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Brigands V Oundle Ramblers, 16 June 2024

Brigands all-rounders, Wood and Beardall force the draw.

On a blustery Sunday afternoon a youthful and athletic side of mostly Old Oundelians won the toss and elected to bat.

Setting about the Brigands bowling with gusto the score rapidly escalated to 56 before opener Coulson was induced by Wood to top edge a drive creating a regulation catch for Northwood at Midoff. While the bowlers at the Mercury end were at the mercy of a turbulent breeze blowing up the Hambledon valley, a change of bowling at the slightly more tranquil Copse end lead to a fruitful and relatively economical seven over spell from Beardall claiming three Oundle wickets for 45 runs.

Meanwhile at the Mercury end, bowlers Stearns, Bath, Lovett Turner and Northwood all bravely tried to stem the flood of runs. While two wickets were claimed, one each to Northwood and Bath, they came at the price of a total of 144 runs scored.

As the score punched above 200, the Brigands fielding became understandably tired, with the notable exception of Bailey, a stoic and solid presence behind the stumps, who claimed a catch off Beardall and a stumping off Northwood.

The Oundle declaration came at 1615 with the 6th wicket. After 34 eventful overs the Brigands had been set a target of 267 to win.

Faced with sharp fielding and some demanding bowling, the Brigands top order struggled to create an enduring and productive presence at the crease. Opener Lovett-Turner was the most tenacious, sticking it out for 43 balls and 18 runs before falling LBW to Cook.

At 54 for 6 in the 17th over, the Brigands were firmly on the ropes and an ebulliently noisy and high spirited Oundle scented victory.

Cometh the hour, cometh the Brigands all-rounders – Wood and Beardall.

Much to Oundles increasing dismay and frustration, Messrs Wood (47) and Beardall (27) hadn’t bothered to read the Oundle script; against the odds and the flow of the game thus far, they dominated the crease, they defended with an iron will, they hit the loose balls, they found the gaps in the athletic cordon. As the overs went by, Oundle’s many appeals became cries of desperation as they saw victory slipping from their grasp. Only in the final over of the day were they able to remove Wood thus requiring Bath to play a cameo role facing out the last 5 balls.

For the Brigands on 136 for 7 it was a glorious against the odds draw. For Oundle Ramblers, a hard lesson in the art of declaration cricket.

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