The history of our annual clash with Steeple Aston Cricket Club and the abilities of their players was much talked about in the run up to this match. They have passed into legend as one of our strongest opponents with a mix of talented youth and some wise old heads. This formula has been very successful against us over the years but this year, our captain for the day, Tim House was in determined mood.
Steeple won the toss and looking skywards, seeing blue skies and a hot sun quickly opted to bat. Tim looked down at the green, moist wicket and announced that we would have bowled. Both sides were happy, but this was to change quicker than a Tim Riley single.
Opening with the familiar Tim Cranston and the new boy, Aussie quick Charlie Whatmore, wickets began to tumble. Steeple were 16 for 3 and then 30 for 4.
Tim had struck in his first over, bowling the opener. He followed this up with two maidens before taking two more wickets in his fourth over (both also bowled). All three deliveries looked unplayable as they moved off the seam and into the stumps. Danny Clark then pulled off a stunning catch at point to give Tim a fourth. Tim’s fine season continues but with a few weeks away from the game, others now have a chance to chase him down in the quest to be leading wicket taker.
Charlie showed much promise without taking a wicket despite beating the bat on several occasions. Once he learns the Middleton length this will surely change. A fine effort from someone who hasn’t bowled in seven years.
Simon Pettit took over from Charlie and was unlucky to come on just as the Steeple No.5 (Parker) was finding some form. The youngster from Bloxham school hit some fine drives and waited well for the bad balls. Spin was introduced in the form of Danny and the run rate was slowed as a result. However, the partnership was building and suddenly the wickets had dried up. Enter Michael Simpson.
‘Simmo’ showed all his experience when he tossed up two ‘pies’ to the in-form batsman only to adjust the field and have Parker caught at deep square leg. A fine innings of 61.
The final five wickets were to fall in quick succession as Simmo took three more wickets (including two caught and bowled) and Danny two.
Steeple Aston all out for 113 and tea was taken twenty minutes early.
Tim Riley made a magnificent tea debut with a fabulous homemade Victoria sponge the highlight.
So, 114 needed to win on a tricky wicket. Who better to open that the two Tim’s. Riley and House batted doggedly, picking off the singles and turning one’s into two’s. They batted together for over an hour, minimised the risks and gave their team a solid platform of over 70 before Tim Riley missed one and was bowled for 32.
Jon Springer continued in the same vein before falling to a catch taken very low to the ground off a full-blooded drive.
Mark Ford-Langstaff was next in and watched on as Tim House first reached 50 and then finished the game with three fine fours to finish not out on 61. A captain’s innings, well-paced and in difficult run scoring conditions. A fine MSCC victory.
“History became legend. Legend became myth”. JRR. Tolkein