Middleton Stoney’s winning streak was extended on Sunday to 6 games with a victory over Iffley Village that, if it had seemed a formality in the final hour, had been anything but after the first hour of the game. Once again the effect of a second covid jab had caused a late withdrawal of a player, many thanks to Simon Pettit for responding so swiftly to the plea for a replacement just as he was polishing off the remaining portions of leisurely brunch. Just as it seemed that Middleton would take the field with a whole set of eleven players a further absence was noted, a gap that was to be filled by the dainty shoes and accommodating waistband of Michael Simpson who had planned an afternoon of polite encouragement from a shady arbour on the boundary edge. To both substitutes many thanks for volunteering to stand in the sun!
It is conventional on a warm Sunday afternoon, and this afternoon was the warmest of the year so far, for the toss winning skipper to choose to bat first and then to sit back and watch the eager openers make hay against a sweltering attack. So I chose to field first. If there was discontent in the ranks the players hid it well. Asif Kamal had time to change his shoes, after arriving with an ample three minutes to spare, before marking out his run. Clearly needing little time to stretch or go through a warm up routine he was on the money from ball one. Iffley’s captain, Ollie Ross, is a former parishioner of these parts and is well known to the senior brethren. “Watch out, he can bat” was voiced by more than one of those brethren.
Max Nalborczyk shared the new ball and was first to strike, bowling Alexander for 4. Alas Max found the new ball rather too shiny or the suncream too slippy to find control allowing Ollie Ross to get off to a flying start. Asif continued to bowl tightly, finding an edge from Ross that all but carried to an eagerly waiting first slip. Simon Petit was pleased to be bowling with an almost new ball, it was swinging for Asif and would surely swing for him too. One aggressive blow from Ross, way over the head of mid-off and into the wild savanna grasslands was the last that we saw of the almost new ball. The replacement was dull, soft seamed and un-inclined to swing in the slightest. Asif picked up two wickets, one LBW that was only given after the exceedingly honest batsman admitted to the umpire he had not hit the ball and one gathered most straight forwardly by Pettit at mid-on.
The game progressed in two different manners depending on who was facing. Ross dominated the scoring, swiftly passing fifty making it look serenely easy, whilst at the other end batting seemed much more difficult. Pettit was unfortunate not to have Ross’s wicket to his name when Jon Springer failed to hold onto a routine chance at extra cover and later when Max nearly clung on to a much harder chance on the long off boundary, having dodged around the sight screen.
Meanwhile in the field Squiff Wordsworth chased down everything, changing from a healthy pale pink to deepest red as his temperature rose. His father, now bowling from the farm end, went through the same chromatic scale. The senior Wordsworth stemmed the flow of runs in his first few overs as Ross approached a century, having hit 12 fours and 5 sixes. On reaching 100 he threw all caution to the wind as Wordsworth persevered. A well deserved wicket and a very good ton which came in a total of 133 so far. Sensing the moment was nigh for some flighted filth the captain brought himself on the replace the luckless Petit. Three balls in and a full toss was smashed to midwicket - surely boundary bound. But no, Jon Springer clutched the ball with right hand and midriff and the Iffley decline was in full flow. A limping Mike Simpson relieved the reddened Wordsworth, and although having only one working leg, he was still able to bowl straight enough to pick up two wickets, while Riley persuaded the middle order to test the catching skills of mid-off and mid-on. The Iffley innings concluded with the Trinder family, Father, son and daughter, son and daughter both outscored father. After 39 overs the innings was declared closed at 172 -9.
Having had the bus pass pair of Moorman and Riley opening the batting last week, youth was given its head this. (Nick is currently sidelined with a Covid recurrence and we wish him well for a full and speedy recovery) Debutant Harry Way, a proud Yorkshire lad, and debutant for the season Jacob Ford-Langstaff strode confidently to the middle to start the innings. Way was watchful, precise in defence and content to stroke the ball through gaps and along the ground, Ford-Langstaff more aggressive. 30 runs were on the board in no time, old hands were settling into an afternoon of genteel leisure listening to stories old and new - notably on the arrival of Charlie Ross who bantered away to those he knew of old and to those he had yet to meet.
At 34 for 0 a shout for LBW against Ford-Langstaff shattered the reverie, umpire House was left with no option but to raise his judicial finger and Father F- L was on his way to replace his son. In a pleasing symmetry Pater F-L also completed a 34 run partnership with Way. When fathers talk to sons about batting they usually give advice from which they themselves would benefit. Mark would be be giving himself advice about his own dismissal, a rash shot charging down the wicket to the young leg spinner, Jacob might have seen some mild humour in the event.
All the time Way was growing in confidence, playing shots around the wicket and finding the boundary with ease. At the start of the final 20 overs 85 runs were still needed and Way had reached his half century. Jon Springer mixed aggression with watchful defence. Twice he smashed shots directly into the stumps at bowlers end before a true connection was made for the biggest six of the day. Both batsmen fell to shots against second string bowlers that looped to the keeper from very wide of the stumps, Way for 70 and Springer for 25 allowing Squiff and Max the pleasure of taking MSCC over the finishing line with 10 overs of play remaining.
Next week the club will be open for normal business. There will be no need for players to bring their own teas or for spectators to bring their own drinks. The bar will open for the thirsty and the BBQ will feed the hungry (as it will also do mid-week in our T20). Can I offer a plea for all hands to help - we have kept the ground in good order with voluntary help, you will note the removal of the old grass cuttings, the newly painted pavilion and the refurbished clock we now have teas, the bar and the Barbeque to run.