Sir, you shall present before her the Nine Worthies. (Love’s Labours lost Act V Scene 1)
Middleton Stoney CC v The Bodleian CC.
Covid jab reactions and uncertain weather conditions took two of the Middleton wickets before play began. Taking to the field with nine can be seen as a disadvantage, but not to this positive thinking Middleton team. Many thanks to new visitors Bodleian CC who provided a spare fielder throughout the innings, so Dom, Dave, James, et al many thanks it was much appreciated.
The ground crew on a sunny Friday afternoon had the ground and the wicket in A1 order…. Should we put the sheet on….no it is much too bright for any rain. Buckets fell early on Saturday morning drenching the strip, hindsight appeared too late. The wicket was covered on Saturday and doing so ensured that the game could go ahead on a damp but still playable pitch.
Within two minutes of arriving Asif Kamal took the new ball. He bowled a tight line and good length giving nothing to the Bodleian openers. Seril Shah supported from the Church end but struggled to find the best length on a very slow wicket.
An early change of bowling introduced Michael Simpson. Relishing bowling to a left hander he soon settled into a rhythm. Runs were very hard to come by. The scoreboard gradually trickled upward as Asif bowled four consecutive maidens. It took a change of end and 21 overs before the first wicket fell. Simpson having top scorer Shackleton caught and bowled as he attempted to accelerate the scoring. Asif completed 10 tight overs for just 20 runs allowing Paul Wordsworth to enjoy an extended spell of bowling. Jamie Lumb was in good touch behind the stumps and he was able to help Simpson get his second wicket and Wordsworth his first with two smart stumpings.
Turning back the clock until at least the previous Millenia, Wordsworth and Simpson wheeled away in Tandem. Each matched the other wicket for wicket as The Bodleian crawled past 100 before reaching tea and a declaration at 111 - 7. It had been a difficult batting wicket and any three figure score would take concentration and nerve to attain.
The fielding had been mostly good, with Squiff Wordsworth the pick. Once again hurling the ball further and faster than most of the team could do in two throws.
Jay Mumtaz was playing his first game this year after recovering from a serious illness. We are very happy to have him back and enjoying his cricket once more. He opened with Stevyn Jackson. Stevyn looked in very good touch, keeping in line and waiting for the ball to arrive. He was one of two early Middleton wickets to fall, driving at a ball that stuck in the pitch to be caught at point. Seril Shah perished in almost identical fashion hitting a half volley to cover. Middleton were 9 - 2, effectively 9 -4. It did not phase Squiff Wordsworth who thumped his third ball to the square leg boundary. He was the most fluent of all the days batsmen, waiting for the short ball, and then dispatching it to distant parts, including the days only six. All the time Mumtaz was hanging in, playing resolute defence mixed with ventures of aggression. He survived a very catchable chance to mid off and was determined to make the visitors pay.
By the time 50 was on the board, Middleton were cruising. Victory was in sight and the final 20 overs were yet to start. Wordsworth mistimed a forward prod and saw the ball pop to extra cover, His 29 showed the way for the following MSCC batsmen who played with increasing confidence. Mumtaz became more expansive, but perished to a very good catch at deep mid off, allowing Jamie Lumb and Tim Riley to stroll home with 15 overs to spare.
Post game the Bodleian were enjoying a post match beer and listening to the first of Simmo’s extensive stock of stories when the heavens opened and everyone scurried home.