Malik) out for a duck, 3rd ball, with an unplayable ball that had venom and also moved sharply in off the pitch. 1-0. Michael and Ed Olley had their 2 batsmen under control and both bowled extremely well. Michael was always dangerous with his mixed flight and length, and deserved more wickets, but finished with an excellent 1-11 off 7 overs. Ed Olley bowled really fast and extracting great pace and bounce off the pitch, steaming in from the Upavon end. Deserved more wickets but ended up with a very valuable and well-bowled 1-16 off 7 overs. Julian Lishman took the catch for the wicket, neatly at square leg. So at 14 overs, despite the obvious quality of their batsmen, the Wohanka tyros were on 31-1 after 14 overs. Their batsmen were handling our pace, and so at the sanitiser interval, Graham decided to change things up, bringing on Julian Lishman from the Rushall end and Stephen Flower from the Upavon end. He had a hunch that Stephen would prosper on the wicket from that end having watched Ed fizz the ball through and despite a previous groin injury that had made Stephen stop mid-over at Marden, we decided to “give it a go”. Inspired. Julian bowled well with a good range of flight, and Stephen after a couple of reticent overs then announced he was feeling good. Cue wickets. Julian took a deserved wicket of their dangerous no.3 (J Fordyce) with a good catch by Joe Wookey (in full appreciative and excited view of wife and daughters). Julian bowled well and took a well-earned 1-22 off 5 overs. Stephen then decided that bowling wickets was a safer option (having had catches dropped 3 times by then) and bowled the other dangerous batsman (T Jackson) in the next over, his 4th. No stopping him now, and by the time he had finished his 7 overs, Stephen had taken 5-29. Excellent bowling, well deserved, with 4 batsmen bowled and 1 lbw in a good spell where you could see Stephen growing in confidence. When the Covid-19 restrictions ease in the future, Stephen will be reminded by his appreciative colleagues that a jug is in order for this special attainment. Well done, well deserved, Stephen. For the stato’s in this group, that’s only the 3rd “fifer’ by an AVCC player at our home ground, following Mark Banham (5-7) and Graham Newland (5-11). Indeed, only the 4th in our history - Ben Eveling at Avebury (5-31) taking the other. I think we are ready for an honours board. Although Stephen had decimated their middle order, their number 6 (A Farqhar - one of only a small number of Wiltshire players in the Invitation team) was scoring heavily and freely. Shane Williams came on and bowled tidy for 3 overs (0-15), and then Graham returned to his favoured Upavon end and wrapped the innings up taking 2 wickets in 5 balls - (2-6) thanks to a fine catch by Shane Williams at mid-on and by completing the innings by bowling their captain for a duck. So the Wohanka team finished on 124 all out. With the obvious capability of their team, which looked very dangerous, we considered this to be possibly our best bowling and fielding display of the season (despite 4 dropped catches). Bruce had a great game, and did not let a single bye past. Excellent stat. and good performance. Everyone contributed. If it wasn’t for their youthful sprinting, the score may have been lower. So lunch (an unusual event for us) was taken at Richard Wohanka’s house nearby. Excellent fare, eaten in the garden (appropriate social distancing and fresh air). I would like to give especial thanks for the marvellous food - quiches, chicken legs, sausages, scotch eggs, wonderful salads, great cheeses, and some mouth-watering desserts - chocolate cake, apple tarts and strawberries. More than enough for