As the sun slowly westered behind the giant oak, MSCC once again pondered the timeless issue of how to take ten wickets before the last 20 overs expired. Sadly, pondering failed to take the last two of those wickets. Thinking through the day’s play inspired the author to pen the report during the post-game drinks, where the only bitter thought was which of the many on offer he would order.
Earlier in the day, a smiling captain reported to a smiling team that he had shown his tossing ability to be unparalleled. Batting on a faultless wicket against the seam attack, tricky enough that the keeper stood back all day, Messrs Ford-Langstaff and Lancaster seemed untroubled, bar a couple of scares.
As the mayflies basked in the soporific sunshine, the dynamic duo cruised through the milestones. 50 partnership, 100 partnership, half century for Ford-Langstaff, and thereafter Lancaster. Mr. Lancaster politely fell on his sword for 51, his highest score for the club, allowing Jon O’Neill to accompany Mark Ford-Langstaff to a splendid century, marked by clumping blows back past the bowler and elegant drives through the offside.
Mark fell surprisingly, having reached three figures, to a ball which may have been called wide had it not cannoned off his pad onto the leg stump, dislodging the bail. Jon had moved on handsomely past 30 when he was joined by David Lewis, who, as a debutant batsman for MSCC, soon moved on to double his previous highest score in cricket. (He later enjoyed his debut as the BBQ chef for the evening, so thank you).
Ben Breaker, making his club debut, also added to the scorecard. After Ben had taken a single from the 38th over, the captain had seen enough and duly declared, minutes before the tea break.
Tea was taken, and many thanks to Karen for doing the honours. Paul Wordsworth, obviously limbering up for what was to follow, proved a very capable and willing waiter, although it may not quite surpass the career from which he has recently retired.
A triumvirate of Tims took the field first, with Cranston and House opening the bowling, Riley giving verbal encouragement and another Tim umpiring from the Rainmen ranks.
Wicketless until the tenth over, a win seemed unlikely. The captain turned to experience, and asked Professor. Wordsworth to bowl. His first three overs were unremarkable in the scorebook, but his fourth was another story.
A smart catch by Richard Morris was followed by a first ball dismissal and the chance of a hat-trick. Although the hat-trick was thwarted, two further wickets in Paul’s next two overs, another bowled and one superbly caught by Mark Ford-Langstaff at slip, added to a maiden MSCC wicket for David Lewis, well caught by Paul Wordsworth, gave the home team the chance of victory.
Our captain, Simon Lee, bowled more than he usually does, much to the will and delight of his teammates.
Jon O’Neill bowled a lot more than he usually does, two overs, taking a wicket, caught behind.
Tim Cranston fielded as he usually does, taking the seventh wicket with a run out from the boundary.
David Owen, author, Rainman, and determined batsman, saved the day for our opponents. Despite two half chances he played a flamboyant and well-constructed innings to amass 78 not out and frustrate our efforts to gain a first victory of the season.
In his third spell, a last ball wicket by Tim Cranston helped his averages and strike rate but was too late to put a dent in a well-earned draw by the Rainmen.