The 1st XI arrived to Butts Way bathed in sunshine on Saturday knowing that a first league win of the season was required; however, Banbury were going to provide a stern test. As the warm ups took place, despite the blisteringly hot temperatures and the high-paced game of football, it was the sight of Josh Smith winning the toss and electing to bat first that nearly gave half the Rowant team a heart attack.

Condon and Tolson strode out to the middle with purpose, poise and a picturesque backdrop and went about their usual business. ARCC got off to a strong start with Tolson exhibiting an array of majestic cover drives before eventually receiving a doom seed that rearranged the furniture. Banbury then tightened up and did a decent job of restricting the run-rate throughout the middle overs. Roussow, Smith and Watling all came and went for scores of twenty or so, some more fluent than others. Shockingly, the RSPCA had to be called during ARCC’s innings due to the shambolic zoo-keeping by Banbury’s gloveman, it was an absolute miracle he held on to a catch off Smith.  Meanwhile Condon brought up an impressive fifty and, in a week during which he had been prolific (on and off the field), a hundred was on the cards. Alas, a small brain explosion on 78 led to him being dismissed; leaving Coles and Bethell to take down the last 10 overs.

Thankfully Leo, despite having a body fluid content of 72% alcohol, swash-buckled effectively and produced more attempted reverse sweeps than Josh Smith in the whole of 2018 to bring up an impressive fifty. Alongside the destructive yet elegant Coles, the two of them put on an impressive sixth wicket partnership and took ARCC to a very respectable score of 277. Would it be enough on a flat one at Rowant?

Enter Wes Morrick. Yet to deliver the requisite number of poles with the pink ball – leading to many a meltdown on the fantasy league forums – the DoC ripped through Banbury’s top order. Arguably it was not a contest… This impressive spell was added to by some sharp fielding by Chris Watling-Smith, and some perspiration and gate-probing from an angry Whatman, and Banbury found themselves 50-5 who unlocked another gate, this time Banbury’s overseas player.  From there, Banbury had no way back into the game. Coles and Matthews bowled very tidily, and Matthews picked up 3 wickets either side of drinks to seal the fate of the game. Eventually, Banbury were dismissed for 174 in the 49th over, first win in the bag for the boys.

Such an impressive and clinical display had left the Fossils purring, the crowd delighted, and Banbury leaving with their tails between their legs. Song sung, team photo taken, beers flowing, the only thing that could add to the evening was some reassuringly expensive burgers served by the barbeque pro Whatman. The 1st XI are away at Slough this weekend and will take plenty of confidence from this game, as well as the comfort in knowing that they will spend their next Saturday perfectly equidistant from both London and Reading.

ARCC 1st XI vs Slough CC, Condon, Watling, Rossouw, Smith, Coles, Bethell, Morrick, Matthews, Barras, Whatman, Boulby

Sasha Barras