A sunny afternoon greeted us when most arrived on time for what would pan out to be a battle of epic proportion. With Middleton Stoney fielding 3 family pairs (Ford-Langstaff and Ford-Langstaff Jr as well as a pair of Simpsons and, for the first time this season a pair of Cranstons) there was more than a little pride at stake.
Our skipper for the day, Simon Lee, won the toss and elected to bowl, after some deliberation with his team. Middleton launched an attack opening with the Cranston pair. Tim being given an early lesson by his younger brother when Pete dismissed their opener for 1 with a superb ball that was plumb LBW.
Tim did not hang around with his response quickly dismissing the new batsman, Adnam Mohammad for 7, a cracking catch from Tim House. Somewhat of a family battle was starting, calls for the loser to buy a jug. Books open and banter in full flow.
Pete's second wicket was spectacular. That's all - the memory of events has faded but please do remind us all in the comments!
Pete was replaced by Olly Selway who rained a barrage of away swingers at Jesters, creating opportunity a plenty, it wasn’t long until one stuck, a brilliant catch in the slips from Richard Simpson (some would say he stole it from Mark…). Jesters were now on the back foot having lost some crucial early wickets. Alex “The General” had stepped in at 3 and started at a gentle pace, however his confidence was growing as the MSCC bowling was tiring, a dangerous combination. A sterling performance of 75 not out was the saving grace against an otherwise successful Middleton attack. Harris with 1 for 18 off 4, Simpson 1 for 24 off 8 and Ford-Langstaff Jnr narrowly missing out on a wicket with 29 off 4.
T.Cranston returned to the square for a final volley, 1 wicket behind the younger brother with the mist descending. Most will tell you he didn’t take a wicket, officially it isn’t against his bowling, but a fantastic ball, blocked and greeted with a hasty call of “YES”, the only mistake “The General” had made all day and one that didn’t cost him his innings… Tim must have been wearing winged boots, a charge at the ball, left hand flick and the bails are on the floor, batsman on his way in. A cracking run out from Tim.
Middleton dismissed the visitors shortly before tea with 136 all out.
With confidence, we stepped in to bat. Jackson and D.Simpson stepped up as our first line of attack, unfortunately the Jesters’ guns were larger than expected and Jackson was dismissed for 0. In walks Tim House, who has of late been a rock in the batting game, a great start was cut short by a swift in-swinger that more resembled a boomerang than a cricket ball which struck his pads and that, according to the umpire, was that. Up stepped Ford-Langstaff Snr, a solid start and the beginings of what looked to be a strong partnership. Without warning D.Simpson, who had been batting well, was out foxed by the pacey opener, Bowled for 8. My turn! Harris steps up, confident as ever but forgetting not to swing his bat like a golf club, a lucky two and then the inevitable, off stump no longer in the ground and the long, slow walk back to the changing rooms.
A tide turned in the game when R.Simpson stepped out ready to batter the opposition into mercy. Mark was holding steady with 20 something until, as per the rest of us he was out caught on the boundary. In walks Ford-Langstaff Jnr, ready to show his father (and everyone else who batted before him for that matter) how it was done. A superb effort indeed. Facing a mix of pace and spin Jacob batted with elegance, picking up difficult singles and keeping the artillery of Simpson on the attack.
Unfortunately at this point the Jesters pulled off some psychological warfare. Richard threw everything at Jesters but also out of his pram.He knocked balls for 4, 6, 4 but with an air of frustration at their defensive field-placings, Simpson ran up the crease to greet the incoming grenade but missed and Middleton lost their 5th wicket, stumped.
Jacob must have taken some inspiration from Richard’s aggression as a few balls later he opened his shoulders, connected with the ball and found himself caught. Middleton 96 for 6.
Our previous confidence at the 137 we needed to win was still high, with what seemed to be an entire evening left to bat, 3 wickets in hand and 41 to achieve, victory was in the air. The following overs went some way to denting this confidence, 2 further wickets fell. T. Cranston for 0 and O.Selway for 3.
We were down to our last 2, at one end Peter Cranston, fighting to prove who in the family was the cricketer and the Skipper, Simon Lee, batting as the opening bowler returned. Tense times, now 11 to win, more overs than we need but only 1 wicket. A four!! Well played, Peter Cranston. 2 More! excellent work Professor Lee (byes)… 5 to win… 4 byes! A wayward pacey bowl down the leg, shrewdly left by Simon and we are there, 136 – 9, 2 overs left, scores level, only one run needed…. Peter Cranston facing, bowler approaches, a good length, a swing of the bat…. Hearts in mouth, had we done it, did we win the war?! Unfortunately not. A cracking ball indeed, bails in the air, wicket keeper in the air, in fact almost every Jesters player airborne for more time than seems humanly possible, they had done it, dug deep and taken the final wicket. Adnan Mohammad finishing with 6/34 with his quick fire twirlers. Not often do we see a tie, a frustrating result for the home side who were so close to victory, none the less another great battle which will surely grace the pages of the Jesters’/MSCC history books for many years to come.
Thank you to the Jesters, a thoroughly good game of cricket, next year we are aiming to beat you!