It’s not often that I score more in a game than Richard Simpson. Yes, we were that bad yesterday. Blue Lion won the toss and put us into bat. Tim Riley and Nick Moorman opened. The latter’s light touch had him caught behind for 4 and in came Richard. His heavy touch, an on drive, was superbly caught and he was out for 2.
Tim Riley batted well and top scored with 21 before being trapped LBW. This brought Sathya Vadivale and Mike Simpson together at 4 and 5. They batted and battled with skill and application, scoring 18 and 19 respectively. Their running between the wickets and calling, or lack of calling, however, conjured up images of Geoffrey Boycott trying to run out, well, Geoffrey Boycott. Sure enough, Sathya Vadivale played a nice cover drive to Blue Lion’s star fielder, started to run, was sent back and was just beaten by a bullet throw. And when I say star fielder, the overall standard of Blue Lion’s fielding was first class.
At number 6, new player Tom White strode to the crease. He managed to get his bat on to his first delivery and was caught behind. Mike Simpson was bowled. Paul Wordsworth decided to have a go and was caught. Richard Morris hit a lovely boundary before being bowled for 7. Stuart Midson was bowled first ball. Adrian Langdale was left on 0 not out when I was bowled for 3. 14 extras helped us to a total of 88, which took us 2 hours and 25 minutes.
While we had not done ourselves justice on the pitch, we made a better effort at demolishing Athis Vadivale’s delightful and plentiful tea, notwithstanding the amount of food tucked away before the game at the annual village barbecue.
Abandoning my usual policy of asking those of us batting lower in the order to bowl first, I thought we needed to prioritise taking some early wickets. Our top five batsmen all bowl as well, and indeed can keep wicket, so how was I to choose? I reckoned that Richard Simpson and Nick Moorman, having scored 2 and 4, would be angriest, so we opened with them.
This worked so well that one of their openers batted through their entire innings, scoring 25 not out. Actually, it did work as they each took two wickets in their six over spells (2 for 18 and 2 for 21) and Blue Lion were reduced to 39 for 4. Both Nick Moorman’s victims were LBW. Both Richard’s were bowled. He enjoyed bowling the fielder who had caught him and the batsman who had just hit him for a 6, having hit another confident boundary off his first ball. He didn’t look quite so pleased with himself when bowled by a googly, a point Richard made in friendly conversation as the batsman departed.
Now the fielder who had run out Sathya came in at number 6 and scored 37 not out, despite the best efforts of our next four bowlers, Sathya, Tom White, Mike Simpson and Stuart Midson. Tom even got him to mis-cue a shot. But they brought up their fifty partnership with the final stroke and boundary of the match, beating us by six wickets.
Denise and Richard Simpson worked hard behind the bar during the village barbecue and on through the day. I didn’t want Mike Simpson to feel left out from club duties so asked him, as Richard Morris and I went out to umpire, to make sure that the team took care of the scorebook and scorebox duties. This was interpreted as lumbering the new player, Tom White, with sole responsibility until he went in to bat, at which point Nick Moorman took up scorebox residency.
So I later asked Mike to take his annual turn at the barbecue, which he eventually did but not before he had interpreted his front of house duties as meaning the priority was to organise yards of ale for Tom’s and Stuart’s golden ducks. Earlier in the day, the excellent village barbecue for one hundred had been accompanied by three young female musicians with melodious voices. The evening entertainment, in stark contrast, was Mike Simpson and Paul Wordsworth singing their traditional encouragement to the drinkers of the yards.
Where Paul Wordsworth did star, however, was in the field, at least when he was on the field. Last week he wandered off to minister to the injured George Williams. This time he just wandered off. That apart, he fielded with the pace and determination shown by Blue Lion. Tim Riley, Sathya Vadivale, Tom White, Stuart Midson and Adrian Langdale also charged around the outfield. Richard Morris did well behind the stumps, once ready, although he took ages to add helmet and replace gloves at the start of Richard Simpson’s overs.
And by ‘ages’ I really do mean as long as it took Sathya Vadivale to emerge from the pavilion for his final innings as a single man. His average has crashed now to 80. It would be 240 if cricket statistics worked like Sathya’s mind, in which two run outs and one LBW don’t really count as dismissals. This is a variation on Richard Simpson’s approach in which if you have thumped the ball so hard that most of our team would have struggled to see the ball, let alone get near it, then it is somehow unfair for the opposition to catch it. So the pub quiz question for the year is: who bowled the one ball on our ground this season to dismiss Sathya in a way which even he could not dispute? A clue is that Sathya was playing against us for Oxford University Statisticians. And no, playing against us does not count for averages, a point I had to make to Richard Morris who was claiming five stumpings when he only has four for us so far this season.
Our next fixtures are three games in five days, the first of which clashes with Sathya’s wedding. So we need one or two reinforcements and we need to play better. We have so far this season played 12, won 5, drawn 3 and lost 4. At least, that is how our website is recording the results. One of those matches, however, was our intra-club game which is counted as a win, as it was for the President’s XI. So while the season has been good fun, the results are going against us. In the case of Blue Lion, the simple explanation is that they were almost all of the highest Yorkshire League cricket standard and we were not. In terms of the beautiful ground, food, weather and crowd, however, we too were first class.