“An absorbing contest between two sides with depth and talent, who battled and battered each other all day, the pendulum of fate shifting regularly, with each side establishing commanding positions, only for the other to respond and refuse to lie down”
Winning draw for the 1s so Ealing stay top of the Premier League but are now only one point ahead of the Midd.
Here are the match reports for 13th July 2019
North Midd 1st XI vs Ealing (Home)
Ealing 222 all out from 64.5
North Midd 199-8 from 56 overs
North Midd winning draw (4 points; Ealing 2 points)
NORTH MIDDLESEX v EALING Saturday 13th July – Middx Prem time and so the long awaited day arrived, the clash of the Titans, separated by just 3 points at the top of the table, on a warm sunny morning; a match that neither side could afford to lose. It produced an absorbing contest between two sides with depth and talent, who battled and battered each other all day, the pendulum of fate shifting regularly, with each side establishing commanding positions, only for the other to respond and refuse to lie down. There were to be extra ordinary events and flashes of brilliance, and the match was played with a unique intensity in my experience, with players of both batting sides shouting calls of encouragement from the pavilion after virtually every ball; the spectators were transfixed. With little or no rain during the week, the pitch was hard and dry deep down; Oz produced a pitch which had less pace than the week before and on which the spinners would turn the ball slowly, but without the bounce that would make them really dangerous.
Cracknell (still injured), Teesdale and Nurse were replaced by MacQueen, Hill and Harris. North Middlesex won an important toss and elected to field, partly from a desire to ‘control the game’ and their own destiny, but also because of the frustration of batting first and taking 8 wickets in the previous two games; whatever, batting is never straightforward at the ‘Midd’ before lunch. Ed Bird’s first over was a microcosm of the game: the ever-flamboyant Olly Wilkin treated the first 4 balls with disdain: all resulting in boundaries, but his fifth delivery beat the batsman’s half-forward prod to nudge the off-bail slowly from its groove; a gutsy response and a real ‘jaffa’ (18-1, 16); what a start!. Together with Joel Hughes, miserly and naggingly accurate as usual, they bowled 12 testing overs, with the batsmen determined to build a foundation, but playing and missing regularly, and it took the introduction of Liam O’Driscoll to break the deadlock, bringing the ball back into Stoughton, offering no shot, and removing his off-stump (44-2, 16). Etonian Shaw had played circumspectly and with confidence, and having survived a close lbw call from Hughes (DRS confirmed the umpire’s decision), succumbed in the same fashion from a straighter ball from O’Driscoll (57-3, 18). With the first ball of his 10th over, Hughes finally got his reward for exceptionally tight and accurate bowling by bringing one back into the left-handed Capel to have him lbw (63-4, 9); a crucial wicket, since Capel master-minded Ealing’s successful chase in the first game of the season. In his next over, he had Farrell well held at 1st slip by Tom Nicoll, driving at an out-swinger (68-5, 1); the other key partner in the chase. This was Ealing’s ‘nadir’, and the hosts must have thought that they had already dealt a mortal blow; however, the vastly experienced Barrett (1st class hundred for Northants) and the youthful but well-organised Connelly batted through to lunch pretty securely and confidently to reach 94-5 from 31 overs. This represented a good morning’s work from the ‘Midd’, with skipper Hughes leading from the front and quite outstanding: 13-6-17-2.
The second over after lunch produced an unusual incident: ‘keeper Alex Hill had noticed that Barrett regularly lingered out of his ground after playing at the ball; on the sixth ball of the over, Barrett played and missed, and having taken the ball, Hill, standing back, immediately under-armed it at the stumps and hit. There was a delay as the umpires conferred to determine whether the ball was still alive at the instant of the throw; DRS subsequently clearly demonstrated the immediacy of Hill’s action, and Barrett was correctly and entirely legally given out stumped (97-6, 20). There were unprintable comments from the batting side as the striker reluctantly left the field of play. Hughes continued his marathon heroically, but none of the other bowlers looked threatening and Connelly and Ensom carefully continued the recovery, adding an invaluable 57 from the next 20 overs. The latter was dropped at extra-cover off Tom Nicoll, and the hosts were beginning to look sorry for themselves, but in the next over Max Harris, who had generated a healthy pace, had Ensom caught behind (154-7, 25). The real damage was yet to come as Connelly continued his serene progress and Sri Lankan Sivarajah really tucked in to the spinners with fluency and regularity; the pair added a breezy 51 in 10 overs when the returning Hughes had the former caught at mid-wicket by Harris (205-8, 58); Connolly had played with a maturity well beyond his years, never missing any opportunity to score (two straight sixes from each leg spinner being particularly memorable) and was quite reasonably named ‘man-of-the-match’ by the umpires. 10 runs were bustlingly taken from the following over before Hughes rounded the innings off by having Sivarajah and Russell caught behind (220-9, 39 from 44 balls) and (222 all out, 2), leaving Skipper Martin stranded on 12. The visitors would clearly have batted the full 66 overs if they could, but were dismissed in 64.5 overs, leaving the hosts 55 overs for the chase.
