Premier League summary - Another opportunity to top the Prem missed by the 1s who lost heavily to Twickenham at the Midd. Fortunately, Ealing only managed 1 point in a losing draw at home to Stanmore so are only 2 points ahead of us. Beware of the chasing pack led by Hampstead, Teddington and Richmond who are closing in on the top two. 1s need to get back into winning ways and quickly.
Here are match reports for North Midd’s Week 13 matches.
North Midd 1st XI vs Twickenham (Home)
Twickenham 222 all out (62.3 overs)
(Don Manuwelgg 98; Carlos Nunes 62; L O’Driscoll 2-30)
North Midd 122 all out (33.5 overs)
Hollman 39; Ishwarjot Singh Soji 5-22)
Twickenham won by 100 runs
Report to follow
North Midd 2nd XI vs Shepherds Bush (Away)
North Midd 220/6
Shepherd's Bush 221/6
Shepherd's Bush won by four wickets
Deja She Bu After a soggy one last week, the Middies made the journey to West London's Premier cricket club full of anticipation. She Bu were top of the table. But a win would reel them in to just 20 points away. That presented rather a conundrum at the toss: did batting first or second present a better chance of forcing a win? Unable to decide, El Capitain cunningly elected to lose the toss. For the 8th time on the trot. Quite an achievement really. Hence, we were inserted on a deck that had a bit in it, especially off a length. As well as some carry. Most unusual.
Disciplined line and length from Yorkie's mate Special K saw a becalmed Chambers and Sherlock off to a watchful start. Aforementioned carry surprising Shirls who copped one in the ribs off a length from the other opener. Said opener was then inexplicably replaced by a man with a marginally less weird action but considerably worse radar. A veritable feast of all-sorts was dished up and Shirley, in particular, duly dined on them with panache. So we found ourselves at drinks after 17 overs, 50 odd for none. A reasonable start, or so we thought... Chambers soon perished to the tall, slow man with the short run up - forgetting that the bat is generally a better option than the back leg when playing the ball off the stumps. And so Zulfiqur "I thought we were playing at Acton" Azom came to the crease. Shirls soon brought up a lovely fifty as he and Zulf assembled another tidy partnership. Shirley eventually fell around the 40th over, perishing in an attempt to up the rate. So strolled Captain Cat to the crease to unfurl a fine collection of plinks. At the other end, Zulfiqur was looking increasingly fluent as a change of stick saw him on his way to another excellent fifty. Unfortunately, one slog sweep too many saw him depart and York-Starkey come to the crease. Yorkie's other mate had meanwhile put together a spell of 17-1-50 in a masterclass of how to bowl on this tacky deck. Finally bored of plinking, Mills decided to hit one out to deep cover to see if he could take a screamer, the sporting chap duly obliged: diving forward to pluck the ball inches off the ground. Yorkie smoked a few, the shot of the day being a firecracker straight pull off his fellow alumnus. Camel worked it around well towards the end and we eventually made it to 220 off our 55 - keeping the maths nice and easy for everyone.
After a superb tea, featuring the luxury that was ice lollies, we took to the field chomping at the bit. The Bird Man came flying in down the hill but unfortunately couldn't quite locate his radar. The usually metronomic Lowe also struggled from the other end. And so, with an uneasy sense of Deja Vu, we yet again saw the opposition race to 70-0 after the first 10. For the mathematically minded amongst you, you will note that matches neither the four nor five per over that we needed to keep them to. Drinks came at a good time, a reminder that we were very much still in it - we just needed to build some pressure.
Enter debutante Gole. Lulu bowled with exceptional control, consistently making the batsman play on just the right length. Just in time too, else Rev was about to combust. Yorkie also settled into a good rhythm from the other end and we were able to exert some pressure. That pressure soon told, Yorkie finding the shoulder of the bat to balloon a catch to Mills at first slip. Mills have already caught it twice by the time it got to him, unfortunately upon arrival it was third time unlucky as the chance went begging. Lulu saved everyone's blushes by shnicking the same bloke off in the following over, beautifully snaffled by Shirls. A sensational, flying grab at square leg bagged Lulu her second and marked the welcome return of bucket hands Zulfiqur. Yorkie continued to bowl jaffas from the other end. The only time they got bat on it, it managed to fly just high or wide of slips. Lulu was replaced by Tommy Francis who bowled beautifully. A wonderful sequence saw him rip two past the outside edge, completely bamboozle the bloke with a wrong un before suckering him with the bunger which was duly hit straight down Zulfi's throat. So we entered the last 15, they needed 75 with 7 wickets in hand. Enheartend by the presence of his compatriots at third man and a newly inked sponsorship deal with Rovio, Birdy returned to clean up the opener with a delightful yorker. Having already collapsed with cramp twice in the sweltering 24.8 degree heat, it's safe to say he was probably happy to head off to the ice bath.
