This is our second year playing the Oxford University Statisticians. Last year MSCC dominated the game and the author (playing for the opposition) was forced into a 12 over rearguard defensive action which saved the game for the Statisticians but induced coma in the MSCC crowd.
As last year, the Statisticians borrowed from the ranks of MSCC players and this year featured myself, James Mitchell, Sathya Vadivale and Jamie Lee in their team. MSCC batted first and with several statisticians absent, MSCC loaned further temporary fielders to the cause. The Statisticians started with an all MSCC attack as James and Sathya tore into the home side’s top order. Tim Riley played on and then Andrew Wilcock fell to a fantastic delivery from Mitchell, which swung viciously and late, utterly castling the stumps.
Things then went from bad to worse for MSCC. Vadivale claimed a hat-trick, dismissing Howard Lancaster, Stuart Batts and Marc Swan to leave MSCC reeling. Jim Watson and Rob Barton dug in but struggled to progress the score, with captain Vadivale setting innovative and aggressive field positions. Once they and David Lewis had perished, MSCC were left to rely on youth to rebuild their innings. Jack Morris and Elliot Barton came to the crease and started to take the fight back to the Statisticians. Both batted with great purpose and mixed scoring shots with obdurate defence.
Jack was finally bowled for 12 and this brought MSCC skipper Simon Lee to the middle to face his son’s bowling. He top-scored for Middleton with 19 including two fine boundaries off Lee junior’s bowling in the first of the day’s father-son contests. Jamie's Middleton Park debut included this tidy spell of bowling, energetic fielding and a running commentary on the game which his father called 'sledging' but which Jamie, just back from Australia, insisted was merely 'chirping'.
MSCC recovered somewhat from their perilous position earlier in the innings to close on 78. Both teams enjoyed a superb tea prepared by Jim and Posy Watson, featuring a fantastic Victoria sponge cake and delicious cheese and bacon twists amongst other treats.
Fortified by tea, Middleton took to the field, hoping to run through the Statisticians and pull off a famous win. Simon elected to open the bowling with another father-son combination, and Elliot and Rob Barton bowled accurately and were unlucky not to be among the wickets. Jack Morris came into the attack, looking to get one over on me in my unusually lofty position as opener for the Statisticians. Jack’s bowling offered very few Father’s Day presents on the pitch, and this particular father-son contest ended with honours even.
I finally perished for 12 (father-son contest still deadlocked) thanks to a great catch by Elliot off the bowling of David Lewis. The Statisticians continued to collect runs and despite further wickets falling, they moved inexorably towards their total. MSCC clung onto their catches with Jim Watson taking a fine catch in the covers and the skipper showed great resilience to cling onto a firmly struck pull to short midwicket (catch of the season contender?). Tim Riley showed great versatility, swapping from wicket-keeper to bowler to take two wickets. The second of these was a stumping by his replacement as keeper, Jim Watson (MSCC seem to have a healthy supply of keepers this season, as my brief ‘loan spell’ as opposition keeper testifies). The Statisticians passed the required total for the loss of only four wickets, and did not trouble scorer Chris Greer to start the countdown for the final twenty overs.
So another day ended in disappointment for the Middleton men, but they can take heart from some excellent individual performances. The players loaned to the opposition acquitted themselves admirably, and MSCC can look forward to better days when we all play for the same team.