Holton & Wheatley
2010 Season Summary
A review by Alan Banyard
The 2010 season began well for us with a first win at Bladon for several years. Mahesh, one of three Indian winter signings took three wickets as Bladon collapsed to 149 all out. Graham Nichols with a maiden fifty and Hugh Kitchin with 47 then put on a three figure opening partnership which practically won the game for us. As it turned out, this was our best partnership for the whole season, which is surprising in view that batting conditions are always difficult in April.
As is often the case early in the season, bad weather then took it's part and we lost our 2nd, 4th and 6th fixtures to rain (Swinbrook, Great Haseley and a tour game in Sussex). This was particularly bad for our top batsman and bowler of last season, John Simpson, as these were the only games he could make!
In our second game, we had a convincing win at Sunningwell by 74 runs. This time Kiran was the batting star with 58 in his first innings for Holton, well supported by Guy Burford (38). Mahesh topped his Bladon performance with four wickets this time for 19. The game was one of the few time games we play and after taking 8 wickets quite quickly, we struggled to winkle out the last two. The game looked destined for a draw until with a couple of overs left and 9 down, Guy made the inspired (!!!!!) decision to bring me on for a change of pace. After several LBW shouts against top scorer Harris, I finally trapped him with what can only be described as the slowest delivery I (and probably anyone except Neil) has ever bowled. The Sunningwell home umpire sportingly conceded that the ball had the strength to disturb the bails and the game was in the bag.
Our next playable fixture was at a new venue, due to a mix up by our fix sec. And what a superb place to play cricket! Bledlow is a lovely countryside ground, with a fabulous pavilion and even an electronic scoreboard. To top that, a steam train passed by every 30 mins or so, right past the sight screen and as umpire I had great joy in holding up the game as train and bowler's delivery stride would have coincided. In very hot weather (27oC), against better than average opposition, on a good, if sloping track, Holton managed only 140 and despite a late flurry of wickets, Bledlow won the game with 3 wickets to spare.
Nevertheless, there were some good performances, notably from Graham Nichols (33) who held the innings together as wickets fell, Simon Robinson (17) in his first game of the season), Graham Hawkins (13 not out) and Neil Robinson who put on 24 for the last wicket. In the bowling department, Kiran Nair took 3 wickets for 31 and Binoy Masters took 2 for 21 in his first game for Holton.
The second May bank holiday is our regular weekend tour, and this time we headed off to sunny Sussex. Unfortunately though, the weather turned again and our Saturday game was rained off. After spending the night in Eastbourne, we took a trip over towards Brighton to play at Hove to play the local team called Palmers. Luckily the weather had changed to sunshine and our whole squad got in one game with a 12 a side match. Actually, Holton had 13 players, but Guy Burford agreed to captain, but not bat or bowl.
This was a cracking close fought match. Palmers batted first and scored 150. Holton took 11 wickets (yes 11 !!!). Top honours were taken by Kiran and Graham Hawkins with 3 wickets apiece, but all six bowlers took at least one and Binoy bagged a pair. The innings was notable for some excellent fielding including four great catches, Kiran's second being particularly spectacular. That could have been the difference between the two teams.
At 61 for 4, with just John Simpson and Alan Banyard getting double figures, things were not going too well, but then is stepped the two Simons - Switala and Littlewood. A partnership of 54 ensued, with the two batsmen scoring 35 and 34 respectively. Simon Switala is an old hand when it comes to batting for Holton, but for Simon Littlewood with only a few games it was a significant milestone. At 115 for 5, we seemed to be coasting, but by the time Simon Littlewood was out we were were 136 for 8 and soon after 146 for 9. Hoewever Kiran and Binoy managed to put on seven runs for the 10th wicket and we had won by 2 wickets (yes 2 wickets, pay attention will you!)
After the tour, we start our sequence of home games. First up were Islip. In bone dry conditions, Brian Deeley and Desmond opened the batting for Islip. We are all to familiar with Brians superb batting skills and it was no big surprise when they put on110. The partnership included one of the most amusing occurrences of the season. After a defensive shot, Brian has the slightly eccentric habit of regularly walking out to pick up the ball and hand back to the opposition. During this innings he played one gently back towards the bowler and as usual stepped out of his crease to pick up the ball - only he had timed it slightly better than he'd anticipated. It was a very amusing sight to see Brian with hand stretched down in front marching no less than 15 yards up the wicket to retrieve the ball under the bowler's nose. For me it was just too much - I screamed "run him out" and when the bowler (I can't remember who it was) did nothing I appealed. In a test match he was out, no question. In village cricket, we have our own rules (if given out, I would have let him walk half way off and then called him back anyway). Brian is a great chap and we had a good laugh about it in the Cricketers afterwards.
