What a day’s cricket! And the Test match at Headingley wasn’t bad, either.
Here in Middleton Park, it was very, very, very hot. I won the toss, again. Just saying.
Richard Morris and Howard Lancaster opened the batting. Richard looked comfortable until he got a top edge against an excellent pace bowler and was caught for 4. Jamie Lumb was clean bowled behind his legs trying to hit the next ball over the mid-wicket boundary. Joe Moorman saved the hat-trick by despatching a very decent delivery for 4 with a sumptuous cover drive.
And so our innings proceeded, with Joe scoring another 140 runs. At the other end, Howard Lancaster played well past the drinks break for 15 before injuring himself, again, and limping off to listen to the Test match in the shade rather than watch Joe out in the middle in the searing heat. Tim Riley took over and was 33 not out when we declared at tea. Joe could have gone for our record individual score of 163* with ten minutes to go but was perhaps exhausted and was bowled. He had waited until England had won the Test match so by the time he walked off the crowd were focused on our match and gave him a suitable ovation for an outstanding innings. Mark Ford-Langstaff hit four boundaries in a row for 18 not out and we were 227-3.
The extended Morris family excelled themselves with a glorious tea in which pickle featured in a diverse range of sandwiches. Jack baked the Victoria sponge which is a contender for cake of the season.
Simmons had three outstanding batsmen. Rob Barton bowled the opener and captain who had hit the ball straight and hard. Their number three, an impressive off-spinner, plays premier league Hertfordshire club cricket on Saturdays and scored 150 for Simmons a week ago. He was their top scorer in this game with 24 and, at 52 for 1, Simmons were chasing our target until Joe Moorman caught him brilliantly at mid-off to give Rob Barton his second wicket. Their number four was that opening pace bowler. Much to his surprise, he was Rob Barton’s next victim, LBW. Then Rob bowled their number five. At the other end, George Williams had bowled well without taking a wicket in his opening spell.
Elliot Barton came on to bowl. At first, there was a suspicion that he was ensuring his father had every chance to take five wickets through the simple device of bowling wide. But then Elliot joined in the fun, bowling the other opener.
Jack Morris in the slip cordon caught Rob Barton’s fifth victim. Jack came on to bowl and immediately took a wicket, caught by me. Elliot Barton then had their number six caught quite brilliantly by Rob Barton, diving to catch a ball which had gone over his head at backward square leg. Elliot Barton clean bowled their number ten and completed his six overs, taking 3 for 28.
We struggled to take the last wicket, however, so I began to ring the changes. Rob Barton had another short spell while Mark Ford-Langstaff bowled two maidens and I bowled one. It was George Williams who came back to secure the victory by bowling their number eleven, with five overs to spare.
This is our eleventh victory of the season, beating our highest number of wins in my time, with the whole of September still to go. Simmons are delightful opponents and seemed to have an even stronger team than when we first played them in 2017. They stayed around to enjoy the barbecue which, on the new principle of asking some of the star players to officiate, was meant to be another Barton success but which, on the old principle of letting Rona Hickman do all the work, was very popular.
Joe Moorman’s second century of the season was a champagne two hours and Rob Barton’s first 5 wicket haul was a champagne nine overs so although they both head for the honours boards, the champagne moment was judged to be between the various catches and the clear winner was Rob Barton’s dramatic effort.
The Morris family were everywhere and Howard Lancaster served behind the bar all evening. Some regular supporters turned up, from near and far, after not only the game but even the barbecue was over. There was a suspicion that some of them had preferred to watch the Test match but still, all were welcome. For those who spent the whole afternoon in the sun here at Middleton Park, the answer to the question, ‘Where were you when Ben Stokes hit 135 not out to win this Ashes Test?’ will be, ‘Watching Joe Moorman hit 144’.