The absences of the Skipper and Vice Skipper (both on holiday but, they are keen to stress, not together) means that the mantle of leadership is passed to Double-O Dino, who is protecting his unbeaten record as captain from last year. We are joined by yet another debutant, Andy, who has turned out against us earlier in the season for his regular side Bredgar. The oppo are Brasted Chart who join the list of visiting sides to Oakfield this season by commenting how much better it is than our previous digs. As ever, they have requested an early start time of 1pm but no one is ready in time so we begin closer to the usual start anyway. The toss is negotiated and we elect to bowl first.
This decision is backed up by a remarkably tight bowling performance by the new opening pair, Alex and George, who go for only 11 runs in the first 10 overs. Dari replaces George and, as last week, bowls rapidly but with little luck in finding the edge. He also has a few issues with his radar which, at pace, means the wides start to mount up. New man Andy makes the first breakthrough in his second over, clean bowling their wicket-keeper opening batsman for 20. Slates, at the other end, then traps the other opener leg-before for 13 and so, in the 23rd over, they have made only 52 for 2. However, their next batting pair find runs easier to come by and, although Rich gets their number 3 for only 13, there is not much more to celebrate over the next ten overs. Dino-Skip tries his spin to no avail, then brings back Dari and subsequently Alex to try to force a breakthrough. Alex gets their well-set number 4 shortly after he has made his half century, but the time is up and Brasted end on 144 for 4.
The tea is provided by Dino and is, unsurprisingly, very good.
Our reply starts with Dari and Blainy striding out to the wicket confidently, but things stutter when Blainy is caught for only 7 (albeit with one well-hit boundary in that score). It’s Robocop to the rescue, however, with Glenn playing for the first time in ages and batting at 3. He is clearly in the mood and, in tandem with some good hitting from Dari, the second wicket partnership is 58. Dari is then out LBW for 29 (from only 31 balls) and Bateley comes to the crease with the score on 70 for 2, from 14 overs. Things continue at a decent clip, but Glenn is next to go, for a worthy 32. This brings George to the crease at 5, on the back of a very good knock of 29 in our previous game. No prizes for guessing what happens this time – second ball duck! Having often heard Boycott mutter about how adding two wickets to a score can change things considerably, we were now seeing it played out in front of us – from 82 for 2 to 84 for 4 in the space of three balls. I now come to the wicket having endured a 5-ball duck in the previous game. Handily, I get 2 runs off my first delivery (past slip) and that settles things down quite a bit. Dave and I put on 28 together before he is stumped for 24 with 8 overs remaining. Alex joins me at the wicket and we endeavour to keep pushing things on toward the target. I am clean bowled for a career-best 17 (yes, I know how sad that looks) within two overs, with the score on 116 and 6 overs remaining, but the proverbial bit is between the proverbial teeth now and Slates comes in swinging. His 19 from 15 balls, with Alex scoring 11 from 15 at the other end, sees us home and dry. Victory!
We retire to the Malt for the usual post-game analysis and minor insult-slinging. Good hits from Dari, Glenn, plus remarkably economic bowling from Alex (7.5 overs, 4 maidens, 4 runs for 1 wicket), are all considered, but Big Pat belongs to Slates for his all-round bowling and batting contribution. The Golden Shite goes to George for his 2-ball duck as there aren’t too many other contenders.