everyone, and obviously designed to slow us down in our innings. Wandering back across the fields back to the ground, the team were in good spirits and for once needed no cajoling on who was going to bat where in the order. Strolling back down the leafy lane that leads down from Casterley Barn - it might have been the beer, or the sun, or the easy comradeship of the day - but this just felt how English village cricket should be enjoyed. Tim Gent and Shane Williams took the field to open. We soon discovered they had their own fast bowlers as their young tyros set about us. Tim Boycott Gent saw off a hostile opening over (0-0); no surprise there, and after a wide and a single from Shane got us off the mark in the next over, Tim was lbw last ball of the 2nd over 1-2. Not the start we had hoped for. David Battison, bloodied in the field, bravely came in and stood up to the fast bowling well, batting confidently with an ever improving Shane - holding back the pace bowlers and keeping the scoreboard ticking along close to the required rate. Unfortunately, disaster struck in the 9th over as the tall Alex Farqhar (of Wilcot fame) had David caught off his 3rd ball for 15 good runs - 33-2. David’s best score of the season, and more “PB’s” beckon after this bright performance. Shane was caught afterwards for a well-played 6, and Francis Naumann and Harry Flack (good to see you back) were taking the fight to the Wohankas. Francis was his normal implacable self and got the scoreboard ticking fast until we lost both of them in quick succession - Francis for 12 and Harry for 2. Francis had struck our only 4 up to that time in our innings as the pitch was probably the biggest we had set-up. 59-5. Tension was mounting on the sidelines. In came Joe Wookey (1st innings of the season) and Michael Rae. This was the pairing that now mattered and they did not disappoint. They took us to 108 before Michael fell for a beautifully played 26 - including 1 well struck 4 and and awesome 6 over cow-corner (a considerable feat given the size of the pitch) clearing a despairing jump by their fielder on the boundary (hearts in mouths time from the sidelines). Ed Olley came in and clearly was in no mood to hang-around, thumping 3 enormous 4’s in quick succession (3 consecutive balls) to ensure we passed the required total in the 24th over - 125-6 - a win by 4 wickets. Ed hit 13 not out, and Joe played a good calm innings with a beautifully played 18 not out, including one well struck 4. Good to see him on our (his) field again. A wonderful tea was served, and with much social distancing being observed, we enjoyed some nice time in the sun chatting to our new friends until they had to depart for destinations far from here. Hope to see them back, and many heart-felt thanks for the wonderful ladies providing such excellent fare for us to consume. Many thanks also to Skye Newland for continuing her role as scorer for AVCC. Her scorebook is colourful and accurate. Well done. Overall, this might go down as our best win of the season, as the Invitation XI were very strong batting and in the field, and so it was a real contest. If they had got another 40-50 runs, the result may have been different. So, a start of something….I hope so. Days don’t come better than this….bright sun, refreshing breezes, blue skies, excellent cricket, good food, beer, and great comradeship. Already looking forward to a hopefully more normal summer and cricket season next year. And one last set of congratulations. Club captain, Simon Campbell, made a late appearance having celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary with his wife, Mary, in Sienna. Well done, 20 not out, and many more to come…..