Skipper Hughes asked your correspondent his opinion; I replied that I thought the score about ‘par’ and that your batsmen need to hold their nerve (I failed to say, but thought, that the 10 over difference might be decisive). Hughes stood head and shoulders above the rest with an exceptional 18.5-6-29-6; he struggled to find movement with the new ball, but nonetheless bowled probingly; once the ball was 10 overs old, however, he found late swing which tested all of the batsmen to the full. He showed quite remarkable stamina and control, and without him, Ealing would have been rampantly dominant.
As it was, they were ‘cock-a-hoop’ with their recovery and held the initial momentum for the start of the second innings. On the third ball the promoted O’Driscoll was palpably lbw from a full delivery from Ensom (0-1, 0). As one would expect, the Ealing attack was of a higher and more consistent standard than any other in the league, and Luke Hollman and Evan Flowers carefully negotiated the 13 overs to tea without too many qualms: 35-1. Skipper Martin is a wily and experienced off-spinner and, having got Hollman onto the back foot playing two deliveries which span away from him, the next was an arm-ball which knocked back the latter’s off-stump (41-2, 20) a couple of overs after the resumption. James Parslow joined the well-established Flowers and immediately looked confident and assertive: he was away with two fours and a straight-driven six, and the pair ran excellently as well as playing with a certainty and maturity that was instantly recognisable. Playing confidently off the back foot, laced with the occasional grand off-drive, Flowers reached a flawless fifty from 86 balls; Parslow scoring in elegant 3s and 4s was scarcely less impressive reaching his fifty in 64 balls, but both players also took care against bowling that was always threatening (the young Russell bowling a particularly accurate and probing spell of medium pace).
Ealing rolled their last throw of the dice by introducing slow-left-arm Sivarajah and leg-spinner Farrell in tandem; in a harbinger of what was to come, the latter bowled a maiden of 5 well flighted slower-pace well-pitched deliveries, but the other was a rank long-hop which Flowers hoiked flat to mid-on who dropped an easy catch. This seemed a rare but highly significant blemish at the time, and the score had reached 139-2 with 20 overs remaining , with the hosts anticipating a comfortable victory, when Farrell bowled a quicker ball which Flowers under-edged and the ball flew low to slip where Martin took an impressive catch at the second attempt (139-3, 72). The pair had added 98 in 112 deliveries and despite several other larger and impressive contenders this season, this was the partnership of the highest class, taking account of the quality of the bowling, which was at no stage completely mastered. In the next six overs Farrell cut through the North Middlesex middle order like a knife through soft butter, taking a further 5 wickets for 13 runs: Tom Nicoll palpably lbw trying to pull a long-hop which kept low (139-4, 0), Rob Fahrenheim edging to slip (141-5, 0), Alex MacQueen driving hard to mid-on (155-6, 8), Harris caught behind attempting a cut (169-7, 5) and Hill driving to extra-cover (175-8, 3). Nothing more and nothing less than well-flighted, consistently well-pitched-up turning leg breaks, and all the while Sivarajah, wicket-less at the other end, bowling accurately and turning the ball consistently enough to restrict even Parslow from scoring other than the occasional single. The game had been turned on its head (to such an extent that 48 were now needed to win from the 5 remaining overs) as Skipper Hughes trudged to the crease with his familiar gait to join Flowers who had become becalmed, scoring in singles regularly off the first ball of an over, and invariably not facing another ball. The ‘faster-run-rate’ target was eventually 192 (Ealing squeezed in an 18th over in the last 45 minutes), but in Farrell’s next over, Parslow finally refused a single from the first ball and mirrored Wilkin by hitting the next four balls for boundaries, but without being dismissed from the last! Attritional defence from Hughes (0* from 15 balls) and one final defiant six from Parslow (85* from 96 balls) saw the hosts to safety: 199-8 at the close. The ‘Midd’ therefore scored 4 points to Ealing’s 2, which left the latter one point clear at the top of the table.
