Although the club was victorious against itself on the prior weekend, the Buccaneers entered the final encounter of the season in need of a win.
They arrived at the delightful setting of Warborough & Shillingford, all the more attractive for the dry and balmy conditions, with a team bristling with talent. The senior pros bristled at the news that the captain had won the toss and elected to field; an act seldom performed in the long and illustrious history of the Buccaneers. Messrs Tom Grundy and Archie Walker opened with venom and hostility on a pitch with variable bounce, causing problems for batsmen and wicketkeeper alike.
Extras made a steady start while runs off the bat were harder to come by. Archie Walker struck early and the home side stumbled to 37-3. The captain turned to spin and Simon Leefe and Archie March twirled away at each end, taking two wickets a-piece. A full toss drilled to Neil Robertson was pouched bravely, but at some cost: this was not the first time he has needed the first aid kit at this ground.
To add insult to the injury he took a second smart catch with his nine healthy digits but it was rightly called no-ball. After a delicious lunch taken under the trees, the sort of lunch that deserves its own report, and after the port had been drained, the match resumed for the afternoon session. A quick-fire 77 from Johnnie Bradshaw, skillfully marshalling the tail, and a useful contribution from extras (a few runs short of its own half century) took the home side to 203 before the captain wrapped up the innings. Five bowlers had taken two wickets each in the 53.4 over innings.
The batsmen were not to be so sharing. With a required run-rate of around a run a ball, from an available 37 overs, the opening pair of Vic Kandampully and Tom Fletcher started rapidly, finding all corners of the ground with sumptuous shot-selection. Kandampully was well caught on 29 from 27 balls before Ollie Robertson shored up one end against the sharply turning ball. When he fell Simon Leefe joined Tom Fletcher, who had brought up his first fifty for the club.
A missed stumping when on 70 proved to be the final hope for the home side: the run rate was gradually bought down and the game was brought home with 3.5 overs to spare. Tom Fletcher was not out on Nelson, from 103 balls, ably supported by the impossible-to-dislodge Simon Leefe who scored a fluent 35 from 42 balls. For him it was the second successful run-chase in successive weeks, and brought the Buccs’ season to close with a victory. The teams retired to the Six Bells and Tom Fletcher, with jug in hand and maiden century in the locker, was the toast of the day.
Scoresheet can be found here