Oxford University Club v Erratics Cricket Club Erratics on Fri 02 Sep 2022 at 2.00pm
Erratics Cricket Club Won By 8 Wickets
Mark Hailwood reports...
The less said about our Thursday night tour opener at Dorchester-on-Thames, the better. We went into that game with a record of no wins in six games across our previous two years of the Oxford tour. And a very heavy defeat against a good league team suggested this year might be no different. In fairness to our hosts, they mixed up their batting and bowling to try to keep us in the game, but as it turned out even their bowlers were too good for us with the bat. Still, they were very generous in putting on a post-match BBQ for us, and as we sat on the parched outfield enjoying some local crafts beers against a brooding red sunset we wondered if these off field moments might again be the main highlight of the tour.
That night back in the Six Bells, and with captaincy duty looming for the Friday, I was keen to embark on some reverse psychology – by this point it seemed worth trying anything – and talked down any prospect of breaking our win drought the next day. We had enjoyed our previous games against the Oxford University Club Cricket Club – a team mostly consisting of South Asian postgrads and postdocs – but we hadn’t really looked like beating them. No point getting our hopes up. Especially with half of our tour party staying up til 4am depleting Mark Searle’s wine cellar.
Low expectations are easier to overcome, and so it proved. The campers consumed an underwhelming brunch at a quirky Cowley Road café on route to the Marston Road Sports Ground, but it proved fuel enough for a solid bowling performance. In fact, we hit on a formula that would serve us well throughout the tour: Tiwari and Hailwood opening, with their contrasting takes on seam bowling making it hard for batters to settle; Matt Crawford and a spinner taking over and keeping things steady through the middle overs; and Chris Cook and Fraser deployed to kill off any acceleration by dangerous middle orders. In all three games this line of attack worked to restrict the opposition to gettable totals.
On this day it was our new tourists, Harry and Anuj, who then reeled the runs in. Both batted brilliantly against some testing bowling, shrewdly judging when to defend and when to attack – for although we won by 8 wickets, the chase was in the balance throughout, and we only won with an over to spare. Anuj reached 50 before perishing, but Chris took up the baton with no fuss, and Harry’s 92 not out was worth more than a century on many other days.
Our hosts were very gracious as ever, and several of them escorted us to the nearby Up In Arms, revamped as a vibrant craft beer and pizza joint that made for a very welcome venue for our first every victory dinner in Oxfordshire!
It would have been rude not to drop into the Six Bells for a few more when we made our way back to Warborough, and spirits were high as we talked up a fine win – coming to the realisation that we had fielded a team in which numbers 1 to 11 all had half-centuries to their names, 8 had bagged a five-for, (2 a hat-trick…) and between them had played over 2000 games of Erratics cricket. Buoyed by our collective achievements, we ventured a few verses of the Erratics anthem, and vowed to perform it prematch over the weekend (we did – there is a video somewhere…). Then, with confidence levels flipped on their head from the night before, it seemed like another raid on Mark’s fine wines wouldn’t do us any harm. And it didn’t – well, at least on the field – as we went on to secure two more fine wins in our remaining two games, culminating in our reclamation of the Berry Trophy and our 1000th ever win on the Sunday. What a fine tour it turned out to be…
Oxford University Club Batting
6w 13b 6lb
for 7 wickets
191 (35.0 overs)
Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Bowling
Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Batting
1nb 6w 3b 2lb
for 2 wickets
Oxford University Club Bowling
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