Parslow had saved his most impressive innings of the season for the most important match, playing superbly and confidently throughout, and his partnership with Flowers had taken the ‘Midd’ to the brink. Ealing had bowled with purpose and skill throughout and finally saved their bacon from an unlikely source. Farrell’s final figures of 14-2-54-6 did not do him justice (6-1-13-6 at its zenith) and his impact, together with Sivarajah, had been overwhelming. North Middlesex twice established commanding positions and were twice frustrated, having to hang on at the end, and Ealing impressively countered twice to threaten twice. It was a magnificent game and a great advertisement for the format, but in the end, as I said at the beginning, neither side could afford to lose.
Mark Williams PS: glossary: ‘jaffa’ an unplayable delivery: named after the best oranges. ‘DRS’: decision review system from the camera immediately above the sightscreen. ‘nadir’: lowest point in fortunes (Indian). ‘arm-ball’: ball delivered by a finger spinner which goes straight on rather than spinning. PPS: incident of the day: any game involving Chad Barrett tends to have a ‘salt and pepper’ moment: having delivered a ball to James Parslow, who prodded it back down the pitch, Chad picked it up and hurled it at the stumps as James was returning to his crease; the ball hit James on his upper thigh, and Chad roared an appeal for obstructing the field. He stood in astonishment it was turned down: c’est la vie’. PPPS: coaching tip of the week: when joining a batsman well established, try to get off strike as early as possible in the over, so that your colleague can farm the strike. PPPPS: comment on format: the Laws of Cricket provide for a minimum of 20 overs once the last hour has been called; as in most Premier Leagues this has been downgraded to 17 overs (the average rate required in the rest of the game – what a difference that might have made yesterday with a potential 6 extra over to be bowled in 15 minutes; the Chairman of the Middlesex League knows better however – because the last hour was called 15 minutes ‘late’, only 45 minutes were available to bowl the minimum 17. A great shame that less rather than more cricket is played at the end.
North Midd 2nd XI vs Ealing (Away)
Ealing 223-7 off 50 overs
North Midd 224-3 off 43 overs
North Midd win by 7 wickets
Scorer = Check, Umpire= Check , Sausage dog= Check, Matt Cracknells whites= Not Check. These were the scenes that begun the second half of NMCC 2's season at Ealing CC. Admittedly the middies team on paper was beastly, but no name (potentially barring Mayo) is as household a name as Ealings's 1st change and Number 7... Tendulkar. Hughie T, (The Slug of the Slug and Duke halal gastropub in hackney) didn't let the presence of greatness affect him though, and second ball of the game he invited the Ealing opener to innocuously spoon a half volley straight to Cracknell M, who just about managed to untangle his hands from Oli Tikare's mammoth spare whites to take the catch. Running down the hill, greasy hair flowing in the wind, Hughie continued his spell fantastically, bowling good ball after good ball. The first 3 overs of the innings were maidens and the spell was only broken by a thick outside edge off Alex Smith, who himself was bowling impressively up the hill, tailing the ball in considerably. Hugh completed his first spell after 7 overs, as he is unfortunately restricted by ECB fast bowling guidelines, not the BCCI guidelines. He was replaced by Alfie Duke (the Duke of afforementioned Slug and Duke halal gastropub in Hackney) and Sir Duke started with the most honourable of 5 no balls. After this blip Alfie began to bang down a hard length for 10 straight overs, a spell in which he removed the remaining Ealing opener's off stump. All the while Nursey, left arm spinner turned unsuccessful boxer, was toiling from the pavilion end. He had several big shouts turned down but eventually got his man , the Ealing no3 who had just reached his 50, with a ball that spun almost as much as it's bowlers jaw had been spun the night before. Enter the Ealing captain, more out of touch than early noughties Bruce Jenner, he scratched violently for 13 before Nurse and Tikare spectacularly combined to end his misery. Nurse participated by delivering a shortish ball outside off stump, Tikare by opening his left bucket and snaffling a quick diving chance at slip. 144-4, From the other end Tees returned for a second 7 over spell down the hill. He started by hitting the no6 on the leg Infront of the stumps, which for the less informed among you, is known as the LBW dismissal. Enter Arjun Tendulkar, striding to the crease in a second XI match in an India u19 lid. I wouldn't be surprised if he had a lasso in his back pocket too in retrospect of all the cowboying that would be soon unleashed upon us. We were treated to an array of swishes and wafts. In all fairness he did deposit Nurseshark into the road on a couple occasions. These shots were only ruined by his claim that "that 6 must have been the biggest Ealing has ever seen". Nurse was replaced by Alex Smith, who immediately took the wicket of the stubborn number 4. Smith then decided to bluff Tendulkar with the leg stump in the slot delivery , which he suitably missed. 201-6. Ealing eventually ended up on 223-7 off 50 overs.
