Sunshine, delicious food and a Middleton Stoney win - what a brilliant way to start September.
In a rollercoaster game which rivalled the Ashes series for drama, a brilliant spell of bowling from Simon Pettit and George Williams was enough to bag a victory for Middleton Stoney by 57 runs - our 12th win of the season.
To celebrate the centenary year of The Invalids, the Fixtures Secretary had organised a special all-day game which was our first for two years. In the morning sunshine, the skipper won the toss and Middleton Stoney batted first. The early start didn’t concern Mark Ford-Langstaff who hit six quick boundaries before being bowled for 32.
Fellow opener Tim House was joined by Tim Riley who worked hard against some extremely good pace and swing bowling. The pair dug deep to put on 27 before Tim House was bowled 10 minutes before lunch. In the awkward period before the break, Jay Mumtaz was the next victim - he nicked a full delivery and was caught behind.
At 72 for 3 the momentum was with The Invalids as the players skipped off for lunch.
A special thanks must go to Tim House for a delicious “light lunch”. The star of the show was an excellently cooked ham which drew plaudits from all.
The Invalids continued after lunch by securing the quick wickets of Joe Moorman and Simon Pettit - who scored nine and one respectively. Tim Riley continued his excellent innings and as he knocked a single to bring up his 50, he doffed his cap to the applause of the crowd.
Tim’s partnerships with George Williams and Richard Morris steadied the ship for Middleton Stoney who went from 98 for 5 to 185 for 7. After Tim’s well worked half century, his confidence grew and he started to swing the bat. Undoubtedly the highlight of his knock was the attempted reverse sweep which unfortunately didn’t have the same perfect timing as Ben Stokes’s last week.
Tim was eventually caught for 80 which signalled the start of a frantic couple of overs in which the final three batsmen put on 18 runs to get Middleton Stoney past the 200 mark. Rob Barton hit a couple of beautifully timed fours but the champagne moment was definitely Simon Lee’s flick which glided over the deep-square leg boundary much to the delight of the rest of the team.
Soon after his first boundary of the season, the skip declared with Middleton Stoney on 201 for 9. The Invalids had bowled an impressive 53 ½ overs - we believe this is a record on the ground.
There was a quick turn around before Stoney took the field in the late summer sun. George Williams and Simon Pettit opened the bowling as the pair looked to grab the initiative before tea. George’s pace bowling was causing the opening batsmen a headache or two as he consistently found the edge of the bat. After a dropped catch in the slips, George was finally rewarded when Mark Ford-Langstaff held onto a fast moving edge at first slip.
George and Simon continued to challenge the batsmen and there was another missed opportunity when David Lewis dropped another catch at the slips (his second of three drops of the game!).
At tea the game was finely balanced with The Invalids needing another 150, with nine wickets remaining.
There was another superb spread put on at tea thanks to Paul Wordsworth which reinvigorated both teams ready for an intriguing final session.
After the break The Invalids’ batsmen were in the ascendancy, knocking the ball around with relative ease against bowlers David Lewis and Rob Barton. At 90 for 1 the game looked to be getting away from Middleton Stoney.
The home team needed a change of fortunes and quick. The skipper re-introduced George Williams and Simon Pettit, but at the opposite ends, and the pair soon took control. The breakthrough came from Simon who snuck one in on leg stump to bowl their number 3.
What followed was in incredible spell of bowling which turned the game on its head. George and Simon rattled through The Invalids who collapsed from 121 for 3 to 134 for 9. Simon was on a hat-trick and will get his name etched on the honours board yet again after he trapped the number 10 batsman LBW to finish his 13 overs with figures of 5 for 50..
George had taken four fine wickets and was keen to follow in Simon’s footsteps to join him on the coveted board. His pace bowling was frightening and was almost rewarded many times.
He bowled 14 overs and was on 4 for 45 when David Lewis took the final wicket of the game - his cunningly straight delivery trickled through the batsman’s defence.
The two sides enjoyed a wonderful BBQ - Jay Mumtaz’s marinated chicken, painstakingly cooked by Mike Simpson, went down a treat. The Invalids were very graceful in defeat and even bought champagne for everyone to enjoy in the evening sun.