Middleton Stoney won the toss yet again in this hot, dry summer and decided to bat first against Blue Lion, the Yorkshire touring side. Six of our best opening batsmen dropped down the order to allow a father and son combination, Nick and Joe Moorman, to open the innings together three days after the latter’s 18th birthday. To give them every chance of success, an older Moorman generation went out to umpire. Thank you, David. The umpiring stint turned out to be for just a couple of overs, much like Joe’s innings. This did include a handsome drive for 4 but then he played a late cut into safe hands behind the stumps. Richard Simpson came in at number three and hit 89 in no time at all. Richard batted superbly, striking four 6s but was not surprisingly caught in the deep.
After such a long wait, Tim Riley’s innings took no time either, as he popped his first ball into the hands of short extra cover. Mark Ford-Langstaff, Tim House and Howard Lancaster each contributed an impressive boundary before being out, respectively, caught, bowled and run out by a fine piece of fielding. Mike Simpson was not out. Nick Moorman would have carried his bat for 112 if I had declared a ball earlier but he was caught in the last over before tea. Nick had concentrated against tight bowling for 149 minutes, playing shots when the occasional bad ball deserved it and hitting a good ball for a colossal 6, his impressive century taking us to a record score in recent times of 252 for 7 off 41.5 overs, against traditionally our strongest opponents in Blue Lion. Both Nick and Richard had entertained a record crowd of over one hundred, drawn also by the annual lunch-time village barbecue.
A big enough tea for the whole village was provided by Team Mumtaz. Innovations included the diversity of the food, the sign-posting of what it was, and the need to commandeer the entire length of one of the tables where we normally sit. Players and spectators alike were happy to take the food outside, some struggling to fit their generous portions of Jay’s show-stopper ice cream cake through the pavilion’s doors.
Tim Cranston and Mike Simpson opened the bowling. Joe Moorman and Tim House took over, then Richard Simpson and Nick Moorman began the last twenty overs. I had an over which brought Blue Lion back into the game. I had intended to round off the day with Tim Cranston and Mike Simpson returning for their second spells. Even though these changes had their successes, however, I thought that a second spell from Richard Simpson and a third spell from Tim Cranston, switching ends, might break through the lower middle order. Tim Cranston, Nick Moorman and Richard Simpson duly took two wickets each.
In the recent T20, the Australian quick bowler Marcus Stoinis took a remarkable catch off his own bowling from a full-blooded swat to dismiss Alex Hales. Nick’s caught and bowled was similar but much lower, testing for any player, let alone one who had just scored a century on one of the hottest days of the year. The victim was Blue Lion’s top scorer, one of two Yorkshire batsmen to get into the 60s. He dismissed the next batsman LBW next ball to be on a hat-trick. Joe Moorman also took a good catch, off the bowling of Tim Cranston. Richard trapped the other high scorer LBW. Tim and Richard each clean bowled a batsman. Nick had the best figures or 5 overs, 2 for 14, to go with the game’s century, and half of the exclusively Moorman haul of catches for Middleton Stoney.
What of those who did not bowl? Tim Riley was keeping wicket tidily, Howard Lancaster was scampering around saving singles and boundaries, while Jim Watson was nursing a back injury yet still patrolling the far boundary with his customary sure touch on the ground, albeit with a slight wobble when one ball came at drone level, and Mark Ford-Langstaff was at long on and third man. In the latter capacity, he adopted a tactic sometimes seen deployed by his fellow slip fielder, Mike Simpson, when reminding the captain that he would like to bowl. This weapon had been neutralised in the case of Mike by the simple device of asking him to open the bowling, before he could whirl his arms and while he was still tucking into Jay’s Ice cream cake. Mark has been bowling more and more this season but not in this match. So he just bowled his faster ball in from that third man boundary instead and hit the stumps to run out their number six. I was still expecting Tim or Richard to complete a victory by taking a hat-trick in the last two of our 39 overs but Blue Lion batted out for the draw, closing on 194 for 7.
Simon Pettit and Jon O’Neill had run the bar through a busy day, with a sideline in providing frequent drinks intervals for the players (a task which involves yet more washing up). Chris Greer kept score throughout the whole game. Jon slipped out on to the square to brush the dust away from the pitch between innings. Simon was still there at the end of a long evening, serving a thirsty mix of players, spectators and those watching World Cup football on the pavilion television. Countless families just about kept their children safe on the boundary as Richard and Nick hit the ball hard into the crowd. Blue Lion fielders bravely strode into the long grass and bushes to retrieve balls which had been despatched in other directions. Spoilt for choice for a champagne moment, I opted for Nick Moorman’s caught and bowled as the highlight of his sparkling performance.