Writing this report on a horrible wet, rainy Monday after the visit of The Rainmen seems somehow appropriate. Thankfully the weather yesterday was perfect for a hard fought game of cricket that was just 7 overs away from resulting in a draw. In the end however, MSCC using every resource available pulled off a fine win.
Despite bad traffic congestion on the M40, The Rainmen were ready for the start of play. David Cole won the toss and decided to bat in sunny conditions on a track beautifully prepared as ever by Dr. Nick Thompson. David was joined by Jon Springer and the Captain and VC strode out to the middle determined to show rather than tell the team how the game should be played.
The Rainmen's pace man charged in from the cow field end and a testing medium pace bowler was treated with caution from the other end. Both openers took their duty to take the shine off the ball seriously. David survived a dropped catch early on during which the unlucky fielder managed to pull a muscle resulting in being replaced first by Simon Lee and then Jacob Ford-Langstaff later in the game as MSCC helped our opponents out.
Greg Pearce was playing his first match for MSCC in nearly two years and made an immediate impact when as umpire he gave David out LBW. A missed opportunity perhaps as Jon was joined by Nick Crossley and the two of them set about building a solid foundation. Jon bludgeoned two thirds of his runs in boundaries whilst Nick caressed the ball through the gaps running plenty of two's and three's with his triathlon training clearly paying off.
After Jon was out LBW for 40, Nick was joined by Mark Ford-Langstaff. 75 further runs were added before Nick trying one big shot too many was stumped for 78. A fine knock and I think I'm right in saying his highest score to date for MSCC. A small delay followed after a shout of "No ball" from Simmo who was umpiring at one end (in order to qualify for tea). He explained that with 3 men behind square he had no other option. One of them it turned out was the previously mentioned injured fielder who having been substituted was having a stroll around the ground and was no longer a participant!. Mark scored fluently and finished with a 6 and a 4 in successive balls after reaching his 50 before being called in by David for an early declaration. Greg Pearson finished 6 not out as MSCC closed on 184/3.
Tea was splendid. The sandwiches were crustless and the cakes home made. Tim House our resident hotelier in chief clearly works to a very high standard although he may not have relished pulling on his pads and keeping wicket after such a feast.
The Rainmen began their reply soon after and had the tricky task of negotiating the wily spin of Simon Lee and the prodigious swing of Olly Selway. One opener was soon dispatched, bowled through the gate for a duck by Olly. No's 1 and 4 followed soon afterwards, also to Olly and The Rainmen were on the brink at 15 for 3. After a second spell later in the match, Olly finished with splendid figures of 7-4-3-3.
After this horrible start The Rainmen knuckled down to play for the draw and the run rate virtually ground to a halt. Jacob Ford-Langstaff, one year on from his debut against the same opposition and enjoying a break from exam revision bowled six very tidy overs for only 8 runs. The pacy Darren Bartlett (9-4-14-0) couldn't find a way through either before the breakthrough came from Tim Cranston who had their No.3 and top scorer out for a painstaking 21, brilliantly caught at short leg by Simon who has made the position his own this season.
With plenty of time left to take the remaining wickets, the tactic of the day was to rotate the bowling attack. On several occasions wickets were taken and bowlers subsequently removed from the attack. Pearson, Ford-Langstaff Snr and Nick Crossley all turned their arms over with Nick taking an important wicket. The reintroduction of Simon Lee and Tim Cranston however accounted for the last 6 wickets. Jacob FL took a fine juggling catch off a steepler from Simon although this was the exception as 5 of the last 6 wickets were all bowled. The final wicket fell to Simon (picture by Richard Simpson) with a fine delivery under the gathering clouds. Tim finished with 3 for 9 off 5 overs and Simon 3 for 16 off 8. The Rainmen made 70 and were all out with 7 overs to go until close of play.
A fine game played in a great spirit and whisper it quietly, MSCC remain unbeaten in 2015.