At 1.30pm the coin toss was “drawn” with the stand-in skipper choosing to bat first. At 2pm, his opening pair had changed due to preference and absence. So Tim House and Sathya Vadivale marched out. Tm faced Nick Warry, who had dismissed him two weeks earlier. Tim played the identical shot again and its was 3-1. Jay Mumtaz came in next and was quickly deceived by the same bowler, and was bowled, this time past a decent looking defensive shot. 15-2, and Mr. Wingfield-Digby Snr (junior was opening their bowling) was looking very happy.
MSCC’s “opener” arrived at number four, having confirmed the website and e-mails did state a 2pm start after all. Richard Simpson encouraged the scoreboard on at his usual pace, until he fell to a fine outfield (surprise) catch by the ex MSCC player Henry Swayne. The score began to have that retro MSCC feel to it at 59-3.
Sathya was moving along untroubled and anchoring the innings when joined by Danny Clark, who started off aggressively; he nearly ran Sathya out, and then he ran Sathya out. 72-4. Jon O’Neil was having none of it, with a smart boundary to start with. The prize for the most confusing dismissal followed when a huge appeal for LBW arose, Jon ran, the umpire took his hand out of his pocket, presumably to start to signal leg-bye, Jon strolled towards him, but was beaten by the ball, AW-D whipped of the bails and the umpire said, “now that is out”! 87-5.
The wily old T. Lurcock came on to haunt MSCC as he does most years – the arc of the delivery starting lower and lower as each season progresses. But it still deceives, as Nick Thompson testified, seemingly two or three times as the ball fell to earth and left him stranded down the wicket. 96-6 and MSCC seemed to be heading for a thumping.
Danny however obviously felt he owed a few runs and played beautifully, while Paul Wordsworth matched him in elegance and scoring shots, rotating the strike and keeping the scoreboard ticking over. With few overs to go, the Professor took one for the team, charging down the wicket, leaving himself splayed over the fine wicket to be comprehensively stumped for an impressive 26.
Danny finally fell three short of his 50, and Stuart Midson, today’s tea-meister, played some elegantly timed strokes on his way to an important 12 not out. He was joined by Simon Pettit, who had offered to open the batting (sorry) and proceeded to show us once again why he should bat higher up the order with a brutal 14 of just a few deliveries. It has to be noted that on three occasions Tim Cranston, always keen to bat, raced onto the pitch thinking (hoping?) a wicket might have fallen. A team full of spirit and enthusiasm, and a score of 181 was an effort worth noting, especially as SOA had been quietly mulling over the prospect of an early tea when we were on 96-6.
So our resident chef Stuart Midson and family had created a feast for that aforementioned tea – and it lived up to, and surpassed, all expectations. The break consequently used up every minute of the allowed half hour.
Our two most frustrated batsmen (psychological ploy from the skipper) opened the bowling to great effect, restricting SOA to 23 off the first nine overs, when Tim Cranston struck with a Jaffa. Both he (1-26 off 8) and Simon P (0-24 off 7) had been unlucky not to take wickets earlier.
Our catching wasn’t quite as sharp as we have recently got used to, and this was a theme throughout the innings. But Henry Swayne and Moffatt pushed the score along at almost the required pace and MSCC turned to spin.
Danny and Sathya took over, and more chances were missed. The run rate slowed and in his first over, Sathya snared the opener. To put the balance of the game in context, the second wicket fell in the last over before the final 20, with SOA needing 128 to win, two wickets down.
SOA continued to play some shots, with Swayne looking dangerous. Richard Simpson was brought into the attack, grumpily complaining he wasn’t warmed up; but of course, he had had half an hour less time than the rest of team to do so. Skipper phycology worked again (it’s all I did) and he tempted the stroke players into rash shots, and took a wicket in each of his first three overs.
During all this time, Stuart Midson seemed to field every ball, back up every throw and take the only tricky catch offered. He consequently puts himself very much in pole position for any fielding awards that may be available come the end of the season. Paul Wordsworth was keeping very tidily and effectively, and Sathya matched Richard (3-22) with mean figures to add to his season’s average, on this occasion 3-34 off 8.
Once the potentially dangerous Wingfield-Digby Snr. had been dismissed (second chance, so apologies all round) the SOA were heard, and then seen, to shut up shop. MSCC pressurised but only managed to scratch the tail end, and the game ended with a Jon O’Neill cameo maiden over.
SOA would have thought they should have won the game at one stage, MSCC the same; possibly a fair way of looking at an often played-out MSCC draw.
Many thanks to Paul for collecting the team subs on my behalf, and for Jon for volunteering to look after the BBQ.