When you think of Blenheim, you think of the Christmas lights at the Palace or the Churchillian dynasty. However, tucked away through a hidden gate at the side of the palace entrance is a little-known cricket pitch. No matter how many times I have been to Blenheim, I still fail to remember one existing.
With the sun shining the game began, Middleton to bat first. Mike Simpson opened for the first time in his illustrious career at MSCC, only to face three balls before guiding one to the slips for some catching practice. The second wicket stand was the largest partnership (22 runs) and after that it soon began to collapse, all too familiarly for Middleton. An anchor was needed to steady the ship and ours was a ringer. Coming in at 5, Rory played probably one of his hardest innings. With wickets tumbling around him, he steered Middleton to a more respectable total, eventually to be caught out, top scoring with 38. Against a tight bowling unit and the odd dodgy bounce, Middleton were all out for 94. Now it was all over to the bowlers to defend the meagre total.
It was not the best of starts as the batsmen took a liking to the opening bowlers, Pettit and Dipple, and after two overs each they were removed from the attack. With the skipper needing to find a Plan B, up came Williams with a characteristically shaky start to his first over; the first five balls going for nine runs. Then the breakthrough came. The score was now at 26-1 and it looked like Middleton might be able to claw themselves back. However, Simmo’s day had yet to improve, with his first over going for 11. With the ball back in Williams’s hand the game now took a huge turn. He took 5 more wickets in 13 balls including a hat-trick chance, blown as usual, with an awful delivery wide outside off and the new batsman thinking, ‘what’s all the fuss about?’
With his spell over, Williams finished with figures of 4-1-12-6. A personal career best and a spot on the Honours Board, unfortunately it is still under his Dad’s name. Middleton now with the momentum, Blenheim looked like they were going to struggle in the chase, collapsing to 52-7 after 12 overs. Then wrapping up the innings, the mighty Barton duo. With Rob claiming two wickets and Elliott finishing off the tail. With an impressive bowling performance, there was some outstanding fielding as well. A great catch from DC at short fine leg and the highlight of the day, Simmo’s tuck and roll whilst fielding in close. With the Olympics just around the corner, he has really put himself in contention for selection for the gymnastics squad!
With a great game played at an even better setting, all that was needed now was a drink to help settle the nerves of England’s hope at the Euros.