“And the winner was………I’ll let you, the reader, decide at the end!
Well, Saturday promised to be quite a day, the forecast suggested the weather was set fair, (Although there is some suggestion that the Meteorological Office had underplayed how cooling the strong breeze would be!) the pitch looked perfect, the bar was well stocked and a sumptuous spread & veritable feast was promised, and indeed, provided. Many at the Club were looking forward to this fixture, a new addition to the MSCC card, arising from the sadness surrounding the passing of Oscar Cole last summer, giving us a chance to welcome all DC’s old playing mates to MSCC and to offer a chance to remember Oscar and hopefully generate a sizeable contribution to the 'Thinking of Oscar' fund (http://thinkingofoscar.com/ ), oh, and to play a match too!
Come the scheduled start of 1.30, all was not quite ready, so we had a slight delay while Pagoda’s were erected and tables decorated. DC ‘won’ the toss and elected to bat first, which seemed a smart move as the MSCC side, albeit slightly depleted due to League commitments of some of the regulars, still had what most thought was a fair batting line up……..that was until Leigh’s very own version of Jimmy Anderson (Alex Smith) opened the bowling and he struck in quick and decisive fashion taking out MSCC’s first 3 wickets (all bowled), including a first-baller for Nick Crossley reducing the home team to 15 for 3! There were mutterings about preparations for a beer match is it looked like being a very short game/ long bar session. Leigh had, however, not counted on the resilience of Jon Springer, who set out to try to hold things together and build a respectable score, he was helped in this by Tim Cranston, and then Darren Bartlett. Sadly, just as Darren had begun to look settled and start to push the score along, Darren pulled up with a muscle tear / strain and a runner was called to assist, Olly Selway (eager to get a further look at the bowling sprinted in to ‘run’ for Darren). The runs slowly gathered until Darren was bowled. This brought Olly back to the crease, saving himself a long trek out & back (The eagle eyed sticklers for the Rules of the Game, will have noted here that technically Olly should not have been Darren’s runner as he had not already batted……but all were so consumed with despondency and it was agreed in a gentlemanly fashion that only Olly was in a position to do this, in a nod to the ‘Spirit of the Game’). Olly proved a reliable foil for Jon Springer and together they set about restoring some pride for MSCC. They batted well and combined to build a good partnership, Olly finally perishing for a valuable 16 runs. Jon went on to a masterly 82, ably supported by Sathya (32) and George Williams who ended up 12 not out and showed further signs of maturity and promise for the future of the Club. Tea was taken at 4.15 (as had been pre-agreed) but in a break with tradition (ouch!), MSCC did not declare, seeking a further 3 overs to build a score that might offer some challenge to Leigh.
All sat down to one of the largest tea spreads seen at MSCC in many a year, with a fine array of delicious sandwiches, fantastic quiches, and beautifully home baked cakes & scones and much more – all our thanks to the Tea ‘team’ behind this!
MSCC re-took the field to push the score along, taking advantage of the fact that the fielders had all eaten plenty of the fine tea, a respectable 171 for 9 lead to a declaration. Alex Smith was the pick of the bowlers with a 4 for 17. Following a quick change round, the run chase started. DC opted to open with Tim Cranston & Simon Pettit, Tim started the innings in stunning fashion with a first ball wicket and continued to bowl well and was rewarded with a further wicket, but all this did was bring out Alex Smith at #4, who began to show that his batting was on a similar level to his bowling and having fended off a couple of decent yorkers, he started to build his innings with careful play interspersed with some ruthless, powerful hitting. Sathya and George Williams came on to bowl and did so very well, combining to take a further 4 wickets between them. Indeed, George probably conjured up the ball of the season so far, with one which Harrington J left only for it to seem and clip the top of off! It seemed MSCC’s best chance would be to try to get everyone else but Alex Smith out! Try as they might, fielders seemed unable (or was it unwilling?) to hold the catching practice Alex offered, 3 chances were spurned before finally, Jon Springer held on to one off the bowling of Sathya and Alex Smith was out for a superb 72. This brought Harrington(B) & Martin together with the score on 117 for 8 and a real prospect of a win for MSCC. Together, these two gentlemen played sensibly around some tight bowling, taking chances to score when they came and with a notional one over to go, Leigh needed 24 runs & MSCC required 3 wickets. In a further break with tradition (yay!) and yet another ‘nod’ to ‘the Spirit of the Game’, it was agreed between captains that a further 3 overs would be bowled (to compensate for the earlier, cheeky extension of MSCC innings after tea)! Despite valiant efforts, Leigh fell 4 runs short, so the match ended a gentlemanly draw, played in the right fashion. All that left was beers, more beers a superb curry buffet and some awards, two well earned Man of the Match prizes went to Jon Springer and Alex Smith, and the Oscar Cole Cup will be shared by both MSCC and Leigh CC, with a return fixture scheduled next year at Leigh!
Now, to end the Report there, would do little justice to (i) the amazing Curry [thanks to the Vadivale family] and (ii) the Charity Auction, which in truth was the real attraction of day, not only for the fantastic array of Lots on offer, but the opportunity to witness our Club’s very own superstar, Charlie Ross work his magic, and boy did he do that, Charlie worked tirelessly for over an hour and a half to entertain and boost the bidding, such that over £9,500 was generated for the Thinking of Oscar campaign from the generous, if somewhat manic, auction bidding in the cool of the evening.
What a great day for all, and as for the winner………..you decide!”