Unfortunately, there was still a pesky and increasingly fluent number four to deal with. Lowey refunded for a solid second spell as we tried our best to turn the screws. Birdy bagged another couple to take things deep and brining the other collapsing man to the crease. It wasn't quite enough though, as the entered the final over needing just four to win, which they duly did with four balls remaining. A bloody good fightback and exceptional bowling debuts from Lulu and Tommy but just short once again. Had a couple more chances gone to hand, things might have been different. Back to the fortress next week, let's bag a win.
North Midd 3rd XI vs Hampstead (Away)
North Midd 238-8 from 46 overs
Hampstead 195-7 from 46 overs
Winning draw for North Midd
The Midd were offered the chance to bat first at a ground where, almost without fail, the NM3 Victory has hit a fecking great iceberg in the past. Paddy Parker's broken finger, Paddy Parker's broken shoulder. So many memorable occasions, never a Midd win in sight. Here, however, things began rather swimmingly. Friend and Downing, when not attempting to run each other out, quickly established that whacking it would be the best form of defence. Friend would prove the dominant aggressor, reaching his 50 in the 12th over, while Downing batted with a greater sense of brain cell. During the course of this quite entertaining stand, the venue was treated to a spot of histrionics courtesy of the Argentine Gayle's troublesome ankle. He rolled it as he tried to run himself out, then lay on the floor while refusing the offer of freeze spray, only to then call for it two balls later. Cracking use of the placebo effect. When Friend fell for 51, he had broken some quite interesting records in the process: a first August run since 2017, a first league run against Hampstead since 2013. Like following a desert drought with a vindaloo, all the runs came at once. With Friend having failed to run Downing out, Lake picked up the Hilary Mantel (bit of literature for you) and completed the job, dropping and running to a chap at point. When Titicaca was then cleaned up by Alice in Dane Sunderland, Hampstead's exuberant left-arm seamer, the Midd had lost three wickets for five runs. All aboard, gents. 75-0 to 80-3. This train will terminate at CollapseVille. However, cometh the hour, cometh the Cracknell-Barrow axis. Runs flowed like the salmonella shits. Glorious viewing. El Capitan mustered consecutive fives as Hampstead chose not to dismiss the skipper, but to throw the ball for four. Meanwhile, Marnus Barrow ticked along his merry way at a rate of calm, reaching a very dreamy 57. When Cracknell eventually fell, properly bounced out, he had - at least - had enough time to show the leg-spinner that he possessed the strike over mid-off. Daoud replaced him, before being adjudged lbw, while the Midd then called for Doctor Slog Sweep. The medical practitioner decided that thwacking the ball for six would be a good idea. Solid thinking tbf. While this went on, Townson and Wilfred Owen also whacked some useful home-runs. 238-8 from 46 overs. Pre-defence of runs came tea, as it does. Mixed. Not a patch on Eastcote and a serious lack of chicken biryani or veggie pasta salad. I find chicken drumsticks awkward to eat, especially when garnished in sticky sauce. Pleasant, however. Yellow watermelon was a fascinating touch. This writer did not know that was a thing, to be frank. Full marks to whoever made the little spring rolls. Dainty and delicious. Chapeau.
Post-oriental snacklet, there was a game to win. What cracking fun this would be. As Ian Holloway once declared: "If I fell into a barrel of boobs, I'd come out sucking my thumb." In terms of misfortune, this was how it all felt for a long while. Kenna and Price bowled a dream. The Midd's ever-increasing slip cordon had all the security of an after-hours Hatton Garden. There's a hole in my bucket, my bucket, my bucket etc. In fact, there were six holes by the end. One lad finally ran out of lives, slapping at mid-off, before his partner did wonders for the spirit of the game with his reaction to kicking one off middle and leg. He then returned to umpire at square leg, making some quite snide comments about the Midd's good-natured chat. Alas, he had misplaced his sense of irony. This report doesn't need to repeat what he said on the field last year. While this was going on, Benny Owen channelled his inner Harmison. And not in the No.1 bowler in the world way. Bouncers, wides, bouncers, no-balls, and then a single off-break that found the edge. Sadly, slip had since - quite rightly - vacated the area. Two overs, one maiden, none for twenty. Wonderful, glorious scenes. Everyone laughed. What a unifier sport can be. Had the edge from the off-break been caught, the game would have ended. For, nothing could have beaten that level of farce. Given the game situation at drinks - Hampstead were 112-2 - a winning draw was, ultimately, quite an effort. Doctor In-Duckers accounted for the 1s player with the assistance of Friend's jelly legs, wobbling underneath a high ball like a drunk on a space-hopper, while the left-hander, who had played very nicely, clipped Kenna to deep square-leg. Two more wickets fell, but a winning draw it was to be. A fair result, though there was only one side on the day that deserved to win it. We should take pride, more than anything, from the way we play the game. We have fun, we laugh and joke with each other, we enjoy our company and we play some excellent cricket in the process. Certainly, the highest standard of game this league has seen all season. Hampstead stay top. Fair play to them. It was a game played hard and fair. We are seven points behind. Get available. Win the next five. Champions, I reckon.