After a spectacularly beige Tea (10/10), we began the chase. Chambo and Nurse starting us off. Chambo played some delicious strokes for 10 but had to depart after falling over a straight one. Enter Tikare, it is the first time he has graced us with his presence this year , and Leeds' finest did not disappoint. He unleashed himself upon an unsuspecting Tendulkar and Glasper (2 genuinely fine bowlers ). He pulled more gloriously than Chambers in Oslo, he drove more stupendously than Jezza Clarkson of Top Gear, and he glanced more elegantly than Hugh Grant in every romcom ever. At the other end runs were harder to come by, Connor was facing flying obstacles at his face from Mumbai’s favourite son’s son down the hill, and though his ducking and weaving was slightly more successful than the previous nights, Chargin Arjun would soon knock his stumps over, Con gone for 15. MCrack was next to partner Tiks at the crease, and luckily this partnership would be prosperous. The batters tamed the Ealing bowlers to such an extent that images of Steve Irwin sweet talking crocodiles were planted in the minds of all watching. Cracknell economics whizz, Tikare Politics and Philosophy whizz, we can only imagine what their between over chats were like. Engles? Brexit? Tendulkar? They raced each other to 50, before Tikare was gone wafting outside off stump. 148-3. Enter Mills, who must not have fancied the minutes of mid over conversation, as he decided to up the ante with some extra cover bombs. Matt continued to effortlessly find the boundary, a highlight being him giggling to himself as he hit an attempted bumper over midwicket for 4. Eventually the middies reached their total with 6 overs to spare. Cracknell 90* Mills 46* And thus completed the most impressive performance of the season with both bat and ball., 2 TFC's for Mayo and Howeld - a rarity for the 2s this year. Most of all Ollie Tiks and Matty Crack could well be mentioned at the grand Tendulkar dining room table for years to come- an honour and a privilege. Onto next week chaps.
North Midd 3rd XI vs Barnes (Away)
North Midd 212-8 dec (47 overs)
Barnes 147-9 from 45 overs
North Midd winning draw (5 points)
In life, it is desperately important to contextualise disappointment. And thus, let me preface this summary with the following: yesterday, a bird did indeed relieve itself all over Andre Mishra. We all saw it. We all heard it. A whoosh followed by an almighty splat. A brown splodge sat on the sleeve of Doctor Shat-On's crisp blue shirt. I mention this, you see, because I think it's the funniest thing I've ever seen. Possibly by some distance. And after a day that began with the car journey from hell and ended with the fairly devastating frustration of a winning draw, someone being dropped upon from a height was a fillip of some considerable necessity. One of the very great moments of our time; it was a parakeet, if you were wondering. Captain Cracknell - a surprise bird-watcher - informed us of as much. He had earlier been defeated in the cash flick and been inserted in the glorious embers of Barn Elms Playing Fields. Stent had, by this point, arrived at the ground, having first gone to the wrong venue. Cracking work. An excellent start. Friend, the Golders Green Greenidge, and pinch-hitting firebrand Owen would begin proceedings swimmingly. A man with exceptional silver locks opened up from one end, unfurling a wide array of wafters, while their left-armer bustled in from the Stop Walking Behind The Sightscreen End. He was called John and, thus, shall be known as John Barnes. The former Liverpool winger should have shnicked off both openers, only for Big John's big wicketkeeper to possess other ideas. Alas, he had buckets of Swiss cheese. Holes everywhere. Owen was eventually cleaned up by the purveyor of loopy long-hops, a dismissal served up with a fairly weird send-off, given such mediocrity. Pleasantries progressed to 62-1, when the Midd opted to collapse. It was a touch early in the piece to wield this card, but "champions must be innovators", as Steve Jobs once stated. What a lovely piece of innovation this was: 62-1 to 97-6 in the blink of an eye. Efficient, solid, effortless collapsing. Chapeau, chaps. There have been sturdier paper planes. Friend boarded the Bakerloo Line to the former England midfielder, Daoud located cover's belly-button, Stent was unfortunate to be taken by the bargain bucket, while Cracknell showed his early intent against the off-spinner by chipping him to point. Langdale then went back to a full one, before proceeding to blame all but himself. A club cricketer if ever there was one. Not even the pound collapses with such consistency. 168-2 to 168-5 last week, 120-3 to 138-10 at Osterley, five for 32 yesterday. Maybe - and only maybe, something we should look to stop doing.
