We welcomed The Bushmen for the first time in their 78-year history this Sunday. After heavy rain during the week we once again had our groundsman, Dr. Nick Thompson and his willing helpers to thank for a sterling job in preparing the wicket. The sun was threatening to shine, and our in-form batsmen looked hungry for runs once again.
Assessing the strength of new opponents is not always easy but one of our keener members had done his research and knew where the likely threats would emanate from (the downside of publishing averages on your website). It turned out that our opening bowler Alex had gone to university with their captain so further insight was gained - “he’s pretty good, skipper”. With the intelligence war won but the toss lost we were asked to bat. Tim Riley and Tim House opened in confident mood.
The wicket was slow, and The Bushmen took advantage with some accurate bowling particularly by spinner, Paropuari. Tim H’s frustration reached boiling point after twelve dot balls and in a moment of madness he set off for a single after picking out a fielder. Luckily for him the return catch was dropped, and he made his ground. Enjoying his fortune, Tim’s next scoring shot cleared the ropes and The Bushmen readied themselves for an onslaught.
At the other end, Tim Riley nudged ones and twos at a leisurely pace looking extremely comfortable as the scoreboard ticked over.
This pattern continued for the next 40 minutes or so, Tim H bludgeoning and Tim R nurdling until Tim H hit a full-blooded cover drive straight at a fielder and was well caught for 35.
Sathya Vadivale, batting at three had clearly been watching Tim R closely. Of his first eighteen scoring shots fifteen of them were singles. Luckily for the spectators, Tim R had loosened his shoulders and was now finding the boundary regularly. It was a surprise when he was out for 95; stumped after charging down the wicket. Tim’s 90 was the third in three games by Middleton batsmen, surely some kind of record.
Simon Lee declared at 213 for 2 once Sathya had reached his 50.
Tea was splendid as ever and our thanks this week go to Simon Pettit and Kath Moss who provided a lovely assortment of cakes and sandwiches.
Freshly watered and nourished, the ball was handed to Alex Ooms and Simon Pettit to set about the job of dismissing ten Bushmen.
Simon tickled an edge and Tim R keeping wicket took the catch. An excellent start but opening bowler and No.3 batsman Paropuari for The Bushmen was never going to make life easy for us. A change of bowling saw Jack Morris bowl well at one end, finding some turn and only going for one boundary in his six over spell but wickets were difficult to come by. The Bushmen put on seventy for the second wicket before Rob Barton clipped the top of off to remove the other opener. Rob bowled with some pace and some accuracy and came back well after his first ball went for six. An extremely hard hit caught and bowled ‘chance’ would have been a nomination for catch of the season but instead just left a large bruise.
Paropuari looked ominous and a further breakthrough was needed with the game moving away from MSCC. Simon Lee considered his options and turned to Paul Wordsworth.
The introduction of Paul put Middleton back in charge. A fine delivery bowled Paropuari for 70 as Paul helped himself to three wickets in his first three overs. A moment of controversy when a successful LBW shout was reversed (the batsman had hit it first and was recalled) almost caused a MSCC civil war but did lead to another batsmen to be bowled and a fine catch held by Simon Lee in his customary close fielding position.
It is worth noting at this point that Simon’s catch (which was followed by his second later on) reversed what until that point had a been a dismal display of fielding. The exception to this was Tim House who once again pulled off three or four magnificent stops in the covers and one in the deep. Some of the rest of us were abject by comparison. Sathya’s balletic one-handed attempt in the gully is perhaps unfair to single out but several of my teammates have insisted. The one that went straight through my legs was probably worse.
Anyway, the tide had turned with the score now 111 for 5. The Bushmen turned to their captain to bring home what now looked an unlikely victory. Simon Lee introduced himself and Nick Moorman to the attack. Simon bowled a threatening maiden, Nick got hit for two sixes and a four before Simon L took another good catch to give Nick the wicket he had bought so well.
MSCC turned to Alex Ooms to make best use of his insight into his university colleague's weaknesses. Alex duly obliged, bowling him in the first over of a new spell.
The end was in sight but The Bushmen under huge pressure from a suffocating field held out for the next ten overs, four of which were maidens by Simon P and included one wicket LBW. There were many oohs and aahs during this time as the ball whistled past the edge many times. Paul W added a whistle of his own but even these tactics couldn’t induce a mistake as the batsmen lived up to their team’s motto, “Not yet spent”.
Thanks of course to Chris Greer for scoring and to Rona Hickman who ran an excellent barbecue.
“The Bushmen, founded in war-time, exists to celebrate the arts and pleasures of peace.” We hope we helped them to do so and look forward to welcoming them back next year.