Islip finally scored 172 all out. As we came off for tea, it belted down with rain, the covers went on and then 20 minutes later they came off. The effect on the pitch was dramatic as the ball regularly kept low. Only John Simson as opener managed to cope with it, scoring a very brave 45 not out and carrying his bat as Holton were dismissed for 82 with five ducks and no-one else reaching double figures.
The second home game was against Wytham. We played on the same wicket as the previous game and it played equally badly throughout with balls regularly keeping low. Wytham scored only 61 including four ducks. All the bowlers took wickets - Kiran 2 for 4, John Kelly 2 for 12, Mat lawler (in his first game) 2 for 1, Alan Banyard 2 for 16. Binoy and Graham Hawkins also took a cheap wicket apiece. Wytham were understandably disappointed with the pitch, however it was the same for both sides and Holton also suffered four ducks. Simon Switala (a patient 20 not out) and Guy Burford (an aggressive 20) effectively secured the game for Holton by four wickets. After the game we made a complaint about the state of the wicket, however even we could not see any reason for it as the pitch looked like it had been well prepared.
We haven't played an evening Twenty20 for many a year, but after the cancellation of the game at Great Haseley, we rearranged a fixture against a GH spinoff, Medicine CC. Guy Burford chose to step down as captain for the evening and I had my debut as captain. And what a game it turned out to be! Tim Littlewood played one of his rare guest appearances for us and soon got us off to a flying start with 9 off the first three balls. We batted a terrific innings all the way down to number 9 reaching an impressive 133 for 7 - almost seven an over. It was a team performance with six players reaching double figures. Mahesh topped with 28, Tim Littlewood got 23, Mark Deacon hit a six and Kiran hit two sixes.
I was reasonably confident as I put Kiran on to bowl and he got a wicket in his first over. However, at the other end I brought on John Kelly and he was definitely the star of the show, taking 5 wickets off his allotted 3 overs. No one else took five wickets in our entire Sunday season! It looked like Medicine were completely down and out as we took eight wickets for hardly anything, but then a great fightback by Twigg and Beay took them to 113 for 9 and a pretty good effort in the circumstances. It certainly made for a good atmosphere by both sides afterwards as Holton had won by just 20 and there was already talk of a return at Brookes. A total of 246 runs and 17 wickets was better than we achieved in quite a few of our Sunday games!
Meanwhile, after 17 ducks in four innings at Holton, it was a relief when we found we had a more centrally positioned wicket for the Great Milton "trophy" game. But it was still a slow scoring game with Gt Milton being dismissed for 95. John Kelly was the early hero with the top 3 wickets for 18 and then Binoy did one better by knocking out the middle order with 4 for 19. Graham Nichols with a patient 29 not out and Guy Burford with a quick 23 not out provided the winning partnership as we took the trophy by 5 wickets.
Our next match should have been the annual encounter with Richard Denner, however a significant proportion of the team decided they would rather watch England get knocked out of the World Cup (soccer) and so the game was called off. This took us to the President's day.
The President's batted first, captained by David Peddy. The top order did well, with Graham Nichols (29), Simon Switala (30), Mahesh (24) and Simon Littlewood (32). Ahmad (26 Not Out) and David Peddy (9 Not out) batting at ten and Jack ensured a challenging total of 195 for 9 was reached, one of the highest in recent President's games. Binoy took 4 for 30 and John Simpson and Mark Fenn took a couple of wickets each.
In reply, Guy Burford's captain's team could only make 166 all out, with John Simpson scoring 31. Guy Peddy, who had scored a duck earlier on, took 3 for 8 and John Kelly and Graham Hawkins took two wickets apiece. David Peddy had the joy of being presented with the trophy during the evening BBQ.
Next up for Holton at Brookes were Oxford County Council. The visitors only had 9 players, so we gave them our 12th and 13th man. This could have been our big mistake! Oxford CC notched up 180 all out, with John Simpson taking four wickets. We seemed to be going well in reply with Simon Switala making an impressive fifty and Simon Littlewood making 38 not out. But strangely, this was a rare performance of old where we didn't pick up the pace early enough and despite a push near the end from Guy Burford (23 not out) we fell 13 short with only seven wickets down.
Did the two donated Holton players (Mahesh and myself) make a difference? Well neither scored a run or took a wicket, so they did their best (!), but I guess they probably plugged enough gaps in the field to stop 13 runs.
Naturally, we were keen to get back to winning ways against Isis. On a wicket giving some help to the bowlers, Holton successfully defended a relatively low total with a fine all round performance in the field which included no less than four run outs. This is surely a club record.
We just about batted out 40 overs to reach 129 for 8 with John Simpson scoring a critical unbeaten 51. Then John Kelly and Arpit took wickets to leave the visitors reeling at 15 for 3. At this point, we put on the squeeze and Isis found scoring even harder than we had done. But the bowlers failed to take another wicket until John Simpson bagged a couple near the end. The difference between the sides was in the fileding; Holton were superb. Under intense run rate pressure against tidy bowling, the four run outs were all brilliantly executed. Isis managed only 106 for 9 off their 40 overs.
