For the second time this season MSCC faced an unknown team, Simmons CC, who originated in Leighton Buzzard. Rumours (false as it turned out) had been circulating about their pedigree and make-up in the weeks leading up to Sunday’s game.
A beautifully warm afternoon greeted the debutant club and Simmons arrived early, with nine of them, perhaps ominously, heading to the nets to practise. They then presumably realised they were two short and the call went out for players. Tim Riley and Howard Lancaster immediately responded.
Simon P and Nick T had obviously been working as hard as always, and the ground looked immaculate. Simmons won the toss and chose to bowl first on what looked like a belter of a wicket.
MSCC saw another new player initiated into their ranks for the game; Matthew House. The skipper had no hesitation in sending in the brothers, Tim and Matthew to open. The decision to bowl first looked fairly justified as the two found runs hard to come by and after seven overs with the score on 15, the elder House (that’s Matthew by the way) was bowled.
Joe Moorman’s languid batting style suited the pitch, and he settled in to help build the score. Tim House decided to up the tempo when fellow club member Tim Riley came on to bowl. Having found it hard to score singles along the ground, he craftily found that by miscuing straight drives, he could escape with singles as catch after catch went down. Tim Riley’s looping deliveries had dismissed Joe, but Mark Ford-Langstaff was in no mood for niceties as he got off the mark with a thunderous six.
Tim House moved towards 50 but one charge down the track was too many, and he left the pace-making to Mark and then Olly Selway, batting up the order. Olly’s three fours in an over must have had him eying up a PB, but the metronomic Dawes, who bowled for 13 overs, snared him for a stylish 19.
Mark continued as he had started and when joined by Simon Pettit, the scoreboard raced along. Mark then fell for 49, seemingly thinking about two or three ways to play the delivery and then being caught and bowled. Dawes was brought back on and Simon, no respecter of form, smacked his first delivery for six followed by a succession of boundaries to all parts of the ground.
When he fell for a destructive 31, all eyes were on the Morris family. Firstly, because tea was beckoning and the whole family had been busy preparing that, secondly because father and son were hopefully going to bat together, and thirdly because when Richard fell for 3, the gauntlet had been thrown down to Jack. He duly obliged, and on the eve of his 13th birthday equalled his dad’s score and calmly walked off for tea, possibly with a better season’s average.
The aforementioned tea was superb, with great care and planning having gone into its creation. It was like a catering company in there, with many merry Morris men (try saying that while devouring the chocolate fudge cake) and women helping out. And the highlight must have been the sponge cake that Jack had made himself, presumably in readiness for the birthday celebrations to follow.
182 was a good score on the day, and MSCC confidently took the field, while Simmons CC confidently finished their tea. As often is the way, the cakes took their toll and MSCC started slightly sluggishly. The opening batsmen settled into an up-tempo rhythm and although Martin Randall and Jim Watson threw everything at them, the runs kept coming. 50 for 0 at the half hour mark and the game was truly afoot.
Simon Lee changed the momentum by bringing Joe Moorman and Simon Pettit into the attack and very soon the latter had the dangerous opener caught well by the former. It was the breakthrough that MSCC needed and although Simmons kept up the scoring, their batting suddenly began to have a nervousness about it.
Simon Pettit took his second wicket soon after, at which point Simon Lee had started his own impressive spell with his first delivery removing the other opener, neatly caught by Jim Watson on the move, as he was throughout Simmons’ innings. The first of our own, Howard, was batting now and looked confident against bowlers well known to him. And he was joined by the other home player, Tim Riley. The two of them set about the bowling with a measured calmness that spelt danger.
But the combination of Richard Morris standing up, whilst making sure the batsman was well aware of it, and the prodigious in-swing of Simon P, all led to a lightening quick leg-side stumping and one of the Simmons/MSCC danger men was gone for a well-crafted 26. Talking of lightning quick, Tim House then clipped Howards’ leg stump and the tail was exposed.
After three appeals (muted, confident and comical) Simon P was successful with the LBW and so reached his five wicket milestone. And very well deserved it was, in terms of craft and stamina, as he bowled for ages. Jack Morris celebrated his birthday with a nerveless over before Simon Lee surprised and delighted us all by giving himself a second spell in search of victory.
On numerous occasions this year, Middleton Stoney have taken 7 wickets and seemed on course to win but failed to close out the match. This game was at that point when the skipper summoned up the flight and guile that he has practised for so long, and the rewards followed. A feathered edge to the keeper, and two fizzing deliveries to bowl numbers 10 and 11. MSCC had won it with a couple over to spare and 50 runs in hand. A team well led and one that had not let their heads drop when defeat was more than possible earlier in the day.
We thoroughly enjoyed hosting Simmons and hope they will revisit in the years to come.