After a full booded run last year, the 2023 campaign was a rather truncated affair. We got a bye in the first round and then Risinghurst couldn't raise a side for the quarter final, so we found ourselves drawn away to Horley in the semi-final without having bowled a ball.

Even that took longer than anticipated. First time of asking, we were rained off without travelling. Second time, we bowled 6 overs, came off for rain and never went back on, so with the final just 2 weeks away, there were hurried calls on a wettish Sunday morning between south Bucks and north Oxon trying to decide which ground stood the best chance of getting the game played. Horley declared the weather to be beautiful and the pitch as dry as a bone, so off we went up the M40 .... well some of us at least. 

When we got there it transpired that Horley were not all that keen on the trip south and had been a little less than totally frank. The covers were indeed on, but had not been properly joined together so just on a length, there was a very damp patch. Their slightly dismissive cries of "it'll dry out fine" were slightly contradicted by the number of salmon that were trying to leap out of it to get to the high side of the ground. 

We tossed at 12.45 and lost and suprise surprise, were put into bat. This was probably just as well as at this point we had 9 players. Max had been mumbling something down the phone to Jov in a very hung over kind of way about being let down by some bloke he had barely met and was supposed to be giving him a lift back from Brighton. He wasn't coming at all. 

Humphrey on the other hand, who was delivering one of our star U14 bowlers and had also kindly offered to umpire, had just rung to say he was at Horley, but they had never heard of Bleldow Ridge and certainly weren't playing them today. Now, with a decent connection, you can probably hit a golf ball from one end of Horley to the other with a three iron, so it seemed a bit implausible that he was somewhere else in Horley, or indeed that there was another cricket club in the town that we had never heard of. Less implausible however that Horley CC in Surrey (just next to Gatwick) were unaware of the mighty Ridgebears, and for reasons that probably don't want particular scrutiny, that is where he was. He signed off with a slightly disgruntled sounding "see you in 2 hours then".

Lloydy and Jov went out to open the batting on a literally sticky wicket. This correspondent had offered to umpire at square leg throughout, on account of our nominated umpire being somewhere around junction 10 of the M25, and had the privelige of observing close up a master calss in running between the wickets. Lloydy managed to walk 24 of his 28, only once breaking into a trot (although he might have tripped) and Jov was all flicky heels and head to the skies. It was like watching a Clydesdale run with a dressage pony!  

It is not however about how, but how many, and they had added 83 in 21 when Lloydy offered up a catch for the first wicket. RAJ (our gun cup signing) added a lovely 4, a couple of scratchy singles and then departed to make way for Hugo. He knocked a 2, nurdled a single and decided that was enough of a look and set about a savage onslaught of the bowling.

Simon Atkinson had just been brought on to bowl, presumably to tie and end up with his naggingly accurate little seamers, but Jov had not read the script and deposited him for a 6, a 4 and a single in his first, so he probably wasn't thrilled to see Jov on strike at the start of his second. The first one went over the hedge. The second one was clothed to long on for a single, bringing Hugo onto strike. Ball 3 went over the hedge, ball 4 went out of Horley and ball 5 bounced (allegedly) just in front of Humphrey's car as he was passing Cherwell Valley Services. Possibly the greatest ignomony however was that ball 6 was dutifully and respectfully defended. 

That over changed the game and Hugo continued to bang it to all corners (of Oxfordshire) finishing 58*, Jov got himself stumped 9 short of a ton, and 185 in our revised (we had been off for a few overs) allocation of 36, felt pretty good. We went into a splendid tea prepared by the good ladies of Horley (Oxon), just in time to welcome Humphrey and Freddie to the ground.  

RAJ opened the second innings with a wide that redeemed Steve Harmison, and the less said about the rest of his spell the kinder. Freddie weaseled one out in the 4th, but by the end of the 17th, Horley were 84-1 and the game was on. Taggart at this point had bowled 2 overs for 11 and was seething like Scrooge having just discovered that he had accidentally put money in a charity box. His third however produced 3 wickets courtesy of outstanding catches from Freddie and Stu and one batsman's total lack of familiarity with where his stumps were, and most importantly, no runs. His next 5 went for 1, which made him feel a little better. And that was pretty much that. Charlie cleaned up 3 more, Ben and Myles got one a piece and a run out completed the set as we bowled them out for 111.

BRCC 185-4 (J Sahota 91, H Bashall 58*) in 36 overs

Horley 111-10 (I murdoch 3-12, C Carter 3-34) in 31.5 overs

The Final

Venue: Fringford CC - Oh dear! The place we were bowled out for 57!

Opposition: Horspath - OK, we got the best of them in the League fixture.

Pitch: Soft: the kind of soft that fabric conditioner marketing people talk about.

Weather: Warm with a gentle breeze. The kind of conditions to ensure a game is played on 2 entirely different pitches.

Toss: Lost


With RAJ having been denied permission to play in the final on account of him being clearly a 1st team player (clearly didn't see him bowl at Horley), and Hugo now unavailable, a bit of rejigging was needed. We opted to go with the young options rather than be swayed by the sudden offers of availability for a final, and besides, I had already had the shirts printed. We may have slightly overdone it though. If you added up the ages of Myles, Freddie, Frosty and Mo, you still needed to add Charlie to get past Taggart. 

We made a decent fist of a difficult wicket, although Jov's decision to play back to his first (and only) ball to a full inswinger is still a topic of debate for both clubs. Charlie grafted hard for 39, JG made the most of an improving wicket for 47 and by the end of the inings, 131 felt a little (but not much) under par. 

When we went out after tea though, it felt like someone had dug up the old one and replaced it with a customer order new pitch. The details are unimportant, except to say that Freddie, Myles, Mo and Charlie did themselves proud in sticking to the task manfully. Taggart got a bit cross at times (imagine!?!) but we were deserately short of experience, despite a great effort in the field. Next time, we will have a bunch of slightly older youngsters with experience of a cup final. 

BRCC 131-9 (J Gardiner 47, C Carter 39) off 40 overs

Horspath 132-0 off 24.5 overs  

Averages for the 2023 Cup Run
For aggregated figures for all time cup games, click on Cup Cricket. For details of the 2022 cup run, click here