Final vs East & West Hendred played at Charlbury CC

BRCC 202-6 (40)     E & W Hendred 162-10 (35)

BRCC Win the Steve Dixon Memorial Cup

by 40 runs
It's not every day that you reach a cup final, so a little extra research seemed a good thing to do. At pains to make sure his batsmen knew what they were getting into, Taggart calculated the average score at Charlbury, inversely correlated it to the median score of a Hendred batsman and then divided it by the length of the grass to conclude that it was slow and low and we'd do well to get 175 on it. Hills, without looking up from his phone, "Hmmm, says here there were 430 runs for 13 wickets on it yesterday." Well that was a week off well spent then!
The Final squad of 12 resplendent in their 'made for the day' shirts
It did however feel a bit soft in places and it seemed that East & West Hendred (isn't that the same as just Hendred? Maybe North and South Hendred objected) seemed to have done a similar analysis and had no hesitation in inserting us when they won the toss.

Captain Jov and Shaun went out to open and the early overs were looking reasonably promising. The two young opening bowlers, Leishman and Webb, were decent, but not frightening and the first three overs produced 20 runs. Having crashed the second ball of the fourth to the unmanned mid-wicket boundary (which was about 20' of elevation lower than the pitch), Jov then had a swing at a wide half volley 
and only suceeded in planting it in the safe hands of Ivan Mulford at slip. Honours about even in the early exchanges then, but we had now unleashed the 'Big Show' as Keeps strode to the wicket. For the next few overs, they both worked it around and kept a steady rate, but a small issue was beginning to surface. Hendred had their very own 2 man barmy army who had a habit of standing close to the sight screens and wittering some inane drivel about rattles (dunno!!). 
It shouldn't have been a problem, but we got the impression that it was starting to irritate Shaun and so plans were discussed and drawn up. Stu Podmore is a former military man of some standing and experience and set about examining the options. He concluded that one wicket costing distraction would be one too many and so decided to dispense with possible diplomatic options and immediately deployed the big guns.

He sent Mrs Podmore.

Five minutes of her quiet but subtly threatening presence seemed to do the job and Shaun visibly settled as a more calming atmosphere covered the ground. It probably helped to quiet both the crowd and the fielders that the score was moving along nicely (there's nothing like carting an attack around the park to shut them up) and by the 15th over, we were 86 without further mishap and the opening bowlers had both been sent out to pasture for a while.
BOWLER'S NAME PLEASE!!! Oh... right.
At drinks (20), we had progressed to 106-1 but runs were getting a little harder to come by with pace now off the ball. Taggart was still muttering about 185 being a decent score and anything with a 2 at the front being well above par. George Caille, indisputably the best 12th man of the season, was praying for a maiden so he could have 5 minutes off working the world's fidliest scoreboard. Keeps was feeling a bit drained which prompted Major Podmore to reach into his bag of tricks and produce an energy gel. This was enough to propel him to 50 and the partnership to 106 until in the 25th over, the wheels started to wobble, and then started to look like they might fall off. Keeps had been the more expansive of the pair and finally one stuck a little too long in the pitch and he top edged a simple catch for 64. Enter Hugo, batting hero of the quarter final and catching hero of the semi. One ball later, exit Hugo, enter Farhan, batting hero of the Battle of Brill. Two balls and no runs later (132-4 off 26), exit Farhan. The call went out for reinforcements and in went Lieutenant Colonel Podmore.

 The ship steadied, but the run rate was dropping against the slower bowlers and with the score on just 140 after 29, we were a little relieved to see the opener come back and put a bit more pace on the ball. We regained a bit of memomentum, but crucially held on to our wickets until the slog came on and Shaun finally perished for a crucual 70, his second 50 of the competition. Carlton came in, bashed a couple and made way for Shaky, who confessed to being as nervous as a kitten, but saw it through to the end, where it transpired Brigadier Podmore had worked his way up to 25* and edged us over the 200 mark. We were basically happy and Taggart looked just a tiny bit smug. 
Part 2
We've got 'em, they've gotta get 'em. Go Bears!!
The pre-innings huddle was a triumph of man-management.

Jov declared our fielding and bowling thus far in the competition to be outrageous. Puzzled looks and muttered questions "Is that good or bad?"

Keeps took over. "Extras! That's what'll kill us! You can't be bowling wides and no-balls." More to come.

Taggart chipped in. "Keep it positive. No recriminations for mistakes, no arguing with the umpires, no engaging the opposition. Focus on what you need to do"  

Everyone checked their drinks for hallucinogenic drugs.