  • 23 Aug AVCC v Aldbourne
    26 August 2020

    We returned home to the beautiful setting of Garsten Field, Rushall on a cloudy, windy day to face the might of Aldbourne…..a very strong team - well known to us, with 2 of their players already having starred for us this season. The pitch looked good, albeit a little soft from multiple rain showers that week and on the morning of play. But overall, very good condition. AVCC had a strong line-up, with the return of our Zim twins of terror - Michael Rae and Jeremy Richards (the only guy to score 2 hundreds for us, and put a hole in the pavilion roof). They brought with them a bushy-bearded terrorist-looking guy who turned out to be our old friend and player - Matt Boothway, and he was also warmly greeted back - and he fielded for us briefly as we assembled (late as usual) and then played for Aldbourne - distinguishing himself well (grrrh!). Not sure who won the toss, but Aldbourne opened the batting. Good. Exactly what I would have wanted as the rain would bound to cause some low bounce. Would it be a slugfest or a shootout at the Garston (OK) Corral? All of our previous games with Aldbourne have been close - sometimes with lots of runs and, sometimes, real tight low-scoring affairs. But always tight matches. Jamie Corden and Michael Rae opened the bowling. Both bowled fast and well. It was clear their openers were not looking to settle and they were wanting to hit out and have a slugfest with us. The cross-wind was tricky, blowing the ball off track by 12-18 inches - meaning the bowlers all had to work hard for accuracy. Michael made the break-through with the last ball of his first over, bowling Chinock. Jamie weighed in with the next ball and bowled the other opener, Hawkins - 2-3. Game-on!. Not to be outdone, Michael took another wicket (M Singh) next over (3-5), before Sumit Surendron (who had top-scored for us in an earlier game this season) decided to start driving the ball for multiple boundaries. But we were chipping away, and Michael bowled H Singh making the score 18-4. Great spell from Michael who used the wind well, and took 3-8 off 3 overs. Jamie bowled well in tandem - 1-14 off 4 overs. Change of bowlers and Graham Newland and Max Glibbery took up the task. Max bowled tidily and threatened regularly, with highly creditable figures of 0-12 off 4 overs. Graham made the key breakthrough of getting Sumit caught by Ed Olley (great catch), followed soon after by Matt Boothway who looked like he might repeat his high-scoring exploits, but against us. Jamie Corden took the second catch and Graham ended with good figures of 2-15 off 5 overs. 46-6! Really strong position. We turned the screws from thereon in with David Battison and Matt Dancey giving their tail-enders no respite. Both bowled excellently, with David taking 2-9 off 3 overs and Matt 2-2 off 2.3 overs, including the prized wicket of Matt Haslett a returning former player of ours. 83 all out in just 21.3 overs. Wow! Probably our best bowling performance of the season and for a long time beyond. No catches dropped, and a sterling job by Bruce behind the stumps having to deal with the difficulties of a greatly moving ball due to the cross-wind. Well done all. Interestingly, 6 of the wickets were bowled, 2 were lbw’s and only 2 were caught. So the now familiar home-produced teas for one came out and we replenished and prepared to go out and bat for the runs. Confidence was high and batsmen below the openers had to be persuaded to put on their pads. But we found batting hard. Matt Haslett, now of Aldbourne, bowled superbly and gave little away, and was a threat throughout. Quresh was the other opening bowler and bowled superbly too. Runs were hard to eke out for our openers - Ed Olley and Shane Williams. Unfortunately, disaster stuck i the 7th over and Ed was caught in the slips off Matt for a very well played 10…the score now 13-1. Jeremy Richards, our leading centurion, took to the field, and looked calm and composed, taking a 4 off his first ball. Exhale, deep breath, all will be fine….. Matt finished his spell 1-8 (7 overs) and we saw off Chinock who bowled fast and accurate for (1-14 off 6 overs). Their spinner - Whateley came on. Spinner….that means runs doesn’t it. Hmm….not this time….Mr Whateley ran through our order taking 5-11 - taking the wickets of Max (0), Shane (5), Matt D (0), Jamie (0) and then Jeremy (a fine and patient 22). A couple of controversies on stumpings (especially for Jeremy). Sumit got David (1) caught and bowled, and suddenly the game was looking beyond us as we reached 61-8. Bruce Carter in the middle and Simon Campbell (persuaded by Graham to go to 10 instead of 11). Whateley should now go on our ground’s honours board (if we had one) for “fiffers”. Interestingly, the only 2 fiffers from opposing teams have both come from Aldbourne, both for spinners. For the history buffs amongst you. the ground record is 5-7 by Mark Banham (vs Wilton), followed by Graham’s 5-11 vs All Cannings. With good batting from Bruce (3 n.o) and Simon (21 not out)….we saw ourselves home to victory in the 31st over. Very tense by the end. The now, bitingly cold wind, did not make the situation easier. A really good game. Not a slugfest in the end, more a shootout and strong will to survive and win. Great spirit by both teams and we socialised with our friends of Aldbourne over beers for quite a while afterwards. Also many thanks to Quresh of Aldbourne. I always let my daughter - Skye - who now scores for us - have batting practise at the end of a game. Quresh joined in and fielded for us and bowled in our mini-game. I thought that showed a wonderful spirit and action from him. Much appreciated. Collingbourne next up.

