Games between these two clubs have been evenly matched over the years, and this year, The Cricket Society looked to have brought a strong side with a fine balance of young and old, faster and slower.
A match historically affected by the weather, this year was no different, with both captains fearing the worst but remaining confident that a game would be possible. The Cricket Society travel from afar and bring a good crowd, so we were all delighted that a full game did indeed materialise, albeit under variable skies.
MSCC won the toss and batted first on a pitch that Nick Thompson had somehow managed to cultivate into one that suited the seamers, the batsmen and the spinners, as was proven throughout the game.
Two of the Tims, Riley and House, opened the batting and immediately felt the sting of the Fenn brothers’ fine seam bowling. A (presumably) tortuous slow start saw MSCC amass 27 runs off the first 14 overs, and only 39 after an hour. But crucially no wicket had fallen. The two openers had a chat at drinks, and decided it was time to push things on a tad. Tim Riley moved on to a chanceless 41 when the wily regular, John Symonds snared his first wicket of the day.
Tim House had just begun to accelerate, which wasn’t hard, when he was joined by the in-form Mark Ford-Langstaff. Tim took two of the slower bowlers by the scruff of the neck, saved his own legs, and hit boundaries over and between the many fielders on the boundary until he perished on 79. MSCC had a platform, and Mark started to ensure it was not wasted. Some lofty drives, a massive 6 and he had pushed the home side up past the 150 mark when he also fell to spin.
Joe Moorman looked elegant and composed as always, moved into double figures but in his own words, played a daft shot and was LBW. Sathya, for once, didn’t help his average, which apart from Danny Clark actually making it out to the middle, was the surprise of the day at that moment. However, Danny’s class with the bat came through and he drove us on to a very respectable 196 at tea, ably backed up with frantic shot-making and running from Richard Morris and Stevyn Jackson taking one for the team. 75 minutes earlier, The Cricket Society might have been muttering “piece of cake” not “concentrate”.
Paul Wordsworth had very nobly stepped down from playing, in order to provide the tea, and very well received it was; the tea, not the standing aside. As seems to be the norm now, the opposition were more than happy to prolong their tea until the last moment, when their bell tolled.
MSCC knew they had a good batting line-up against them but were confident that they could be aggressive. On cue, James Mitchell was, and the pitch of many qualities continued to prove its worth. A quick rising delivery tucked up the first opener, but he hooked hard. Surely the Champagne moment followed (but keep reading) as Sathya moved, swooped low and clung on to an extraordinarily fine catch. Jacob Ford-Langstaff was also finding the pitch to his liking and just began his allowed (six over) spell with real intent. Joe made a potentially tricky catch look simple off Jacob’s perfect Middleton Stoney length ball and James roared in a clean bowled the very decent league number three batsman. 12 for 3.
But the Fenn family, of which three were in the side, hadn’t come here to leave without a fight. MSCC bowled pretty well, but the Fenn’s took their chances, punished anything loose, and the scoreboard started to reflect a well-balanced game nearing the 20 overs-to-play mark.
James Mitchell continued at his hostile best and was rewarded with a wicket as Joe Moorman took his second catch of the day, this time tumbling and taking the ball inches from the ground.
Simon Lee surprisingly brought himself on to bowl, but unsurprisingly decided on just the two overs; we will rectify this self-effacing trait before the end of the season. Joe Moorman took over and surely the Champagne moment of the day followed, (but keep reading). The second Fenn cracked the ball behind square and Mark Ford-Langstaff imitated Sathya’s earlier feat (yes) and snared a screamer of a catch. Not sure which celebration topped the other, but both batsmen departed with outright disbelief.
So, the game was there to be won for the home team, and The Cricket Society knew it. Although only five wickets down, they had a lot of overs to negotiate, and they started well. A few overs in, Simon brought Danny Clark into the attack. A little turn, a little bounce yes, but obviously not his day.
Until…Bowled him! The last of the run scorers, and possibly the last hope for TCS had gone. Next ball, Bowled him! The third Fenn gone. And next ball, the skipper…Bowled him! That was a serious hat trick; oh, and the third, but winning Champagne moment.
Sathya was brought into the attack with two wickets needed – he halved that equation and added to his extraordinary averages this year. 100+ runs behind, one wicket left and about ten overs to face, you might have put your money on a home win. But the two experienced Society numbers 10 and 11 saw it out stoically and humorously, despite numerous close calls, louder appeals and polite refusals.
All credit to both sides for wanting to stay out on the pitch when it was raining hard, and thanks to all who contributed in every aspect of a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon’s Sunday cricket.