Hot days at Middleton Park have become the norm this year and today was no exception. With the temperature in the high 20’s and with Jay’s famous BBQ chicken tandoori to enjoy after the match we were in for a sticky occasion against the Cricket Society.
Simon Lee won the toss and elected to bat. Nick Moorman, in a run of excellent form and Andrew Willcock in only his third game of the season donned their pads and gloves. Tim Cranston scored, and Martin Randall was the first to volunteer for umpiring duties whilst the rest of us disappeared into the shade.
Nick and Andrew had clearly decided to pace themselves in the heat, happy to hit the bad balls for four across the fast outfield and let the bowlers tire themselves out whilst they ambled the odd single. It was a good tactic as they put on 71 for the first wicket before Andrew took one swing too many and was bowled for 41.
Nick continued serenely on whilst Jay Mumtaz bludgeoned a couple of fours but fell for 11 trying to hit one that wasn’t quite there. Caught in the deep off the bowling of the wily Fielding who was regularly turning the ball and beating the bat.
Nick was joined by Mark Ford-Langstaff who survived a sharp chance to gully early on and was struggling against the spin. With the field now spread for Nick, he was scoring a lot of one’s and two’s whilst Mark began to find the boundary including a nice straight six.
An hour and five minutes later, Middleton reached tea for no further losses and a competitive total of 233. Nick reached his third hundred in a row (119*) which included ten fours and two big sixes. A magnificent effort in truly hot conditions. Mark finished on 44* in a good supporting role as the pair put on 132 together.
No-one can remember anyone else scoring three hundreds on the trot for Middleton. Our next two opponents are lucky that Nick is unavailable for those matches.
Tea featured home-made cakes (the coffee and walnut cake was particularly good in my opinion) made by Tim House and his family plus posh crustless sandwiches. It was enjoyed by one and all.
After tea, Middleton set about the business of trying to take ten Cricket Society wickets. This has been a struggle over the last few years and today was no exception. Tim Cranston and Martin Randall opened the bowling. Martin struck first when he had one of the openers caught by none other than Nick fielding at first slip. He was then particularly clever in the heat when he had to be withdrawn in his fourth over after a second no-ball. Joe Moorman replaced Martin and clearly didn’t fancy it either, asking captain Simon to find a replacement after three overs. Tim bowled very well, as we have come to expect but in good batting conditions he only picked up the one wicket when he trapped the number 3 LBW. Several other edges flew for four and Tim’s 1 for 38 was better than it looks.
Simon Lee replaced Joe with himself whilst Tim was replaced by Danny Clark as we turned to spin at both ends. Both bowled well, taking one wicket each but the runs kept flowing and if the Cricket Society could manage 7 an over a win for them was on. Andrew Willcock put the brakes on in his three overs which only went for seven and Tim House bowled two threatening overs at a decent pace before Mark took the last wicket of the day to fall when Tim C took a stunning catch covering a huge amount of turf to reach a skier.
At this point the momentum was with Middleton and the Cricket Society decided to play out the final seven overs or so to secure a draw.
With the BBQ started thanks to Mike Simpson, we could now all cool down and enjoy a beer with Jay's chicken .
The match was played in good spirits and we look forward to taking on the Cricket Society again next year. Perhaps one side or the other will work out how to take ten wickets by then.