A huge amount of work has been hurriedly (thanks to our government and the ECB) done over the past few days by various members of the MSCC committee and a few other kind volunteers in order to host something that we used to take for granted, and in a safe, unobtrusive manner.
Much has changed because of the covid-19 situation we all find ourselves in, and the spirit of unity and determination by all those who have contributed to enabling, or allowing a ball to be bowled has been extraordinary. Thank you.
“Play”. The one word we hadn’t heard for a long while, and were fearful we would not this year. But at 14.00pm on July 12th, the 2020 season actually began.
Fate determined that Banbury CC were our opening opponents; traditionally a strong side. Having won the toss, they confidently asked MSCC to bat first, and the game commenced. There’s a fair bit to distract a player now – new “side” lines to direct the batsmen whilst running, wicketkeepers struggling to lob the ball all the way back to the bowler, sanitising spray for the ball every six overs (possibly aiding some swing?)
Initially though, none of this seemed to affect the opening pair, Nick Moorman and Tim House who plodded along sensibly to bring the score up to 35 after the same number of minutes. When Tim H was out, Tim R took over. 50-1 and MSCC could feel fairly pleased that the season had started well.
But a dip in concentration, or just rustiness, kicked in, and three quick wickets saw the scoreboard (marshalled in isolation by Chris Greer) sit at 67-5. Nick M had looked strong for what would be a top scoring 37, Tim R fell to a smart catch and Mark F-L succumbed to our old stalwart/opponent, Richard Simpson’s first ball of the day.
Joe Moorman continued where his dad had left off, albeit slightly more aggressively. A flurry of boundaries, including a huge six into the top of the tree on the boundary led us to believe we might amass a reasonable score.
But when he fell, MSCC slumped somewhat. 80-6 wasn’t, yet, a disaster, and flashes of style from Jamie Lumb and Alex Oombs had given hope of a better return.
David Cole rightly judged the line of his delivery, though unfortunately with his pad, and
the Barton duo of Elliot and Rob left their destructive hitting in the nets, saving it for their bowling no doubt. 88 all out looked a touch light. But at least we all had had a bat. Apologies, our skipper Simon Lee remained not out without facing a ball.
It is not possible to wax lyrical about the quality of the MSCC tea for obvious reasons, but an early break was agreed on and everyone tucked in to what looked like a wholesome and varied collection. Don’t forget to bring your own (as the author did, and many thanks to the Simpson family for feeding him) if you are playing this year.
Despite a meagre total to defend, Alex Ooms and Rob Barton opened up the attack for MSCC with determination and optimism. However, the Banbury opening pair were quickly into their strides and they had soon passed the half way mark to victory.
No chances, but few boundaries prompted the skipper into thinking that Banbury could go on and nudge their way to a win without risk. So he decided to mix it up a little, open the age gap between bowlers even more and shared the change of bowling between Elliot Barton and Tim Riley; the chalk-and-cheese of an attack.
Elliot struck first, hurrying the opener into a rash pull shot. He could have had another in identical fashion, but the ball failed to eclipse the sun and dropped to safety.
Tim Riley bowled to tempt the batsmen out, but they remained cautious, So he bowled to out-think them, did so, and took two quick wickets, one very well held by David Cole diving(?) forward at gully. MSCC were on a roll with three wickets in three balls, despite being a handful of runs away from defeat. “Play out the play” or “Fight till the last gasp” could be heard in the air.
Our skipper did the usual trick of bowling an over, taking a wicket and removing himself from the attack. Tidy. Alex Ooms returned, bowling spin to great effect and quite quickly Banbury were quaking at 80-5.
But the improbable (getting a game) had occurred once today and the impossible was not going to happen. Banbury knocked off the few runs with no ado about very little, and the game was no longer afoot. For every cricket lover around the world it had been a frustrating wait, but as someone once wrote, “If all the year were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work”.
The end came a little too quickly for not just the players, but for a few regular friends and members of the club who began to arrive just as the tables were being sanitised and the many, individual cars departed; so our apologies for that as well. The bar could not be open, but please watch for announcements on when that might change. In the meantime, the few who did bring a drink or two to the ground did manage to enjoy a socially distanced drink and chat, albeit not on the quality and suspense of the match itself. Nevertheless it was a joy to be back, and hopefully MSCC will soon bounce back to winning ways. We’ve just bounced back from worse.