As the season is nearing its end, the competition to finish second in the division has started to get really tense. We travelled to the beautiful Radley College to clash with one of our main competitors, fellow Telegraph Cup finalists Radley. Despite the wicket being in top shape, the conditions were very difficult for batsmen due to frequent showers and strong winds. No sight screens would also challenge the batsmen, even the keepers. Andy Oliver joined Ali Malik for the toss, and returned to our changing room with good news: we were batting first and it was what we wanted with 3 of our players late to the ground. We weren't told if he won the toss or not until after the game. The skipper opened with Sahil Kalyan, our 2 leading run scorers looking to increase season tallies. Malik and Nayyer opened the bowling and were hard to get away. In only the second over Sahil played a unnecessary shot to mid on but was dropped. We hoped he would now cash in but Malik slipped in a good full ball and trapped Kalyan in front of the stumps. This was his first duck of the season, 4 behind lead duck scorer and next man in, Craig Woods. Patience was the key today so the pair just had to hang in there, throughout the innings we went on and off multiple times for small showers. 5 overs later Wooder was bowled for 1 and Malik had another. Sam Rodway partnered Andy, meaning that the 2 batsmen with the highest averages for our club were at the crease. They put on 29 and looked comfortable until one of the umpires, who might have been around when the game was invented, gave Rodway out LBW after a very long exaggerated appeal. It was at this moment that we realised that we needed to adopt this approach as it always happens to us but we are too polite to do it to others. Ben Bollig was in at 5. In the next over Andy took the charge to spinner Liaquat and was bowled, the score now 45-4. Kamran Ramzan was hoping to make the most of his promotion to number 6 as he went out. Ben feathered one behind without adding to the score to bring in Jonah Clarke. Jonah nicely guided a ball past third slip and the pair ran a 3, more runs in this shot than the last 3 wickets combined. Liaquat got another by hitting Jonah's stumps, 52-6. Simon Palmer mis-hit a leg-sided shot to be caught. Michael Tippett was in at 9, still 24 overs left after 2 had been cut off due to the rain. With the current situation, both Kamran and Tipper were going to play positively to try and put away loose deliveries. Kamran picked the gaps and Tip blocked some tempting slow deliveries before hitting a powerful shot for 4. Sagar bowled a shorter ball which didn't meet the swing of Tippett's bat and hit the stumps. Jacob Oliver switched over with the departing man and Kamran tried to get a few more while the rain was still away. Ramzan eventually had to go for 24 when the umpire at the far end made another atrociously pathetic decision for LBW, the ball pitching outside leg, not turning and most importantly, being hit by the bat. Last man in was Chris Graham who hit a wonderfully timed shot for 4, taking us past the 81 we made against them last time. With Jacobs missing a shot our innings ended on 83, 17 overs unused. At the time we were disappointed, however we knew that with a bit of hard work by the bowlers and some tight fielding we could defend this.
Tea was great again, we knew we had a big task in front of us. Kamran Ramzan opened the bowling with Michael Tippett his fellow opening bowler. Ramzan had a five wicket haul against Radley at home, hopefully producing something special again today. From the first over, the ball was swinging well in the overcast and windy conditions. Opener Naheem chipped the fourth ball to Jacob who looked very safe as he took the catch to get the ball rolling. First blood to Kidlington! In his second over Kamran got another, centurion from last week Shoaib Ahmed LBW for 5. Tip then hit the leg stump of number 4 Naveen, the 2 swing bowlers were on fire! Radley batting stalwart Khan looked uneasy against the huge swing, and was being reassured every ball by the number 3 at the non-strikers. It wasn't long until he slipped up on another inswinger to be LBW, Kamran with a third, Radley 4 down for 10. The experienced Abbassi couldn't see a way out of Tippett's testing bowling, so attempted the aggressive choice and Jonah Clarke pulled off a stunning catch that was high and he had to go a few steps back, now we started to believe that we could finish this quickly. Davenport had no idea how to approach a moving ball and was bowled in the same over. 10-6, 3 for each bowler. Due to the high standards they had set, 3 maidens in a row without any wickets didn't seem as impressive as it would on some other days. Kamran ended the wicket drought when he rolled over Liaquat and in his next over which was the last of his spell, also bowled burrows to claim a five wicket haul! 2 in 2 vs Radley, hopefully another saved for the final?. We came off again for rain at this point, 12-8 in 13 overs is a score that I can confidently say that nobody would have imagined! After the short delay we were pumped up to end this quickly. Tip ripped straight through Ali Malik's defence for his fourth, he deserved a fifth too but Radley couldn't manage to hold out for another over. Chris Graham was only 2 balls into his first over at the time when the last wicket pair took off for a stupid run, leading to Nayyer being out by a long distance. A perfect summary of their innings and they were all out for 13 in 14.2 overs! I still can't believe the madness that went on today and how we bowled so incredibly. This surely must be close to a record low in the OCA, it was certainly the lowest we have bowled a team out for. With us finishing at only 5 pm, we capped off this outstanding day by watching the seconds cross the line at Dorchester, courtesy of a Chairman's special. Up to 3rd now in the league, we are serious contenders for the prize second spot finish.