Turville Park 200 all out (Richard Simpson 5 for 64). Middleton Stoney 203 for 4 (Richard Simpson 84, Mark Ford-Langstaff 81). MSCC won by 6 wickets
The first Middleton Stoney match report that I ever read was by Olly Selway aged 35¾.
It was written in the style of Adrian Mole. Now Olly is 40. The question was whether he would be playing cricket like Adrian Mole (and whether those of us whose role in that game in 2011 was rather under-reported by Olly would take revenge).
There was strong support from the MSCC committee for Oliver Selway, our Fixture Secretary. Dr Nick Thompson prepared the pitch, as ever. Di and Nick Thompson organised the annual team photo, as ever. Michael Simpson, Social Secretary, umpired for the start of the game. Simon Pettit, Treasurer, served behind the bar. Tim Cranston, Bar Manager, set a barbecue record. Mark Ford-Langstaff, Team Secretary, organised the excellent tea, bringing in professional expertise from Bicester & Oxford North CC. The club captain and vice-captain, David Cole and Jon Springer, both played. They asked me to write this report.
David Cole won the toss and put Turville Park into bat. They raced to 144 for 2 but our captain was unperturbed. His master-plan was both to win the game and to celebrate Olly Selway’s 40th birthday in style. Olly took the first wicket of the game, plumb lbw, given out by Umpire Simpson. He might have had another wicket caught but then he might have caught another himself.
The other opener played on to John Jackman for 27. Their top scorers at number 3 & 4 scored 73 and 34 respectively before managing to get bowled by me (an excellent quicker ball - ed). Just saying (because if Olly aged 35 ¾ had been writing this report, it would hardly have got mentioned). Michael Martin took a photo of the dismissal of Tim Wade, author of Village Idiots, An Australian Affair with English Cricket, for that 73. Then Richard Simpson took five wickets and Tim Cranston came back to take the other one, superbly caught at slip by David Cole. All afternoon he had been posting slips and gullies to ensnare the Turville Park top batsmen who had placed the ball expertly. As tea approached, only the captain was left in the slips but he covered all the positions on his own to take the sharpest of chances.
So the star of our bowling performance was Richard Simpson. One of his victims was caught and bowled, one was smartly stumped by Jon Springer, two were bowled and the final one was popped up for me to catch at silly mid-off. Richard particularly enjoyed getting the wicket of one opponent who had been backing up extravagantly when he was the non-striker. Richard did not agree with all the decisions of all the umpires along the way but he concealed it in a manner of which Adrian Mole would have been proud. Meanwhile, their umpires were chatting to us, mostly worrying about what might happen when Richard batted as he had scored an unbeaten century against them last year. Like many opposition teams, they think the Simpsons are ringers rather than true village cricketers. Well, they have been brought in from the next street.
Our fielding was not perfect. Some catches were dropped. Two collisions made the other sporting talking-point of the weekend, Sam Burgess’s tackle on Ian Madigan, look like Olly Selway’s slower ball &/or his birthday party. (That’s Olly Selway’s birthday party, not Sam Burgess’s, which might well be a more rumbunctious affair.) First, John Jackman and Dan Simpson got into the rugby union world cup spirit in the covers. Then a skier seemed perfectly placed between Mark Ford-Langstaff and Paul Wordsworth at mid-wicket but they each made so much ground that they almost caught it. Although then they opted for a rhythmic gymnastic or synchrionised swimming team display rather than a catch (No contact was made thank you - ed).
Actually, a feature of the game was aggressive ground fielding by Stevyn Jackson, Paul Wordsworth, Richard Simpson and superb diving by Tim Cranston. They all attacked the ball and threatened to run out Turville Park batsmen. But the best fielding of the day was by the youngest player on the pitch, one of two people sporting an Oxfordshire shirt. The other was Umpire Simpson. The Turville Park young cricketer threw down the stumps from 30 yards when Jackson and Ford-Langstaff went for a quick single (it was never in doubt! - ed). Umpire Cole might have given it for style, or to let birthday boy Olly have a bat, but ruled it just about not out.
When Dan Simpson and Mark Ford-Langstaff went out to bat, David Cole and I had gone out to umpire. So I saw close-up the accurate bowling (as opposed to when I was watching my own inaccurate bowling earlier). Turville Park’s captain opened with himself, a tactic not seen at Middleton Stoney since Greg Pearson’s last match as captain, when the ball had to be surgically removed from the skipper’s hand after a marathon spell. The Turville Park captain was a left-arm over bowler. Can we have one of those, please? (A left-arm opening bowler, that is, not a Turville Park captain.)
Dan departed swiftly but then Stevyn Jackson held the bowlers at bay while Mark Ford-Langstaff began to hit the ball hard, including hitting me as umpire (you saved 4 and should have been fined! - ed), and effortlessly striking a glorious straight six. At short-leg and silly mid-off earlier in the afternoon I had avoided some severe hitting by our opponents but at twenty-two yards I just couldn’t get out of the way of Mark’s Bothamesque shot.
John Jackman and Dan Simpson then umpired for the rest of the game so I had the chance to study the birthday party on the boundary for Olly Selway. This was our biggest crowd since the Sydney Cricket Ground T20. Never mind 40 or 35¾, several spectators were under 5¾ (years and feet). Not all of their parents appeared to grasp the danger of boundaries raining down on their children. I was particularly worried that Olly would be concentrating on his party rather than his cricket and would not be saved by senior Selways as a six attacked him from above and behind.
So once Stevyn had seen off the Turville Park openers, he was bowled for 16. Despite the crowd clamouring for Olly to come in next, the skipper thought he’d give Richard Simpson a bit of a game. He had only bowled 12.5 overs so was given a chance with the bat at number 4.
Not everyone knew the background to the partnership between Mark and Richard Simpson. At Britwell Salome, Richard at 158 not out was all set to break his father’s club record of 162 not out until Mark came in and hit four after four to win the game, leaving Richard stranded at the non-striker’s end.
So now Richard didn’t let Mark, who had every chance of a maiden century for MSCC, have the strike. Richard made sure he overtook Mark, who was out for 81, before he was prepared to get out on 84. These were two scintillating innings which meant that the daunting target of chasing 200 in two hours was accomplished with nine overs to spare.
It was only right, however, that if Richard wasn’t going to let Mark have a chance for his century, they should give way, a bit like Wayne Rooney being substituted to get the crowd’s applause and to leave another record for another day.
The crowd had been calling for our hero, Olly Selway, to be promoted. He went in at number five. He hit his first ball stylishly and was off the mark. I photographed the moment for posterity (and just in case he had been bowled). All was set for the perfect end to a 40 year-old’s birthday party with Olly to score the winning run when Jon Springer came out to bat and followed the Ford-Langstaff/Simpson script-spoiling approach of just smashing the ball himself for victory.
Still, the Olly fan club were pleased enough. The Selway largesse extended to a free barbecue (including free and delicious salad) and free drinks for all. The captain fined people freely and Olly freely thanked the party-goers. It was a generous day at the cricket, complementing Graeme Delaney’s 60th birthday tea earlier in the season, a kind of century partnership of its own to match the 120 put on by Richard and Mark and just topping the other highlight of the day, Turville Park’s third wicket stand of 93.
I think the only appearance of a cricket team in Olly’s favourite Adrian Mole books is when the club in charge of a bonfire night is described as ‘oafish’. In sharp contrast, this was a very civilised and mature occasion. Or, at least, Middleton Stoney CC is, on this evidence, very civilised and Olly is now very mature.