Tetsworth are always tough opponents and this was again the case in 2010. Although playing with only eight players, they managed 248 for 6 off their 40 overs including a century opening partnership. After taking some early punishment, John Simpson was the star Holton performer taking 4 for 50 off his 8.
Chasing the season's highest total to date, we made a good start reaching 68 for 2 at four and a half an over with Alan Banyard scoring a brisk 32. However, the middle order found scoring difficult as Tetsworth put on the squeeze and the game was essentially lost by the half way stage. There was still time though for a brilliant cameo from Binoy batting at number 8. In aggressive style, Binoy scored his maiden half century reaching 53 not out off just over 30 balls. This came out of an unbroken partnership of just 61 with Graham Nichols.
Out home match with Cairns Fudge is usually one of the highlights of the season. As usual, x-Holtonites James Raced and Andy Small were playing for the visitors. The Fudge looked to be going well early on until we removed Race for 13, after which there was a steady decline. As usual, Small put himself down the order and when he had scored quickly 9 with some glorious strokes, it looked like we could still face a big target. But fate was to play a hand - Small chipped one into his own face and had to go off to hospital for stitches. Fudge were soon out for 127.
We won the game comfortably. John Simpson opened and scored an impressive 55 and Simon Switala scored 22. The game was ended by a partnership from John Simpson and Alan Banyard (22 not out) and Holton won by 8 wickets.
Against Appleton, our last home game, we made use of a good batting wicket. In a rare outing this season, Peter Cowdrey looked in fine form, stroking the ball to the boundary on a number of occasions. Peter (47) just missed out on a half-century, unluckily bowled off his body with the ball trickling up against the stumps. Simon Switala featured in two strong partnerships - firstly putting on 63 with Peter and then a further 88 with Binoy Master. Binoy played forcefully, hitting 6 fours in his knock of 37. Simon completed his second half century of the season and Holton reached the psychologically important milestone of 200.
With Appleton at 104-1 the game seemed to be drifting away. Then Guy Burford brought himself on and immediately turned the game on its head, taking three vital wickets. Then Mahesh and Kiran picked up two wickets each as Appleton's run chase began to falter. Despite some sloppy fielding, including a dropped catch when Guy and Binoy collided with each other, the visitors began to fall behind the required run rate and by the time of the last over they needed around 20 to win. They finished on 186 for 9, falling 14 runs short, giving us a fine win to conclude the campaign this season at Brookes.
At Marsh Gibbon, our Indian contingent impressed in another fine victory. Marsh Gibbon were shot out for 126 with Arpit, Neil and Binoy each taking two wickets and Graham Hawkins took 3. In reply Holton won by 4 wickets, mainly through Binoy (34) opening and Kiran (32 not out) remaining unbeaten at the end.
Our game against Wolvercote was called off. At Wooton & Boars Hill, we made a start and had the home side struggling at 28 for 3 before rain intervened for the day. Arpit (1 for 3 off five) and Graham Hawkins (2 for 1) impressed. That left just two more away games. Both were great performances in games we looked like losing and rounded off the season very nicely.
At Cuxham, we were hoping to repeat the previous year's performance - and so it turned out. After a good start by Hugh Kitchen and Simon Robinson, there was a flurry of wickets and we were struggling at 36 for 4. Then Binoy (43) and Simon Switala (28) turned the game round and we finished with at least a reasonably challenging 143 all out. But would it be enough, we only had three regular bowlers.
Graham Nichols chose Graham Hawkins and Alan Banyard to open the attack. Alan took a wicket in his first over and then Graham took one in his second. By the completion of 14 accurate overs the pair had reduced Cuxham to 39 for 6 with three wickets each and the game was virtually in the bag. Binoy then mopped up the tail with three further wickets, with Hugh Kitchen removing the last man in a rare bowling spell of five balls.
So off to Britwell Salome and a time game to complete the season. Yet again, it looked early on that Holton were on a hiding to nothing. Britwell piled on the runs at a rate of knots and only the fortunate run out of star batsman Herrington and a wicket from Guy Burford kept Holton in the frame. But then John Simpson took three key middle order wickets and Britwell never recovered. As Binoy (2 wkts) and Mahesh (3 wkts) finished of the innings for 177, Holton were still left with a stiff target - but it could have been 250 plus.
Peter Cowdrey and Alan Banyard opened and got off to a positive start with a partnership of 55. Alan was in good form making 40 and when he was out Holton were nearly half way at 85 for 2 and up with the required rate. Simon Switala scored an excellent 37 and then it was left to Binoy to finish it off. Binoy made and impressive quick fire 47 not out and didn't quite get enough strike to make a fifty as we won by 5 wickets with plenty of time to spare.
Sunday Games: 11 wins and 4 defeats (not counting President's)
Evening Games: 1 Win and 1 Defeat.