Match report by Jimmy Phillips
On Thursday morning, there were five names on 4th XI captain Joe Wetherill’s team sheet to face Westbury 2s, with poor availability from other sides sucking players upward. The call went out for reinforcements, and it was answered by a mix of boy scouts and extras from dad’s army.
There were to be two league debuts for U13s Evan Armstrong and Theo Walton, and a return to action for former first teamers Paul Taylor and Jimmy Phillips, whilst committee member Paul Robinson also answered the call to arms.
The team took the field with XI, plus stalwarts Geoff Hawkins and John Woodworth sharing the club umpiring duties. Captain Wetherill opened the bowling with new recruit Dom Skinner, while last minute conscript Phillips came on first change. It was a typically flat wicket at Ermont Way and the well-manicured outfield was lightning fast and while the run rate hovered around a run-a-ball a wicket each for the first three bowlers, plus a direct hit run out from Phillips kept Banbury in the game, the fourth wicket fell at 141.
The true story of the innings though was Westbury number three Tom Boardman’s undefeated 152 from 111 balls. It included 18 fours and 6 sixes – it led to a declaration after just 41 overs with the score 299-5.
Evan Armstrong bowled two overs right in the middle of the onslaught and that he went for only 15 runs was testament to the great character shown by our two 12-year-olds on the day, more on that later.
Banbury’s innings faltered early. Westbury bowling arsenal had more depth and they were more athletic in the field – perhaps due to the narrower distribution of their age range. Banbury were 34-3 and when Armstrong was dismissed 70-5.
But there had been a constant and that was opener Fred Price, who had looked largely untroubled and in want of a partner – he found one in Friday night call up Ollie Badger. As Badger dug-in Price began to find some fluency and the pair put on 117. Price reached his century and was eventually dismissed for 105 from 144 balls, with Badger falling shortly after for 12 from 66. At this point Banbury were 190-7 and nearing what would have been the allocated overs, had Westbury’s very sporting declaration not meant that we had 59 overs to face. So with over 15 overs still to come Captain Wetherill was joined by 12 year old Theo Walton.
The pair ticked down the overs, with Wetherill taking what strike he could, but Walton showing that he would not take a backward step when called upon. Westbury tried everything from spin, to bringing both openers back, and even a short lived bouncer barrage but the pair stood firm and hope was kindled among the Banbury team.
Then Wetherill fell to a smart catch at slip and Skinner followed at the beginning of the penultimate over. Paul Robinson, who is in his sixties strode to the wicket to become the junior partner to 12 year-old Walton. In what will go down as a famous salvage job, the pair stood firm and at the end Walton had faced 32 balls for 5*. It was a fantastically valiant effort from such a young lad, in the face of all types of bowling in division 5 of the Cherwell league.
There were smiles all round and it was hard to know whose was widest – Theo’s, his dad’s, Fred’s or Captain Joe Wetherill who must have thought he had either forfeited or lost the game a dozen times in the week.
Walton and Price were the heroes, but I will end with a word for Captain Joe Wetherill, who has kept this side afloat over two years as restructures have kept them playing at a very high standard for a 4th XI, and his Lieutenant Steve Partington, who at 68: kept wicket for their innings, swept and marked the wicket before opening the batting, when out he operated the scoreboard for the rest of the game and then at 8pm was pegging the sheet covers out. Club cricket simply doesn’t happen without guys like this – and judging by the smiling faces over the pints and J20s at Ermont Way on Saturday evening there are still plenty of us who are very glad it does. Scorecard: https://www.cherwellcricketleague.com/scorecard.php?MatchID=9576