Having batted for 36 overs, Shaun was deemed too tired to open the bowling. "Tired?" exclaimed Keeps, "When I was that age I batted the whole of May and half of June and then bowled unchanged until the end of the season!! Kids!!" Way to keep it positive Keeps! Carlton and Taj therefore took the new ball and the first four overs produced just 11 runs .... off the bat. There were a few nerves around however and the radar wasn't quite set. The total was double that. Things improved however and in over 8, Taj made the breakthrough with an LBW that was so plumb, the batsman was half way to the pavilion before the umpire had time to confirm. 
Taj removes Mulford for 6 and the Ridge are on the way
There was a brief discussion about maybe just one more until the grandees stepped in with the well tested advice that "just one more" is usually one too many, so Jov made the decision to bring Tags in next over from the Hedge End. "Whatever you want skip .... as long as it's the over after that from the other end." 

So it was Shaun who took over at the Hedge End and bowled pretty quick, and pretty straight. Overheard snatches of conversation between the batsmen seemed to suggest that they were not used to this in 6B and they were starting to get concerned. Shaun kept it pretty tight until his fifth when he went down with cramp. "Cramp???" exclaimed Keeps, "I didn't get cramp until I was 45 and there were 4 Moldovan student nurses involved in that!" Still keeping it positive!

At the other end, Tags was looking a bit nervous. On his single sojourn to the 1s a couple of weeks ago, he had been traumatised by a combination of the leg side wide rule and a div 3 umpire. The sight of a div 1 umpire was prompting a full scale PTSD attack. The first 8 balls however were pretty much on track and leaked just a single. 

You may be surprised to learn that the 21st of August was quite a busy day in world news. Putin admitted it had all been a terrible misunderstanding and apologised for any inconvenience, Boris joined a monastry and committed himself to a life of prayer and contemplation and the FBI released the file on who shot Kennedy. Normally this would have been all over the news, but it didn't even make the 'and finally' section because of what happened next at Charlbury CC. 

Taggart's 9th ball beat the bat on the outside edge (not common, but it can happen). The ball nestled safely and securely in Jov's gloves (you're joking!?!). Jov spotted that the batsman had left the crease (Jov was watching the game????). Without dropping the ball, treading on the stumps or collapsing in a heap, Jov whipped the bails off (OMFG!!). Now to be fair, in the million to one shot that this had happened in a div 6 game, the likely response from an umpire at square leg would be, "What? .... Sorry, didn't see it, err ...not out" at which point he would return to Candy Crush. But we had division 1 umpires and Richard Underwood nodded briefly and raised the finger. For the batsman, Liam Richards, he may take some consolation from having a unique status in world cricket as the only player ever to have 'stumped Sahota' next to his name.

Taggart's pace off (was it ever anything else) was proving hard to get away on this pitch and a couple of overs later induced a floaty top edge which Jov pouched safely to dismiss skipper Broadbent for 1. At drinks, Hendred had reached 73-3, 33 runs and 2 wickets behind where we had been. It was all going to plan.

Taggart had 2 left and with his first ball after drinks, turned the hitherto immovable Dom Maclaclan into an S and the ball spooned off the back of the bat in the air to the short cover area. For all the world it looked to be grassing metres away from anyone, but Field Marshall Podmore had other ideas and launched a special forces style search and retrieve mission to pull off a wonder catch about an inch above the turf. 
Keeps had replaced Shaun at the Hedge End and was steady enough. His first 4 had gone for 16 and with Hendred well behind the rate, that was not enough. In his fifth, there were a couple of wides but with the batsmen under pressure, Liam Rainbow, who had played well for his 23, tried to whack one over cow, but rather clothed it to mid on where Carlton took an excellent diving catch. At 109-5 with just 12 left, it was looking good. But then the wheels started to wobble, and this time they fell off. 

Hills had taken over from Taggart who was bowled out and he struggled with his radar early on going for 10 in his first. Confidence was dented, but he came back brilliantly and went for just 16 in his next 4, taking the wicket of Nicholls (31), the one batsman who looked like he could possibly give us trouble. But it was at the other end that the grief began.

Buoyed by his wicket, Keeps came in for his sixth and after being pushed for a couple of singles, the ability to control the ball deserted him. It wasn't for lack of effort or concentration, it was an attack of the yips, which even a move to slow left arm round couldn't cure. It was a 13 ball over that shipped 20. Suddenly a game that was dead and buried 3 overs ago was showing signs, albeit faint ones, of life. We all stayed positive. Positive that Keeps needed a blow.

A couple of overs later the umpire informed us that we had 25 minutes to bowl 10 overs. Failure to do so would make us subject to penalty runs at a rate of 6 for each complete over not bowled. We had not been slow particularly, but we had shipped 35 wides (and 1 no ball) and in the process delivered 33 balls we shouldn't have had to.

