“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”
Two weeks ago failure in the guise of relegation to Division 2 looked imminent for MGCC, but a mighty Churchillian spirit got us off the beach!
Two victories were required from the last two games, both away and both with players absent, but those that turned out – turned it on. Consecutive hundred run opening stands providing the platform to both victories.
And so, to the win at Stonesfield……
A cool day with morning drizzle and a covered pitch on arrival. Thankfully the clouds lifted and a greenish track was revealed, looking true but slow. Skipper duly lost the toss and Stonesfield elected to bat as neither Skipper Burns nor main bowler Gubbins were on parade. Needing only 1 bonus point to secure their Division 1 status Stoney were relaxed and gunning for a big batting swing!
Marsh seeking a controlled start began with more than 100 years of experience as Needham and Chambers opened up! Redknapp and Hart (where was Jamie Burns?) were positive and despite the earlier precipitation the outfield was still hard and fast. The breakthrough came in the 9th over with the score on 37, as Needham found the edge of Hart’s bat and a sharp low catch to Joe at 1st Slip was executed perfectly. ‘One brings Two’ and Chambers struck the very next over trapping Redknapp deadeye in front for the 2nd time, and this time Umpire Razza was awake to give it!
Joe was catcher again just 2 overs later as he clutched a drive from Grist-Perkins at mid on from Chambers and Stonesfield were 58-3 off 13.
Birkett and Farrant then went boundary crazy with all out attack and skipper turned to Joe to tempt the error. The plan worked as Farrant (who’d scored 35 in 3 overs) thankfully missed a straight one and was bowled. 85-4 from 16 overs.
With this wicket Marsh wrestled back the initiative from Stonesfield through tight bowling and fielding (and some odd throwing – Abbott and Vadivale!) and only 20 runs came in the next 10 overs as Needham completed his spell conceding 2 runs in 5 overs (12-5-33-1) and Joe tying up the other end.
Birkett and skipper Burns were still there and though contained by the Marsh Spin-Twins (not identical though same body profile!), the batters were looking secure at 122-4 at the 30th over mark. Marsh needed another breakthrough as a final 15 over onslaught could be damaging with still 6 wickets in hand.
Joe (8-1-35-1) was replaced by Jabbot to return some pace into proceedings. Finding a good line straight away Jayson and Satty kept the pressure on and the rate in check. Then came controversy in the 36th over.
Jayson found the edge of Jamie’s bat and Skipper Stuart took a low catch. Simple enough. However uncoordinated and indecisive umpiring got the situation in a spin. Stuart wasn’t sure if the ball carried and the catch taken clean. The two umpires agreed the ball had been hit and carried but didn’t simply confer and say ‘Out’ and were leaving it to the players to debate. With things getting unnecessarily tetchy Jamie realised what a cock up they were making and sensibly walked. The right decision – the wrong way.
Stonesfield looked to accelerate in the last ten but a wicket for Vadivale in each of his last 3 overs, claiming the impressive Birkett LBW for 56 and then 2 sharp Stumpings for skipper (almost making up for his earlier missed one!) kept Stonesfield to 201-8 off their 45.
The simple equation at Tea on the last day was : To Win and stay up Marsh needed 202 runs in the next 45 overs. The whole season rested on the next 175 minutes.
Joe and Archie strode out and set the right tone immediately with confident batting from over one. 10 overs and 47 on the board – no scares. Whilst Joe kept using his bat instead of his pad and Archie didn’t hit the ball to a fielder and call for a run things stayed calm. And the runs kept coming…..
12th over and time for Gubbins spin to begin. Having taken 49 wickets in the season to date and taken a wicket in every game he bowled Tom Gubbins was looking for the milestone 50th wicket. Both batters kept on the front foot turning over the strike to keep things unsettled. It worked. 15 overs and 72 on the board.
Joe reached his 50 first in the 19th over and then in the 22nd over the pair achieved their 2nd consecutive 100 run opening partnership. To be confirmed, but probably the only back to back Century Opening partnerships for the Club.
The stand was unfortunately broken in the 25th over on 118 when Joe, caught in-between smack or tickle ended up chipping the ball into midwickets hands. A quality 60 scored from 74 balls. But Archie was still there and reached his 2nd consecutive half century.
Alex Wallace joined Archie and as he needed to be at two 40th Birthday parties that evening had no time to linger. Indeed parenting duties had kept Briefcase from the crease for Marsh since the 2014 Telegraph Cup Final victory and the years of missed batting was desperate to surface….and so it did!
Whilst Archie timed cuts through point to the rope, Briefo stood square and powerfully thwacked it over mid on and square leg. The last required 87 runs coming in just 10 overs. In the end, only the thought of Amy’s tongue-lashing for tardiness could extricate Briefo from the middle and he ‘Retired’ with the scores level on 201 and ran off to a brace of parties! Skipper strode out to see Archie complete the victory with a final boundary hit directly into the jubilant Marsh team.
Archie finished unbeaten on 73 from 98 balls and Briefo (unbeaten) scoring 49 from just 33 deliveries. Retiring on 49 – That’s what I call Jug Avoidance!
Mission Accomplished. Division One status Confirmed!
No need for: Jules, Jayson, Sat, Alex C, Jacob, Mikey, or Kyle to wield the willow as Joe, Archie and Briefo scored 205 from 35 overs.
Congratulations to the Stonesfield boys for their mid table finish as well and the usual banter and hospitality. Hope the Race night was a success.
The courage to continue when all seemed hopeless kept the Club up and showed what can be achieved. A perfect place to start from – next May!