Match Date & Time
|June 25, 2023||2:00 pm||2023|
On a scorching, sun-soaked day, Middleton achieved revenge for last year’s loss in the inaugural match against Napton CC, securing a thrilling two-wicket victory while successfully chasing down a target of 196.
The day had not started well for VC Tim H, who twisted his ankle while walking the dog. Unable to play, Middleton were grateful to secure the services of a friend of a friend, Aaron from Moreton CC, as a very late replacement. Aaron could have chosen to play for either side when it was discovered Napton only had ten players.
The pitch looked hard and provided a good deck on which to bat in the stifling conditions. Tim R duly lost the toss, and Middleton were asked to bowl first.
George W and Asif opened the bowling and kept things tight against a pair of clearly well-organized openers. Asif got the early breakthrough with a swinging delivery that went past the bat and into the top of the off stump.
George kept the run rate down, with his first six overs going for only ten runs, and he was unlucky not to pick up a wicket himself. Napton’s number three, Hancock, was clearly a talented leftie and started to take a shine to Asif, dispatching the ball with regularity for boundaries.
Asif was replaced with Simmo, with the idea being that he would threaten but also stem the flow of runs. To be fair, he tried very hard and, despite bowling three leg-side pies, managed to pick up a wicket in his first over when Asif took a good catch at square leg. Unfortunately, this was to be the last wicket for some time. Hancock and Shillitoe produced a potentially match-winning partnership as both scored chanceless fifties. Simmo and Robin C took some punishment as the score edged up to near 150.
The skipper sensed his moment had come and cleverly dismissed both of the Napton batsmen by lulling them into a false sense of security, buying the wickets after conceding 11 in his first over. Hancock bowled and Shillitoe caught at slip with a catch that, to be fair, was an easy one by Simmo’s standards. Tim finished with four wickets from his five overs in a game-changing spell.
Chipping in at the other end was the younger F-L, Jacob, fresh on his return from uni and not having played since the end of last season. He picked up two wickets for 23 runs from his six overs. One of those wickets was the unfortunate youngster, Harry S, out first ball to Tim R. With Napton only having ten players, he was invited back to have another go. A second duck followed, but the Middleton players were impressed by Harry’s ability to come back later in the day and bowl very well.
Napton’s innings finished at 196 for 8. At one stage, it could have been many more, so credit to Middleton for pinning Napton back and giving themselves a chance.
Thank you to Asif and family for a lovely tea appreciated by all, as was a chance to enjoy some shade and a long drink before starting the run chase.
Jay M and Mark F-L opened the batting. Out of form, Mark lasted three balls, perhaps put off by the sight of Jay dropping his trousers to rearrange his protective gear. The now comfortable Jay was joined by Jamie L, and the pair set about the Napton bowling with relish. An 84-run partnership followed at the required run rate. Jay mis-hit one and fell for 25. Jamie clearly found it far too hot to run; of his 56 runs, 44 came in boundaries.
A good start, and Middleton well on track, but this only precipitated a middle-order collapse. Howard was unluckily given out LBW for 1; Aaron was bowled for 0, and Jacob was out for 4. This brought Tim R and George W together, and Middleton’s second large partnership of the day began. George picked up where Jamie had left off, biffing the ball to all parts and leaving Napton with five fielders on the boundary at one stage. This enabled Tim, in trademark fashion, to accumulate ones and twos, hitting the gaps and running hard. One fielder even ran away from the ball as it headed straight towards him thinking it was going elsewhere, causing much merriment to the onlookers. The run rate reduced, and Middleton looked odds-on favorites, but as ever in cricket, wickets can change everything.
Nyrn, in his second spell, bowled Tim (41), leaving Simmo and George with about twenty runs required to win. Simmo was floored by a no-ball at head height but not before he had managed to get some bat on it, adding five runs to the score. George followed soon afterwards, bowled by Nyrn. Simmo would have to nurse the uneasy Robin, troubled by a very sore hand, over the line. Middleton needn’t have worried; Robin got the loudest cheer of the day, playing an immaculate forward defense to the only ball he faced. In the next over, Simmo’s cover drive for four sealed the win.
An excellent run chase played in good spirits, followed by beers and a BBQ served up by Andrew and Rona Hickman, to whom we are as grateful as ever for their help behind the scenes. Special mentions also go to Richard L for umpiring and Chris for scoring, which is always appreciated. Napton are a fine team, who look resplendent in their red caps, and we look forward to seeing them again next year.
|Napton CC total||170|
|Napton CC total||34.3||3||197||8|
|Chris Greer||Asif Kamal||Rona Hickman|