A recovery did, of course, ensue. E. Lowe (41) and Utsav (27) batted beautifully for a time; the outfield was rapid and Barnes had rightly decided that attempting to field the ball was, often, a painful inconvenience. There were runs to be had and, finally, they had been located. Upon their dismissals, there was still time for a lovely little partnership to break out between Mako Lloyd-Williams and Doctor Faecal Sleeves. The hooker and the medical practitioner embarked on some lovely swingage, dragging the Mighty Midd from the edge of a shitstorm to the relative paradise of a declaration. A fine effort. 212-8 from 47 overs. More than sufficient. Tea followed. Sandwiches were rationed out like a fecking war had been declared. Like seriously, what the hell was that all about? Genuinely, a little bit embarrassing. Barnes, to be fair to them, were also a tad miffed. I mean, the chicken sarnies. Crikey O'Reilly.
Post-mushed banana, there were some runs to defend. And as we awake with some considerable regret on this Sunday morning, let's look back on a serious effort in the field. The bowlers were immense, the fielding was top-drawer. Vunipola shnicked off one opener, while the other chipped a leg-stump half-volley to mid-on. Don't mind if I do. Kenna, who was class all day, then located off-pole via full-bunger, before Jofra Owen bounced out a lad who wore a silly hat in the field. Langdale took the catch, leaping to his left as the invisible sniper in the Barn Elms bushes sent him flying to the ground. Proper bumper. Serious nut. A spot of cricket breaking out in the Middlesex Cricket League Third Tier Division One. Good Lord. A fifth soon followed as the Barnes left-hander shinned one off middle. Tad silly. Another lad called Chaffer then chipped E. Lowe to L. Kenna, before Doctor Bird Poo knocked over a middle stump. Big Mako Lomu-Williams took a couple more wickets to leave Mighty Midd a single piece of cricket away from 12 bloody enormous points. Long story short, it didn't happen. John Barnes survived. Five points. A bird shat on Andre. Win the next eight, we win the league. Be available please.
