Gloucestershire Gipsies won by 5 wickets
Match Date & Time
|September 18, 2022||1:00 pm||2022|
Williams’ efforts go in vain.
A mid-afternoon skein of geese flapping west gave evidence that the sun was setting on another Middleton Stoney season. The starts become earlier in late September. By 12.30 ten valiant souls had arrived to do battle, all scratching heads to wonder where the eleventh could be, but no rush as the Gipsies had won the toss and asked Middleton to bat. Making a pilgrimage to the ground was Nick Moorman, currently the groundsman at Challow and Childrey CC, formerly parishioner of these parts. To ensure that the ball would hustle to the boundary Nick rode the mower ensuring no blade of grass would impede the path of the ball from the blade of his bat.
This was one of the firmest and truest wickets of the season, both sides would have preferred to bat second as getting all 10 wickets to win the match would be a tall order. Matt Carpenter walked to the crease as Nick’s opening partner. Dad, David, still watching his son bat with nervous apprehension hoped he would not fall for a duck. Both players were watchful, opening as openers should, but putting the bad ball away. In half an hour of batting a good partnership was building, the hubbub of contented chatter grew around the boundary side benches. Matt picked the wrong ball to swing to the legside. The ball looped up and slightly forward, three or four metres down the pitch. “Mine” shouted the stout keeper, hurtling forward gloves and eyes raised skyward. The leg stump, Matt’s friend, caught the keeper’s right foot, which remained in situ as the rest of his body lunged forward, coming to rest flat on the ground as the ball dropped slowly by his nose.
With 40 runs scored, Matt missed an attempted pull and was bowled, the captain soon following him back to the pavilion LBW without a run to his name. Mark Ford-Langstaff joined Nick and was soon away with a trademark” cut for a boundary. The recovery was in progress, the opening bowlers seen off and the day set fair for a good total. Nick leant into a drive, drilled straight at mid-off, “yes” he called charging off to the danger end. He might have got just past half way when the ball crashed into the stumps. Unfortunately for Mark it had been thrown to his end the “not so dangerous” end and the direct hit ended his batting for the year. Mark retired to the boundary edge where he sat with his captain reflecting that it was a long wait until April.
When George Williams bats the bar empties in expectations of fireworks. The bat speed of the young and strong shows the oldies what they once could do. With Nick settling in to play the anchor role George was free to attack which he did with vigour, mostly back past the bowler. His six deep into the long grass was the biggest hit of the year. At 140 – 3 a declaration total was in sight when one straight hit failed to hit the middle of the bat, rose up and into the hands of the inrushing long on fielder. Jamie Lumb was undone by the wiles of the Venerable Bellfield, playing on Saturday when the ball didn’t arrive till Sunday after adding two boundaries to the total. Nick was dropped behind but failed to capitalise on his fortune by finding the safe hands of the cover fielder two balls later out for 70.
Seeking an eleventh man, Michael Robinson’s son, George, keenly accepted the offer to field for Middleton. I suspect many of the team started as cricketers in the same fashion. Michael joined Jason Williams in the middle, if not in a crisis then in a somewhat precarious position. The ship steadied with Jason at the helm, ably supported by Katie, shouting encouragement from behind the tea urn. Twenty more had been added when Michael was trapped LBW. Seril was short lived but Asif Kamal strode confidently to the crease and unleashed a perfect back foot cover drive for four. George Robinson was alerted to the fact that he might get a bat. Pads were strapped on, father fed some throw downs, George fancied his chances. As the clock clicked teaward, Asif was facing for the final over of the innings. With each ball Asif swung his bat. Seeing no contact made George tighten his gloves and step closer toward the field of play. Six balls later Asif had made no contact, circulation returned to George’s wrists and the players and spectators headed into the pavilion for tea. The total was 185 – 8 dec. Twenty or so short of the desired total.
Tea was lush. There were Gooey cakes, grapes and sumptuous sandwiches galore. Many thanks to family Williams who put it all together. Too much was consumed by players who were supposed to be running around in the next couple of hours. Plus ça change.
Asif and George Williams took the new ball for MSCC. Asif usually finds exaggerated swing, but not today. George bowled full, fast and straight and always looked the more likely to take a wicket. Gloucester Gipsies opening bat, France, looked ominously composed. The slick outfield helped boundaries accumulate. A first wicket was taken by George when Richardson miscued to the safe hands of the elder Robinson at extra cover. The Beer family had three generations on the ground, four players and one ex player scuttling round the boundary on his mobility scooter celebrating his 80th birthday. James Beer, although beaten on several occasions by George’s leg cutter, timed the ball well and was soon proving how good the wicket was as he and France led the chase. Michael Robinson replaced Asif, hoping that the ball delivered from his high arm might find some movement. None was seen. Matt Carpenter replaced George from the Church end, and he settled into a good rhythm after an expensive opening two overs. It was Matt who broke the stand inducing Beer to miscue to Tim Riley at Mid off. There was no let up in the quality of the Gipsy’s batting. France, with the field set back, picked up singles at will. New bat Richardson found no demons in the wicket.
The visitors were cruising toward a victory, well ahead of the run rate. Ringing the changes hoping to induce a false shot, the skipper turned to his secret weapon, Jason Williams. Last time out Jason had a 5 – for. Not this time however. His rapid replacement, Seril proved to have the magic needed to induce an error, Matt Carpenter taking a good catch on the long on boundary. France continued implacably, passing a half century at his leisure. Looking to attack the new batsman, George was called back into the attack. One ball was struck just out of the reach of an inward creeping Asif at Mid off another seared past the outside edge. George changed ends. Batsman Tilley pushed to square cover and set off for the sanctuary of the bowler’s end. France was stranded even further out of his ground than Mark F-L had been two hours earlier. Middleton had a sniff of a chance. Squeeze tight on the runs and maybe wickets would fall in the process. George was running in as if his life depended on it, hurling thunderbolts at the nervous batters. At the other end Tim was keeping it tight, occasionally threatening to turn the ball.
As the Gipsies closed in on the total Middleton made some crucial fielding lapses allowing balls to beat despairing feet to the boundary. The ball nearly found the right hand of Asif running in but the visitors continued to press for home. With two overs remaining six runs were still needed, a four from the last ball of the penultimate over tied the scores.
A last chance for a sixth wicket eluded the grasp of Nick Moorman’s outstretched fingers and the visitors had won with four balls to spare. A last walk off the field for the season, hands shaken the sun set as the geese honked their goodbyes.
Many thanks to all officials and helpers for their services today and throughout the season . We look forward to the golf day on Thursday and to the dinner and presentation next Saturday. A couple of places have become available for the dinner, if you would like them please let either Tim or Andrew know ASAP.
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