After a highly disappointing August, which had seen 4 matches cancelled (either due to weather or the failure of our opposition to raise an XI) and only 2 games played since our defeat against the touring Aussies, there was a heightened sense of anticipation ahead of the game against the Invalids. Not only is it one of our cherished and longer standing fixtures, but the Invalids skipper kindly pointed out (post-match!) that their track record against us usually favoured the home team. For those not aware, or not remembering previous match reports, Invalids CC was formed in 1919 following an agreement by several soldiers seriously injured in WWI that they form a team to play on their return to England. Nearly 100 years later, to their credit, they play on in that same spirit and will be celebrating their centenary next year! We look forward to sharing in those celebrations next season.
The anticipation was steeped up, after all, there was a large stock of beer & wine to be consumed in the remaining 3 home games….and the Skipper had carefully managed (or was it massaged?) the ego’s of the leading run-scorers & wicket-takers, by updating all Club readers with the latest positions pre-match, which I can confirm lead to some spirited email banter!
So, after Dr Nick had worked tirelessly preparing a fantastic strip for us, and even having to cut the outfield! (The outfield mower was given its first proper outing since the end of May!!) Players began to arrive keenly ahead of a 1.30pm start, unforeseen traffic problems meant some of our visitors were slightly delayed. During this time, young Elliot Barton contributed to the team cause by offering to bowl at Invalids wicketkeeper batsman, D Shillingford (a previous destroyer of our bowlers) for some pre-match practice and succeeded in inducing a tweaked muscle in his back….well done Elliott, one genuine ‘Invalid’! That said, Mr Shillingford went on to keep wicket superbly!
Our skipper won the toss and decided that, as the sun was out, it was a good day to bat first…in the interest of making the run scoring challenge interesting, he allowed one of Nick Moorman’s challengers, Mark to open the batting with Tim Riley. They faced some very accurate, quick and effective opening bowlers…one of whom was keen to show how well the ball was going through. They put on 31 before Tim was adjudged leg before to give the ‘quickie’ his first victim. Middleton were 40 for 1 when a deft change of pace & bowler gave Mark (or so he thought!) the opportunity to get some runs, but Robin Durden had other ideas and Mark was tricked by a well disguised (!) full toss when on 20. Middleton were relaxed, we still had Joe Moorman, Tim House and Nick Moorman to bat…until M Abdol took the wickets of Joe & Tim to leave Middleton at 48 for 4, with still 90 minutes until tea.
Nick proceeded to guide & gently encourage Simon Pettit, batting unusually high up the order at 6, to rein in his usual slog ‘em all approach. So with a mix of defensive strokes and leaves (so out of character!) they added 38 runs before Nick perished for 26, caught behind off a thin edge. Elliot joined the fray and played some excellent defensive shots to enable Simon to try to whack any bad balls (in his more usual fashion!). There then followed a comedic passage of play, a top edge was played back and the bowler called for it…Simon started to run only to watch the catch spilled by the bowler whereupon he had to make tracks back to the crease to avoid a run out! The next delivery proved a turning point….no, it did not spin wildly out of the rough…..it would have had to pitch for that to happen….it didn’t even get within a shoulders length of the pitch (Yes, it was that high!) and Simon offered his very poor impersonation of a hook-pull shot and was caught behind square leg. The umpire at the bowlers end felt [Rightly….well, that was my view…😊] that this may have been a No ball [See Rule 41.7.1 cited below…] and consulted the Umpire at square leg who seemed to feel it had only been a full toss and thus Simon departed on 39. The remaining batsman acquitted themselves well, and David Lewis struck his first boundary in club colours, a milestone celebrated wildly by his travelling fan club (who later celebrated his wicket with similar jubilation – thank you ladies). Middleton closed for an early tea on 128 all out.
A big thank you to Mrs Jackson and her little lad, Stevyn (our Hon. Sec.) for providing us with a sumptuous tea and attempting to at least get Invalids to eat plenty so as to slow down their batsmen!
Middleton took to the field and the skipper decided to open with Messrs Pettit & Moorman (N) to give Simon a chance to catch Tim Cranston in the wicket league. Invalids openers saw the score to 20 off 4 overs before Pettit was able to guide a swinging ball off the pads and into the stumps, the runs were kept down and then Nick managed to get the #3 out adjudged leg before with Invalids on 31 for 2.
There followed a series of bowling changes as Skipper tried to find a breakthrough, which came with David Lewis inducing an edge (cue loud celebrations from the fan club!) taken very well by Jim Watson making his wicketkeeping debut (& very fine it was too!) at Middleton and Simon getting the other opener edged to slip to present Mark Ford-Langstaff with a further catch to add to his season haul. [Note, for those interested, this closes the gap, but leaves young Mr Cranston ahead by 1 wicket on 25 for the season!]. We were treated to some miserly bowling and fine, acrobatic, fielding by Martin Randall who was surely attempting to de-throne Tim Cranston as the top sliding stopper in the side?
Invalids then had Messrs Gilmour & Stafford at the crease and they proceeded to bat beautifully and accumulate runs, reaching 90 before Tim Riley, with his slowish left arm bowling made successive breakthroughs giving Middleton a sniff of a victory at 96 for 6. At this point, Mr Shillingford joined Gilmour at the crease and they made their way to 128 for 6. Elliot Barton, Shillingford’s nemesis in the Nets, came on to see if he could conjure his downfall…..sadly, for Elliot, Rob (his Dad) was umpiring and having waited all season since the intra-club game to gain revenge for his run out…(see the match report http://www.middletonstoneycc.co.uk/club-news/2018/presidents-day-intra-club-match-2018/ ), shock, horror…..he adjudged Elliot’s 4th delivery to be a wide, giving Invalids a well-deserved win by 4 wickets, with only 3 overs left!! To Rob’s credit, he had opted against signalling wide with Elliot’s loosener!
The weather was a complete contrast to August, the pitch played well and the game was played in a most enjoyable manner, thanks to all including all our vocal supporters. The batting & bowling chase continues in the delightful surrounds of Turville Park [Post code: RG9 6LB for those interested in coming to watch] at 1pm on Sunday 9th!
We understand that having been present at Invalids 75th anniversary dinner, George Lamb will be invited to join Invalids for their 100th anniversary dinner and we look forward to welcoming them back next year to enable us to gain some revenge!