Middleton Stoney 150 all out (Richard Simpson 88; Danny Clark 5 for 9),
St Clement’s Strollers 124 for 9 (Dan Savin 44). Match drawn.
Nick Thompson had prepared an excellent pitch on a fine day. Several players noted how strong our batting line-up was. Having won the toss and chosen to bat first, I held Richard Simpson back until number 5. Our first four (Dan Simpson, Joe Moorman, Andrew Willcock and Stuart Midson) were out for 8, 4, 10 and O. Our last six (Tim House, Paul Wordsworth, George Williams, Simon Pettit, Jason Williams and myself) scored 7, 9, 6, 7, 0* & O. So it was helpful that Richard contributed 88 before being caught on the boundary by St Clement’s Strollers’ captain, Dan Savin, off the bowling of Danny Clark. Since Dan and Danny also play for Middleton Stoney and Bicester, this was the ideal combination to thwart another Simpson century. Danny had dropped a sharp chance off Richard some eighty runs earlier. It wasn’t Richard’s recent club record score of 163* but it wasn’t a bad innings against a very good bowling attack. As often, many minutes were lost hunting for the ball, not always successfully, after Richard hit big sixes into the long grass.
Highlights included Dan Savin bowling Tim House with a trademark Olly Selway slower ball. What a pity that Olly had pulled a hamstring and therefore pulled out of the game so did not witness this rare event. Dan, Andrew, Stuart, Paul and Simon were also clean bowled. Joe was caught behind. George hit one in the air and was caught at mid-off.
On a hot and humid day, there were stalwart performances from the usual suspects: Simon Pettit umpired for two hours, Dan Simpson fielded for the opposition for two hours, Tim House also fielded for them and Joe Moorman also umpired. Tim House, George Williams and Andrew Willcock shared scorebook duties. Meanwhile, Jason Williams had some work to do on his computer, sitting in the pavilion next to the TV, listening to the Test match between England and Pakistan. The fielding for the other side was needed as one of their team was on parental duties (other than when he wanted to bat, obviously).
Andrew Willcock was not only the second top scorer with 10 at number 3 and one of the scorers. He also made a cameo appearance as umpire at what turned out to be the end of our innings, giving me out lbw to my first ball which gave Danny Clark his hat-trick and five wickets in four overs. In the absence of reviews, Chris Woakes and Steve Finn would also have been given out lbw in the Test match at around the same time, apparently, but both were reinstated. Just saying. The only other lbw dismissal of the day was the first after tea.
Talking of tea, Patricia Lee had made the cakes while Georgina and George Lamb had made the sandwiches. Such combinations, like the caught Savin bowled Clark partnership, are a good way of solving the problem of tea duties. Although the Lee/Lamb duo have already been in action this season, there are so few slots left and so many club members yet to undertake a single tea duty that some doubling up may be inevitable. The tea itself was poured by Rosie Cranston as the team in the pavilion showed quicker reactions to the Danny Clark hat-trick ball than I did, our innings collapsing at 4.50. Thanks also to those who helped Patricia with clearing up after tea and, of course, to Jason for making it all possible by vacating his seat next to the Test commentary and removing his computer.
Opening bowler George Williams secured that other lbw of the day, dismissing their impressive left-handed number one batsman. George bowled six overs, four maidens, 1 for 9. His opening partner Paul Wordsworth had their other opener superbly caught by Richard Simpson at first slip. Likewise, Andrew Willcock’s wicket featured a fine catch by wicket-keeper Tim House. Yes, I did put Umpire Willcock on to bowl. The batsman who edged that excellent delivery was Danny Clark who walked after the faintest of touches. It wouldn’t be the complete picture to focus on two good catches behind the bat. Richard, Tim and I couldn’t hold on to other sharp chances. Stuart Midson and Dan Simpson (in the latter’s fifth hour in the field) didn’t quite get to lofted shots which would have graced the Open. On the other hand, or actually in both hands, Joe Moorman took a good running catch at mid-wicket off the bowling of Richard Simpson.
Otherwise, our eight bowlers took matters into their own hands. The prize wicket was Dan Savin’s. While he was in, St Clement’s looked like they would win. Jason Williams bowled him and celebrated almost as vigorously as when he clean bowled a second batsman in a dream spell of seven overs, three maidens, 2 for 11. Both his wickets were claimed in the manner of Yasir bowling Bairstow, again at around the same time at Lord’s. Simon Pettit also bowled seven overs and two batsmen, in his case in two lively spells, taking his wickets more in the manner of Amir yorking Broad.
An acute observer of Middleton Stoney CC noted that the three players I didn’t ask to bowl are three of the club’s finest bowlers, keeper Tim House and opening batsmen Dan Simpson and Joe Moorman. Thanks for pointing that out, Dan. Eight bowlers, including newcomer Stuart Midson, are enough to justify the standard report of games against St Clement’s, namely that we were ringing the changes. I was even urged to put myself on and eventually did so when the Strollers had strolled to 120 for 8. Since Jason’s last three overs were two wicket maidens and another maiden, this might have seemed a strange change, especially when my first over was only a maiden. In my second over, however, the penultimate over of the game, I joined the throng of those who bowled someone out, in this case with what one knowledgeable spectator described as the quickest ball of the day. OK, so it was a latecomer who made this comment and who had perhaps only seen the previous two balls of my over, but still a fairy-tale ending beckoned in which I could avenge my ignominious golden duck. Their number 11, however, was a better batsman than ours. With everyone round the bat, he thumped me for four, threatening the lives of the serried ranks of silly mid-offs.
So that left one over for someone to win us the game. I brought back George Williams who nearly pulled off the victory but St Clement’s Strollers held out for the draw. The slip cordon played their part in leaping as one to appeal but Umpire Danny Clark did not share Umpire Andrew Willcock’s enthusiasm for giving lbws. The atmosphere throughout the game was first class. Our bowling in the last twenty overs was accompanied by support from our regular crowd of supporters on the boundary. A convivial evening continued as George and Jason Williams ran the barbecue, Simon Pettit ran the bar and Danny Clark won the award for the game’s champagne moment. Congratulations to Danny and thanks all round to everyone for a classic day’s cricket in Middleton Park, played by both teams in the best spirit of our club ethos.