  • 16 Aug Marden v AVCC
    26 August 2020

    Despite the inclement weather of recent times, we returned to the pastures of Marden for our annual playing of the Richard Cox Memorial Trophy - a hotly contested prize - in memory of a much-loved former player of Upavon and Marden. AVCC were the current holders. The portents were not good….the weather apps forecast thunder, lightning, biblical chaos and showers from mid afternoon. How would we ever complete a 35 overs match in such conditions? On arriving at the ground, the word “interesting” was applied to the pitch by the various AVCC players. Not so much cut as rolled - there were tufts of flattened long grass, bald patches, and wet patches on the pitch and a long, wet outfield which rose like a platform well above the wicket. Very short boundaries on 2 sides indicated it could be an afternoon spent in the hedges and with the neighbouring herd of cows….who at one stage all lined up against the fence to welcome the AVCC team. The big question…should we bat or bowl first as we did not expect the conditions to get better, nor indeed to finish the game? However, that decision was taken out of our hands as Graham lost the toss and, with a big smile, the home captain put us into bat. Without an established opening partnership this season, Tim Gent was volunteered, and Matt Dancey actually volunteered, to open for us. They went out on time, and under slate grey skies. The youthful Marden bowlers did not allow Tim and Matt to settle. There was very variable bounce…one ball pea-shooting past the ankles, the next up in the ribs. Not easy to play on. The ball was not moving well on the wet outfield and it looked like a war of attrition was to get underway. No problems we thought, we have Boycott Gent to deal with that. Unfortunately, Matt was caught for 2 followed swiftly by Tim also for 2 having been lbw. 8-2 in the 5th over. Batsmen then came and went quite quickly as the conditions weighed them down against some accurate Marden bowling…..Shane Williams bowled for 3, David Battison lbw for 4, and Stephen Flower caught 5, and Julian Lishman bowled for 8. 33-6 in the 16th over! Julian did manage our 1st 4 - in the 10th over. Graham Booth - their wily spin bowler, and annual nemesis of unwary AVCC batsmen had us in his thrall, despite considerable sledging and commentary from Tim Gent who had now returned to the field as an umpire. So we found ourselves staring down the barrel of potentially our lowest ever score (which incidentally was against Marden - 50 - in our 1st season, 7 years ago)….could AVCC stop the carnage? Francis Naumann and Jamie Corden were newly in the middle to do so. Francis announced himself with a bold 1st ball 4 over the top and into the long grass. Looked like a good statement of intent. Jamie was let off with the most shocking dolly-dropped catch on 0, and then looked completely re-invigorated by such an amazing miss. Suddenly the runs began to flow; 4’s were struck with aplomb by Francis and Jamie…..the Marden field widened and the bowling started to look less assured as we started to dominate the ball. In 12 overs, this dynamic duo - added 80 to the score before Jamie was out for a well struck 45, and with the score was now 113-7 after 28.1 overs. We now had a defendable score but was it enough? We were concerned. However, Simon Campbell was persuaded to put on some pads and see if we could put a match-winning total on the scoreboard. He started quietly, and Francis was then caught for a well-batted 37 (his top score for AVCC to date) with the score on 120-8 at the end of the 29th over. Young Ollie Lishman went out to join Simon. Then