MSCC won by 7 runs
Match Date & Time
|June 4, 2023||2:00 pm||2023|
Can it be the third month of the cricket season so soon? June has been as bright and dry as April was dull and wet. Middleton Park looked at its best, green and verdant but with the surface dry and firm. Visitors, Ascott under Wychwood, matched the green of the surroundings with their green caps and shoulder flashes, surely the best presented team to play in the park this year.
Middleton Stoney had made some late adjustments to the team, Rob Barton forced to withdraw suffering post triathlon stiffness and unable to manage the stairs and Squiff Wordsworth needed for family duties. Robin Cummings, back from an ankle injury and making a cricketing debut and Hassan Kamal volunteered to take their places – was it to be like for like replacements?
Skipper, Tim Riley, won another toss and once again chose to bat first. With a suspiciously long lower order managing the batting would be a sophisticated art. Paul Wordsworth was surprised and delighted to be asked to have first bat in support of Mark Ford Langstaff. Ascott’s opening bowler was the Tyro Will Hardy, only 14 but energetic and bounding with enthusiasm. Paul took all but 2 balls of the five overs he bowled, blunting his pace having weathered a meaty blow to the shoulder in the process. Mark picked off a friendly full toss to open the scoring as the first half hour passed in Middleton’s favour. 10 overs in the score was in the thirties and the captain was pleased with the start. Mark unfurled his shot of the day, a superb off drive that sped to the boundary via a desperate fielder’s boot, Paul backed him up with successive boundaries.
Mark was beginning to enjoy himself when he made an error of judgement in chasing a very wide ball and looping a catch to point. George Williams, new bat in hand, strode to the crease. When George bats people come from far and wide to watch. The furthest visitors were Grandmother and Aunt from Australia who clapped encouragement as George laid into the bowling with as much gusto as the players would lay into the tea provided by extended family Williams somewhat later in the day.
Paul proved an excellent foil, feeding George the strike and running hard. As tiredness caught up, the score moved into three figures, and Paul was finally undone. He walked off to applause as drinks were taken having scored a valuable 32. George was in full flow, five times he cleared the rope as the bowlers seemed powerless. Tim House supported well, continuing to feed the strike to George before opening his own shoulders and targeting the boundary behind the bowler.
The run rate was of Bazball proportions when George attempted one big hit too many to be bowled by slow left armer Worsley, the pick of the Ascott attack. Jamie Lumb joined Tim House, showing intent to continue the attack. Tim played Worsley back over his head landing the ball a fraction short of the boundary, anticipating a four Tim walked calmly back to be on strike. But… the ball had not quite reached the line, the fielding side were quicker to react and a bemused Tim was run out by half the length of the pitch, stranded motionless in the middle.
The declaration was imminent when Tim Riley joined Jamie, he was to survive a curious incident when trapped in front of the stumps the umpire was unable to give him
out as the wicket had been broken by a mystery gust of wind, or a less mysterious wicket keeper’s pad as the ball was in flight. Both Tim and Jamie perished in the chase for quick runs. Jason Williams showed some of his son’s power hitting finding a boundary of his own, for the loudest cheer of the afternoon from the supporting clan. Asif, welcomed back earlier from his trip to Pakistan, was given licence to thrill, his bat waved in full arc. (Visiting photographer Simon Godfrey captured this in a tremendous photograph). As the kettle boiled there was time for Seril Shah to be run out without facing as the declaration came at 199 – 9 after 35 overs.
Both captains had agreed an extended tea interval, it was needed as the Williams family had provided a feast. It must be one the only times that a family member has flown 16000 miles to be asked to make sandwiches! Taking the field the Middleton team were showing signs of fatigue. Paul Wordsworth was creaking, but he was just one of the senior players who looked at the distance to the boundary and hoped they would be asked to stand at slip. George Williams looked around and realised that he might be doing a lot of extra chasing as hamstrings were stretched, calves massaged and shoulders gently eased.
Much as Paul had been surprised to be opening the batting, Tim House was surprised to be given the new ball. Like Paul before him he rose to the occasion. With runs on the board the home team were confident that the target would be just out of reach and a pleasant afternoon would be had as the wickets were picked off. They had a rude awakening when both openers showed intent and no little ability. Leading the way was left hander Barnes. He led the charge, dismissing the bowling to the boundary with ease. 40 runs were scored from the first seven overs, Asif feeling the brunt of the pain. The target did not seem so far away now.
Tim House provided the crucial breakthrough. A confident appeal for LBW and the slow rise of the umpire’s finger sent Barnes on his way feeling that a big innings had been denied him. With the run rate slowing Asif found a better length. Mark Ford Langstaff at first slip helped Asif pick up his first wicket, no help was needed in next over, Asif hitting the stumps. Jason Williams and Seril Shah were the new bowlers, Jason started impeccably finding a lovely length and teasing the batters. Seril was just a little off his best but still created chances. Jason picked up two wickets for just seven runs leaving Ascott five wickets down and well short of the target.
Still at the crease was number three Read. As wickets fell he had steadied the ship. As the ship steadied the fielders started to creak, Ascott sensed that victory could still be taken. Seril saw George make a valiant effort to take a catch at cover, (the second of Simon Gregory’s pictures shows that he did not quite keep hold) as Robin Cummings bowled a tidy first over. Robin further strained his ankle in his second over and limped off to slip unable to complete it.
Read and Taylor had reduced the runs required to less than four an over, Middleton were limping, wickets were needed. The first came thanks to Tim and Tim combining. Tim Riley tossed up the ball, the strike was made, Tim House was underneath standing in the very spot were 12 months earlier he had held a catch but broken his finger. The sun was perfectly in line with ball, Tim pushed his sun hat low over his eyes concentrating on the small silhouette hiding in the brightness. Gratefully he held on, Taylor dismissed for 26.
That Hassan Kamal had not played before was clear to the experienced observer. Unused to three hours of fielding his concentration on the game was unsurprisingly wavering. He was to play an important part in the final stages of the game, thanks to the intervention of the coaching guiles of Howard Lancaster who whispered gentle encouragement as the ball came near. As the seventh wicket partnership prospered Paul set off to chase a cover drive. Three strides in and Paul clutched his thigh in agony. Ascott kindly lent a fielder for the final moments of the game.
A returning Asif was given rough treatment by Read as the game looked to be slipping away from Middleton. George Williams, himself battling a sore knee, knew that the time had come for him to bowl. It took 10 balls, but that ball ripped the off stump from the ground and Read was gone. Mark Ford langstaff held a good catch at deep mid wicket as the Ascott lower order searched for the last few runs. With one wicket to get Ascott needed 8 runs to win and had three overs in hand. A boundary bound pull shot found a very determined George on the line fling himself headlong to haul the ball back from the brink. It was a piece of fielding that only one player on the field could have pulled off. George’s determination was rewarded when he picked up the winning wicket as Ascott’s umpires gave a third LBW decision in the home team’s favour.
The victory beer was enjoyed in the setting sun and in convivial conversation as both teams knew they had been part of a very tight contest. Jamie Lumb wielded barbecue tongs and Howard and Seril ensured that thirsts were quenched. Thanks go to Chris for keeping score to Richard Lumb who umpired the first session and was bitten repeatedly by the vicious flies that had feasted on the Captain three weeks earlier. Please look out for the photographs taken by Simon Gregory (here’s the link), Simon is due to return on Wednesday when we take on NOC in the first evening game of the year.
Did not bat: Hassan Kamal
Reserves - 1. Matt Carpenter
|Richard Lumb||Chris Greer||Jason Williams|