The Jesters have been visiting MSCC for many a year, and the recent history has not proved pretty reading for the Middleton Stoney faithful. The last three years had seen fairly comprehensive defeats at the hands of regularly strong teams.
This year’s build-up had been plagued by the threat of a shortfall of players for The Jesters, four of whom had last day tickets to a Test Match. At first no-one took that excuse seriously. Middleton Stoney also had a few late withdrawals and changes of heart, so it was a great and welcome achievement by their match captain John Murphy, and our Fixtures Secretary, Simon Pettit, that they persevered, on all our behalves, to raise two teams.
The weather App had also changed its mind a few times at the last moment, so we arrived at Middleton Stoney to find a beautifully prepared track, that for once, had not been covered during the early morning showers. I’m not sure if that fact was conveyed to The Jesters as they arrived at various times, due to events on the M40.
Simon Lee was unable to captain, being out of the country. Regular readers/players will have picked up that he’s so often and so unfortunately unavailable to skipper against these stronger sides…Or maybe it because he is not available that MSCC struggle….? Tim House standing in, listened to the groundsmen and a couple of players, won the toss, and sent The Jesters in to bat. At this point he learnt that their number three was fresh off the back of a 138 last week.
But MSCC had a formidable bowling attack, and they set to work with the efficiency of side that knows how to beat teams such as the MCG XXIX.
George Williams and Jacob Ford-Langstaff opened and through skilful bowling frustrated the Jesters, until George had the first dangerous opener caught behind. They had put on 20 in eight overs, but there was a sense that MSCC were not going to let them off the hook today. Simon Pettit came into the attack and immediately removed their recent centurion.
At this stage it should be noted that MSCC had also loaned two (and then three) of their players to The Jesters. Elliot Barton strode to the wicket and Simon Pettit sent him back. 23-3.
David Lewis then settled into a fine spell (8-1-23-1) which bamboozled most of the batting side (including Rob Barton it has to be said) and he could have had more than just Rob’s wicket. Matt Dipple joined the action, having seem Simon Pettit add three wickets to his season’s tally, (6-3-6-3) and you can guess what that led to…Matt’s three wickets included a fine low catch by Richard Morris (one of his three catches) as well as removing a couple of the batsmen most likely to cause damage.
Tim “first ball” Riley, named not for his batting, but for the wickets he took with each first ball of an over, rounded off a clinical and faultless fielding/bowling performance, where everyone chipped in; good catches by Joe Moorman, Richard Morris, Mark F-L and Tim Riley helped, although Tim Riley’s call of “Tim’s” for a catch going between him and yet another Tim could have been embarrassing. (Tim House took it).
Jesters limped to 77 all out, although Mike Simpson kindly joined their batting line up at number 11, and added 4 to his average.
We took tea early, mainly because Jenny Moorman had prepared an irresistible feast (and was ahead of the game) and the two teams tucked into a splendid tea with little concern for time or the game ahead.
Jay Mumtaz and Tim Riley strode out intent on knocking off the 77 in good time. Sure enough Tim strode back in unusually super-quick time, but unfortunately, only 4 were on the board.
Tim House joined Jay and the former looked as though he was keen for an early BBQ. They added 42 in quick time until Tim lined up the greatest heave-ho of the season off a Rob Barton “variation”. Well it was a variation of a dismissal I can vouch.
We sent Mark Ford-Langstaff in next and he continued his recent form. Jay was playing beautifully, with a blend of dead batted defence and then outright aggression. The Jesters did not really know how to bowl to him, and soon enough the 77, that had never looked like being enough, wasn’t.
The Jesters were graceful in defeat, and enjoyed an early finish by staying for a few beers and a few stories. They will be back, probably looking to get back to a winning streak. Hopefully MSCC have started their own winning streak after a few barren years.
Thanks also to David Lewis for volunteering to man the BBQ. It’s probably time we trained some other young chefs to have a go.