Oxford 3’s away – Batsmen struggle, Bowlers save the day
On an uncharacteristically hot day in May Sandford St. Martin ended the first league game of the season with a 39 run win over Oxford 3’s. It was anything but plain sailing on a tough deck. Sandford only made a miserly 103, top scorer being Tom Tanner with a streaky 27 followed by extras getting 25, from 41.2 over’s. The score was put into context by some superb Sandford bowling. Sandford decimated the Oxford batting line up; pick of the bowlers Ben Ackland-Snow picking up figures of 5-37.
The day did not start on a positive note for the Sandford 2nd team with new captain George Thorne losing the toss and being forced to bat on a track that at best can only be described as “poor”. The Sandford innings started slow, hugely hindered by the pitch, with some accurate, straight bowling from the oxford opening seamers. Anything that was dropped short or wide was latched onto by both openers Colin Simpson and Martin Anson but the outfield and sluggish pitch turned shots destined for boundaries into mere singles.
Anson was the first casualty of the day when a fantastic catch was held at 2nd slip on the 2nd attempt. Tanner came to the crease with an incredibly odd first over, involving a dropped catch an inside edge that only just missed the stumps, a big hoik that every right lead to a wicket and a sumptuous on drive that resulted in single getting the incredibly lucky man off strike. Simpson was did not quite have the same luck as he was soon accounted for when trying to pull a short delivery that stopped in the pitch making the usual big hitting batsmen tamely chip the ball to mid wicket. In stepped the imperious Greg Pearson to steady and innings and batsmen that were in dire need.
Tanner and Pearson started to adept to the pace of the pitch accumulating runs nicely with a mix of touch and clean striking, Tanner still riding his luck being put down spectacularly at short mid on by a diving oxford fielder. Unfortunately, much is usually the case, Tanner got carried away with his striking and fell to a full straight delivery that he attempted to put into the stratosphere but only ended up in putting him into back in the pavilion. Pearson Soon followed looking to push a shorter delivery into the covers with the ball not quite getting up and clipping his off stump.
Enter Richard Murray, returning legend, and Ben Taylor to the crease. Unfortunately for both they soon exited the crease. Taylor bowled in a similar fashion to Tanner and Murray being caught by a spectacular one handed catch at point by a fielder who had seemingly not been paying attention! The innings was not looking to be going well. To the crease was captain Thorne, looking to make a stamp as captain. This would have to wait for another day as he was struck in front of the stumps and the umpire giving him out LBW.
Two Bens at the crease now in little and large form. Ackland-Snow, in his new role as vice captain, and Proctor fresh from university where he has been honing his craft. Both were looking solid and chance for the innings to be saved. A very good bit of fielding and a premature call from BAS meant this was not to be the case the new VC being removed well short of his ground. Kit Lamb was the next man to come and go but did offer a very useful cameo involving two well struck boundaries. He looked to follow these with a third but the ball stayed low he top edged and the keeper who obliged to take a smart catch behind the stumps.
But cometh the hour cometh the man. Lewis Anson came to the crease with some simple instructions from the skipper. Keep them out in the heat for 50 over’s and get us above 100 runs. Though he and Proctor didn’t keep Oxford out there for the 50 they did get Sandford over the big milestone of 100 with some smart leaves meaning extras were really starting build up. Anson was caught behind, undone in the end by the Oxford captain bringing himself back into the attack.
Innings over, the batsmen had done what they could on a low slow pitch with a sluggish outfield. It was now time for the bowlers to show what they could do with a track that seemed to improve marginally as the game continued.
BAS had the pleasure of the first over, but fell foul early to the new ruling of leg side wides testing WK Lewis Anson. Murray was the man to open at the other end and was also the man to draw first blood! Though both opening batsmen were both looking very comfortable in the early exchanges Murray had the break through. With some nippy and accurate bowling he had the opener caught on the crease, trapped LBW. Thus began a procession of wickets.
BAS, never to be outdone, then struck with a very nice delivery just going away from the left hander found the finest of edges which Lewis Anson held with great joy. The pitch then, which many thought would improve, only made things harder for the batsmen with both bowlers gaining prodigious movement both off the seam and in the air. This lead to what could possibly be called the ball of the season (yes already) by BAS removing the no.3 from Oxford who I’m sure is still baffled how the ball found the top of his off stump. Murray then picked up his 2nd and final wicket of the day with a smart Yorker that had the batsmen all at sea. Ackland-Snow was soon at it again picking up his 3rd in fine fashion, striking another batsman dead to rights in front of the stumps. The big man was not done there though getting through his 10 over’s picking up another two wickets with lovely deliveries.
Proctor then replaced Murray, much too a few raised eye brows with Murray bowling so well on his return to league cricket. Those eye brows were soon dropped as proctors first ball only just missed the outside edge of the batsmen! Proctor soon had his first of the day with a ball staying a little low striking the batsmen right in front of the stumps, the finger soon went up for LBW. He then soon picked up his 2nd of the game with the oxford captain now getting hold of the Sandford bowlers was undone but a straight delivery that again just skidded below his bat knocking his stumps asunder.
Pearson then finished the game with the young batsmen top edging a delivery that was on his a bit sooner than expected. A very smart catch from BAS coming in from the boundary.
All in all a tough first game on a pitch and ground that played a huge part in the game. George Thorne will be incredibly please to start the season with a win and secure in the knowledge he has the bowlers to defend any total. Some may question the batting but those people did not see the aforementioned pitch. Well played the two’s. Can they get into division 5 and away from pitches like these?