United Oxford Hospitals 167 for 6 declared (Paul Wordsworth 3 for 13, Olly Selway 2 for 21)
Middleton Stoney 133 for 6 (Mark Ford-Langstaff 50, Russell Turner 22, Darren Bartlett 21).
United Oxford Hospitals won the toss and batted first. One of Olly Selway’s fuller deliveries bowled one of their openers for a duck. Jamie Lamerton, generously on loan from our opponents, opened at the other end, bowling economically left arm over. Paul Wordsworth took over from Jamie and was soon on a hat-trick, one well caught behind by Stevyn Jackson off the last ball of Paul’s first over, the other out first ball of the next over, hit wicket. A firmly hit shot was later well caught by Darren Bartlett at mid-wicket to leave Paul with the outstanding figures of 9 overs, 4 maidens, 3 for 13. Meanwhile, Simon Pettit had replaced Olly and soon took a wicket with the mildest and politest of appeals for LBW. This raised a number of philosophical questions, such as when does a wry, verging on the quizzical, look become an appeal? It is not often that the umpire explains to the batsman that ‘They have now appealed, so it is out’.
For some time, United Oxford Hospitals were becalmed on 62 for 5. Then superb innings of 63 and 36 not out from their numbers 6 and 7 in a century partnership transformed the game. Even Simon Pettit in a second spell and Darren Bartlett were hit for powerful sixes. United Oxford Hospitals would have scored 200 if it had not taken us so long to find the ball in the deep grass. Olly Selway returned to bowl their top scorer and United Oxford Hospitals declared at tea on 167 for 6.
We bowled 44 overs. Not every catch was taken but there was some enthusiastic ground fielding, several long throws from Jamie Lamerton and some fast chasing by Russell Turner and Rob Nagy, our three guest stars. Without their help, again the opposition would have made 200 or, rather, we could not have had a game. Once the match had to be switched to a Saturday, when our league players are unavailable, and when others had chosen to play in the annual Friday fixture, it was always going to be a challenge to raise a side. We sought players from the four corners of Middleton Stoney and the wider European Union. The former search yielded local batsman, Russell, the latter (conducted by fixtures secretary Olly Selway) produced Rob from Romania. When Friday’s game was called off, Paul Wordsworth volunteered to play on the Saturday and so our XI was complete.
Last week, Stevyn Jackson had volunteered to provide his debut tea for the club but rain thwarted his plans. On Friday, Simon Pettit’s umpteenth tea of the season would have been enjoyed by South Oxfordshire Amateurs if they had risked the weather. The duo now combined forces, not with week-old sandwiches but with a fresh, delightful and plentiful tea. Those who detected Pettit sandwiches might have expected to see the Jackson contribution in the serving of the tea, which we did. But it was Mrs Jackson Senior who came to the rescue as young Stevyn had taken the precaution of keeping wicket and opening the batting, which left little time in the tea interval to do much more than swap pads and eat. Many thanks to all involved.
Oxford United Hospitals bowled 38 overs. Stevyn Jackson thumped a powerful shot to mid-wicket where he was brilliantly caught. Then Russell Turner was joined by Mark Ford-Langstaff. They took us to the finely balanced position at the start of the last 20 overs with 100 needed to win. Then came an even more extraordinary catch at mid-on to dismiss Russell for 22. The ball went very high and the fielder circled the likely landing area, much as the combined forces of the space programme were spending the day covering all bases in Kazakhstan awaiting the return to Earth of astronaut Tim Peake. Although, unlike Russell, the spaceman was not ultimately caught nonchalantly with one hand.
Mark Ford-Langstaff was as aggressive as the opposition’s top scorer, with sixes the way to avoid the wet outfield. One of these was almost caught by the Hospitals’ captain in an acrobatic juggling act before he realised he was over the boundary and there was no point in completing the catch. Darren Bartlett and Nick Thompson were also caught so as in previous years the Hospitals’ fielding was impressive, with catches dismissing all our top five. Mark’s 50 and Darren’s 21 kept us on course. When Paul Wordsworth at six was joined by Simon Pettit at seven, the fielding side might have wondered whether we were going to settle for a draw. Simon hit his first ball for six to signal his answer that question but when he was bowled for 14, it did look unlikely that we could reach our target. Paul Wordsworth and Jamie Lamerton made no mistakes and the game ended in a draw, with Middleton Stoney on 133 for 6. A good crowd, including the chairman and various vice-presidents and life members, were thus deprived of an historic first innings by our Romanian number nine, Rob Nagy.
Mark Ford-Langstaff took charge of the barbecue and Simon Pettit took charge of the bar before preparing the pavilion for the schoolboys’ game being played, today, Sunday. The Hospitals’ team and the Russell Turner fan club stayed to share drinks, food and impressions of the game. The champagne moment for me was Simon’s sotto voce lbw appeal. Thanks to all who made a good day of cricket possible, especially the opposition whose spirit matched the ethos of our club and all our volunteers.
Just when you think there might not be another game before the European referendum, we have our first Twenty20 game of the season on the eve of the poll, against St Clement’s Strollers on this Wednesday, 6pm, 22 June. See you there.