Middleton Stoney 167 for 9 declared. Gloucestershire Gipsies 168 for 7. Lost by 3 wickets.
The Gipsies strolled about the countryside, possibly lost in the fog, before arriving in time for a late start. Our ground manager, Dr Nick Thompson, thus had extra time to remove some of the September dew from the outfield. I won the toss and we batted first.
Nick Moorman achieved a club record by becoming the only husband and father of those making the tea to have batted with three Simpsons in the same innings. Many thanks to Jenny and Leah for a great tea and to Nick for giving our innings stability.
The Simpson brothers came and went quickly. Dan was caught behind. So, in a sense, was Richard at number three although in spectacular fashion and behind long-off! Richard had reached fifty as if he were intent on having another go at his father’s club record individual score of 162 not out, which would also have brought him to a thousand runs for the season. 23 in one over from one of their opening bowlers, C Collinson, prompted bowling changes at both ends. Gloucestershire Gipsies’ slower bowlers, sporting Gloucestershire county senior XI kit, took control.
The turning-point was that catch, by the youngest player on the pitch, Milo Wills, off the bowling of John Belfield. It is rare for the bowler-fielder combination who dismiss Richard to have more years between their ages than Richard has runs. No, not in the season. That would have required Richard to have been caught Noah bowled Methuselah. But on 51, hitting the ball hard and high over long-off, he was caught by an overhead running dive which made Tom Daley’s London 2012 routine (backwards 2.5 somersault with 2.5 twists in the piked position) look straightforward.
So at 61 for 2, with Richard Simpson out for 51, it was time for our middle order to take on their spinners. Tim House was caught, Stevyn Jackson was bowled and Alex Silverman was comfortably run out so we were soon 72 for 5. When Wil Harris was caught, we were 84 for 6 and the Gipsies were through to our lower order. In came Mike Simpson at number eight and out eventually went Nick Moorman for 30. There was then a hiatus which led some to assume that our number nine was as late as the Gipsies.
Never fear, Sathya was here. Indeed, he had been doing a great job in charge of the scorebook until distracted by Wales beating Uruguay in the rugby world cup on the pavilion television. When he said he was just coming, we worried that he was waiting for the TMO to re-wind an incident a dozen times, but eventually he joined Mike Simpson in a classic partnership of 45 before they were both out for 25, victims of the Gipsies’ eighth bowler, A Thomas. Olly Selway and I added a few against their ninth bowler and we declared at tea on 167 for 9. The Gypsies had bowled 41 overs, with John Belfield taking 4 for 21 off 9.
Vigorous bell-ringing to signal the end of tea had no impact whatsoever as the tea and the rugby made the pavilion too enjoyable. The delayed re-start was therefore partly thanks to Jenny and Leah Moorman for the tea and to New Zealand and Argentina for the next rugby game on the television. So Gipsies only had two hours to get the runs and we only had two hours to bowl them out. We made up for lost time, however, by getting through our overs quickly and all results were still possible when we reached the last over, also our 41st. We only used six bowlers.
Three of the Gipsies hit sixes. One of them, C Collinson, hit six sixes, avenging that expensive over of his. Our opening bowlers removed their opening batsmen. One was bowled by Wil Harris whose fine spell was 6 overs, 1 for 15. The other was brilliantly caught by Mike Simpson at slip off the bowling of Olly Selway (1 for 35 off 9). Time stood still as Mike dived at full stretch to take a very sharp chance one handed yet still managed to look around to see if Michael Martin was taking a photo for the imminent picture-of-the-season competition. He wasn’t.
The next four batsmen all fell to Richard Simpson. One was bowled, one caught by Mike at slip, this time a high spinning ball, one was leg before wicket and the other was smartly stumped by Tim House. Mike Simpson and I had a brief go but the main combination was the leg spin of Richard Simpson and the off spin of Sathya Vadivale. The wicket in the latter’s excellent 11 overs, 1 for 25, came when Wil Harris took a brisk catch at mid-off. So long as Collinson was in, the Gipsies had the edge. He was well supported by Courtney who scored 25.
When Collinson was out for 74, we might have broken through but R Wills’s 31 not out meant that the Gipsies only needed four to win with two overs to go and three wickets in hand. By now there was a jolly crowd, including our club President Ian Davenport, watching the cricket rather than the rugby and a good atmosphere all round. Only one came from the penultimate over by Sathya. So a hat-trick from Richard would have been handy but the Gipsies made it with three balls to spare, Richard taking 4 for 62 off 9.3 overs. If we had all held our catches in the style of young Milo Wills, or indeed young Mike Simpson, Richard and Sathya would have pulled off an unlikely victory.
The Gipsies are among our favourite opponents, apart from their tendency in the depths of September to turn up late and then to beat us. They play the game in the right spirit. They bowl well, hit the ball hard and include some outstanding fielders. They had three Beers on the pitch, including captain Andy Beer, and many more beers in the pavilion. Congratulations to them.