Didcot 110 all out. Middleton Stoney 113 for 6. MSCC win by 4 wickets.
It is rare for Middleton Stoney CC to play a limited overs game on a Sunday or to play away, let alone to play away in a new fixture, let alone when the fixture secretary has agreed to play the same opposition at home the very next Sunday. So the pressure was on Olly Selway, fixtures secretary, who opened the bowling and the batting. His first delivery was a high full toss no ball. His second was edged and well taken by Stevyn Jackson. With a mixture of unplayable deliveries, wides and no balls, it was an eventful nine ball first over.
Danny Clark opened at the other end and clean bowled one of several very good Didcot batsmen. Olly had another victim caught by Dan Simpson and then on came the Randall father and son combination. Didcot’s rules included a maximum of 7 overs per bowler. Martin took two wickets in his seven overs, Liam one in his seven. Liam bowled their excellent opening batsman. Martin also bowled one and then got a plumb lbw with a yorker which had the batsman hopping around. At this point, I had intended to bring on Richard Simpson and myself, then bring back Olly and Danny.
Instead, I thought I would first give Dan Simpson, Mark Ford-Langstaff, Jon Springer and Joe Moorman a couple of overs each. Dan’s wicket was caught by Danny Clark, Mark’s was caught by Dan Simpson (that made two catches and one wicket for Dan). Jon Springer took a wicket in his first over, clean bowled, and then Joe Moorman took the final wicket of the Didcot innings, also clean bowled, with his second delivery. So Olly and Danny did not get to return and Richard and I did not get to bowl at all. Still, the eight bowlers we used each took a wicket, mostly in their first over. This is always helpful to the captain, especially when the bowler who has been taken off had got someone out in his last over. There was a lively debate over tea and again at the end of the game as to which of these eight bowlers turned in the best performance, or took the best wicket.
Since we are playing Didcot again next Sunday, and since I will be away, I would like to emphasise that they had some very impressive batsmen. Possibly their best batsman on the day was out in the second most annoying manner, well caught by Danny Clark off one of Dan Simpson’s surprising variations. Most annoyingly, another good player was out off Olly Selway’s trademark slower ball. We might not hear the end of either of these dismissals this decade. Still, on balance, I thought the outstanding bowling performance was by Joe Moorman who hadn’t been expecting to play until mid-day. So I thought he should be held back from his customary position as opening batsman to bask in the glory of his bowling until his grandfather, our solitary spectator, arrived to watch. Many thanks to David Moorman for playing the part of the crowd and then playing a form of kwik cricket outside the pavilion after the game.
Looking for an unlikely combination, I promoted Olly Selway to open with Stevyn Jackson, who had kept wicket well. It rained during tea and beyond so there was some delay before they started in fine form. When Stevyn was bowled for 10, Richard Simpson joined Olly and we were soon 49 for 1 when the opposition captain, Simon Coates, came on to bowl. With his usual approach to captains of either side, Richard decided to reverse sweep the first ball from this bowler he had never seen and was duly bowled for 16. Dan and Joe had volunteered to umpire but they were now needed to pad up, so Martin and I had the best view of our middle order stars, Jon Springer and Mark Ford-Langstaff, being dismissed for 10 and 1, respectively. Jon was bowled by a ball which he expected to bounce more. Mark was caught off a ball which he expected to hit into the power station. Dan Simpson at number six was also caught for 1. This was the first time he had taken as many wickets for Middleton Stoney as runs scored, well, as run scored. It was also the first time he had taken twice as many catches as his batting total. Olly Selway’s accomplished innings of 18 matched his bowling but he joined the rest of our top four in being bowled out and we were 62 for 6 when Danny Clark joined Joe Moorman.
Almost all of Didcot’s bowlers were very good indeed and they outdid us by using nine! The opening bowler from the pavilion end was very lively and it was fascinating to be umpiring during the last of his allotted seven overs in which he took two wickets. At this stage the odds were in favour of Didcot. Joe and Danny’s partnership took us swiftly and surely to victory, however, with Joe hitting six boundaries to the same spot at backward square leg. By winning the game in the 22nd over with another four, he also brought up the fifty partnership. With 33* and 1 for 0 off 2 balls, Joe just beat Olly Selway with 18 and 2 for 12 to all-round performance of the day, unless you count catches in which case the winner was either Danny Clark 1 for 31, 1 catch and 10* or Dan Simpson with 1 for 4, 2 catches and 1 run.
Didcot’s captain, Simon Coates, was hospitality personified after the game. He had also won the toss, was their not out batsman and took two top wickets, Richard (Reverse Sweep) Simpson and Mark Ford-Langstaff. Didcot might well arrive at Middleton Stoney with an even stronger team to seek revenge next Sunday but this team was good enough to have beaten us. It was a great all round team performance by Middleton Stoney which led to many debates, including whether the fixtures secretary should seek more away games against new opposition and whether there is now a convention that he should open both the bowling and batting in any such games. On balance, the answers are yes and no.