After three Sundays with no cricket following two rain cancellations and one cancellation when our opponents couldn't raise a side, MSCC were delighted to welcome Jesters back to Middleton Park to renew our annual rivalry.
Jesters looked worryingly young this year and on winning the toss, seeing a greenish wicket and remembering the rain during the week, they didn't hesitate to put us in to bat.
The in-form Nick Moorman was looking for his fourth hundred in a row and opened the batting with Mark Ford-Langstaff. Nick started this innings 60 or so runs ahead of Mark in the run scoring stakes for the season and both looked determined to better the other. The bowlers were making life difficult bowling accurately, finding movement and restricting the runs. Finally, in the 7th over with the pressure to score perhaps building, Nick called for a quick single. Mark set off to the danger end, but a direct hit left him short as he was run out.
In truth, Middleton's innings had two distinct periods. Firstly, Nick and No.3 Tim Riley waited superbly for the bad balls and hit 23 boundaries between them whilst picking up singles where they could. Together they put on 113 for the second wicket rarely looking in any trouble despite some accurate bowling. It was a surprise when Tim was bowled by the Jesters captain for 47. Smith found a lot of turn and his off spinners proved especially difficult to score from. He finished with 4 for 26 off 12 overs in an excellent unbroken spell.
Nick was joined by son, Joe as the second period of Middleton's innings began which saw wickets tumble regularly. Joe was given not out by Jester's visiting umpire but was then well caught in the covers for 5. Tim Cranston found life tough and was out for 2. Simon Pettit showed promise before skying one to go for 10. Stevyn Jackson hobbled to the wicket and hobbled back again after what he assured us was an excellent delivery rearranged his stumps first ball. Marc Swann was bowled for 0 but succesfully survived the hat-trick ball. Finally, Nick was caught behind just three short of his hundred for an excellent 97.
Middleton lost five wickets for 52 runs and Rob Barton and Martin Randall were the not out batsmen when tea was due. Jesters bowled tightly but their outstanding fielding kept us at least 30 runs short of where we would have liked to have been.
Marc Swann and family provided an outstanding tea. Scones were provided with bowls of jam and cream and it was interesting to observe who made their scones correctly (jam then cream, of course).
All too soon the sound of the bell summoned us back out to the middle with the task of taking ten Jesters' wickets.
Simon Pettit started the day four behind Tim Cranston in wickets taken this season and was delighted to open the bowling with Tim saved for later. Bowling within himself but very accurately, Simon soon had the ball swinging round corners and the usually prolific Adnan Mohammed was bowled for a duck. Middleton could have been well on top just one ball later as a first ball edge fell just short of Mark in the slips (I was standing too deep, sorry). This was to prove costly as the next wicket didn't fall until 77 runs later.
Rob Barton had opened the bowling at the road end and threatened the edge on occasion but these two batsmen, like Nick and Tim earlier waited for the bad ball and dispatched them over the ropes.
Tim replaced Rob and took a wicket in his third over when Mark, now standing in the right place took a sharp chance at slip. At this point in Middleton's innings, the collapse began but Jesters went from strength to strength. It was only when Simon Lee belatedly introduced himself to the party that the next wicket went down, bowling Jesters No.3.
Martin Randall bowled four tight overs. Joe Moorman bowled one that wasn't. Mark Ford-Langstaff was thrown the ball and duly took a wicket first ball when the batsman spooned one up to Joe at mid-off. He took a second wicket in his next over (bowled) before the winning runs were hit off Simon Pettit who had returned for a second spell.
It's fair to say that Jesters out-gunned us in all departments this year, especially fielding. Well done to them and we look forward to having them back next year.