We held eight catches and won this game with a run out in an extraordinary fielding display.
First, however, after winning the toss came the tricky decision of how to choose the batting order for this T20 fixture against a highly competitive Far From The MCC team. While an average of over fifty earned players a place in our top six, their precise place also depended on arrival times so even an average of over one hundred did not lift Sathya Vadivale above number six.
By the time he joined Jon Springer in the middle, our top three had been clean bowled, Joe Moorman for 15, Mark Ford-Langstaff for 3 and Simon Pettit (who had, contrary to rumour, not been at the ground, padded up, since dawn) for 9, including a colossal six. Jay Mumtaz had been caught for a duck and we were 31 for 4 in the eighth over. Far From The MCC like batsman to retire on 30 in T20 games but we had agreed on 50. Jon Springer was bowled in the last over for a well-paced 49 and Sathya Vadivale was caught off the last ball for a determined 23, leaving Graeme Delaney on 1 not out and our score on 112 for 6, thanks to what proved to be a match-winning partnership of eighty runs at seven an over.
As we went out to field, however, I was not convinced this was a big enough total for our preferred strategy of bowling a couple of overs each, so I asked Jacob Ford-Langstaff and Jim Watson to bowl their full quotas of four overs. Then Joe Moorman bowled a couple at one end, followed by Simon Pettit’s four, while I bowled four at the other end with Joe switching to bowl the last two from that end. If we had been in even more dire need of a leading bowler, I could also have called on Sathya Vadivale, who was keeping wicket. Jacob took 1 for 11, Jim 1 for 20, Joe 2 for 9, I took 2 for 13 and Simon Pettit 3 for 30.
The secret of our success, however, was in the fielding. Three of our younger players in Jacob Ford-Langstaff, Joe Moorman and Jay Mumtaz took two catches each, Jay with some juggling. My own caught and bowled was an act of self-preservation. The most extraordinary catch of the day was by Simon Pettit who ran almost as far before catching a fellow Middleton Stoney resident, Russell Turner, as he did afterwards in an exuberant celebration which stopped only marginally short of Jason Roy’s delight over a similar catch at Edgbaston recently or indeed Paul Gascoigne’s antics on scoring a wonder goal against Scotland in 1996. This would have merited a fine in earlier regimes but instead it took the champagne moment award, appropriately enough because Russell had enough time to take his pads off and have a drink before Simon had stopped celebrating.
The other dismissal, by the way, was leg before wicket from my first delivery. Some of the opposition were later heard blaming their umpire for this decision. It looked plumb to me, as it did from the eye-line of probably the tallest umpire in the world, even if some of the batting side thought it might have bounced too high.
After Jacob’s opening maiden over, Far From The MCC soon went ahead of the run rate and stayed in front of our score up to their eleventh over. Their top-scorer, batting at number nine, then brought them back into contention by hitting two crisp boundaries in the nineteenth over. Their number eleven therefore wanted to take a single off the first ball of the last over, bowled by Joe Moorman, to give their star the strike to see if he could hit three more big boundaries for victory.
There was never one to Jim Watson at mid-on, however, as he swooped like Jonty Rhodes in general, or Viv Richards in the 1975 World Cup final in particular, to get the ball to Joe in time to win the game. There had been some fine ground fielding throughout the Far From The MCC innings, especially from Howard Lancaster and Graeme Delaney. In seven of the eight catches, the fielder never looked like dropping the ball, even when Jacob had to follow the trajectory of a steepling shot while facing into the sun.
We have now won 7 games out of 15, drawn 4 and lost 4. This was a most enjoyable evening. The home team were grateful to the senior Vadivales and Lambs, Denise Simpson, Holly Ford-Langstaff, Patricia Lee and Joshua Wright, as well as the visiting team’s supporters, for joining us at various stages and to Dr Nick Thompson for a fine pitch after the torrential rain of Tuesday. Far From The MCC stayed to enjoy the barbecue, with food kindly brought by Denise Simpson and cooked by Jim Watson and Mark Ford-Langstaff, and drinks served by Simon Pettit who regaled us with memories of his catch.