The 2018 season started with a bang on Sunday with a game against the newly formed Oxford Blueberry, a team of undergraduates from the University.
A long week of sunshine after the recent wet and snow meant that Warnford was at its’ prime, although the weather Gods sent a storm of Noah-esque proportions to try and undermine Malcolm Jannaways’ Herculean efforts on Saturday night. Fortunately, Hercules defeated Noah in style.
The opposition, masterminded by Hog and former Hogget Hugo Lees, arrived in their Barbarian style shirts, each one representing their own Cricket Club, in a minibus from Oxford.
Smart in their Blueberry caps, it transpired that the driver of the minibus was a stickler for time and so left leaving two of their leading batsmen behind, both having been at the May Ball until 6am and having overslept. In fact, the whole team had been at the May Ball – yes, I know it is only April – so anything they achieved on the pitch was nothing short of remarkable.
Matt Love and Hugo designed the game with the Hogs batting first and Charlie Gwynn (84) and Mike Burkie (44) rapidly took the opening attack to task. Tim Niemand (117) helped himself to a quickfire century, with debutant Charlie Covell holing out for 6 and Matt Love undefeated on 57, with Ross Bullard, a qualifier looking good for his 17*.
The Crawford’s swung into action at lunchtime in their 45th season and the family, now including great grandchildren the same age as some of the players, numbered about 10 to make sure that lunch was spot on. John Parkinson, from the safety of the Bar, watched with amusement as it became clear that there were more Blueberries for lunch than we had anticipated and so the first Crawford challenge was negotiated. With hindsight, we should have asked the Crawfords for Blueberry pie – next year.
The Blueberries opening top 4 all got going with Pincott making 43, Dibden 23, and Watson 24, but particularly impressive was the wicketkeeper Harrison, who held things together against the fire of Jimmy Hawkings (3 for 20), and Breare (1 for 42), with a battling 66 and it looked for a long time as though they would see the team through to a draw. Sadly, for them the curse of the time-sensitive minibus driver struck and revealed a long tail that was quickly dispatched but not before some wonderful cricket had been played, uninterrupted at, in Hugo’s words – God’s own cricket pitch.
As they have said since Chaucerian times, ‘a win is a win’ and the Hogs have made the best start ever in a cricket season.
Special mention must go to Tim Durston, who has helped the transformation of the pavilion (and finances) with the regeneration of the brick wall and raised beds in front of the pavilion, as well as the Ladies loos. Thank you, Tim!