The first of this season’s T20 games brought St. Clement Strollers back to Middleton Stoney once again, with a few of their number revisiting for the third time in as many weeks. We had beaten them recently in the Sunday game and judging by their line-up, they were looking for retribution. A string of extremely good cricketers arrived early, so MSCC knew they would be up against it.
MSCC were to bat first and the captain chose his batting line up on well-known, tried and trusted criteria. Anyone with relatives watching, and persistent hints of greatness and current averages seemed to be the main factors. Consequently, Jay Mumtaz, watched by his very proud mother, and Simon Pettit, nurturing a healthy batting (?) average in the 50’s started off. They came up against Dan Savin and Tim McIntyre, both of whom had proved thorns in MSCC’s side in the past.
But in fact it seemed like a bed of roses for Simon, who charged off to a very quick 42 – half of his scoring shots coming in boundaries. Jay’s mum was soon disappointed unfortunately, Simon fell just short of being able to retire with an average of 100+, but David Moorman then watched proudly as grandson Joe pushed the total along to 60, before he was smartly stumped for 18.
Mark F-L had been piling up more runs, and at 92-3 off 14, it was looking fairly bright for MSCC. When Graeme, then Mark (25) then Tim H fell with only four runs being added, the gloom that had enveloped the ground was obviously posted into the minds of our players. Somehow, we managed to add only 12 runs in the last six overs, with seven wickets down in this ever exciting T20 format. (It was rumoured that a potential IPL player was on the opposition – their scouts however were strangely absent whilst we were batting, having probably left after Simon’s innings).
Heads might have dropped defending 105, and Jeff Higgs and McIntyre certainly tried to ensure they did. The openers got off to a flier and having raced past the half way mark, in very few overs, it took the switch to spin to effect any semblance of hope.
Between his running commentary, Michael Simpson bowled beautifully, slowed the scoring rate down and snared two quick wickets. Jeff had to retire on 50 which gave us some relief, but Jim Watson and the skipper, Simon Lee joined in the wicket taking, and the balance of the game shifted ever so slightly, with doubt creeping into the Strollers’ minds as the overs ticked by. Joe Moorman tightened the noose with two canny overs, Stuart Midson did the same, and suddenly there was a chance that the fortunes to date could be reversed.
But 105 was always going to be tough to defend, and the experience that lurked in the Strollers’ ranks eventually told; with an over to spare, they managed to cross the line, five wickets down.
A game as unpredictable as our averages, with several highlights, played in low light, but always in good spirit. Possibly with a little more concentration, and a little more self-belief at the times when the bails didn’t fall, it could have been a different result. But that’s T20 cricket.