MSCC 235 for 6 (Richard Simpson 65, Mark Ford-Langstaff 63*) declared.
Invalids CC 156 for 7 (Stuart Midson 3 for 8).
What a delightful fixture it is to host Invalids in August, unless you are looking for good weather or lbws. Once again Dr Nick Thompson produced a good pitch despite terrible weather in the days and hours running up to our game against Invalids. By the time play started, he was out of the country but he had left us a pitch fit for 400 runs and where nobody could claim that any delivery had ‘kept low’ or ‘skidded through’, two of the standard excuses in cricket. The opposition once again turned up in force, with families and picnics, despite the weather and despite last year’s game having to be abandoned when it rained as soon as they had completed their long journeys. Invalids hinted that it might be a nice idea if they were to bat first as some of their players were still on the M40 but we have 200 years (most of them before the M40) of visitors using this ruse, with claims that star players’ carriages were held up en route, so we just won the toss and batted first. Jack Morris and Daniel Pilgrim kindly fielded for a couple of Invalids until the late arrivals materialised. Families then ran out picnic supplies for players who had missed the bulk of their lunch. Together with several hunts for balls lost way over the boundaries, this made for a slow over rate. Not that it would have mattered in some recent years. In 2011, Invalids had bowled us out for 32. In 2012, we bowled them out for 39.
This year, Jon Pilgrim was soon out but fellow opener Dan Simpson batted beyond drinks for a measured 31. At number 3, Richard Simpson scored a typically swift and pugnacious 65. Mark Ford-Langstaff took control in the second half of our innings, accelerating to 63 not out and was well supported by Jay Mumtaz who scored a punchy 35. All four hit the ball hard. It was difficult for numbers 6, 7 and 8 coming in as tea approached. Danny Clark looked elegant and scored 8. Daniel Pilgrim looked equally stylish but didn’t score 8. Fellow debutant Jack Morris then joined Mark to see us through to tea. The Invalids made no concession to the fact that it was Jack’s twelfth birthday but he was assured facing one of their faster bowlers, receiving a huge cheer for his 1 not out. We declared at 235 for 7 in the 38 overs bowled by Invalids. They used six bowlers, all of whom bowled a good length and could not be blamed for some savage boundaries. Richard was dropped once off a skier but was caught next time. Daniel Pilgrim was caught and bowled. The other four dismissals were all bowled.
Stuart Midson and family had made a spectacular debut tea. It was difficult to get the Invalids away from the sandwiches, cakes and trifles so they only had two hours at the crease. We did, however, bowl 39 overs in which Invalids made 156 for 7. They had used six bowlers. We used all eleven. Apart from my two overs, every bowler deserves praise. If one or two players might have resented being taken off so swiftly, they hid it well. It’s not the fact that you have taken a wicket or bowled a maiden, or even in some cases a wicket maiden, which resolves the issue. It’s also a matter of who else might contribute and whether they too might take a wicket or enjoy the opportunity. Jacob Ford-Langstaff opened the bowling with Jay Mumtaz. Jacob took 1 for 17 in seven overs in two spells. Jay’s figures of 5 overs, 1 for 13 give no indication of the number of times he appealed, which averaged more than once per ball. Daniel Pilgrim and Jack Morris took over, Jack taking his first wicket for the club and Daniel also bowling extremely well. Then came Stuart Midson who took his best return for the club of 3 for 8 in a fine spell of five overs and at the end of the game Richard Simpson handed over wicket-keeping duties to Jon Pilgrim to take 1 for 2. A sharp catch behind and a stumping by Richard Simpson, both off the bowling of Stuart, set the tone for a good fielding display, in which the highlight was Jacob Ford-Langstaff’s superb catch at the second attempt off the excellent bowling of Jack Morris. Like Invalids, we also failed to secure a single lbw or run out, the other four wickets all being clean bowled.
Dan Simpson rounded off the day by a long spell at the barbecue which was clearly appreciated by the opposition who stayed to share in tales of some good cricket. The stories were not restricted to games involving Middleton Stoney or Invalids. During the week, for example, Jacob had made his debut for Oxfordshire Under-13s, bowling the Gloucestershire opener with his first ball for the county. Jack’s father Richard was rumoured to be playing cricket in America this weekend. But the Invalids do have good memories of enjoyable games against us over many years, especially 2011, and wondered whether we had taken steps to strengthen our side. The children of one generation becoming old enough to play for us is the chief secret of any improvement.