The Blue Lion have been playing against us for 24 years and no-one can quite remember when we last beat them. Our Yorkshire opponents are traditionally strong and beginning their annual tour, we knew they would be formidable opponents once again.
Simon Lee surprised us by winning the toss for once and elected to bat. There was a late change in which strip to use. The prepared strip looked green, so we reverted to the used T20 strip from midweek at Blue Lion’s request.
Thankfully the temperature had dipped from the previous days record high and with no threat of rain we were set for a competitive game of cricket in front of the crowds of spectators enjoying the villages annual summer BBQ. With regular updates of events at Edgbaston where England were defending 337 in a crucial world cup match against India, Tim House and Mark Ford-Langstaff set about the task of run scoring.
Both players started well, opting to take the shine off the ball and score slowly yet steadily against an accurate Blue Lion attack. Mark failed to get his head over the ball and was caught in the covers whilst trying to repeat a nicely struck four the previous ball. Tim H was joined by Mr. Consistent, Tim Riley who having recovered from a school trip from hell the previous day was looking forwards to continuing his rich vein of form.
Tim and Tim’s partnership isn’t recorded in the book but it must have been close to a hundred. Tim R picked up plenty of singles. Tim H ran hard and turned several singles into twos. With time ticking on and with the run rate needing a boost, Tim H chose to open his shoulders and started to regularly find the boundary. One four in particular was a fine stroke, hitting the returning opening quick back over his head for four.
Tim H was finally bowled for 61. An excellent patient innings to begin with before he treated us to some fine shots later on.
Jon Springer had been in his pads for roughly 90 minutes and then got a beauty second or third ball that hit the top of off.
Danny Clark was next in and began where Tim H had left off hitting some lovely timed shots through mid-wicket for four. Tim R’s dismissal (caught and bowled) surprised us but the fact that he had scored yet another fine 50 did not.
With only minutes to go, Jamie Lumb (son of 80’s and 90’s club stalwart Richard), made his Middleton debut. He did the decent thing and tried to find the boundary but failed on this occasion. Jamie can clearly bat, and we look forward to him getting a better opportunity next time.
George Williams hit a four, Danny kept going and at tea we declared on a healthy looking 193 for 5.
For the second week in a row, Peter Van de Kerkhof and family treated us to a fantastic tea. Players are supposed to do one tea a season, so it’s very much appreciated when someone does a second before others have even signed up. Thank you, Peter and Judy. I also want to thank Tim Cranston who ran the bar on one of the busiest days of the year along with Rosie Cranston, Pete (again), Howard Lancaster and Sue Morris. Also, David Moorman had put out the boundary flags before we started and Tony Sheen and Caroline Fetherstonhaugh collected them at the end. None of them were under any obligation to help but they did – thank you.
Back to the business of cricket, another debutant James Garrard opened the bowling along with Tim Cranston. Tim was accurate as ever and bowled one of the openers in his second over before he had conceded a run. James hasn’t played for a while and as a result his opening spell was all about rediscovering his length. Once the radar was working, James bowled some fine deliveries and fully deserved his first wicket when George took a catch at mid-off removing the other opener.
Tim also dismissed numbers four and five in a match defining spell. Jamie took his first catch for the club in his role as wicket keeper. Danny took the other catch.
The youth section of the club now took over as Jacob Ford-Langstaff and George Williams steamed in. Jacob was unlucky when one edge went between keeper and 1st slip. As no-one touched it, it doesn’t count as a drop apparently. Another edge fell just short of slip. George induced a catch taken well by Simon Lee at short mid-wicket before bowling the number 8.
Danny Clark was introduced at the road end and took a wicket in his first over when Mark snaffled a sharp chance at slip. Danny’s darts were hard to get away. He even found some turn.
Seven wickets down, victory in sight and eleven overs to go, Middleton were favourites despite the resistance down the order. Tim Cranston returned to find the breakthrough, but it was James in an excellent second spell who took a very well held caught and bowled to remove the stubborn number six who top scored with 33.
Jacob Ford-Langstaff replaced Tim and took the last two wickets in consecutive balls when he bowled numbers ten and eleven. We look forward to the hat trick ball next Sunday.
Blue Lion were all out for 119 and we wish them well for the rest of their tour. Next year is their 25th year of visiting Middleton Stoney and their skipper promised they would return stronger and better.
A thoroughly enjoyable win followed by a lovely Rona Hickman/Tim Riley BBQ. Oh, and England won!