SUNDAY’S much-anticipated return of the MCC to Philiphaugh, after a gap of 119 years, lived up to all expectations.

Having dismissed the visitors for 132 in the 37th over, Selkirk’s batsmen recovered from a shaky start to take the game right down to the wire, eventually finishing on 115-9 after 40 overs, just 17 runs short of the MCC total.

Visiting MCC captain Andy Wilson said his players had not only been impressed by the warmth of welcome they had received, but by the commitment and skill of the Selkirk players.

Border Telegraph: Match ball sponsors Skip & Shirley Houston pictured with MCC captain Andy Wilson and home skipper Greg Fenton.Match ball sponsors Skip & Shirley Houston pictured with MCC captain Andy Wilson and home skipper Greg Fenton. (Image: John Smail)

“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “Selkirk is obviously a club very much at the heart of its community.

“These are exactly the kind of fixtures MCC sides enjoy playing, and I’m very confident we’ll return to Philiphaugh in the not-too-distant future.”

That the match was able to go ahead at all was in itself a minor miracle, given the torrential rain of the previous 24 hours. Selkirk’s ground care team – Ronnie Dumma, Stuart McCall and Allan Hogg – earned high praise from both captains.

Batting first, the MCC found both the slow wicket, and the potency of opening bowlers Michael Fenton (1-25) and Daniel Heard (2-11) hard to handle, slumping to 12-2.

First change bowler Greg Fenton (2-20) maintained the pressure by picking up the wickets of Scotland U19 player Patrick Ritchie (11) and current Scotland international Jack Jarvis (8), leaving MCC still in trouble at 39-4 in the 16th over.

However, the visitors’ fortunes changed with the arrival at the crease of Fraser Watts, a well-known ODI specialist and a member of Scotland’s team at the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies.

In tandem with Pete Deakin (21), the pair boosted the MCC score to 105-5, with Watts eventually out LBW having scored 63 runs – an innings which deservedly won him the ‘Man of the Match’ award.

Watts lost his wicket to fellow Scotland international John Blain (3-15), one of the home club’s four guest players on the day. The final two MCC wickets were taken by Selkirk vice-skipper Kenny Paterson (2-0), leaving the MCC on 132 all out.

Border Telegraph: The MCC flag flies over Philiphaugh on SundayThe MCC flag flies over Philiphaugh on Sunday (Image: John Smail)

In reply, Selkirk found the MCC’s formidable bowlers a hot handful, and by the end of the 25th over were left struggling at 45-6. Jamie Glover (10), John Everitt (9) and Blaine Gillie (9) all did their best to stem the MCC tide, but the home team found themselves well behind the run rate.

A quick-fire knock of 44 by talented all-rounder John Blain gave the Souters fresh hope, but the home team eventually fell just short of the 132 target, with Paterson and Heard both still at the crease when the final ball was bowled.

MCC’s wicket-takers were Ben Davidson (1-16), James Thompson (1-6), Marcus Sharp (1-3), Stuart Davidson (2-6), Elliot Keenan (1-14) and Pete Maksimczyk (1-27).

Post- match presentations were made to MCC batsman Fraser Watts, as well as to the visitors’ umpire and scorer – William Ferguson and Allan Baxter. Marcus Sharp (MCC) and Daniel Heard (Selkirk) received ‘top performance’ awards.

This Saturday (August 12) Selkirk return to East League business with a crunch Division 2 match against Westquarter & Redding CC at Bailliefields, Falkirk.