In the week that had seen world records in both the men’s ODI and women’s T20 game, the spotlight now turned to the highly anticipated Friday afternoon fixture against South Oxfordshire Amateurs.
Building up to the game there had been a rally cry from the skipper due to several players succumbing to injuries sustained in other games. There had been a positive response and the game was on.
Simon Pettit and Jon O’Neill did well in Dr Nick Thompson’s absence to prepare the field of play despite some ‘technical difficulties’. With the sun shining and few clouds in the sky, the decision was made for the home team to bat, which saw the openers Richard Simpson and Russell Turner take to the middle. They set about putting together a good partnership. A dropped catch would be costly as Simpson went on to reach his 50, well supported by Turner.
When Russell was trapped LBW to Warry, SOA claimed their first wicket in the 12th over at 66-1. Jon Springer was next in and drinks were taken on the hour. Shortly afterwards, Simpson failed to get enough on the ball to reach the boundary and was caught for 59. The debutant reporter was also caught short as he was on the post drinks washing up duty at the time!
Next to the crease was Jay Mumtaz. Jay and Jon put on a good partnership in the following hour before Mumtaz was caught, bringing the score to 140-3. In the overs that followed Jon went on to make the second 50 for Middleton Stoney. Not long afterwards, he was stumped on 57, the score now sitting at 153-4 at the 29th over.
Wickets seemed to come like buses for SOA; you wait ages for one, then two come in short succession. In the pairing of Mark Ford-Langstaff and Jon O’Neill, it was O’Neill, eager for the single, who found himself in no man’s land from the non-striker’s end and was run out.
Now into the final half hour before the interval, Darren Bartlett and Mark worked together to take the score towards 200. Mark was dropped from a simple chance but then impressively taken at slip one-handed by the SOA captain, Andrew Wingfield-Digby off the bowling of his son, Josh. Simon Petit headed out for the final overs of the innings. Bartlett and Petit guided Middleton Stoney past the 200 mark comfortably.
With the penultimate ball before the tea interval disappearing deep into the hedges for 6 off Simon’s bat, the signal was given for the declaration and the interval, leaving the visitors a target of 227. Tea was provided by Simon Pettit, Kath and Harry, who put on a lovely spread of cakes and sandwiches. As well as a time to relax and regain focus between the innings, the break also provided an opportunity for many to keep up to date with the World Cup action.
Following on from tea, SOA’s openers took to the middle, Richard Simpson took up wicket keeping duties and James Mitchell opened the bowling. After the first ball, unfortunately, Mitchell’s side strain injury became too much and he was forced to leave the field. Your debutant armchair reporter became the substitute fielder while Simon Pettit stepped in to complete the over and continuing in an opening spell of bowling alongside Darren Bartlett. The pair bowled well to constrict the SOA opening batsmen.
In the 8th over Bartlett claimed the first wicket. He didn’t have to wait too long before striking again, this time taking 2 wickets in as many balls during the 10th over. The final wicket of his spell came in the 14th over, a great comeback performance after a prolonged absence from Middleton Stoney CC.
By the drinks interval SOA found themselves at 43-4 after a good first session for Middleton Stoney with some tight bowling by the openers as well as good teamwork in the field to restrict the runs and apply pressure. As play resumed, the skipper brought Paul Wordsworth and Jon O’Neill into the attack. Wordsworth started strongly with a maiden over and O’Neill was rewarded for his bowling efforts with a wicket. SOA kept the runs ticking over but struggled to maintain the pace set by Middleton Stoney. Moffatt came in for SOA and proved a frustration for the home bowlers, doing well to salvage his team’s position despite some drama during the skipper’s spell of bowling. Was it or wasn’t it a wicket? The official view was the latter, Moffatt then couldn’t capitalise on his reprieve and was caught for 43 off the bowling of Simon Pettit.
Other valuable bowling contributions were made by Mark Ford-Langstaff and Jay Mumtaz who reinforced the position by keeping the runs to a minimum.
South Oxfordshire Amateurs played for the draw and were short of the Middleton Stoney total by over 100 runs.
Jon O’Neill ran the bar, Simon Pettit did the BBQ and Dr Nick Thompson provided ample entertainment as a crowd gathered to watch him attempt, successfully, to reset the pavilion clock.