North Midd 4th XI vs Twickenham (Away)
Twickenham 3s 64 All Out from 34.4 overs
North Midd 4s 65/4 from 20.2 overs
North Midd win by 6 wickets
After two seasons of battling relegation, the 4s have found them in the delightful situation of being 32 points clear of the bottom two teams. With the improvement in skipper Tom G’s wicket taking abilities directly correlated with his new found Saturday morning sobriety, the 4s went off to take on Twickenham knowing that a win would allow us to leapfrog them in the table. The St Mary’s Twickenham sports ground had previously played host to some high scoring fixtures, with 270 v 240 happening just last season. When Tom won the toss and elected to bowl first, we felt confident that our packed bowling lineup could do some real damage. Alfie was handed the new ball and immediately the erratic behaviour of the pitch became apparent, as balls off a length popped, shot, leaped and galloped. Buxton Jr. spurred on by Buxton Sr. at point, had their openers dancing, with the left hander spending 80% of his time at the crease ending up square on to the bowler. During one of his two-steps he ended up getting pinned in front LBW and we had them 1 down for not many. Their other opener forecast his intentions of nailing a ball over the covers by playing and missing identical shots about five times, before finally slapping the ball straight to the skipper’s hands at mid-off. Their numbers 3 and 4 had done damage against us in each of the fixtures last season so we knew how important these next couple of wickets would be. Luckily for us the number 4 looked horrifically out of nick and quickly slapped a half tracker into the waiting hands of Eddie Tse. Their number 3 then followed up and did the exact same, but his was a cultured cover drive straight into Eddie’s hands, with their captain at the other hand tossing his bat to the ground in frustration and his team’s performance. Dhaval finished his opening spell with 9-2-16-3 and Alfie had 6-3-9-1, with his wicket taking abilities slightly hindered by the over restrictions in place. Navin came into the attack and settled into his rhythm very quickly, finding a very awkward length regularly, putting a lot of pressure on the Twickers batsmen. This led to another breakthrough as he clean bowled two players in two deliveries, with everyone brought into an aggressive umbrella field for the highly anticipated hat-trick ball. What followed was a low full toss that got driven for two, quite an anti-climax. At drinks, the oppo were 46/6 from 23 overs, which gave the 4s hope that we could bowl them out for a low enough total we’d be allowed to have a batting collapse and still chase down the 10 points. Tom G himself struck straight after drinks to bring his wicket tally up to 25 for the year, a great effort in his first year of captaincy. Navin rolled straight through their number 9, then removed Scott Newman's son after his ill-calculated innings led to him spooning a catch to Tom on his fourth attempt. Nav finished his Michelle with the wicket of their number 8 who was the only batsman to put up a fight. All out for 64, leaving us 57 overs to chase 65. Olly Buxton, the Scotty Styris of the North Midd 4s for the afternoon was sent in to open with his usually bullish technique, alongside someone whose batting wishes it was as entertaining as watching paint dry, Alex Thomas. Olly sadly didn't last long but AT did what he does best and played a very watchful innings. Joe James came in, played a couple of lovely cover drives and leg glances to knock more off the total before snicking off. With 8 needed to win, Jonny Gould hit 2, 4, 1 and then got bowled leaving us with 1 left to score. With KP and Eddie Tse both at the crease without scoring, the Twickenham seamer fired a delivery off the pitch, leaving Olly to signal a wide and the end of the game. 10 important points that put the 4s into 5th, a great position.
North Midd 5th XI vs Edmonton (Away)
Edmonton no longer in the League – match not played.