Romany WIN by 11 runs
Romany CC 277-2
F Read 100*
H Bruckner 104*
A Maiden 31
Lofthouse & Middlesmoor CC 266 ao
C Costello 150
P Solomon 33
R Smith 4-41
A Maiden 3-44
The term ‘village cricket’ has become synonymous with poor batting, sloppy fielding and wayward bowling but last Sunday at a sunny picturesque Lofthouse & Middlesmoor CC we ended up victorious in a village cricket game at its very best.
We arrived at L&M’s tiny ground with a reasonably strong side, but we realised that we were likely to be a seam bowler or so short with such short boundaries and a batsman friendly track where 6’s and 4’s are the most regular scoring shots.
Following a short discussion between Nick Hawkins, Romany’s skipper for the day, and the L&M captain, Romany batted first, and got off to a good start with father and son opening partnership Duncan and Freddie Read taking the score past 50 before Duncan was out bowled to a sharply turning off-break just as Freddie was starting to find his range and the boundary at regular intervals.
Freddie was joined by Hamish Bruckner and they proceeded to add over 100 in partnership, Freddie later retiring on 100 exactly (his first Romany ton and the first of many we hope!) Soon after joined back in the pavilion by Hamish who also made a century before retiring on 104, a century on debut!
Alistair Maiden then made a quick fire 31 before missing a straight one while trying to keep the scoring rate high. Romany closed on 277/2, which we felt was a good defendable score.
We enjoyed a great tea in the bijou L&M clubhouse, as a light shower passed over the ground, the weather timing it perfectly as the sky began to clear just as we were ready for play to resume after the tea break.
Steve Jackson and I opened the bowling, with Steve keeping things tight with characteristic accuracy and a nagging length, a good foil for my many ‘variations’ (inaccuracies) at the other end. The first couple of overs passed without drama and L&M struggled to get the ball away as we restricted scoring shots.
Early in my spell and thanks in the main to excellent fielding I was fortunate enough to collect a hat-trick! The first wicket from an overpitched ball fell to a Duncan Read catch at extra cover, then for the second the batsman pulled a short ball to mid-wicket and was unlucky to pick out our best fielder on the day Freddie Read, who completed a spectacular diving catch, which would otherwise have been a certain boundary. The dismissal that completed the hat-trick, however, I am claiming as a ‘proper’ wicket. Nick kindly agreed for me to bring the field in (even adding a second slip – take note Knighty) and the batsman, under pressure allowed a good length slightly inswinging ball to pass between bat and pad, dislodging off stump!
The fall of that 3rd wicket brought the L&M number 5 to the middle and I think we knew despite being ahead in the game that we could have a battle on our hands as he strode to the wicket smoking a tab and brandishing a specially shortened ‘mongoose’ bat. My first ball to him was a high full toss on leg stump and he proceeded to bludgeon his way to 100 and retirement in only around 10 overs.
We knew our bowlers may have a long afternoon and for spin bowlers in particular it was hard to prevent regular boundaries, Nick Hawkins and Charlie Read’s first spell were controlled but still expensive. Freddie Read and Alistair Maiden managed to reign the scoring rate back in and each picked up wickets (Read 2 & Maiden 3) and once Costello, their no 5 retired we regained control of the match. A special mention should be made to Duncan Berry who kept excellently throughout.
Both Read and Maiden bowled out, and the scene was set, with L&M running out of batsman, it seemed inevitable that Costello would return, and with around 70 runs needed and 7 overs left, the match could still be lost by Romany.
What followed was the perfect finish; I closed out the bowling with Charlie Read and we managed to get to the last over of the match with L&M requiring 21 runs and 9 wickets down. 13 year old Charlie proceeded to pull off a minor miracle, bowling to Costello he sent down his leg spinners without fear and restricted the scoring for the first 3 balls of the over, meaning that the batsman had to go all out to finish the game. On the final ball, Read tossed it up once more and Costello swung his Mongoose (once more) and the ball sailed high into the air, but only picked out Alistair Maiden who executed the most cool calm and collected parry and rebound catch to win the game!
After such a strenuous afternoon as would be expected we retired to the Crown Hotel in Middlesmoor for a quick pint before home, content with a superb game of village cricket in a great setting with superb opposition, in the very best sense of the word.