A first 20 over game of the season took place in warm weather on a ground looking in tip top condition. Visitors NOC play only two or three fixtures a year and comprise enthusiastic if irregular cricketers.
Put in to bat, MSCC openers, Thomas and Lancaster were first surprised by the extravagant movement in the air, Thomas inside edging the first ball just past his leg stump, then pleased to work with the lively pace of Craig. Both players were able to use the pace, Lancaster to Third man, and Thomas just behind square on the off side. Once each Craig discomforted the openers with late in swing. Runs came quickly in the opening overs, Thomas brutal on the short ball, Lancaster scampering turning ones into twos.
The first wicket fell in the seventh over, Lancaster stumped smartly. Jamie Lumb batting at three looked out of touch, given the benefit of the doubt first ball to a very adjacent LBW appeal and struggling to make clean contact. Thomas moved from strength to strength, passing 50 in the tenth over. One false shot proved his undoing for a well constructed 57. Dan Harris played some positive shots, looking to attack through the V. His impetus transferred to Lumb, now showing more fluency as the second, third, fourth and fifth string bowlers came on. 200 looked likely for a while, but Harris departed for 25. Ben Breaker supported a now free scoring Lumb before being run out.
NOC used their best two bowlers for overs 19 and 20 and bar one Lumb six the run rate stalled.
178 is the highest 20 over score at Middleton Park and rarely looked in danger when NOC batted.
Matt Dipple took the first over with Jacob Harris following. Dipple was parsimonious. He should have taken the first wicket caught and bowled, but failed to hold on. That honour fell to Harris, who clean bowled the NOC opener with his best delivery so far this season.
The second wicket fell at the end of Dipple’s third and final over. Rob Barton, daydreaming happily at square leg, realised that the ball was coming his way. He ran forward, tilted into a dive and held on to a tumbling catch. The Bartons were now called on to bowl in tandem. Rob was the more likely to take a wicket and indeed took two, one bowled and one LBW. He was well supported by the boundary fielding of Harris and Williams who chased every ball as if life depended on it. The best partnership of the NOC innings was for the 6th wicket. From 49 - 5 in the tenth over the score advanced to 98 in the fourteenth, the ball clearing the ropes twice.
The end came abruptly. Skipper Riley was pleased to hold a sharp chance at slip in George Williams first over, followed by the ball of the day which Williams cleaned up the left handed Lloyd for a duck, with a ball that would have taken the wicket of many more accomplished batters.
Riley struck with the first ball of the 14th over bowling top scorer Holton, allowing Williams to clean up the tail for remarkable figures of 1.4 overs, 4 wickets for 4 runs. NOC lost their last five wickets for the addition of just one run, a good thing for MSCC as the gathering cloud suggested a downpour was imminent.
Many thanks to Richard Lumb for umpiring and to Tim House for scoring. The day finished convivially in front of the pavilion as the last rays of sunshine turned the sky golden.