We have had more last over thrillers here at Middleton Stoney than I care to remember. Brave captains declaring early or enticing a run chase; trying to control a runaway batsman regularly clearing the ropes or taking risks to eke out a few extra runs. Sometimes however, things are not quite so exciting.
Our new opponents, the Prince of Wales XI play pink ball 35 over games and would have to readjust to declaration cricket, something that some of their younger players had not come across before. There was some concern that they would receive an unequal number of overs batting second but Simon Lee lost the toss (again) and we were asked to bat. In the end we faced 39 overs before tea and bowled 40 afterwards.
Tim Riley and Mark Ford-Langstaff opened. Tim hogged the strike and Mark faced his first ball at the start of the fourth over. They took contrasting approaches, Tim nurdled for ones and twos, Mark’s first five scoring shots were all boundaries. Things were ticking along nicely when the bowler tipped a catchable chance from Mark onto Tim’s stumps. Very unlucky, Tim run out for 24.
Mark was joined by Andrew Thomas. Always a stylish batsman, Andrew found the gaps and the boundaries and scored quickly. The drinks break brought the next wicket when Mark hit the first ball skywards and was well caught despite the fielder also holding a cigarette at the same time!
Tim House in at four looked good as ever, hitting the ball hard and finding the ropes three times before he received the ball of the day and saw his off-stump bail tickled from its perch. Gone for 15.
Andrew was joined by Joe Moorman and these two set about the bowling with relish. Andrew reached 50, Joe never looked in trouble. Between them they hit seventeen boundaries including a fine six from Joe. In truth, POW will have had better fielding days but encouraged by their senior pros all eleven kept going and heads never went down. Ten minutes early, Simon decided to declare after two quick wickets. Andrew, looking to score quickly took on a risky second run and was run out for 77. A fine knock, well played Andrew. Joe meanwhile was LBW for 47 just falling short of yet another fifty.
Tea was magnificent. The family Swan excelled themselves with home made cake, the tastiest sausage rolls and door stop sandwiches. Pickled onions made an appearance for the second week in a row which pleased Martin Randall enormously. Thank you to everyone else who helped with the washing up and putting away. Your efforts as always are much appreciated.
So, with tea thoroughly enjoyed and much bowling to be done we waited in the middle for POW’s openers. Tim Cranston and Jacob Ford-Langstaff opened up looking to restrict the runs to below the five and a half and over that would be required to win. Four of the first twelve overs were maidens and Tim trapped one of the openers LBW in his third over.
The POW strategy at this point became confusing. At one end, the new batsman Raj proudly wielding his new very expensive bat got off the mark with a six, promptly moving ahead of the other opener. He hit four more sixes and three fours as he raced to 48 at way over the required rate. It was fun to watch as a chance looked likely. He hit it a long way and put several cars in danger later earning him the champagne moment. At the other end Geoffrey Boycott the other opener continued as he had started with a very straight bat and the odd single. POW’s run rate meant a win became impossible once Raj had gone, bowled by Simon Lee for 48. O’Leary, the opener reached his 50 and was not out but it took him 40 overs.
The rain took us off the field twice although we lost no more than five minutes of play before we started to rotate our bowlers to give everyone a game. Martin bowled well (and fielded well again as ever). Sathya improved once Raj had gone. Stuart Batts bowled three overs, 14 of his deliveries were dot balls. Tim House was tidy and Joe Moorman has clearly been inspired by Jofra Archer as he decided bouncers were the order of the day.
Four more wickets fell. Jacob was unlucky with a dropped catch by Tim C (a very rare sight). Tim made amends with another LBW and bowled the number six for a duck. Simon took a second when Jacob took a well held catch and Tim House and Tim Riley executed a smart run out to see POW finish on 124 for 6.
Thank you for the game POW.
The BBQ was enjoyed by all and we must thank Stuart Batts for that.