After a COVID-19 enforced hiatus in 2020 it was great that Old Bedfordian cricket could return in 2021 and the Club managed to get out some strong sides with a wide-spread of ages. Lots of recent leavers made their OB debuts, which was great to see and that bodes very well for the future.
No fewer than 32 players, plus our indomitable scorer Peter Rowe (03-08), turned out across four games in the Cricketer Cup and during OB Cricket Week.
Unfortunately, our season began with a defeat in the first round of the Cricketer Cup to a strong Malvern side. We did well to keep them to 255/8 on a quick-scoring ground thanks to four wickets for Alex Rennie (10-19). Despite 55 from Christian Davis (00-11) our batting never really got going and we were all out for 160. Malvern are expected to go a long way in the competition and hopefully, in 2022, a more favourable draw will play into our hands.
The MCC game was sadly lost to the weather on the opening day of Cricket Week but we secured a comfortable victory against the Ousels side on the Wednesday with Tim Graham (08-13) scoring 50. There was also a lovely opportunity for the OBs and Staff to celebrate Tim Machin’s 50th season of coaching cricket at the School, a remarkable achievement from a man that many OB cricketers remember fondly.
With the sun shining over the school grounds on the Friday, the OB 1st XI, led by Rahul Sheemar (12-19), won the toss and elected to bat first (the skipper tried, and failed, to get an uncontested toss!)
The side, comprised of many recent leavers, got off to a great start thanks to quick runs from Harry Gouldstone (12-19) (27), Tom Blythman (08-19) (23), Michael Wells (13-20) (32) and Gus Miller (15-20) (22). Once the top four were dismissed, however, the game seemed to be more balanced, with the OB XI poised on 120-4 and plenty of overs remaining.
Thankfully, Shiv Patel (04-15) (130) and Rich Wharton (05-10) (68*) made the most of the remaining overs, producing an excellent partnership which propelled the team to 299-5. Their fantastic display of ball-striking, coupled with some lower order hitting, meant that the OBs finished the innings on 336-8.
After a brief lunch break, the OBs took the field and managed to pick up some early wickets, leaving the School 55-3. The boys fought back though, mainly thanks to a brilliant innings from Archie Houghton (78) which saw the ball race away to all parts of the ground.
Houghton was eventually caught at short-fine leg and the rest of the wickets fell at regular intervals, eventually leading the School to finish 259 all out. Shaylen Tomlinson-Patel (07-17) was the pick of the bowlers for the OBs, claiming five wickets.
All in all, it was a wonderful day of runs and wickets, which ended in a fairly comprehensive victory for the OBs.
Up on the 2nd XI square there was less success for the OB side but it remained a great occasion. Somehow, the OB Side had a plethora of swing and seam bowlers – a first for the OBs and they looked a touch light in the batting department.
The OBs started well with Ross Denton (11-19) representing the new breed of OB cricketers with an exhilarating 52. He was ably supported by Jeremy Woodrow (83-93), an OB of slightly greater vintage who was wearing the pads he had at school and which were purchased well before most people playing were born! ‘Woody’ was going well for his 22 but his dismissal marked the start of a downhill slope for the OBs who succumbed to the spin of Hassan to be well short of par on 150.
Despite some genuinely good bowling from the OB seamers, the School 2nd XI batted very well to chase the target with ease. All of the bowlers found some swing and bowled tidily but to no avail. A special mention should go to the School’s George Mansell who played truly extraordinary innings that summed up his T20 talents – he finished the match with a towering reverse pull for six – one of many fine shots.
That left the OB record for the 2021 season as played four, won two, and lost two – a very fair reflection of the performances.
It was brilliant to see the OBs back in action this summer and the Club’s thanks go to all those who made the effort to play in some very enjoyable games. Special thanks must go to George Wood (83-94), Rahul Sheemar, Harry Beard (13-18) and Harry Aitkenhead (06-12) for their help in organising everything.