In his first over back, Carlton had gone for 8, but when Keeps returned the compliment and took a steepler to dismiss Khan, one look at the new batsman prompted a sinister smile, an increase in pace and a dead straight line. Hilliam and Webb were bowled for 1 and 0 respectively in the next over and as the last man stood waiting for Carlton to reach his mark, his heightened nerves were not helped by Jov shouting down the wicket "He's stood right in front, hit the pads and he's gone".

So Carlton hit the pads.

From their vantage points at square leg and deep mid wicket, Taggart and Hugo were convinced it was out. Keeps at short third and Taj at point agreed. Farhan at deep extra cover was convinced, Supreme Commander of the British Armed Forces Brigadier General Podmore knew it for sure from mid on, Hills at cover was beside himself. The Charlbury beer garden, situated 60 yards back at backward square leg, containing Birds and Dows and Drydens and Hillarys and Angells and Gardiners and Stevens, a Pargetter and even some minor royalty, all knew it was out.

As one, they all looked to the umpire, who nodded 3 times and the Steve Dixon Memorial Cup was ours. 
Although we had got into a bit of bother late on, some decent bowling, and outstanding (or should that be outrageous) fielding had put us in a position where we could ride out the bumps. Farhan was brilliant in the covers and then latterly sweeping the boundary, Hills and Taj ran hard and saved a lot of runs and Carlton came close to taking out a choir of Angells in his efforts to save 2. 

The atmosphere around the team was fantastic all day and George Caille, 12th man and senior cheerleader, and Hugh Podmore, who scored the game along with Sniff, all played their part. A mention too for our fallen comrades (snatched into ineligibility by the 1s) who helped to get us this far, Rolfie, James Dow, Wellsy, Junaid and those who couldn't be here today or missed out on selection, Tilly, Bradders, Dave Maunder, Shorty, Malekei, Aiden. All had their part to play.

A huge thank you also to Charlie Carter for his support and magnificent photography.

Memories are made from days like these.
Semi Final. Kimble (H)     BRCC 235-6    Kimble 218 ao, BRCC win by 17 runs
After a quarter final against a side we had scarcely heard of let alone knew, our last hurdle to the final was against Kimble, a team we lost to twice last year and had already beaten once this season. RAJ had gone the way of James Dow and was no longer eligible as expected, but the scent of glory tempted Keeps into a 6am rise in Cornwall to be back in time to play.

Jov won the toss and elected to bat. Opening with himself and Shaun, the skipper dutifully blocked the first ball and decided that would do for 'having a look' so slapped the second one to deep extra for 4.

 2nd ball of the innings disappears to deep extra.
Positive start continues. Shaun pulls through mid wicket
50 for Shaun
The pair progressed nicely to 74 in the 14th over before Jov was bowled for 39, and when Keeps came to the wicket, the rate continued to climb as he and Shaun took the total to 156 before Keeps went for 41 in the 27th. Hugo's 18 contained the shot of the day (off drive, all along the deck, deep into the car park) and the drop of the day when the keeper put down a loopy top edge that barely got above head height. Shaun finally got bored and went walkabout down the wicket to be stumped for a crucial 81 and then Farhan and first Bradders, then Hilarious knocked it about to get us to a respectable 235 at the end of the 40 overs. It should really have been 232 given that the last ball went for a leg bye, before the fielder tried to run out Ben and they got an overthrow. The next fielder decided to try and run out Farhan, and gifted another overthrow and to prove that three's a charm, they did it yet again so that the last ball of the innings showed as an all run 4 leg byes.

We were happy with 235, but around this time, Kimble's Saturday captain arrived and declared that we were 60 (!!!) short. Kimble's batting line up is littered with big hitters so a good start was important. Taj opened up and was bowling a tight line until one went a bit wide. Bilal flashed at it and got a top edge which would have flown over slips .... unless your slip fielder is 6'5" with Inspector Gadget arms and Hugo comfortably took the catch. Taj also removed the key man, Ateeq Ahmed with an absolute jaffa and Ben Hillary chipped in with one from the other end. 
Taj removes the dangerous Ateeq for 20
How many Ridgebears does it take to complete a catch?
Something finally happens in a Taggart over
Despite the 3 wickets, the run rate after 8 overs was virtually 6 so Jovan rolled the dice and put Taggart on at one end and Shaun at the other. The first few overs put a gentle brake on things and then Taggart started an intriguing battle with Usman Kahn in which nothing happened. Literally nothing. For 27 balls. No wickets, no chances and most significantly no runs. In the middle of this spell of 4 consecutive maidens, Shaun produced a run of 3 overs which produced just 10 runs and 1 wicket. By the 20th over the rate was down to a shade over 4 and the required rate was up to 7.6.

