This game was marked by a minute's silence in honour of the club president of 48 years, Ian Davenport, whose death was announced this week.
The Cock Pheasant Struts
Ascott under Wychwood are a team resurrected this season and are therefore a new fixture for MSCC. Resplendent in a green fringed team kit Ascott under Wychwood were a mixture of youth and experience and for most of them this was their first encounter with timed cricket.
Middleton won the toss and chose first knock. Tim House is a regular opener but his partner, George Williams, is usually to be found batting amongst the tail. The flamboyantly coiffured Woods took the new ball; it was soon apparent that he was the most able bowler of the visitors.
Williams showed equally flamboyance in his batting, positive in intent and willing to hit hard he soon had the scoreboard racing. Tim House picked up three boundaries and offered secure support. The fifty partnership was beckoning when the Ascott under Wychwood skipper turned to guest player Rob Barton. Rob must have had the taste for blood. First he deceived Tim House into playing across the line of a short ball that rose a little over ankle height. Umpire Moorman raised his bruised finger to Rob delight and Tim’s Dismay. Then he dispatched the skipper with the second best delivery of the day three balls later.
The rather rusty Mark Ford Langstaff had not played for a month. It did not show. He piled into the second string attack supporting Williams who was closing in on an first MSCC half century. Barton was not done yet, as soon as Williams reached 50 he sent him on his way to complete a spell of 7 overs 3 - 30.
Michael Simpson took his promotion to No 5 in the order as an opportunity to showcase his batting prowess. Striking the ball cleanly he and Ford-Langstaff provided the acceleration needed to enable the captain to consider an early declaration. Both survived difficult chances but kept on attacking and dominating the bowling, As the innings neared its close Simpson spooned a simple chance to cover allowing Jamie Lumb to come and go quickly and Ford-Langstaff to finish not out on 49.
Ascott under Wychwood had bowled 34 overs when the declaration came, perhaps it was the pleasant sunshine that had slowed them down. MSCC were determined to bowl rather more.
The MSCC selection panel had provided a team full of bowlers for the captain to manage. He chose Messrs Robinson and Kamal to take the new ball. The hirsute Woods opened the batting for Ascott under Wychwood and was intent on playing some aggressive shots. His partner less so. Robinson soon induced a false shot from the number 2 allowing the ball to loop gently to Simpson at first slip. It was his only wicket in a parsimonious spell of 9 overs for just 10 runs. The second wicket partnership, with Woods hitting hard and straight, and Matthews hitting through the leg side gave the visitors a more positive outlook, runs coming at a lively lick. Kamal made the breakthrough when he had Woods caught at mid off and any realistic chance of a Ascott under Wychwood victory faded.
It was now a game which rested on MSCC being able to take the remaining 8 wickets. At 5.55, just before the last 20 overs began no further wickets had fallen. Jacob Harris might not have bowled his most consistent spell, but he did strike with the help of a good catch at mid wicket by Tim House, followed in the next over with Nick Moorman clean bowling Edwards for a duck.
Six wickets needed in 20 overs and four balls. Time for Jason Williams to work some magic. Spurred on by the fine vocal support of the Middleton Stoney female voice choir he ripped the heart out of the middle order taking 2- 10 in his four over spell including a fine return catch clutched on his knees in front of the stumps.
Time ticked on and overs passed as Ascott under Wychwood fought for the draw. Fifth change bowler Simpson proved the winning card in the captain's hand. Noted angler, S Moss, provided most resistance and was proving a stubborn opponent. Simpson showed his own fisherman’s skills tempting his prey into an unwise lunge at the finest ball bowled of the day. It was described in glowing words by the umpire but I have quite forgotten what he said, ask Michael in passing and I am sure he can tell you. I do remember that the off bail was gently lifted from the wicket as the ball whispered into it. A second victim was bowled, son of Moss, departing in the same fashion before Jamie Lumb gleefully accepted a stumping chance.
Although wickets had fallen, overs had passed and the resolute Rob Barton had come to the crease determined not to be out. George William’s aggressive spell had been seen off, and a further two overs from Robinson had been unfruitful. As shadows lengthened the last two overs began with Ascott under Wychwood looking odds on to survive for the draw. Simpson was to bowl, the fielders crowded close. Four balls passed and were blocked. The fifth…..
A slight change of line, a little quicker through the air, Rob stretched forward, the ball turned a little. Ball contacted bat a fraction too early, and headed ankle height to forward short leg. Mark Ford-Langstaff moved low to his right, extended his right hand and held tight for a fine match winning catch. Simpson had taken 4 - 6, added to his 32 runs and catch. The peacock that strutted post match across the ground may have been imagining that he could have played such a game.
The ground looked a picture, thanks to the work of Simon and his team, the sun shone on Middleton Stoney while it rained all around and the beer in victory tasted better. Thanks to the officials; scorer Chris and umpire Richard who make the players day so much more pleasant. It was a joy to have the regular supporters back in attendance as well as some new faces. Long may the sun shine, roll on next week.