A scratch Oxford Downs III’s claimed a 5 run victory against Banbury V’s at Horton View on Saturday in what was a tense and thrilling game.

The journey to Banbury had been equally tense and thrilling after the tardy Harry Gillam managed to peel himself off his mattress 30 minutes late, a diversion through the Minnoan labyrinth that is Banbury was not helped by Mark ‘Vasco De Gamma’ Collins’ inability to read a map. Having broken about a dozen laws of the queens highway and narrowly avoiding maiming 3 generations of Roma gypsies at a busy junction,we arrived later than planned with the Watts’, a Hook and the Bellenies already in situ. 

We were invited to bat on a ‘grade 7 Passchendaele’ (Compacted sticky Wet Mud,Shell craters,drowning horses)  Collins donned his helmet accompanied by Bear, only slightly overdressed in MCC colours for this division 9 Cherwell league match. After a few cursory glances Collins was out caught off glove by glove, followed in quick succession by Gillam who was dismissed in a similar fashion.

After repeated trouser malfunctions Bear hit a few hefty blows to get us under way accompanied by a patient Gus Watts who compiled gracefully. After Bears triggering by umpire Collins, Will Hook treated us to some fine strokes but was all too soon stumped. Matt Watts strode in and he and Gus put on a meaningful partnership punctuated by some hard to come by boundaries and at least one rather rash single which resulted in Matt Watts creating his own sonic boom. Dan Hawes added 19 to the score and he and Mukesh remained not out with the board reading 180 off the allotted 45 overs; which felt a very competitive score.

Mukesh opened up on a pitch that was now drying with an attacking field set.

Now dear reader, I digress…, Pythagorean theorem, in its fundamental extension of Euclidean geometry suggests that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides, that said what was the total weight of the Oxford Downs slip and gully cordon to the nearest unit; A) 1 metric ton B) 82 Bushells C) 3 Indian Elephants *

At first the Banbury openers seemed up to the job and dispatched several quite emphatic boundaries off Gillam and his replacement Hook. Mukesh struck first with a toe crunching LBW and we were up and on our way. Price, the oppositions opener slowly started to become more expansive but our score did not seem under threat. Sean Bellenie supported the change bowling with some excellent fielding but in searching for a wicket the run rate mounted. The Bellenie spin twins, (aka Bucks Fizz) bowled tightly, and this coupled with some choice field placing by Watts, put pressure on supporting Banbury middle order which slowly crumbled in the face of straight breaks and turning balls served up by the Bellenies. All the while Price lurked, picking off the bad ball which came all too regularly. Bear took a wicket and it seemed we would be victorious but  having completed his 50 Price had farmed the strike and despite Banbury losing wickets 150 was reached and it seemed all was lost. Then Watts gambled and brought back Mukesh, an edge to Hawes at 3rd slip was gratefully received but it had cost another 20 or so runs and we had already cut up for matchwood our now bare bowling cupboard. The last throw of the dice, Matt Watts came on to bowl with 5 runs required and Banbury 9 down with a couple of overs left, Price looked for the on drive but lofted it, underneath the looping skyer stood Mark Collins, not particularly fresh from a 5 day beer holiday which would have seen off Richard Burton and Oliver Reed. And yet,… and yet.., he clung on cradling the ball to his heroic bosom. Victory!

* C) 3 Indian Elephants