the fireworks commenced. In 5 overs, Simon largely single-handedly took the score from 120 to 193-8, innings completed. Ollie did a good job holding off their quick bowlers defending stoutly and well, and enabling the strike rotation, Ollie finished on 1n.o. Good innings. As for Simon, he scored 72n.o….68 of those runs in these last 5 overs as he completely dominated the despairing Marden attack with 8x6’s and 3x4’s - twice hitting 3x6’s off a single over. The 6’s were hit with staggering power and the last 5 overs took longer than the previous 12 as much hunting and rooting in hedgerows and the long grass took place. An absolutely magnificent innings. After the tea interval, we took the field feeling that we now had a winning total, providing we could handle their hard-hitting Trowbridge quartet. The first of these, Oakley, announced his intent with a straight 4 with the first ball of Matt’s opening over. However, Matt Dancey and Jamie Corden, our opening bowlers, bowled exceptionally well and contained the Marden openers so well that they were consistently behind our run-rate.Jamie made the breakthrough in the 6th over - 19-1 bowling the non-Trowbridge opener. By the end of 10 overs, Matt and Jamie had done an excellent containment job, and the score sat on 32-2 - with Jamie doing an amazing caught and bowled of the Marden captain. Both Matt and Jamie bowled well and looked very dangerous. Stephen Flower and Shane Williams were then handed the responsibility of containing and making inroads the dangerous Trowbridge batsmen (we had a pair at the crease now). Stephen bowled fast and and tidy and kept them contained. The Trowbridge opener (Oakley) took a shine to Shane, and encouraged by the example of our Simon, hit 3 big 6’s off Shane’s first over, losing 2 of the balls beyond the hedgerows and probably still travelling on their way to Swindon….. But life can change, quickly……Shane’s next over - started with another big 6 in the same fashion - leading Shane to suggest he came off - when with Shane’s next ball, Jamie Corden caught Oakley close to the boundary of a high steeling catch. Good hold. Vital wicket. Oakley was out for 45. After that, Shane bowled his normal excellent deliveries and got a 2nd wicket with his last ball. 6 overs 2-45. Sadly, Stephen pulled a muscle in his 3rd over when looking lively and dangerous (indeed, even with the ball :) ).he had to retire for 0-5. Graham Newland took over and completed the over. With Graham’s 1st full over - he trapped the other dangerous Trowbridge batsman (Tallantire) lbw, and then went on to take 3-11 off 6.3 overs, including 3 maidens. Could have been even better as 3 catches dropped off his bowling too. David Battison, also now limping badly with a pulled muscle, came on and bowled 4 fine overs, 3 of which were maidens, taking 1-2. And Ollie Lishman showed us our future by taking a wicket first ball with a good in-swinger, followed by a 2nd wicket in his next over taking a very creditable 2-5. Marden had collapsed from 61-2 to 106 all out - so AVCC ran out winners by 87 runs. At 33-6 in our 16th over, this did not look like the eventual result, or our expected total. But all credit in batting to Francis, Jamie and Simon for giving us a winning total. All the bowlers did their bit to take wickets and keep them below the required run-rate throughout. Overall a good game, played in a good spirit, with much banter, and with no thunder or showers. AVCC had retained the Richard Cox trophy. Now to get our walking wounded fit….there was much hobbling going on, and we are also grateful for Jemima Naumann who acted as a substitute fielder for Stephen. G

