Youngsters star as firsts tie thriller!
A memorable knock from Kalyan anchored the chase with good supportive knocks from Bollig and Ramzan, taking the game right down to the wire.
The firsts arrived at the Brake for our final home game of the season, against Bampton on another great day. The wicket for this game was clearly the best of the year, week after week the wickets are improving with the best of the season being saved for the last game. Launder of Bampton won the toss and chose to bat, we also bowled first at their ground so we were hoping for a repeat of that drubbing.
For the first 30 minutes of the game we only had 9 players as Sam and Will were running late, meaning that we had to be extra tight in our bowling and sharper in the field. Kamran Ramzan and Jim Blackford opened the bowling together for one final time this season, with Kamran bowling the first over. The innings started off in our favour, both ends tied up with disciplined bowling from both bowlers as only 13 runs were on the board after 7 overs even though we were 2 fielders short. After a few near misses of the outside edges of Landray and Bray, Ramzan took the first wicket with a ball that went through Bray and clipped his inside edge, followed by Ben Bollig taking a very good catch to complete the dismissal. Payne replaced Bray and the 2 batsmen saw off both bowlers' opening spells, Jim Blackford switched ends and Will Thwaites came on at his. The new batsman was clearly finding the deceptive pace of Blackford hard to play and the thought of repeatedly missing the ball was playing on his mind, so he went for a big shot and skewed it in the air. Richard Walker settled underneath it and took a safe catch to put an end to Payne's misery. He clearly wasn't too happy though as he sat under the trees near the boundary by himself for the rest of the innings! The batsman coming in at 4 had a short but strange time at the crease, playing shots unlike a usual number 4 and Will didn't take much time to get into rhythm, producing a sharp swinging ball that rattled his stumps. In the same over the 4th wicket fell too, once again clean bowled. The score was now on 80-4 and Bampton needed a partnership to get themselves going, Landray meanwhile approaching his 50. As overs passed by, Landray raced on towards his century (aided by a few drops) and Ives was enjoying swinging his blade at the other end with a couple of sixes along the way. Chris Graham and Edd Willmot, searching for a breakthrough, bowled many good deliveries but the 2 batsmen kept the score moving. In the end, the downfall of Ives was a full toss from Graham, that was slapped over the bowler and straight to Michael Tippett, who was patrolling the straight boundary and took a great catch. Launder looked like he was in a rush, from ball one he tried to hit the ball as hard as he could and just couldn't get the timing right. After the enjoyment of his catch, Tippett decided to join the party and took a wicket of his own with the out of touch Launder perishing. Bampton were on 160-6 with 8 overs remaining, Kamran came back on for a second spell. Williams and Landray only had a 10 ball partnership and then Williams was bowled for 1. Tippett topped off his good spell so far with a double wicket over and Landray was finally dismissed for 115, in the 43rd over, he finished his spell giving 30 runs and taking 3 wickets in his 6 overs. The final score ended up on 201-9, an average score on the quality of the wicket.
Following a good tea, Richard Walker and Sahil Kalyan opened the innings, with Ives and Brooksbank bowling. There was action from ball 1, but not the type we were wanting as Richard was bowled by a great ball leaving us on the worst possible start. Getting off the mark with a 4, Craig Woods was looking in good touch and played the pace and movement well, reaching 17 at the start of the 6th over. Brooksbank got the better of him a few balls later and Craig had to take the long walk back with his stumps left in a mess behind him. Sam Rodway came in with us in some trouble only 6 overs in. With not many runs being scored off the difficult bowling, the Bampton players were enjoying the situation being in their favour and both the bowlers were really making the batsmen struggle. Sam became Brooksbank's 2nd victim, the 3rd in the innings to be bowled and now we were in serious trouble on 38-3. Ben Bollig was now in and the rebuilding phase was started by himself and Sahil. Together they safely saw off the openers' spells and kept the score ticking comfortably, playing the good balls calmly and punishing anything bad. 15 more overs passed and the partnership reached 62 when Williams was bowling his slow, loopy balls. On the second ball of his over Ben succumbed to the temptation and hit one high into the air, departing for 34 and bringing in Michael Tippett. It only took 3 balls for Tippett to try and hit one out of Kidlington but it didn't work out and was hit straight down the throat of a fielder, Williams pulling off a double wicket over. Skipper Edd Willmot passed 0 with a nice 2 and then was given out LBW, much to his disappointment and within a couple of minutes everyone at Stratfield Brake knew of the bad umpiring decision! After 28 overs we were in a poor position, 103-6. Kamran Ramzan came In at 8 and this was the first time in the current season that he and Sahil were batting together. Easterbrook was proving hard to get away, while at the other end the runs were coming quicker off the slower bowler. Due to an umpiring miscount, Williams only bowled 5 balls in his 5th over, this would end up being a valuable missing delivery later on. Sahil crossed 50 and Kamran too was settled at the crease, hitting a couple of boundaries and Sahil rotating the strike well. Bampton tried to change things around to find a way to breakthrough, leading them to bring on Brown. We required 54 off the last 8 overs, at this point and Brown seemed like a bowler that could be targeted. With 8 runs coming off his first over and 8 off the next, we were on track needing just over a run a ball. The flowing partnership was ended in the 40th over with Sahil being bowled by Brown for 74 runs, a fantastic innings in the context of the game and supporting the whole teams run chase. He and Kamran put on 61 in 12 overs, Chris Graham was in next. As the wicket over went for only 2 runs, the required rate had increased to 7 but Bampton hadn't brought on their strike bowlers yet. A couple more boundaries were hit by Kamran and now only 19 was required from the last 3 overs. the 43rd over once again had only 5 balls bowled with Launder the bowler this time. A tight over from Brooksbank tightened Bampton's grip and we needed 11 from the last over to win, but Chris Graham hadn't given up yet. Just 2 runs were score off the first 3 balls and 9 were needed off the final 3. Chris hit his first boundary by chipping a shot over the infield for 4, 5 required off 2 now! Chris swung his blade again and was fortunately dropped on the boundary straight over the bowler, much to the fielders dismay it also went for 4! We couldn't lose now but still needed a run off the last ball to win and Bampton brought all the fielders in close to prevent a quick run. Kamran at the non-strikers end was ready to run, he and Chris had already decided that whatever happens we would run even, if it goes straight to a fielder. Launder bowled a back of a length delivery and Chris hit it into the air, after a nervy second or 2 the catch was taken and the thriller ended in a tie! A fair result when our position earlier is considered and a memorable final home game with Sahil scoring his highest 1st team score (74), Ben Bollig scoring his highest score for Kidlington (34) and Kamran getting his personal best at senior level too (41 not out)!
Good luck to everyone playing next week and thank you for a great season, hopefully both KCC teams can end on a high!