Club News

MSCC v Britwell Salome CC

This was our first away game of the season. Nine of our team found Britwell Salome in plenty of time. The other eight watched me lose the toss and were not surprised on a hot afternoon to hear the Britwell Salome captain say they would bat first. They were delighted, however, to hear him explain that they no longer had the local rule banning sixes. The neighbour who had objected to the ball threatening her garden has sold her house. The netting was still there, thankfully, but we were now free to hit sixes.

Our Fixture Secretary, Olly Selway, found the ground just before the match started. Our wicket-keeper, Stevyn Jackson, didn’t. Richard Simpson volunteered to be our stand-in keeper for the first few overs while Stevyn decided whether to search for his car number-plate, missing in action in the Oxfordshire countryside. James Mitchell and Olly Selway bowled well but their openers scored freely. With a very short boundary on one side and a fast outfield all around the ground, they raced to a century partnership. By now, Richard Simpson was bowling in his faster style and Danny Clark was bowling in his slower style. Jacob Ford-Langstaff followed suit with his faster bowling and then came Mike Simpson. 8 overs and 1 maiden later, Mike had taken 1 for 13. With two boundaries in his third over, his other 46 balls had yielded only 5 runs. His breakthrough wicket required a little help from James Mitchell at backward square leg who ran at high speed and dived to take a superb catch - unlike myself, since if I had held a simpler catch, Mike’s figures would have been even better.

While not able to match Mike’s economy or wicket-taking, my own spell of 4 overs, 1 maiden, 0 for 10 meant I was the only one of 13 bowlers in the two innings not to concede a boundary, thanks to some fine fielding. At risk of losing that honour, I brought back Richard Simpson to replace me, on condition that he bowled his spinners. His first delivery in this second spell was reminiscent of Shane Warne’s first ball in Ashes Test cricket, the one which bowled Mike Gatting. So now the two openers had been prised out by two of our three Simpsons, N Joyner for 53 and H Kurshi for 48. Richard Simpson took 1 for 32 off 8 overs. Danny Clark took two wickets in his second spell and would have had three if I had held another simple catch. Or four if Mike Simpson had taken a skier. Our keeper was more stumped than stumping. So Danny made sure of his wickets by bowling one and catching the other himself, taking 2 for 28 off 9 overs.

Meanwhile, Jacob Ford-Langstaff showed that Richard Simpson wasn’t the only one to secure a second spell by offering to bowl in a different mode. His first over of leg-breaks was a maiden. This praise of maidens is deserved because the boundary on one side was shorter than some run-ups. Jacob’s last ball was a well-deserved wicket, an accomplished caught and bowled. He took 1 for 44 off 6 overs. Jacob also fielded well, as did everybody apart from me. It was now time to bring back our opening bowlers, whereupon a few more boundaries led Britwell Salome to declare at 201 for 5 after two and a half hours and 45 overs. Olly Selway wondered whether he would get more overs if he too offered to bowl later spells at a different pace. But his infamous slower ball means he already incorporates the variations into his standard over. Sunglasses were thought by some to help, since both Richard Simpson and Jacob Ford-Langstaff like to sport them. Or just being a Gary Sobers-esque all-rounder.

It took us only 18.3 overs and 84 minutes to win with 204 for 1. Richard and Dan Simpson opened. Stevyn Jackson, due to bat at number 4, was confident enough to drive out into the Oxfordshire countryside to find both his number plate and his way back. As it turned out, Stevyn Jackson, Jay Mumtaz and our bowlers were denied a chance to bat.

Mike Simpson and I were umpiring. In the first over, my illustrious colleague called a no ball and warned Britwell Salome’s opening bowler for a high beamer. The opposition called Umpire Simpson, and I quote, ‘officious’. They also called him several things which I will not quote. The atmosphere soured somewhat. They took off their opening bowler. Then the bowler at my end developed a side strain during the first delivery of his second over which was completed by the original opening bowler, now running in past a more relaxed {or ‘lax’, according to Simpson Senior} umpire, namely myself.  

Richard Simpson reached his century before Dan Simpson was out, caught behind, for 24. The young Simpsons’ opening partnership of 159 in 73 minutes was not, according to Umpire Simpson The Elder, anything like a club record. But Mike was becoming increasingly anxious about his own club record for an individual innings of 162 not out. Instead of talking about the law on head high deliveries, he was now heard to be emphasising the chanceless nature of his own 162 (always followed by the magical Simpson phrase ‘not out’) as compared to the two or three occasions on which one of Richard’s full-blooded hits might have been caught, if Colin Bland had been playing for Britwell Salome and if the boundary had been taken twice or thrice as far out.

We needed 43 to win when Mark Ford-Langstaff came out to bat at number three. He might have been caught behind first ball off one that kept extremely low from Britwell Salome’s outstanding and sharp-paced bowler, but instead nicked and notched a four. No run came from the last ball of that over.

The meticulous scorer, Danny Clark, and increasingly animated team-mates on the pavilion’s verandah were monitoring closely Richard’s chances of moving Mike’s record to the younger Simpson generation. His 44 ball hundred can be studied in the score-book. He would have to get almost all the remaining runs. The first ball of the next over was signalled a wide by me, principally because even Richard could not reach it, despite eagerly chasing a very slow delivery. He then hit 4, 6, 6, 4, 6 and 6 to give us 33 off the over. Records were tumbling. One of Britwell Salome’s bowlers had bowled three overs, 0 for 60, another bowled two overs, 0 for 46. The record for a ball being lost the longest distance beyond a boundary fell to Richard in this over.

So we needed five to win. Richard needed five for the record. Even if Mark hit a four, Richard could make it with a six. Richard had already hit twelve sixes.

The batsmen conferred. Mark stroked the first ball of the next over for a fine four through the off-side, the one with the long boundary. The batsmen conferred again. The umpire at the bowler’s end might well have conferred. A dot ball followed. Three more like that and Richard could try for another six. Mark pondered the amount of time he had been waiting to bat, and the fact that poor Stevyn and Jay had not even made it to the crease. Mind you, Stevyn hadn’t made it to the match on time. And Jay had batted at length on Thursday. All this must have been racing around the Ford-Langstaff senior brain. As might the possibility that one day Ford-Langstaff junior could be in sight of a Ford-Langstaff senior record.

Mark duly hit the next ball through the covers for another sumptuous four and Richard Simpson was left stranded on 158 not out, one six short of beating his father’s club record score. Some people were muttering that Britwell Salome did not clap in Richard. Others thought that was because he was taking so long to make it back to the pavilion on a lap of honour while they wanted a drink. Some were saying that 158 not out off 67 balls was not bad, even if it was not a record. Danny The Scorer said that Richard was not even the fastest scorer in our innings, that honour going to Mark Ford-Langstaff for his cameo 12 not out off 5 balls. 


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