  • 12 Aug AVCC v Wilcot
    26 August 2020

    Finally got a moment to write a match report. It was an extremely hot and humid day, when we welcomed local rivals Wilcot to our home ground in Rushall yesterday. Much anticipation beforehand…..who can forget the altercations in the reverse fixture last season? Who would Wilcot put into the field versus our trusty warriors? indeed, who would turn up as it was unclear until late whether we were playing at home or not? Much to ponder…but at 5.15, in 35C temperatures, the answers became clearer….Wilcot had turned up with a youthful side, their 1st team (league) captain, and a number of other players used to League cricket. Whilst their 11 men turned up 15 mins early, as usual we only had 7 in the hutch - albeit eager and a lot less youthful than the Wilcot Tyros. Graham decided to bat and so we were unleashed into the field, the ground looking picturesque, green (including the wicket) and looking like the very quintessential essence of English village cricket. Tim Gent and David Battison were volunteered to open up and did a good job against a hostile Wilcot attack. The pitch was giving the bowlers from the Upavon end some encouragement with movement off the pitch.They saw off the Wilcot opening attack, and then David was bowled for 7 from a ball that kept low from the Upavon end. Ed Olley then entered the fray and started carting the Wilcot bowlers around the pitch. Ed inspired Tim who threw-off his usual Boycott demeanour and started punching 4’s down the leg-side. Inspired! The scoring rate lifted until Ed was caught for a quick-fire and very valuable 20 runs - including 4 magnificent 4’s. Greg Caswell now took to the crease and allowed the Shell-shocked youthful Wilcot bowlers no respite. Tim and Greg rattled the score along until both retired in the same over for 30n.o. and 31n.o. respectively. Both great innings. We had brought the 100 up in good time in just 14 overs. Greg bludgeoned some 5 big 4’s straight over the top, and Tim had a liking for the leg-side with 5 fours struck. Simon Campbell came in and - amazed by 4 consecutive no balls/wides in his first over - managed to hit a great 4 before being caught by an amazing catch by their youngest player as he drove fiercely. I’m surprised the young chap was still able to find his hands attached after gripping that cannonball. Then the rains came….really heavy, but we carried on. However, it had an effect on the last few overs. Batting became more difficult and we lost quick wickets with Jamie Corden (0), Stephen Flower (3), Peter Williams (1) returning, and leaving Bruce Carter (1n.o) and Shane Williams (5n.o) to see us home for a very creditable 137-6 off 20 overs. We thought the 137 would be a difficult target given the ground was now sodden, even though the rains had stopped and the weather became brighter. Graham’s strategy was to simply strangle the runs as early as possible in order to avoid a late run chase as the skies darkened later; as Wilcot had the big hitters to make the runs if they were still in contention by then. Ed Olley and Shane Williams opened the bowling and were very lively. Ed (0-3-3) especially impressed with his pace and bounce, bowling from the Rushall end. His 2nd over was a maiden….most excellent….bang on the strategy, bang on the money…unplayable. Wilcot’s openers were their 1st team captain and the captain of another team and they resisted the barrage well…scoring runs but well below the rate required before Stephen Flower made the break-through with the last ball of the 9th over. 44-1. Then it went nuts…..from 44-1 to 66-6 in just 5 more overs. Their youthful middle order crumbled under sustained excellent fast bowling from Stephen and Jamie Corden (2-12) - 2 wickets each - with Greg Caswell then taking one with his slower off-spinners (never seen those before). Excellent bowling from all 3 - deadly and economical - and both Greg (2-12) and Stephen (2-17) were on hat-tricks during this spell…and both thwarted by desperate blocks by the Wilcot batsmen. This spell effectively ended the spirit of Wilcot and made the game fairly safe. David Battison came on and took 3-7, one of which came from a catch in the gulley from Graham. Simon Campbell (0-5) bowled to hold up their returning 1st XI captain (who had retired earlier on 31n.o) and Graham (1-1) removed the last wicket so that Wilcot were out for 91….so that AVCC had a resounding win by 46 runs. Most excellent. Overall, this was probably our best performance of the season so far. Yes, the weather probably helped us (good call by Graham), but our batting looked back in shape and the bowling was consistently good, accurate and dangerous. Bruce was outstanding behind the stumps with 3 stumpings (may be a club record) - contributing to wickets for Greg, David and Graham as a result. The fielding was good; only 1 dropped catch; 3 held including an excellent diving (forwards) low catch by Stephen. It would be remiss of me not to mention the talking point of the evening when Simon outpaced one of the Wilcot batsmen to the wicket (a remarkable and previously unheard of feat) and then threw the ball at the stumps from a couple of feet away and missed even though the batsman was still well stranded. I suspect that story may be recounted on many an occasion in the future. The evening ended well with lots of chat and banter, and a few beers/ciders/lucozades. It really was a wonderful cricketing experience. Word for the future though…..some of our future opponents (WANC) came to watch us and went away too impressed and so they are likely to field a very powerful side for our fixture with them shortly. 2 of the tallest, fastest bowlers in Wiltshire now likely await us, and Tim saw their captain running and training this morning……I think we have given ourselves a challenge….albeit a good one to have. If we go on like this, I might have to write another match report :) G

  • 19 Jul AVCC Club Match
    26 August 2020

    We had good fun in the sun today with a double wicket competition for 14 which gave us all a chance to relax and practice. There was a particularly high level of sledging, and it was good to see all age-groups getting stuck in, particularly where family members messed up. Winners were Greg Caswell & Mima Naumann, well done both. Many thanks to Mark Pugh-Cook for being sole umpire & scorer - couldn't have done without him.

