The 2017 edition of the annual President’s XI cricket match couldn’t have fallen on a better day. The official scorebook has always formally recorded the weather as “glorious”, however it is rare that it corresponds with reality. With wall-to-wall sunshine, temperatures forecast to creep into the thirties, and a track as flat as Theresa’s post-election champagne; it was a day for batting. College skipper Josh Sambrook won the toss and obligingly put the Pres boys in to make hay.
Play started at 11:30, and was kindly officiated by Tony Drake and John Jenkins. Pres XI opener Ed McCaul, better known as Redface, obviously missed the memo about the batting conditions and was promptly bowled by Will Forrester for a duck. Will, a ‘tics leggy, continued his fine opening spell by picking up two more wickets to reduce the Pres XI to 5-3 after a mere 6 overs. Both Tom Clarke and Chris Banks carved turning deliveries to the college captain at backward point who gleefully snaffled the chances. After a quick start the remainder of the morning session stayed true to the script – Jonny Bensted and Philip Neaves combined to add 130 without further loss before lunch. Chilean international cricketer, Pres XI #3, and all-round top bloke; Jonny plundered 103 of those runs with some dashing strokeplay including a magnificent straight six into Martin’s garden.
A traditional lunch of sandwiches and pork-pies was enjoyed back in the clubhouse whilst outside the temperature continued to climb. The Pres XI resumed on 135-3 under strict instructions from their captain to go out swinging. Two overs later with the centurion and his anchor back in the hutch many questioned that advice. The college attack was bolstered by the arrival of Dan Rumford the exposed tail wagged somewhat limply for another hour to reach 178 all-out by quarter to three.
Fitz Morrissey and Josh Sambrook came out for college to negotiate a tricky 45 minutes before tea. Having successfully negotiated the Pres XI openers, both fell on their sword to leave the college two-down with 130 runs still needed at tea. Josh top-edged Jonny Bensted (as if he hadn’t done enough already!) to Harry Mayhew at point. Then, just as it looked as if he would make all the runs on his own, Fitz pulled a long hop from Tom Partington straight towards the teeth of a shorter-than-he-should-have-been square leg. Disaster was averted by a reflex parry up into the air, and then – with his good looks now safe for another day – Alistair Farley had the presence of mind to reach backwards and grab the ball at the second attempt, an act for which he was later awarded the “Bucket of Glory” for the day’s champagne moment.
Tea – the best bit of any cricket match – just ask the pros what the food is like at Lords (have Chile ever played there? Who knows?). Particular thanks goes to the housemates of the college skipper who had put on their oven gloves overnight and rustled up two of the most excellent cakes ever to grace the Wadham pavilion. Lemon & Poppyseed and Salted Caramel brought smiles to all. Thank you.
Cricket resumed and Will Forrester quickly wrapped up a half-century to put the college within striking distance of the target. He was out shortly thereafter, chopping on to ensure Michael Edwards, aka Legoman, didn’t head home wicketless. Entering the last 10 overs needing 62, the runs began to dry up for the college. Some steady batting from next year’s booters skipper Tarafa Holford brought Wadham close and when the last over arrived only 7 runs were needed with 2 wickets in hand. Dan Rumford levelled the scores with 3 balls to go but couldn’t finish what he started, scooping the next ball to extra cover. The last man, Michael Orrell, came to the crease having reputedly never held a cricket bat and saw out a dot.
One run to win, one wicket to tie, and a dot-ball to draw; Redface avoided the ignominy many expected by delivering a legal ball which was duly bunted to extra cover by the main man. A fumble in the field allowed the runners to scamper home safely. Wadham win by one wicket.
With the “Frog of Awe” back in student hands both teams headed back to college for an excellent meal in the Old Library followed by speeches from the current college captains Josh Sambrook, Gage Kumar-Rull and Stephen Stow who presented the evening’s awards to deserving winners. Thank you to all involved at the college for putting on such a fantastic day.
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