MSCC 177 all out.
Jesters win by 5 wickets
Following a closely fought tie last year, the scribe concluded his Report thus: “Thank you to the Jesters, a thoroughly good game of cricket, next year we are aiming to beat you!”.
The return game started well, the Skipper had chosen wisely, MSCC line up looked strong, with a good mix of batting and bowling….that was on Thursday….by Saturday, after withdrawals, the team had a slightly different shape to it, including a debut for another of Jason’s introductions, Howard Lancaster. [Note: Howard’s pre-match ‘trial’ was to share the minibus with 15 of us to Edgbaston the previous Friday, which he passed with flying colours].
The weather was set fair, the outfield dry & short and the pitch had a noticeable green tinge to it (excellent work, Dr Nick!) and Middleton were set to bat first. Our openers looked keen, both having recently scored heavily, Joe Moorman on the back of an excellent 120+ on Saturday. A rousing opening few overs from Richard Simpson & a slightly more circumspect Joe saw the score tick over nicely, there seemed little in the pitch (Maybe the result of the impact of Dr Nick’s new toy, a motorised roller…..?) to worry the batters. Then an unusual edge from Richard carried to a Jesters fielder and we were 1 down, Chris Nourse joined Joe and together they started to push the score along. Jesters skipper summoned DJ Chak into the attack and a good move it proved, DJ toiled for 13 overs unchanged and he made inroads into the Middleton line up. Chris opted to play around a straight delivery and was adjudged leg before. This brought another recent centurion to the crease, Danny Clark. Sadly, Danny only added to DJ’s list of scalps without troubling the scorers…indeed, his walk to & from the crease took longer than his innings. This was the cue for Howard’s debut knock, his first for some 7 years, he lasted longer than Danny and was able to ensure DJ did not get his hat-trick. It looked like a traditional Middleton collapse, at which point Joe opted for some more expansive shots and the scored approach 150. Further Middleton wickets fell until Paul Wordsworth joined Joe to steady the ship and give Joe a chance to accelerate….on passing 60, with a chance of a club hundred, a call went out for a mobile to urge Nick to come along so he didn’t miss what looked a golden opportunity to witness his son’s milestone. Sadly, Joe perished for 70 and shortly after Middleton’s hopes of 200 perished when Paul Wordsworth attempted a quick single only to succumb to (another) pulled muscle and had to retire hurt (not “Retired Old” as our scorer recorded), his rehab began with some gentle washing up of the tea cups & plates – thanks Paul! A few lusty blows from the lower order saw us to a respectable 177 at tea.
What a tea – a veritable spread from the Randall family, including a Chocolate & Caramel Fudge cake of epic calorific proportions. Jesters were hugely impressed and looked forward to grazing away whilst Middleton fielded! In the light of Paul’s injury, Stuart Midson, who had come to watch, was pressed into the fray as a substitute fielder (Thanks Stuart).
Middleton’s skipper opted to open with seam from both ends (Messrs Selway & Pettit), [NB we would like to be thought of as “quicks” but with Richard Simpson standing up to us at the stumps this seems somewhat disingenuous!] Despite some good lines and tidy bowling, it seems any shot getting past the fielder ran away for 4. Jesters openers gave few chances, defending well against yorkers and Ollie’s outswingers. One catch went begging in the slips…..Danny (he of the golden arm duck) managed to allow an edge (it was not a late cut off the middle of the bat…..) to go straight through. Jester’s opener Nar, after a polished 30, in an opening stand of 70-odd opted to join a select band of players, those who have got out to Ollie’s well disguised slower delivery, falling leg before. Was this the breakthrough Middleton needed? Sadly not, despite several bowling changes, with Clark, Randall (Martin) & Lee bowling it seemed the Middleton would not prevail. Skipper then opted for Randall (Liam) to see what he could do….his first over gave cause for optimism, a shout for lbw (declined) and a sharp chance to Chris Nourse that he didn’t have to move for. Over the next few overs, a change in the fielding saw Randall move Pettit to mid off, (to allow younger, quicker fielders to save the runs at point / covers…..) where upon he held on gallantly, after covering a lot of ground, to two heaves from the Jesters batters to secure a 3-for for Liam. At the other end, a further success for Ollie with his slower one gave Middleton some hope. Sadly, despite these efforts, and the skippers attempts to mix up the bowling, Jesters chased down the 177 for the loss of only 5 wickets. A deserved victory for Jesters. Let’s hope we can reverse this next season!