My first of at least four mistakes was being fooled by Prof. Paul Wordsworth into arranging an extra T20 fixture v Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre. Second, alarm bells should have rung when he volunteered to play for the opposition. Third, it would have been easy to have called off the match during a day of rain. Fourth, even when I won the toss, it might have been sensible to have put them in to bat. Sorry about all that. Yes, we lost.
Still, it all started well enough with Dan Simpson and Danny Clark scoring 11 off the first over and seeing off their opening bowlers for 12 and 15 runs from 2 overs each. But then Paul Wordsworth came on to bowl. He started with a wicket maiden, bowling Dan Simpson. We began to struggle despite Joe Moorman, Mark Ford-Langstaff and Tim House all scoring 20+. NOC used 7 bowlers, with 5 of them sharing 6 wickets, one caught, one stumped and four clean bowled.
124 for 6 looked a reasonable total as Tim Cranston took 2 for 11 in his four opening overs. This included the one LBW of the match, in their first over. Tim was well supported by Jacob Ford-Langstaff who appealed for LBWs to no avail at the other end, where Howard Lancaster was umpiring. They each bowled one of the NOC batsmen before I brought on our four off-spinners. Not all in one go, you understand, but in ‘turn’. Well, Danny Clark’s first delivery turned dramatically, bowling their very surprised second-best batsman of the innings, very much along the lines of his all-bowled hat-trick on Sunday.
Sathya Vadivale, Joe Moorman and Mike Simpson had the misfortune to bowl to their best batsman of the innings, their number five, who played like a hockey international, which he apparently is. Not that I know if hockey internationals hit sixes over trees but he certainly had good hand eye coordination, which is probably good news also for those attending the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre. It is not often that number five scores 74 not out in a 20 over game, especially when he had two overs to spare. So if we had put them in to bat, he might have scored a century.
And yet, it had seemed as if he was out in the middle of his innings, well caught by Mark Ford-Langstaff on the square leg boundary, in front of the pavilion. As the bowler and catcher were being congratulated and I was thinking that having just moved Mark back there was an inspired example of field-placing, the medics, being medics, offered a second opinion. In their eyes, Mark was literally on the boundary, as in putting a foot back on to the boundary rope in the act of taking the catch, which would have meant it was a six rather than a dismissal. This just goes to show how we see the world differently since I, fielding at mid-wicket, thought that Mark had stepped forward. Still, we took their word for it and even if the batsman had been given out then, or if a subsequent stumping appeal had been successful, or if one of the steepling sixes had miscued, we would still have had to deal with Professor Wordsworth, amongst others.
The NOC players gathered round the barbecue which was expertly managed with a consultant surgeon’s touch by one of our own team, Marc Swan, on his debut (debut as a cricketer for MSCC, that is - he has barbecued before and he is indeed a consultant surgeon). Having already been not out when batting, and enthusiastic in the field, Marc’s debut was also responsible for attracting three of the four spectators at the game.
It is possible that our normal crowd were deterred by the weather, perhaps even assuming that the game could not possibly be happening. One of our selected players made that mistake and only let on that he was marooned in Wales when I confirmed around half past four that the game was on – a decision which was met with incredulity even in other parts of Middleton Stoney. We often say that the village has a micro-climate of its own but perhaps it is more specifically Middleton Park. Or, rather, we have a miracle-worker in another doctor, Nick Thompson, who worked on the ground all afternoon so that we could play. Games were certainly rained off elsewhere in the vicinity and one of our senior Oxfordshire stars, Mike Simpson, came to the rescue to complete our XI.
Another hero of the day, Tim Cranston, stayed till gone 10pm serving the opposition at the bar. He was last seen being poached by NOC who recognised him as not only a cricketer of quality but as someone who works at the Botnar Research Centre, which is part of Professor Wordsworth’s NDORMS which is somehow related to NOC. On that basis, budding writers might wish to volunteer to help at our next game, unusually on a Saturday, when we are playing The Authors CC.