Strong batting performance underpins 4th consecutive win
Midd join promotion hunt
The great historian of Africa, Frederick Cooper, once described postcolonial politics as comprising of 'gatekeeper states,' in which external resources were controlled and distributed by those in control. In 5th XI cricketing terms, we of course guard a rather different sort of 'gate,' namely sets of three stumps set 22 yards apart. Nevertheless, Cooper could easily have compared Peter May on Saturday to his famed examples of Congo or Tanzania, with the Midd exerting full control over their game with Brentham, distributing many poor deliveries to the boundary and sharing out runs throughout the batting order. Having been inserted, we started positively, with Alban (20) and Bishal (17) timing the ball nicely, especially against their skipper, your archetypal 5s bowler swinging it a fraction at 50mph. Soon, though, the Midd were in a spot of bother as Alban was caught by a well placed fielder at short third man and Bish looped a catch to cover off one that stopped on him. Damian Burns (14) soon got underway and looked comfortable at the crease, only to fall, his off stump clipped as he was beaten by some late movement on the back foot. Enter Zak Yousuf (65) and Atula (52) to construct a partnership even more sparkling than the diamonds found by the late 19th century British colonists in Kimberley and the Witwatersrand. As a batsman, Zak has all the shots, yet this knock was so impressive because of his ability to play each ball on its merits and to see off the good ones as well as he gave loose deliveries the treatment. He was particularly strong off the legspinner, sweeping and pulling the ball pugnaciously. Atula provided superb support, hitting eight boundaries and a maximum in compiling his first half-century for the club. After a slightly slow start to the season, he looks a great find for us. The pair put on 116 to put us in the driving seat and at such a good rate we had only batted 32 overs by that point. Zak looked all set for a big one, but was brilliantly caught on the midwicket boundary to end his enterprising knock. Charles (31) and Navin Surtani (16) then carried on the momentum, the skipper unsure what to do with himself after finding the boundary twice in his first three deliveries. James Martland also clubbed a couple of late boundaries, allowing the declaration to come at an impressive 270/9 off just 42 overs, giving Brentham 50 to chase an unlikely but not impossible 271 on a fast outfield.
In response, Navin bowled a superb opening spell down the hill (8-0-15-3), continuing his excellent recent form by pinning their opener, bowling another and having their dangerous number 3 caught at mid-off. It was such a good spell that an almost comical spillage of a caught-and-bowled can be excused. He was replaced eventually by Usman (3/30 off 7), held back to clean up the middle and lower order. There's yet to be a game for the Midd where Uzzy doesn't do a job - a quickfire 3-fer here to almost seal the game. A smart caught and bowled and a nick behind to Alban, who took 3 catches overall, included. The third was a very smart catch by Damian. The rest of the damage was done by Joe Bangerter (3/35 off 6), finally free of his exams and bowling with accurate lines and lengths. His spell up the hill backed up the lads from the top end superbly and meant Brentham never really built a threatening partnership. Once his maximum of 6 was completed, Charles took over, took some tap but then bowled their last man to seal the game.
All in all another convincing victory built around a great team effort and togetherness. We won't ever field worse than yesterday but still won by 116 runs, testament to the quality and commitment of the 5s this year. Special mention again to Zak and Atula for their first club 50s- we will see many more. 4 straight wins for the 5s who are now well amongst the promotion mix. Thanks to Richard for leading the side next week when I'm forced to swap whites for white tie at my graduation.