It is always a big day in the MSCC calendar when a touring Australian cricket club come to visit. Goodwood CC (Adelaide, South Australia) were on the fixture list and just about everyone involved with the club had made preparations to welcome them to our home. It was to be a fine day, a fine game and a fine show of what a welcoming and hospitable club MSCC and its family are.
Several committee members, including Messrs. Pettit, Lancaster, Cranston, amongst others, deserve special mention here (and normal mentions later) as they had generously stepped in to oversee the whole social and catering arrangements at late notice, and had somehow managed to double the beer stock on site, administer the logistics of feeding a huge number of good sports, and persuaded a collection of the friendliest, but absolutely hopeless, bartenders (you know who you are) to “help out” when the time came. Simon’s especially, and all those extra efforts, were deeply appreciated and made the day.
Selecting a good nickname can be a tricky process, often taking endless debates. I’m not entirely sure (but can be certain I will now be informed) if MSCC have one at all. If it’s too cryptic, what’s the point, and it can be mighty hard to get everyone to unanimously agree on a good name. “The Roos” arrived en-force, were halfway through their UK tour, and had been beaten the day before by our old rivals, S.O.A. We had been told to expect them to field a fitter, stronger and slightly younger team. They certainly looked fitter, stronger, and younger than us.
The two captains ambled out to the square, Goodwood’s skipper traditionally adorned in blazer and shorts, and having explained the concept and home rules of timed cricket, Simon lost the toss. The Australians chose to bat.
Goodwood looked good, very good. As it happened, (and we began to realise this throughout their full innings), they seemed to have eleven specialist batsmen. So good news then when MSCC come to bat…
Middleton Stoney had a strong team out though, and both Tim Cranston and George Williams opened the attack with pace, control and thought. With precise and proper shot-making Goodwood had reached 20 when George had the first opener athletically caught at second slip by a horizontally diving Mark Ford-Langstaff, who continues to take more than impressive catches this season.
Their number three strode to the crease with more sun-block on than Shane Warne ever did (so he must have been good) and proved it with his first three crisply struck boundaries. However, his captain had just fallen, again off George Williams’s bowling, with Tim House taking the catch behind the square leg umpire. 43 for 2. The start was what Simon Lee had planned and we had hoped for. It was looking like a slick team effort in the field, and was to get better.
Although obviously fine batsmen, Goodwood were finding the wicket difficult to adapt to. The white-face Payne (no.3), proceeded to drive on the up as though he might have been batting at the WACA. Mark Ford-Langstaff snaffled another good catch (eight this season) and Tim Cranston was duly rewarded with his first wicket of the day.
When Simon Pettit and Michael Simpson came on to bowl they both increased the pressure on the batsmen. The latter’s first three overs were maidens and very soon it became 52 for 4 as Simon bowled another dangerous looking batsman, the wonderfully monikered Scroop. Not sure he needs a nickname.
Having not giving away a run, Michael then removed their number seven through flight and guile and had him well caught by Tim Cranston around the corner. 56 for 5 and the Australians were looking frustrated. When their next batsmen hoisted a Simon Pettit delivery high into the air, he might have been pleased to see two fielders running towards each other at speed in order to claim the catch (and possibly get their name on the shortlist for catch of the season). Joe Moorman called, Tim Cranston kept running, but disaster was averted probably due to the height difference of the two. Good catch Joe. Six down and Goodwood needed to pick up the pace.
Sathya Vadivale was brought into the attack precisely to negate this, which he did empathetically. Desperately trying to steal single, their impressive number 5, found himself run out by a speedy pick up and direct hit from Tim House. No run there sir.
George Williams and Tim Cranston were welcomed back into the attack to see if MSCC could wrap the innings up before tea. Well, they could, and took two and the final wicket respectively, leaving a possibly tricky 10 minutes before tea for the home team to negotiate, whilst looking at a total of 123 to chase.
It has to be said that it was one of the most impressive MSCC fielding and bowling displays of recent years, and one that everyone contributed towards in terms of skill, attitude, perseverance and belief.
So, back to that obviously lightweight Goodwood bowling attack and those few definitely tricky minutes before tea. Tim Riley soon found out that he would be helping to dry up after the break, rather than chasing 123. MSCC were on the back foot (which later Tim House wished he had been) at 5-1 at tea.
The Australians, many of them, and MSCC then were treated to a sumptuous tea, courtesy of the other Australian contingent at the ground, the Williams family. Jason was making a rare appearance this year (not on the pitch though), but presumably his shoulder injury had allowed him to stir cake mix and whisk eggs. Catie had overseen an amazing array that wowed the visitors and sated everyone’s appetite: for a while anyway – more on that later. Impressive.
MSCC resumed their run chase, but not tremendously well. Tim House looked pained when given out LBW, but was that his sore toe, dented pride or other? Jon Springer also came and went quickly, leaving the way for Mark F-L (who was in form) and Joe Moorman to blunt the impressive attack. So now we’re thinking that Goodwood probably have ten specialist bowlers as well.
Their openers however continued unchanged for a long time; Joe, a tall lad, was unable to keep out a shooter, and Mark suddenly realised half way down the wicket that a quick single with (the hobbling) Sathya is an oxymoron and turned back nobly, but catastrophically, to be run out by a kangaroo’s tail.
At 18 for 5, the home side were heading for an embarrassing end, coupled with a sense of what could, and should, have been. But Sathya and Michael Simpson (now overtly nursing a really sore thumb) steadied the ship and prepared MSCC for a push to victory. When Sathya fell for 18, Simon Pettit took over in his inimitable manner and crashed boundary after boundary to cause the Australians plenty of concern and field changes. However, one straight one too many and he fell.
George Williams looked to hit us high over the winning line but fell to the canny Australian field settings and was caught. Tim Cranston and Simon Lee then had to come in with 30 odd needed off about 7 overs, but the Goodwood openers were reintroduced and fairly soon after, MSCC were skittled out for 97. Michael remained unbeaten on a worthy 35. Where did those bowlers come from?
Immediately afterwards, there were magnanimous and sincere speeches from both sides and the presentation of MSCC club ties to our overseas visitors.
The bar was packed, (manned by those aforementioned volunteers, so thank you) and Simon Pettit’s carefully planned organisation to have Pollocks Caterers serving Fish N’ Chips was a highlight. The queue went on for a long while with Pollocks brilliant and cheerful to the end. The touring party seemed to have a great time, as did the hosts and all the many followers who had kindly and generously come to support and enjoy.
Put all that into one afternoon, and what’s not to love about an English summer and Middleton Stoney Cricket Club?