Middleton Stoney CC beat Sydney Cricket Ground by nine wickets. SCG 110 for 8 (20 overs), MSCC 111 for 1 (16 overs).
Sydney Cricket Ground arrived at 4.45 for a 6 o’clock start, as opposed to Dan Simpson who dashed from work and arrived at 6.05, too late for that 6 o’clock start. SCG wanted to know whether they were batting or bowling as soon as possible so they won the toss at 5pm and chose to bat. Perhaps they had different warm-up routines depending on whether they were batting or bowling. They certainly looked impressive in the outfield, going through their exercises.
Photos of the two teams, minus Dan Simpson, were taken at 5.55pm. Their captain, Richard Burton, and vice-captain, Philip Booth, strode out to bat and hit several boundaries. Then Philip was hit in the helmet by James Mitchell. It wasn’t that he was deceived by the bounce, there not being any. But Philip was eventually able to get up and continue. We apologised, let James bowl the last ball of his spell, the head high full toss having been a no-ball, and switched at the end of that sixth over to Mike Simpson and Paul Wordsworth. At this stage, Sydney Cricket Ground were 38 for 0. Tim Cranston had bowled well and James Mitchell had bowled well apart from the occasional beamer. But Richard Burton and Philip Booth had batted beautifully.
The first wicket fell in the eight over, Paul Wordsworth’s first. Top scorer Richard Burton was out leg before wicket for 25. Peter Van der Kerkhof, club chairman and in this case umpire, nodded as he weighed up his decision, which gave some clue as to his thinking. In the next over Philip Booth, a left-handed batsman, played on to off-spinner Mike Simpson for 20 and the game changed. Cameron Wheatley fell to these two in combination, Paul Wordsworth taking a sharp slip catch off Mike Simpson’s bowling. Richard Simpson and Tim House combined to run out Richard Sheargold and later combined for Julian Hockings to be stumped House bowled Simpson R. By then our third pair of bowlers had also taken the wickets of Brett Penprase, bowled by Richard Simpson’s first ball, and Michael Regan, superbly caught in a dive at the end of a run by James Mitchell, off the bowling of Olly Ross. Off the last ball of their twenty overs, Tim Cranston also took a nice catch, less theatrically, for Richard Simpson’s third wicket to dismiss Harley Oliver, leaving Rod Walker as Sydney’s third top scorer on 17 not out.
Opinions differed on whether the Sheargold 6 off Paul Wordsworth or the Walker 6 off Richard Simpson was the shot of the innings, or any of the skipper’s cover drives for 4. Opinions differed on whether the umpires and I should have removed James Mitchell from the attack at least a ball earlier than I did, as would have happened in a Test match - although imagining James bowling like that in a Test match made it a moot point. Where there was agreement was that this was a fine fielding performance by Middleton Stoney. It was helped by Olly Ross sweeping the boundary at high speed but the whole team were sharp on the ground and only one or two of us failed to snap up half chances in the air. Restricting Sydney to 110 was a tribute to the whole team. Meanwhile, serving 110 pints of beer during their innings was down to one man, the heroic Simon Pettit, Club Treasurer, who gave up his place in the side to give bar duties the priority and a niggling injury a rest. Although the latter was hardly relevant when so many of the players were limping, none more so than captain Richard Burton who could not take the field for our innings.
Philip Booth took charge and matched us in using six bowlers. Whereas we had taken eight wickets, however, we lost only one, to opening bowler John Dunk who clean bowled Dan Simpson for 16. We had been way behind the Sydney opening run ran rate after four tight overs but Dan had just hit three 4s and Joe Moorman was calmly taking the measure of the Sydney attack. Tim House came in at number three and, as his wont these days, hit a quick-fire forty-something not out. Joe accelerated and we reached 111 for 1 in the sixteenth over, with Joe not out 40 and Tim not out 46. There was some speculation that our 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 left in the pavilion were the most powerful middle order in more than two centuries of cricket at Middleton Stoney. At least, that might have been the view of Wil Harris, Olly Ross, Richard Simpson, Mike Simpson and Paul Wordsworth. Actually, they weren’t in the pavilion but were outside with our largest crowd in two centuries. Some of the crowd, and some of that middle order, were getting larger even during our innings as the Pettit-inspired fish and chips were being served from the van which many would like to see at more games.
Richard Burton gave a gracious speech, showering awards on Tim House as, in the judgment of the opposition, our man of the match. Club chairman Peter VDK made presentations on our behalf. I fined James Mitchell who volunteered a five pound note for his single misdemeanour. Well, it was more of a felony. And a good evening was had by all. Our Melbourne visitors in 2013 had murdered a tour song but Sydney spared us that, much to the regret of those who noticed that the Middleton Stoney CC choir stalwarts of Charlie Ross, Paul Wordsworth and George Lamb were all in attendance and who wanted the excuse to reciprocate with a medley of greatest hits.
Talking of which, the stroke-play of all three of our batsmen was impressive. Joe Moorman had possibly been advised by his father and grandfather, both of whom were watching, to keep the ball on the ground, which he did to great effect. But Tim House had no such inhibitions and his straight six might well have swung that man of the match award. Wil Harris, who would have been the next man in, is so keen to bat against Sydney Cricket Ground that he is already talking of organising a tour to Australia for a return match.
Paula Booth, the outstanding tour manager, John Johnston the match manager who fittingly bowled the last over of the day, Narelle Johnston the first class scorer and Karl Wentzel, a most gracious umpire, together with the Sydney supporters, all contributed to a superb game. It was a privilege for me to be captain for the day and to participate in a game played in the right spirit, in the spectacular setting of our Middleton Stoney ground and their Sydney Cricket ground blazers. The blazers trailed, for once, but even though we won this game and England also beat the Australians in the women’s Ashes game this week, the Sydney Cricket Ground tourists claim they are here to watch the men’s Ashes and are themselves playing the MCC at Lord’s on Monday. We await the match report of that encounter (as we await the match reports of several of our own games from earlier in the season – just saying) to see if that team and ground can give the Sydney tourists such a feast of bowling, fielding, batting, beer and beer-battered fish and chips.