  • 16 Jul AVCC v Leg Rovers
    26 August 2020

    We lost off the last ball tonight against the Leg Rovers. Pity, but great to be back at the ground with good weather and a socially distanced beer afterwards.

  • 2 Aug Chitterne v AVCC
    26 August 2020

    Well done to the 11 today. Overhauled their score of 100 with one wicket to spare. Highlights were Shane Bryant’s 30 runs, Matthew Dancey’s 3 for 9 and Shane Williams’ remarkable achievement of scoring 8 runs off one shot (2 conventional and 6 overthrows....). Chitterne friendly and asked us back again next yea

 
 

2020

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

13 Sep AVCC v Wohanka Invitation XI

On a hot, sunny day - perfect for cricket - we took on a new fixture at our picturesque Garston Field. Our neighbour, Richard Wohanka, of nearby Rushall Manor had brought together a formidable invitation team made up of largely young tyros from London and some from Wiltshire to take us on - starting what, I suspect, will be an annual event. Starting at 11am, the wicket looked really good…freshly trimmed and rolled; it looked in good shape and with a hint of dew and dampness. Graham won the toss and decided to put the Invitation XI into bat, with the intent of using the best of the wicket for bowling, and also not fielding in the worst of the heat. We also welcomed back Joe Wookey, taking a day off from paternal duties for his first match (for anyone) of the season and looking remarkably trim. Bruce just made it back from Church on time, and we kicked off slightly late at 11.10. Graham gave a short welcome speech to our visitors and then we were off….. The plan started off well. Michael Rae had their highly-rated opener (V Malik) out for a duck, 3rd ball, with an unplayable ball that had venom and also moved sharply in off the pitch. 1-0. Michael and Ed Olley had their 2 batsmen under control and both bowled extremely well. Michael was always dangerous with his mixed flight and length, and deserved more wickets, but finished with an excellent 1-11 off 7 overs. Ed Olley bowled really fast and extracting great pace and bounce off the pitch, steaming in from the Upavon end. Deserved more wickets but ended up with a very valuable and well-bowled 1-16 off 7 overs. Julian Lishman took the catch for the wicket, neatly at square leg. So at 14 overs, despite the obvious quality of their batsmen, the Wohanka tyros were on 31-1 after 14 overs. Their batsmen were handling our pace, and so at the sanitiser interval, Graham decided to change things up, bringing on Julian Lishman from the Rushall end and Stephen Flower from the Upavon end. He had a hunch that Stephen would prosper on the wicket from that end having watched Ed fizz the ball through and despite a previous groin injury that had made Stephen stop mid-over at Marden, we decided to “give it a go”. Inspired. Julian bowled well with a good range of flight, and Stephen after a couple of reticent overs then announced he was feeling good. Cue wickets. Julian took a deserved wicket of their dangerous no.3 (J Fordyce) with a good catch by Joe Wookey (in full appreciative and excited view of wife and daughters). Julian bowled well and took a well-earned 1-22 off 5 overs. Stephen then decided that bowling wickets was a safer option (having had catches dropped 3 times by then) and bowled the other dangerous batsman (T Jackson) in the next over, his 4th. No stopping him now, and by the time he had finished his 7 overs, Stephen had taken 5-29. Excellent bowling, well deserved, with 4 batsmen bowled and 1 lbw in a good spell where you could see Stephen growing in confidence. When the Covid-19 restrictions ease in the future, Stephen will be reminded by his appreciative colleagues that a jug is in order for this special attainment. Well done, well deserved, Stephen. For the stato’s in this group, that’s only the 3rd “fifer’ by an AVCC player at our home ground, following Mark Banham (5-7) and Graham Newland (5-11). Indeed, only the 4th in our history - Ben Eveling at Avebury (5-31) taking the other. I think we are ready for an honours board. Although Stephen had decimated their middle order, their number 6 (A Farqhar - one of only a small number of Wiltshire players in the Invitation team) was scoring heavily and freely. Shane Williams came on and bowled tidy for 3 overs (0-15), and then Graham returned to his favoured Upavon end and wrapped the innings up taking 2 wickets in 5 balls - (2-6) thanks to a fine catch by Shane Williams at mid-on and by completing the innings by bowling