I was lucky enough to play cricket at the magnificent Wormsley estate in the Chilterns last weekend and thought nothing could top that. I was wrong. This Sunday’s game at Middleton Stoney was a real belter, right out of the top drawer. The weather was warm with just a light breeze and the ground was looking fantastic. The Law Society fixture is a long standing and very popular arrangement. They played us on the Sunday of Richard Simpson’s christening in Middleton Park twenty seven years ago and have continued to do so. It is now like welcoming back old friends. They always have talented cricketers and play well. Importantly they fully understand what Sunday “time” cricket is all about and play with great gusto and in fine spirit.
Timothy House was our illustrious leader for the day. He won the toss and elected to bat which was, on a warm day, a very popular decision with his troops. Howard Lancaster opened the innings, in a swashbuckling style that Joss Buttler could only dream about, with Nick “Prodder” Moorman. Howard amassed a dozen runs before being castled comprehensively by Lynch who was bowling a lively pace from the Park Farm end. Howard claimed it was difficult to see the burgundy coloured cricked ball coming towards him out of the backdrop of umpire Richard Lumb’s burgundy coloured polo shirt. Jay Mumtaz managed a just a single run before falling, also bowled neck and crop, to the unplayable Lynch/burgundy combination. Prodder carried on calmly building a good innings. Mark Ford-Langstaff joined him at the crease adding a powerful twenty two runs including a mighty six over mid-wicket before being bowled out of the blue (well burgundy in fact) by Henderson who had gleefully replaced Lynch at the Park Farm end.
Young Jamie Lumb was perhaps fortunate to survive a very enthusiastic appeal for LBW on his very first ball, even people walking their dogs around the ground went up for this one! Maybe the ball struck him outside the line of off stump or was missing the stumps, maybe the umpire was reflecting on the injudicious colour choice of raiment, maybe he thought the drive home would be a bit “frosty” if he donned the black cap and triggered his own son his first ball?
Following this early wobble Jamie batted superbly, defending immaculately and very powerfully punishing any slightly wayward deliveries. He despatched the ball to all parts hitting twelve fours and two sixes. One of his sixes unfortunately landed on the forehead of a Law Society perimeter fieldsman named Toby who then wisely sat out the rest of our innings with an ice pack clasped to his head. MSCC players monitoring his recovery quite closely. In the true spirit of cricket MSCC provided a replacement fieldsman, albeit not one of our more nimble ones.
As Jamie’s forceful inning progressed and he was approaching his maiden century it was apparent that Nick Moorman was guiding him and giving him the strike when possible. In short Nick probably abandoned his own chance of getting into three figures once again in order to give Jamie his chance to shine. This is what playing at MSCC is all about, nice one Prodder!
When Jamie was on ninety seven he pulled a shortish delivery towards the ancient oak tree to bring up his hundred. He struck the ball a bit too near the splice, “Clothed It” so it never carried the distance and was comfortably caught five yards in from the mid-wicket boundary. “Oh bother” he cried as he walked off to a standing ovation from both teams. Well batted Jamie.
Tim Riley had just a few minutes of batting before tea and scored five runs very quickly. MSCC declared on 240 for 4. Nick Moorman, who had batted with great discipline, power and control, was undefeated on eighty nine.
The tea interval was obviously not the sumptuous feast we normally enjoy at MSCC but with our individual, socially distanced, refreshments taken MSCC took to the field. Having set a competitive total it just remained for us to skittle the Law Society and victory would be ours.
Tim House opened up from the Burgundy end with Matt Dipple charging in from the road end. Both bowled well and beat the outside edge often enough to terrify me and Mark F-L who crouched in the slips with our slippery sanitised hands waiting for a tickle. The combination of solid batting, a dry spell midweek and the hard work of our excellent ground staff all helped the Law society get off to a steady start. We had to wait until the eighth over for Royce to miss time a shot in the air to Jamie Lumb off the bowling of Timothy.
Matt Adams, traditionally the Law Societies finest batsman, strode to the crease. Floppy hat, collar up, confident and chewing gum. For all the world like a latter day Viv Richards. He batted like Viv Richards too; pulling, sweeping and driving the newly introduced Jack Morris to all parts. Jack did not buckle under the pressure of this onslaught. The skipper too displayed the kind of sangfroid he, and most Old Etonians in fact, are famous for and backed Jack to persevere until he was rewarded with the wicket of opening batsman T. Middleton who had scored twenty seven.
Tim Riley came on and tossed the ball up to keep the Law Society in the hunt and so did I. We shared six wickets including a stupendous one handed, diving, caught and bowled to dismiss the hard hitting Fincham (it would be poor form to dwell on this too much in my report) (Ed - Simmo is being modest here. It really was an excellent catch and suprised us all).
The Law Society ‘went for it’ until they were nine wickets down and overhauling our total was a mathematical impossibility. Matt Dipple was reintroduced and bowled a hostile last over at the encircled batsman which generated a lot of oohs and aahs but somehow not the final wicket we required.
So this fine contest was drawn with honours even. Many thanks to Dr. Thompson and his crew for producing such an outstanding, high scoring wicket. Also thanks to Chris Greer for his stalwart services in the score box and the Law Society for travelling to Middleton Stoney, providing an excellent umpire (who’s nick name was Trigger!), and for being such high quality opposition.