The trouble with Kimble however is that they never know when they are beaten, and definitely don't if the required run rate still only has one number in front of the point. Taggart and Shaun picked up one more each and having bowled out, it was left to Keeps, Aiden and Taj to see us out. Kimble were now starting to feel the scoreboard pressure and were swinging at everything. Our bowling was decent, but it didn't stop Parvez and Nisar Ahmed smashing 9 sixes before the first holed out to Jovan (eventually, he had three bites at the same catch) and Keeps had Nisar caught at deep extra Radnage by Hugo (again). Finally it seemed that we had got through the hitters and the next 4 overs produced just 8 runs, with a smart piece of combination work between Farhan and Tilly claiming a run out and Taj and Jovan combining to remove the last man with still 18 needed to win.

However the final turns out, we will be the only team to play in every round with almost every team being the beneficiary of a bye or a forfeit at some point before they lost, so whatever is to come, it's been a proper cup run and one to remember.  

Pictures courtesy of Charlie Carter   
Quarter Final. Sunningwell (A)    Sunningwell 157 ao (39.1)   BRCC 161-2 (24.5)   BRCC win by 8 wickets
The second round (or quarter final) had more of a cup feel about it in that we were playing a team we had never played before and were not due to play in the League. Ironically, James Dow's performance in the first round had been in no small part responsible for an elevation to the 1s which had rendered him ineligible to play in this game. He was joined in this predicament by Junaid and Rolfie and so some reorganisation was required. Cue RAJ, recently returned from Durham and not enough 1s games to keep him out, the welcome return of Hugo, who despite now living in Bristol, had about as far to travel as the rest of us to get to Sunningwell and Carlton, our resident Sunday specialist.
We won the toss and duly inserted them and somewhat predictably, RAJ was just a bit too good for a team that was riding reasonably high in 6C. To keep it fair, he threw a few wides down the leg side, but barring one bit of sterling resistance from Nigel Lovell (82), only one other player reached double figures. Carlton, Shaun, Taj and George Caille all chipped in and all got wickets and when the final one fell in the 40th over, Sunningwell had managed just 157, which never looked like being enough.

Shaun and Jovan opened and their run rivalry was starting to grow as they both scored freely, so Shaun ran Jov out for 30, before being bowled by the best ball of the day for 27, which only goes to show what an utter bitch karma is. 
Key Performances
RAJ          8      3     20     3
Carlton     8     1     26     2
Taj           6.1   0     33     2
George     5      0     25     2

RAJ        31*
Hugo      47*

The rest of the innings was the RAJ and Hugo show despite RAJ doing his level best to get out and offering 4 chances that were all shelled. Hugo hit a six halfway back to Bristol and the only real event of note in the 25 overs it took to chip them off was Shaun shouting on to Hugo when the scores were level that he was on 46. Hugo duly spanked it for 4 but before he could get his bat in the air, a giggling Dryden announced that he was only joking and Hugo was NOW on 47. How we laughed.

Fortunately the result from the other QF had just arrived on line and somewhat against the form, Kimble had smashed Banbury and would be coming to the Ridge for the semi-final. This just got real.
Round of 16. Buckingham 4 (A)    Buckingham 183 ao (36)    BRCC 184-6 (37.4)   BRCC win by 4 wickets
After entering and conceding in the first round last year, this was our first venture into CCL cup cricket. Having won the toss and elected to field, Taj and Hills opened up with good opening spells and prized out a couple of wickets, but it was James Dow's spell of tight leg spin bowling which got the big wicket of Ade Johnson and applied the handbrake to the scoring rate. 

Jovan employed 7 bowlers (well ... 6 plus himself) and Buckingham found it hard to get away. As the slog came on, wickets fell to Stu and Ben and we bowled them out 4 overs short of the 40 for 183, which seemed a bit below par.
Stand out performances

Taj Angell           7    1     28    3
James Dow         8    2     19    1
Stu Podmore       6    0     28    3

Dave Wells           34
Junaid Ahmed       64
Buckingham opened the second innings with the impressive Will Glister and a 4'6" 14 year old who had Rolfie jumping around a bit, but an aggressive start from Jovan and a solid one from Rolfie got us underway in good time. At 3 down, Junaid joined Wellsy and a partnership of 78 broke the back of the total. Junaid finally went for 64 trying to finish it quickly, but Stu and Owen kept a cool head to see us home with a couple of overs and 4 wickets to spare.
Averages for the cup run.