Leaden skies and the threat of rain greeted us as we arrived at the ground but the Rainmen themselves were nowhere to be found. We pondered the weather, the wicket, England's chances in the world cup and many other things before our opponents arrived. Simon Lee lost the toss (again) and we were asked to bat. Half an hour later than scheduled, Stevyn Jackson and Howard Lancaster opened the batting.
Stevyn looked a little rusty as he made his season's debut for us and survived a couple of chances before he fell LBW early on. Howard was joined by Jay Mumtaz and both looked to give the ball a good old-fashioned wallop at every opportunity. Despite a slow outfield the boundary rope was regularly found as Howard tried to put to bed the memory of his 50 last year that had crept along at a measured rate.
Howard fell for 29, very well caught and bowled by Whitehead, the youngest of the Rainmen, a teenager who showed much promise.
Jim Watson joined Jay who hit a fine six before holing out for 44 to be replaced by Mark Ford-Langstaff. As the rain began to fall and the skies darkened considerably, Mark received what he later described as "the ball of the day". An inswinging yorker bowled him for not many.
The skies brightened again, Jim hit some fours as did the in-form Tim Riley. The run rate remained high despite the sluggish over rate. Jim reached 35 before he was caught and another in-form batsman, Sathya Vadivale joined Tim in the middle.
Sathya and Tim never looked in trouble as the game moved further and further away from the Rainmen. Sathya, clearly stung by last week's match report highlighting his many singles hit four boundaries this week including one six as he finished on 39 not out. Tim cruised to 48 not out and we declared just before tea at 221 for 5. Not bad off just 36 overs.
David Lewis produced a fine tea despite not being there. Struck down by illness early this morning, he bravely finished making sandwiches before retiring to bed. His efforts were much appreciated and he missed many a compliment. Rosie Cranston and Jeannie Martin stepped in to boil the urn, cut the cakes, wash up and put away. Thank you both. Your efforts were much appreciated.
The bell rang and MSCC ambled to the middle looking to remove the Rainmen before dark. James Mitchell was making his season's debut and with a depleted number of bowlers this week, Mark Ford-Langstaff took on the role of opening bowler.
James bowled fast and caused many a problem without much luck. Mark managed to bowl a straight one in his first over and bowled the opener. James bowled 10 overs straight and finished with 1 for 33 but could have had as many wickets as their other opener had bruises.
Stuart Batts and Elliot Barton were next up. Stuart took his first ever wicket for MSCC or in fact, any team ever when he bowled the No.4. This was quickly followed by his second wicket when Tim Riley took a fine overhead catch in the covers. Stuart finished with 2 for 23 off 5 overs. Elliot didn't manage to take a wicket but did get straighter the more he bowled. It was an economical spell with only 10 runs coming from his four overs.
At this point it would be remiss of me not to mention Rainmen's No.3, David Owen. He scored 78* last year and this year reached 59*. He countered James' pace particularly well and will need to be targetted next year if we are to ever win this match.
Simon Lee turned to spin in the shape of Sathya and the wily Tim Riley before having a go himself. Tim tempted and teased. Sathya showed skill and Simon strangled. The batsmen were batting defensively and were hard to remove. Only Tim found a way through, bowling batsman number 6 to take the fifth wicket.
Mark F-L came back for one final crack and induced a false stroke for Tim to take another fine catch but it was too little too late as the Rainmen held out finishing on 138 for 6.
Stevyn Jackson ran the BBQ and Howard and groundsman Nick the bar. Thank you also to everyone else who umpired and especially to Chris Greer who once again scored for us.