Although it felt as though the season had only just started, we arrived at our last T20 game of the year, facing what looked on paper, and then in reality, to be a strong SOA side.
They were led by an erstwhile captain of Middleton Stoney, Greg Pearson and as always, were accompanied by their scorer, Neil and the regular umpire at this event, AJ Smith, who soon has us sprayed into shape, sanitising everything within reach. However, MSCC managed one better, with our own representative, Richard Lumb, simultaneously managing to score (a new App) and umpire.
Greg would have looked crestfallen when MSCC won the toss and chose to bat, but he unfortunately missed the pre-match formalities, due to business commitments. It turned out that the MSCC captain on the day inadvertently missed a business “Zoom” call, due to cricket commitments. Apart from the result, you can guess who was the happier.
The Patel brothers have made an impressive impact on the club since their debuts a few weeks ago. Kiran was again called on, to open the batting this time, and was joined in the middle by Jamie Lumb. Aggressive (batting) intentions and tight bowling skills followed, actually throughout the innings. Kiran was out of the blocks fast, and when Jamie smacked the cover off the ball into the covers, he was off and running; unfortunately to the pavilion, as an extraordinary catch ended his fun before it has really begun.
Enter Ben Breaker; to date, the nearly man, only that he had been next man in throughout the season, but never got to the crease. This time, we believed that number 3 might get a chance. Having gracefully accepted that he had yet to get a bat for MSCC this year, he took his chance, and equally gracefully smacked the ball around. Kiran and Ben put on 27 before the former fell for a run a ball 25.
Tim House tried to up the tempo, did so, and departed in equally quick time. The cameo-captain. Luckily, MSCC had Joe Moorman waiting in the wings, and when Ben lost his stumps shortly afterwards, Howard “Pronghorn” Lancaster, joined the fun. (If it played cricket, the Pronghorn would be the second fastest land mammal between the wickets; in short bursts obviously. The author is not quite sure who the Cheetah would be amongst the MSCC ranks, but putting that onus on Howard would have been unfair).
With a combination of tip and run to give the strike to Joe, and off-side destruction, Howard added 19 beautifully timed (in game terms as well as technically) while his batting partner hit big once again, and made a classy SOA bowling attack look tired. His 34, and the partnership of 56 brought the MSCC up to a respectable 108 in their twenty overs.
The captain turned to experience for his opening bowling attack. Paul Wordsworth, who has been in the wickets recently, and led the charts going into this match, took the new maraschino cherry (those nasty pink ones for cocktails) with Michael Simpson, who was making his 2020 MSCC debut. The opening batsman, Mr. Tanner, obviously offended by what they had done to the colour of leather, smacked the first delivery over mid-on for four. The tone was apparently set.
However, the canny old-timers were having none of it and their seven overs only leaked thirty odd runs. Mike soon picked up his first wicket, frustrating the opener (not Tanner) into a rash shot, and Paul followed by maintaining his metronomic line, and bowled the number three. 28 for two after six overs was impressive and a hopeful start.
Anish Patel joined the attack, fresh from his marathon bowling spell at the weekend, and kept the aggressive partnership quiet. Unknown to the skipper, this was to be his last game of the season for MSCC, so in hindsight it seems slightly unfair he was then removed from attack after two overs. Especially as his replacement leaked runs prodigiously; another cameo.
Rob Barton showed us how it should be done, and his testing outswing tested even Tanner, who by this stage had moved past his 50. But he picked up a well-deserved scalp to keep everyone guessing for a while.
Kiran Patel was then given the unenviable instructions to “tempt them out” and no doubt thanked the captain under his breath for such a welcome opportunity for late glory. But in the seventeenth over a flurry of boundaries saw SOA past their target.
MSCC had not missed any chances, had played well throughout, showed team spirit and no little skill. They met a strong team, who played with a spirit befitting their club’s heritage and who proved just to be a little better on the day. Not much you can do about that , apart from enjoy the whole experience and the company who share the opportunity to play, or watch, the game of cricket.