12 May 2019 – at LRGS
Gregson won the toss and elected to field
It was Redmile that took the first wicket, as Syrett Sr (22) found himself caught by Sumsion at mid off. It kindled a mini-collapse as first Murad (0) and then Jones (3) saw their stumps uprooted by Waddell and Murphy, respectively. Three wickets down in the space of three overs should have given the Gregson a warm feeling of superiority, but each was greeted with muted celebrations at best.
Why the lack of exuberance? Why no back slapping “well bowled old chap” conversations in the post-wicket huddle? What could possibly have prompted the Gregson faithful to have abandoned their normal cheery demeanour on the field of play?
Could it have been the Moroccan wank shower of bowling that had preceded those wickets? The sort of bowling two talented batsmen could feast on like a lion devouring a gazelle? Quite possibly, for when those three wickets fell the score was already well to the north of 300.
MOB’s opening batsmen – Palmer and Simpson – quite simply took the Gregson bowling attack apart. When Waddell’s first ball hummed through the covers like an angry wasp, the Gregson fielders’ sense of impending doom was already apparent. When Murphy went for three consecutive sixes in his second over, it was clear this was not going to be their day. By the time Sutton and Sumsion had shipped 99 runs from their 9 overs, the four horsemen of the apocalypse had appeared from behind the Ashton memorial. They trotted down to the pitch muttering how they normally only turn out for impending nuclear devastation but had decided this was close enough to warrant the expense of a trip from the Netherworld.
Spectacular shots flowed like mountain streams after a storm, each finding its own path to the boundary, each a hammer blow to the Gregson’s pride. The hundred came up in the twelfth over, the two hundred in the twentieth, and both batsmen completed their personal centuries soon afterwards.
Surely, there had to be a breakthrough at some point? It didn’t come, although there were three opportunities that a more generous observer might just classify as half chances. Morrison almost clung on to a low catch to his right at midwicket, Hughes almost took a spectacular caught and bowled and Waddell almost caught the speeding bullet that fizzed past him in the covers. But almost is not enough for the scorebook and the steely eyed Palmer and Simpson continued their unrelenting assault.
The bowlers were switched round, but it was like tinkering with the Titanic’s flood doors – there was little anyone could do to prevent the inevitable sinking. By the time both batsmen hit their 150s even they had wearied of demonstrating their obvious prowess and retired to warm applause from MOB and Gregson cricketers alike.
A dashing 50 partnership from Arul (16*) and Bunker (32*) at the end of the innings would normally be worthy of a few paragraphs, but after earlier events it undeservedly failed to register with the tired and dispirited fielders as MOB finished on 392 – the highest total the Gregson CC have conceded in almost 35 years of cricket.
One must of course record the Gregson’s batting response for posterity, but it is fair to say their hearts weren’t really in it. Powell fell for a duck in the first over to Murad, Arul took two quick wickets removing first Lee (16) and then Sutton (2), and then the young Syrett Jr came on for a spell that only compounded the Gregson agonies – taking 5 – 33 including one that Waddell, after a hard hitting 25, claimed was a flipper Shane Warne would have got excited about.
At the end of the innings, McAllister (39*) and Murphy (33*) provided the Gregson, if not with restored pride, then with some crumbs of comfort as they closed out the innings on 179 – 8, for a result that saw them lose by 213 runs.
What can one do but offer congratulations to a superlative MOB team on the day? After last year’s narrow Gregson victory in a match that saw over 600 runs scored, we had another run feast – albeit one that was slightly more one sided.
Good luck to our friends at MOB for the rest of the season and be assured the Gregson will spend the summer months plotting our revenge for when we visit you in September!