Michael Martin photo of the year 2021 Seril Shah. THOUGHTS FROM OUTSIDE THE ROPE

Thoughts From Outside The Rope – August


For the purposes of this end of season newsletter, this should not be confused with the oft used interview question but rather how successful the 2023 Middleton Stoney cricket season has been seen from Outside the Rope.


If the only criteria for success was the win ratio, then this has been an outstanding season. Only 1 loss to date in Sunday cricket matches, 2 in T20’s and a defeat by the Australian touring side.  But winning can also be boring as many Formula 1 racegoers have found, so the close matches, sporting team selections and never taking yourselves too seriously has been much appreciated.


With Stuart Broad retiring at 37 we feared that some of our more experienced players might suffer from competitive fatigue and call it a day making it difficult to raise a team. Quite the reverse with MS players also competing in very successful over 60’s teams, becoming committed and expert ground maintenance crew and still finding the energy to coach and encourage other team members. At the start of the season, I commented on how the fridges were groaning with wine and beer. As the season progressed, the age profile of the team changed as did the ratio of pop to alcohol in the fridge.  If a measure of success is young people playing cricket and slightly older people occasionally playing the shots of their youth, then this was indeed a successful season.


2023 saw the return of an Australian touring side. Always good spirited and prodigious consumers, our eventual loss to the Victor Trumper XI was not unexpected.

Whilst it was not out of the ordinary for an Australian side to play at Middleton Park, when we saw the famous grounds and sides included in their tour of the UK it did make you wonder why us?  Yes, we’re friendly, close to Bicester Village and have a fish and chip van parked on the ground but was that enough for them to seek us out? Was our secret weapon the cricket tea? They may have been dining with the Duke of Rutland the next evening but who else served them Vegemite sandwiches, Anzac biscuits and Fairy Bread? If international recognition is a success criteria, then it was fully achieved in 2023.

‘The Traditional Cricket Tea Is Under Threat – 2023 was a terrible year to BBQ – No-one Watches Cricket anymore”.


It is easy to fudge success when measuring yourself, so listening to what the opposition says about you counts for something. Without fail, opposing teams have commented on the quantity and quality of the cricket tea provided each week. Many are surprised it still happens and how individual and beautifully laid out it is.  The break between innings has frequently overrun because they don’t want to leave anything but there has always been enough for social members to share and sometimes enough for lunch on a Monday.

Only once this season has there not been a BBQ due to inclement weather. The regular BBQ has drawn crowds not just because of the quality of the meat but to keep warm and teams have enjoyed the convivial post-match atmosphere to reflect on what might have been had they only made contact with the ball or not made contact with the ball.

Last but not least the opposing teams have been surprised and appreciative of the support they receive from the crowd that grows steadily through Sunday afternoon to evening. Acknowledging their good shots and applauding them off the field is for some teams unusual and they often comment on what a great club spirit there is in Middleton Stoney.


Definitely not a success this year. Whilst the produce exchange and sharing has been first class it has to be said that either tomatoes are scarce or are not being traded. Courgettes were big, soft fruit plentiful and even the occasional fig was spotted.


If the measure of a successful season is dreading the end of the season and already counting the weeks to the start of the next then you know you have cracked it.

Winter well.