After a week of blazing sunshine, including the hottest July day on record, all was set for a glorious day of cricket on a lightning fast track with the ball speeding to the boundary at regular intervals over a perfect outfield. And so it proved for the first 15 minutes or so until the traditional English rain dance known as cricket worked its usual magic. Out of nowhere the clouds appeared, rain fell, the pitch become muddy, and play was held up long enough for the addicts to enjoy a quick nicotine fix or two. Before that captain Springer had won the toss, elected to bat and sent out two opening batsmen at opposite extremes of their careers - the ancient warrior Wordsworth (your scribe for the day) and the youngster “Dan the man” Simpson. An opening stand of 76 ensued, with Dan contributing a robust jug avoiding 49 before deflecting a ball that must have been a yard wide of off stump on to his wicket as he attempted to crash it through the covers (forgive my reminiscences but what a fantastically improved player – a real joy to watch some of his stroke play from the other end). Unfortunately shortly afterwards skipper Jon failed to take into account the slowness of the wicket as he attempted to belt a slow long hop through the offside and was caught at cover while the bowler profusely apologized (several times and mainly as the ball was actually still on its way). Richard Simpson proved to be human after all in a short innings falling short of this season’s generally dizzy heights. In the first of a series of events Richard proved that a hangover is not the best preparation – even for even an afternoon’s cricket at MSCC. After a first ball struck sweetly to the sightscreen past the bowler he succumbed for a paultry 5. There was palpable relief among the Old Salopians, who clearly remembered their drubbing at his hands in previous encounters. Any relief was, however, short-lived. The next man in was Will Harris, a man whose approach to batting is probably best described as brutal; 10 minutes and 5 boundaries later the score had risen to 116 but Will was out and Middleton were still well short of posting a challenging score. However, on this occasion the middle order proved up to the challenge with contributions from Wordsworth (45), Randall (13), Cranston (13 not out) and even Selway (6 not out) taking us to a respectable declaration of 168 for 6.
An absolutely fabulous tea from the Cranston ladies (including a green cake celebrating Tim’s birthday the next day) followed. No one went hungry. Big vote of thanks all round.
The Salopian innings did not start auspiciously for MSCC. The slip cordon proved fallible on six occasions in total including 5 times during a first wicket partnership of 80 that threatened to undo us. Your scribe has to admit to shelling one in the slips (but paid a painful inguinal price) but pride of place goes to stand-in keeper Simmo who eventually finished with a heavily fined “5-for drops” behind the stumps. Still - there were all very difficult, Richard! And none of us would dream of giving you a hard time because after all you never say a bad word about any of us. In contrast, most of the outfielding was exemplary by MSCC standards with the odd exception (Sorry son, from Martin Randall). Simon Lee deserved a mention inn despatches on several occasions for selflessly placing his body/wrists, if not his hands in the firing line on numerous occasions (wear your scars with pride, Simon). Eventually the breakthrough was achieved, and thereafter a fairly steady fall of wickets ensue to ensure a close finish. A particularly accurate and hostile second spell from the-soon-to-be birthday boy Cranston (1-29) set things up nicely. As the final denouement approached the OS wicket-keeper, Wood, appeared to take a particular liking to Liam Randall’s straighter balls, planting him for 6 into the oak tree on 3 occasions. Just in time he perished to an unlikely diving catch by one of our elderly warriors in the deep (diving like a gazelle with 2 broken legs, and causing bilateral elbow scars that were worn with pride for the following week). A tense final over saw all results possible with the final OS score of 162-9 just about the best possible result for a grand Sunday afternoon’s cricket. Sellway was the pick of the bowlers with 3-29.