Simon Lee won the toss and elected the bat. After a lot of rain during the week and little possibility of the wicket drying much over the course of the afternoon, this seemed like the sensible thing to do. After all, it was the same track as last week when we won having set a target for the opposition.
Jesters, our welcome visitors probably thought it was a good toss to lose and started with a couple of pace men against today's openers, Howard Lancaster and Mark Ford-Langstaff.
Howard was playing the long game, blunting the attack and accepting dot balls for the promise of quick runs later. Mark, anxious to score called for a sharp single early on which saw an early heart in the mouth moment but was ultimately well judged with Howard making his ground.
One that kept low did for Mark, LBW and a sore ankle. Howard kept going.
Next man in, Joe Moorman used his long levers to good effect, playing some fine shots to all parts and regularly finding the boundary. It was a surprise when he was out bowled for 26. Howard continued to nudge and nurdle.
The middle order of Jay Mumtaz, Jon Springer (season's debut) and Tim House came in to face the wily spin of Mohammed. Jay and Jon both fell to him and Tim was done by one that lifted and caught the shoulder of the bat - caught 3rd slip. Tim however, was out to Jesters opening bowler Chak who, it should be noted bowled unchanged for 90 minutes or so. He bowled a very tidy line and length. Howard blocked him, a lot.
With 76 on the board, Howard had removed the shine from the ball and completed his job as opener. Chak got him as Howard opened his shoulders and was caught.
Six wickets down, acceleration required and the danger of a collapse to a low score. Further down the order than usual this week (as his bowling would be required later), Tim Riley showed us how things should be done. In partnership with Jamie Lumb, the pair put on 78 for the 7th wicket with both finding the boundary and choosing their shots wisely. Tim made 52 and Jamie was unbeaten on 34. Well played both.
Mike Simpson also batted, unselfishly pushing two singles to give Jamie the strike.
Middleton finished on 164/7. About par for the conditions.
Tea was taken, hand sanitiser topped up and the weather forecast checked with dark clouds appearing on the horizon.
Jesters began their chase with a different strategy to ourselves. Runs came a bit quicker and Tim House in the unaccustomed role of opening bowler (first time for MSCC) along with Paul Wordsworth tried hard for a breakthrough. It came with another first for Tim, a LBW to a well pitched up delivery.
The conditions were better suited for spin and that man Tim Riley got the next breakthrough shortly afterwards. Joined by Mike Simpson and then skipper, Simon Lee the twirlers set about their work. Unfortunately, so did the batsmen. Scoring at a good pace the required run rate dropped below four before the next breakthrough (Mike).
Time for a magic spell from someone to bring about an unlikely victory? Keeper, Jamie Lumb (A*) was doing his best with three sharp stumpings (for the second time this season) and the win did look on for a short while as Tim R took two more wickets and Mike a third. However, the finish line was in sight and despite a dramatic slowing of the run rate, Jesters reached their target with 5 balls to spare.
Well played Jesters. We look forward to playing you again next year.