MSCC 184 for 7 declared. IBM South Hants 128 all out.
A first and potentially, but hopefully not, last game against IBM South Hants Cricket Club came about following a very old acquaintance between the Chairman of IBMSHCC and myself. John Lowe had seen details of Thinking of Oscar on various social media platforms and had decided that he and his team wanted to do something to support the charity. They look to tour early each season and in 2016 they were due to play games against Aston Rowant and Bledlow Village on the Saturday and Sunday of the Bank Holiday weekend respectively. This meant that they had a free slot on the Monday and we, fortuitously, were lacking a fixture on that weekend so it all came together nicely. Not only do IBMSHCC tour with a dedicated umpire and scorer but they also allocate a “Fines Master” for each game! This I feel would be very expensive for certain Middleton Stoney players should it be employed at Middleton Park, and as it turned out was extremely expensive for some of the IBMSHCC players as their fines bucket bulged to the tune of £360 at the end of their 3 day jaunt. All of which was donated to Thinking of Oscar and for that I am extremely grateful.
With the forecast looking ‘mixed’ all week and not having changed on the morning of the game I started to get texts and calls from certain members of the team asking if I thought the game would go ahead and when we would likely make a decision to call it off. I politely informed them that fortunately this was not my decision any more and reminded them of the Middleton microclimate. Certainly the oppo were not in the least bit worried about the impending doom being touted about by the BBC Weather Forecast and indeed arrived super early for the fixture. The game was scheduled for a 1pm start to allow our visitors to make their way back down south in good time, however this was always going to be a challenge for some of our players to arrive at 12:30, and at ten to 1 the Kirtlington massive arrived en masse to be greeted by the new club captain, Simon Lee, striding in from the boundary having won the toss and elected to bat. Perfect we thought, a nice leisurely afternoon in the sunshine (it was still shining at that point) watching Dan Simpson and Jon Springer bat. The captain had other ideas and had decided to put the 3 players who hadn’t picked up a cricket ball let along a bat for well over 8 months in at 3, 4 and 5 respectively. Still not a problem we thought, Jon Springer being, well, Jon Springer and Dan coming off a score of 49 for Bicester 1st’s on Saturday, still lots of time to lounge around in the sunshine and catch up. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be for the man in form Simpson, as he scythed a catch behind square for a second ball duck. This brought Nick Crossley to the crease with the score 2-1. I always thought that Crossley and Springer were perfect foils for each other so as Nick worked out again which end of the bat to hold, Jon carted their opening bowler for a six and a four off consecutive balls of his second over. Meanwhile Nick patiently watched and nurdled a few around with his bat handle before it was pointed out that he was holding it the wrong way up [artistic license]. Between them they put on a partnership of over 50 before Jon succumbed to the dreaded slow ball, bouncer which he hooked straight to fine leg; a fine knock of 40 but it should have been more! This brought Darren Bartlett to the crease with the score 58-2. Now that Crossley has worked out which end of the bat to use these two then set out to take the score past 100, with Nick stroking some majestic shots, whilst Darren kept his end ticking over. When the skipper turned around to the expectant crowd to say that Nick was 2 away from his 50, our first thought was of horror that he would put the dreaded mockers on the achievement. And so, sadly, it was meant to be. Having scored a single in the previous over, Nick was then to face, slow left arm round, M. Rayer. Nick now allegedly on 49 saw out the over only to then spoon up the final ball to Mr Rayer for an easy catch. To add insult to injury the captain had added up his score wrong and in actual fact he was only on 47, however it was a fine first knock of the season. This brought yours truly to the crease at 111-3 – Nelson strikes again! Fortunately we managed to get off the dreaded Nelson with a sharp single. We knew that with the rain due and with a slow outfield meant that a score of 150+ would be tricky to chase down and at this point we had just under an hour to go until tea. Darren’s advice was to have a look and keep the board ticking over. His advice was not…. “Stride down the wicket to the wily old bowler and miss it”, however that is exactly what he did, MSCC 112-4. This brought Jon O’Neill to the crease with Rayer on a hat trick. IBM had clearly not heard the folk tales of Mr O’Neill’s batting prowess and decided to leave the off side completely unprotected, whilst surrounding the bat for the hat trick ball. Fortunately Jon had his whit’s about him and sensibly missed the wide hat trick ball and then calmly played out the over. With time still with us and plenty of firepower still to come, Selway, Lee, Jackson, Pettit, Simpson Sr, Jon and I played the sensible game of waiting for the bad ball and then dispatching it. With a couple of edges through the slips and one straight through the keepers gloves I had managed to survive to be on strike against Mr Rayner for his 11th (and so it proved last over). Having failed to attend any nets sessions during the winter or spring (hang on have we even made it to spring yet?) I was blessed with having not left any of my good shots in the practice sessions so much so that I managed to cart the bowler for two straight fours in the over. As the last ball approached I conceded to myself that the over had been a successful one and the best option was to block out the last ball and move onto the next over. However……..between me telling myself this and the bowler running in his two paces and letting go of the ball, I forget everything…missed the ball, which was adjudged to be a straight one (it looked like it was going down leg to me) and was out LBW for 14 – surprise, surprise another LBW decision! MSCC 129-5. What happened next was as much careless by the opposition as it was brilliant by Jon O’Neill and new man in Stevyn Jackson. IBM decided to replace their bowlers and serve up leg side long hops (ok not all of them were leg side by O’Neill didn’t care), whist failing to protect their leg side boundary. Five leg side 4’s later (ok one of them went straight but he was aiming for leg) and Jon had moved on to a quick fire 29. He finally perished but had by this point taken us to a very good total of 171, supported by Jackson (7) and Mike Simpson (13NO). In the end MSCC finished on 184-7 at 3:30pm just as the heavens opened and at this point Simon Lee declared.
