A day with weather that promised little turned into a pleasant afternoon’s cricket for our annual fixture against Steeple Aston CC. This came as quite a relief to those of us more athletically inclined who have come to regard cricket as a form of organised loafing with sunbathing opportunities.
Captain Simon Lee contrived to lose the toss, cleverly leaving us the option to bat. So bat we did.
In a daringly original twist of strategy, Richard Simpson strode out to open proceedings with his hallmark wide, open stance. (A sort of cricketing equivalent to ‘Yeah? Who you looking at?’)
Thankfully Richard had all his cannons fully charged that day and wasted little time in starting to amass a stockpile of runs, hitting 72 off 61 balls in the end (assuming the score book is accurate and that I wasn’t left with that responsibility myself at any point).
He was ably supported by Tim House (great to have you back by the way, Tim) playing the role of Robin to Richard’s Batman.
“Holy Batsman, Batman! What a shot!” Tim didn’t exclaim at one point.
Paying no heed to the villainous bowling attack, Tim himself went on to score 23 before being caught out, all while keeping his underpants on the conventional side of his cricketing slacks, thus proving you don’t need a dodgy dress sense to be a super hero.
Looking for a new running mate, Richard turned to rest of the family. Unfortunately, batting was not to be a whole family event. Daniel came and went without troubling the scorers at all with the 9 balls he faced before being caught. Father, Mike, scored a single before providing an easy catch to the off-side.
(‘Where’s Denise when you need her?’ was one unvocalised thought from the players’ benches.)
Fortunately, salvation was found in the form of Wil Harris who appeared on the square with his new bat, just out of the plastic from TrySports. Wil was obviously confident that a great, big, fat bat meant a great, big, fat innings…and we weren’t too disappointed as he set about smashing 31 off about as many balls.
Sadly that was about it as far as the batting talent stretched. Danny Clark managed 9, and Simon Lee a useful, last-minute 11 not out at number 11; all of which looked quite good in the context of the slew of 0s and 1s from Pettit, Selway and a father and son combo from Family Morris. (What is the plural of Morris anyway? Morrises? Morrisi? Morrissey?)
To be fair, it was young Jack's first official game for the club and, batting at number 10, his last wicket partnership proved invaluable. In lasting 9 balls, he surpassed the achievements of 5 others on our team that day, so this should be considered the beginning of a career that promises to be long and successful. At least, it should if he doesn’t succumb to the bright lights and empty promises of Baseball with his on-going exposure to American culture. (Who said ‘oxymoron’ just now? Step forward….)
All this excitement took us on to a mighty 148 - a total not so great as to inspire any particular confidence in its defence – and an early tea.
Tea was a particularly gorgeous affair even by MSCC standards and provided in its entirety by the Morris family.
About this, Simon Lee claims it is the first time in over 200 years that the same family has provided two players for the same game from different generations and different sides of the Atlantic while also involving three generations in providing a Middleton Stoney tea.
Although there’s no empirical evidence for this – not being the sort of thing that goes in the score book - the author feels this must be true. So well done Family Morris on this historical first, and such a gourmet affair. Well done also, Richard Morris, on his wicket-keeping, taking three catches having flown in from America.
After the Morris tea, Selway and Danny Clark opened the bowling and did a good job of keeping the run rate down. Danny struck early and removed the openers from the equation. This brought Steeple’s strongest batsmen to the crease and suddenly the run rate started to accelerate. Mike Simpson removed the batsman at the other end, only for him to be replaced with another super secure, fast-scoring batsman whom both he and his younger son Richard struggled to dislodge. When I say ‘removed’, Mike bowled a ball that was rightly hit so hard it would have bruised the pavilion had Wil Harris not intercepted it to sacrifice his hands in taking an astonishing catch.
By this point it was beginning to look like the writing was on the wall. Steeple had plenty of overs in hand and plenty of spare batsman while streaking towards their eminently ‘get-able’ total.
Our captain rang the changes (without bowling himself). Finally, it was your humble author who took the ball for another spell and dismissed the aggressive left hander with a big in-swinger that snuck between bat and pad. Even when another hard-hitter was dismissed from the field in a similar manner a few overs later, it still seemed impossible we could defend our position.
However Danny Clark then struck again, twice, giving us a glimmer of hope.
A few overs later, it was Simon Pettit’s contribution that closed the gap, taking the last three wickets for only a handful of runs, including a number 8 (Mr Yellow Hat) who had given us big headaches in the past.
When just one boundary would have altered the result, Simon took the last wicket. Steeple Aston were all out for 144, to give us a victory by 4 runs. Our opponents must have been as disappointed as we were elated.
I love it when a plan comes together, as Hannibal once said.