North Midd 4th XI vs Finchley (Home)
North Midd 183/10
North Midd Win by 82
The 4th XI headed to Douglas Eyre for a second week in a row to take on a struggling Finchley team. A green top, Tom lost yet another toss and was inserted on a green deck. The batting performance didn’t get off to the start we had hoped as we fell to 0-1 bringing Magnus to the crease. Throughout the entire warm up Itsu’s resident salesman, Magnus did not stop going on about how their sushi was the perfect way to warm up for the game, but was left fuming as he didn’t get to finish his sashimi due to the early departure. Popeye had spinach and apparently all Magnus needs in a nice seaweed salad to spur him on to second 50 in as many weeks, and widen the gap atop the 4s run scoring list. As with wickets falling around him he helped to guide us to a solid 126-5. Josh friend added a handy 36 in the middle order with some added help from Simon (13) and Alfie (12) down the order to set Finchley 184 to win on a decent track. Wickets fell early with both Danny (7-1-33-2) & Alfie (6-1-22-1) taking early wickets to leave Finchley 8-2, Josh Friend taking the first of our juggled catches as he grabbed the second wicket at the 3rd chance of asking. We continued to take wickets as Danny had a 2nd one chipped to mid off to fall to 33-3. Soon to follow was a truly village moment where after hitting one straight to Louis at cover, both batsmen were left at one end arguing who should be out as Danny whipped the bails off. At 50-4 we then turned to spin. The opposition seeing demons in the pitch after edging a non-turning first ball off the skipper turned to ask “was that a doosra?” He clearly thought he was back at Park Road facing Holman! Soon the wickets continued to tumble, Simon grabbing the second juggled catch of the day as we had their 5th caught behind on a ball where the umpire gave us a hand as his phone loudly began to ring just as the wicket ball was delivered. AT then took an absolute screamer at slip that can only be described as self preservation from Nikhil’s (6-2-12-1) bowling to dismiss what was clearly the oppositions best remaking player. AT’s next catch at gully was another juggling act all which were taken much to the opposition dismay, and after some resilience their number 8 looped the simplest of catches to Alfie off of Tom G (10-1-28-4) one more wicket was left to take. Tom F (2.5-0-5-1) unleashed a beautiful googly their #11 would leave that spun straight on the stumps. 101 all out giving us the max 12 points and an early return from to the Midd. 2 wins on the bounce and up to 5th in the table. A great result and on to face MTSCC next week.
North Midd 5th XI vs Stoke Newington (Home)
Stoke Newington 183 from 48.5 overs
North Midd 185/7 from 42.1 overs
North Midd won by 3 wickets
'Winning solves everything,' once mused fifteen-time major winner and one-time drink driver Tiger Woods. An apt quote to describe this, the 5s first victory in timed cricket this season, following three immensely frustrating weeks of nearly stories and Kumar Dharmesena style umpiring. The 5s turned up to a hard pitch at Peter May and were not surprised when Stoke Newington opted to have first use. Shay Kohler began a touch waywardly, but produced an absolute seed to remove their opener in the first over. The ever steady Nirusha, second only to Atula in the list of 5s Sri Lankan players, also began well, squeezing runs from the off and collecting an early wicket too, the number 3 skewing to backward point. SN then developed a frustrating partnership - Dykey, a welcome return to the side, kept things really tight, as 23 runs came off 15 overs, but the wicket eluded us as the visitors pressed on to 110/3. Eventually, we got the breakthrough; Will Frais (6-2-14-2) finding the edge, with Nico producing an outstanding catch away to his right. Two overs later, the young duo combined again and, with Tim Oon also claiming a deserved scalp, the Midd had reduced the opposition to 130/6. Dykey returned to strike and Nirusha picked up the last two wickets to finish with the exceptional figures of 14-5-39-4. An interesting run out call gave their number 8 a reprieve, as he clubbed 44 to set up a dicey target of 184 off 43 overs. In reply, Adam Frais (20) and Linus (15) made a watchful start, picking off the bad balls and keeping out the good ones. Will replaced Linus and looked in touch from the outset, accelerating as he progressed. He struck a magnificent bomb over midwicket and followed that with a clip through point for four and he moved serenely to 43. Sadly, his innings was ended as he edged behind, but the Midd were still well placed at 100/3, the required run rate at 5.5. Richard joined Josh Avigdor and the pair knocked off some more runs, albeit with the rate still climbing. Both scored boundaries and Richard sprinted between the wickets in a way we can only hope to come our 60s. The ever dependable angler went past 300 runs for the season, the third straight campaign he has achieved the feat. Charles joined him and continued his recent strike rate renaissance, chancing his arm for 26 before finding mid wicket. Richard pressed on, but was run out for 28 with ten still needed. Nico was lbw, still 9 required off 2 overs. Fortunately, Tim Oon agreed to avoid deliberately sabotaging his own fantasy team and tickled one fine for a crucial 9 red and the victory. A really good game of cricket with a very pleasing outcome. Crouch End await next week. They don't block it. The performances the youngesters are turning out week after week in a tight and competitive division are fantastic. Special mention to Nico, who kept brilliantly. Dykey was a huge addition with the ball and in the field. The attitude was spot on. Play like this until the season ends and we have every chance of a top 2 finish.
Updated 19:15 - 15 Jul 2019 by Richard Nicoll