We were served another fantastic tea courtesy of Denise Simpson and Di Thompson with special mention to Denise who so very kindly provided me with Gluten Free sandwiches and cake, for which I was and am extremely grateful. Had I still been captain I would have also declared the game off then and there with the rain beating down, a wonderful tea, great company from both sides and a warm pavilion. Simon Lee had other ideas and after a slightly extended tea we took the field in less than perfect conditions. If I had had 3 jumpers I would have worn them but had to make do with just 2!
Olly Selway opened up down the hill and proceeded to bowl a tight line given the bar of soap that he was bowling with and the quarry that was being dug every time he landed in his bowling stride. He was very ably supported by Simon Pettit from the other end who was of course bowling in the same conditions but without the bonus of a low centre of gravity. Simon as he does, got the ball to swing and seam which was too much for the opener who cut the ball straight past second slip without him really moving…….well I didn’t want to mess up my whites! As luck would have it, Simon would have him LBW shortly afterwards and then proceeded to get their number 3 out in exactly the same way, however this time it was a very slow finger of death as the umpire when half way up to give him out, had second thoughts, lowered and then eventually raised his finger. As is the new regime, if you take a wicket you are then sent to the long off boundary to bask in your glory (in this case in the rain). Simon Pettit (2-25) was replaced by Simon Lee and Olly Selway, unlucky not to take a wicket in his first spell, was replaced by Mike Simpson. Simon started the way that all the best bowers start their spell by slipping in the mud and bowling a wide, this unfortunately meant that he twisted his knee and was only able to bowl the one over. However the over did result in the wicket of the IBMSHCC’s Chairman John Lowe who edged the ball through to MSCC’s new “Full Time” slip catcher, ME! I did juggle it a little but cradled it on the 4th attempt – I somehow was never worried that I would drop it! IBM now 46-3 with their 2,3 and 4 batsmen contributing 15 between them. This brought their number five C. Priest to the crease who with the help of their opener P. Hicks proceeded to go about rebuilding their innings. Simon Lee was replaced by our new all rounder Jon O’Neill who bowled the first ball of his spell beautifully! Between his batting and bowling Jon epitomized why you ‘should’ try and have a net during the long, bleak winter! He did take a little bit of punishment but then had the desired result as Hicks, now on 45, couldn’t resist himself and smashed one straight to Dan Simpson, who fortunately took the catch, IBM 80-4. At this point we retreated to pavilion again as the black clouds that had briefly left us came back with a vengeance.
When we retuned to the field O’Neill had naturally been replaced as his punishment for taking the critical wicket of Hicks whilst Mike Simpson continued with flight and guile (not always at the same time) from the other end. With their skipper, E. Vutukuri, now at the crease he and Priest took the score past 100. Given the interruptions Simon Lee had kindly offered the opposition captain the opportunity of another half an hour to bat to make up for lost time before the 20 overs started. Having turned it town once, he then requested it once he succumbed to Mike Simpson’s bowling and the again surprisingly safe pair of hands of me, IBMSHCC 113-5. As the 20 over began it was then the Darren Bartlett show as he ripped through their lower order, whilst generously allowing Olly Selway to take one, well deserved wicket. Having being hit for a few by the ‘reverend’ Priest (43NO), Darren managed to serve up a plethora of full and straight deliveries resulting in 2 LBW’s, one bowled and one spooned catch straight to Tim Cranston who had come on as a substitute fielder following an injury to Simon Pettit. Darren finished with figures of 4.4-0-32-4.
IBM South Hants CC 128 AO, MSCC Win by 56 Runs.
A fine day, not dampened by the weather against as very nice (if a little tired) opposition. It was great to see so many supports from both sides turning up and also that so many brought their camera’s to continue the wonderful photographic work that our dear friend Michael Martin had so tirelessly done for many years. What we are lacking though is a development studio so that we can have some of the pictures before the end of the game, something for the committee to consider me thinks!
Thank you to all who took part and made it a pleasure to play in.