their captain for a duck. So the Wohanka team finished on 124 all out. With the obvious capability of their team, which looked very dangerous, we considered this to be possibly our best bowling and fielding display of the season (despite 4 dropped catches). Bruce had a great game, and did not let a single bye past. Excellent stat. and good performance. Everyone contributed. If it wasn’t for their youthful sprinting, the score may have been lower. So lunch (an unusual event for us) was taken at Richard Wohanka’s house nearby. Excellent fare, eaten in the garden (appropriate social distancing and fresh air). I would like to give especial thanks for the marvellous food - quiches, chicken legs, sausages, scotch eggs, wonderful salads, great cheeses, and some mouth-watering desserts - chocolate cake, apple tarts and strawberries. More than enough for everyone, and obviously designed to slow us down in our innings. Wandering back across the fields back to the ground, the team were in good spirits and for once needed no cajoling on who was going to bat where in the order. Strolling back down the leafy lane that leads down from Casterley Barn - it might have been the beer, or the sun, or the easy comradeship of the day - but this just felt how English village cricket should be enjoyed. Tim Gent and Shane Williams took the field to open. We soon discovered they had their own fast bowlers as their young tyros set about us. Tim Boycott Gent saw off a hostile opening over (0-0); no surprise there, and after a wide and a single from Shane got us off the mark in the next over, Tim was lbw last ball of the 2nd over 1-2. Not the start we had hoped for. David Battison, bloodied in the field, bravely came in and stood up to the fast bowling well, batting confidently with an ever improving Shane - holding back the pace bowlers and keeping the scoreboard ticking along close to the required rate. Unfortunately, disaster struck in the 9th over as the tall Alex Farqhar (of Wilcot fame) had David caught off his 3rd ball for 15 good runs - 33-2. David’s best score of the season, and more “PB’s” beckon after this bright performance. Shane was caught afterwards for a well-played 6, and Francis Naumann and Harry Flack (good to see you back) were taking the fight to the Wohankas. Francis was his normal implacable self and got the scoreboard ticking fast until we lost both of them in quick succession - Francis for 12 and Harry for 2. Francis had struck our only 4 up to that time in our innings as the pitch was probably the biggest we had set-up. 59-5. Tension was mounting on the sidelines. In came Joe Wookey (1st innings of the season) and Michael Rae. This was the pairing that now mattered and they did not disappoint. They took us to 108 before Michael fell for a beautifully played 26 - including 1 well struck 4 and and awesome 6 over cow-corner (a considerable feat given the size of the pitch) clearing a despairing jump by their fielder on the boundary (hearts in mouths time from the sidelines). Ed Olley came in and clearly was in no mood to hang-around, thumping 3 enormous 4’s in quick succession (3 consecutive balls) to ensure we passed the required total in the 24th over - 125-6 - a win by 4 wickets. Ed hit 13 not out, and Joe played a good calm innings with a beautifully played 18 not out, including one well struck 4. Good to see him on our (his) field again. A wonderful tea was served, and with much social distancing being observed, we enjoyed some nice time in the sun chatting to our new friends until they had to depart for destinations far from here. Hope to see them back, and many heart-felt thanks for the wonderful ladies providing such excellent fare for us to consume. Many thanks also to Skye Newland for continuing her role as scorer for AVCC. Her scorebook is colourful and accurate. Well done. Overall, this might go down as our best win of the season, as the Invitation XI were very strong batting and in the field, and so it was a real contest. If they had got another 40-50 runs, the result may have been different. So, a start of something….I hope so. Days don’t come better than this….bright sun, refreshing breezes, blue skies, excellent cricket, good food, beer, and great comradeship. Already looking forward to a hopefully more normal summer and cricket season next year. And one last set of congratulations. Club captain, Simon Campbell, made a late appearance having celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary with his wife, Mary, in Sienna. Well done, 20 not out, and many more to come…..