MSCC 180 for 9 declared, (R Simpson 101, J Williams 4 for 31)
Rest of the World 181 for 7 (T House 87*, D Clark 56, S Pettit 3 for 49)
RoW won by 3 wickets
Our President’s Day was great fun, demonstrating the club’s ethos at its best. Thanks to the generosity of the President and his wife, Ian and Julia Davenport, club members were treated to drinks throughout the afternoon and evening. Thanks to the Vadivale family, we were also treated to a sensational curry supper in honour of Sathya’s birthday, following a splendid Vadivale tea. Thank you, in particular, to Mrs Athis Vadivale. The club contributed a free barbecue. The weather offered the treat of a sunny afternoon.
On such a beautiful day, we spent the half hour before the game started with Richard Simpson treating us to a master-class in the laws of the game, demonstrating in the middle, with the help of his brother Dan, the ins and outs of leg before wicket. Then he spelled out the law on no-balls for height in full tosses. For some reason, decisions in these two matters (or reactions to them) are the most contentious. Given the club ethos statement on respect for umpires and umpiring, this session gave us food for thought ahead of the food for food.
Miraculously, the club fielded two teams of eleven each, with the help of a quartet of guest stars who live in the village of Middleton Stoney and/or were press-ganged by outgoing club secretary, Jason Williams. This was all the more impressive as several of the club’s most athletic members were participating in the Blenheim Triathlon on behalf of the Thinking of Oscar charity. The President’s own XI was selected on the basis of choosing the players living closest to our ground and therefore to the President. The only person on the day who could rival the President himself on that criterion, Adrian Langdale, made a fine debut for the club. Rumour has it that Max Langdale, grandson of the President, may also be available next year. The Rest of the World team, led by Tim House, were from further afield, including such far-flung places as Wendlebury, Bicester and Launton.
I won the toss for the President’s XI and opened with Richard Simpson, born in the village of Middleton Stoney, and the first of those guest stars, Russell Turner, also from the village, who has played against us for Far From the MCC. Their century partnership set the foundation for a score of 180 for 9 declared. The highlights included Richard hitting two sixes in the second over of the day, both of which damaged the pavilion, one breaking a pane of glass, another smashing a roof tile. Both threatened the safety of the large crowd. Richard retired immediately on completing his fine century. He was well supported by the only other players in the President’s XI to reach double figures Russell (23), Alex Silverman (20) and debutant Richard Dodsworth (10).
Tim House, captain of the Rest of the World XI, used nine bowlers and took two catches himself. Jason Williams took 4 for 31, coming back strongly in his second spell, Liam Randall took two and Danny Clark and Mark Ford-Langstaff one each. Despite the message of caution in giving people out lbw, three of the four ducks and both of the golden ducks were given out lbw. No mercy was shown in the lbw decision against Nick Langton, making his debut, despite him having fielded energetically for the opposition when their star all-rounder, Jacob Ford-Langstaff, was injured. Through the familiar device of taking ages to find balls hit into the long grass, the Rest of the World only bowled 35 overs in two and a half hours.
In the two hours after tea, in contrast, the President’s XI bowled 42 overs, with the opening villagers Simon Pettit and Sathya Vadivale bowling 13 overs each. Richard Simpson took two sharp chances behind the wicket, then handed over the gloves and pads to Stevyn Jackson who took his own spectacular catch and made a stumping. Only two Rest of the World batsmen reached double figures, Danny Clark at number three and captain Tim House at number five, who put together a century partnership of their own. Even so, the odds were against them winning with three overs to go, when Jason Williams joined Captain Tim. Olly Selway was still in reserve and Jacob Ford-Langstaff padded up, ready to defy injury and save the day at number eleven, a little like Colin Cowdrey against Wes Hall in 1963. Neither Olly nor Jacob was needed, however, and the first doubts came into the President’s XI minds as Jason got off the mark with a confident 4. Still, the Rest of the World needed 31 to win off the last two overs. Tim House hit some towering sixes to leave Jason Williams facing with 5 to get off the last over. The first ball went for 4 and then the winning run was steered with ease and the Rest of the World had won. Simon Pettit took three wickets, Richard Simpson two, Sathya Vadivale and myself one each (mine was Danny Clark, caught behind for 56, just saying).
Tim House had come in at 20 for 3. His 87 not out is the best captain’s innings I have seen not just in my captaincy of the club (which would have been the faintest of praise) or in my five years at Middleton Stoney but in my lifetime. It was a beautifully paced performance. Initially under pressure, Tim and Danny had played carefully when needed, with lots of ‘dot balls’, but once Tim decided to accelerate, he scored off every delivery he faced for his last fifty runs.
There was also some finely paced work in and around the pavilion as the free food and drink led to a shuttle run workout for some between the barbecue outside and the curry and the bar inside. Two yards of ale were attempted, one by Dan Simpson as compensation for his golden duck and one by a representative of the Vadivale extended family birthday party.
Talking of which, after I said a very few words of thanks and congratulations, Sathya and the President summed up the spirit of the day in their speeches. Sathya spoke of the club as a family. It really was a magnificent family day out – thanks to all who came, including many other vice-presidents, club members and friends of the club. We look forward to next Sunday when Middleton Stoney celebrates the Queen’s 90th birthday with a barbecue from 1 o’clock before the game against the Cryptics. Meanwhile, this match was a celebration of the club’s ethos. The ground looked splendid and the pitch, despite heavy rain earlier in the week, was good enough for 360 runs. The outfield seemed quite fast also, although the big scorers, Richard and Tim, launched many of their runs way over the outfield. It is always good to take a game here to the last over. It is no disgrace for a village of under one hundred houses to have put out a side which ran the Rest of the World so close.