With the league season completed, the 2nd edition of the Jim Conroy Trophy 40 over competition has been underway, with Southgate pitted against 3 local sides.
Game 1 was away to Edmonton and having lost the toss the Southgate XI were inserted on a slow surface. With the loss of early wickets a good fight back from Phil Dunnett (31) and Oliver Rix (38*) combined with some lusty hitting from first Paddy Robinson and then Omair Ali allowed SCC to post a competitive total of 182/7.
With the new ball Tom Yeomans showed excellent control delivering 8 overs unchanged to collect 4 wickets for 19 runs. Tom was replaced by the impressive Sam Faruqi (3-24) who showed equal control of line, length and spin and in partnership with some crafty off spin from Alvin Durgacharan (2-15). Southgate were eventual winners by a comfortable margin of 77 runs.
This was a good performance in the field with the undoubted highlight a screamer of a catch on the deep square leg boundary from Omair Ali. With a ball travelling at some pace it looked a certain six and as such would have been a pretty steady snaffle with two hands, but Oms instead opted to grab it with just the one paw and in it went with a resounding slap. Well done to all, a very encouraging performance.
After the very positive start in game 1, a slightly weaker Southgate XI eventually took the field on Sunday against Cockfosters. On an uncovered wicket (not in tribute to Jim) Southgate failed to show the necessary application that the situation required and in the face of some good bowling a total of 117 all out in the last over was about 50 runs short.
With the ball Southgate took a couple of wickets but a good partnership meant that Southgate were losers by 8 wickets and deservedly so.
Game 3 was away from home to a very strong Holtwhites Trinity side containing Southgate old boy Ahmed Elech amongst a few other very good cricketers. The Southgate XI contained 7 lads under 20 which meant an uphill task but a good challenge nonetheless.
After a delayed start because of a downpour Southgate won the toss and opted to field. Mir and Ali took the new ball and faced something of an onslaught with the ball disappearing to all parts at 8 an over. There was however something in it for the bowlers and a wicket for Mir brought the dangerous Elech to the crease. Some sumptuous strokeplay followed but the introduction of Faruqi proved his undoing with youngster Marchello DeCrecenzo showing he’s got a good pair of hands in the outfield by taking a good catch on the extra cover fence.
On a fast scoring ground the best way to restrict the scoring was by taking wickets and after a spell of leg spin from both ends it was time for something different with the medium pace of Josh Berman and Greg Bonsor. There followed an excellent period of play for Southgate with the key factor being Phil Dunnett’s excellent wicket keeping.
Standing up to both medium pacers and with plenty to take down the legside from Berman, Phil’s glove work was absolutely top class and allowed for a 10 over period of relative pressure which wrestled back the momentum.
Wickets did fall with 2 to Berman and 3 to Bonsor and despite some fireworks at the death a score of 252 was much better than could have been the case after the first 10 went for 80.
Opening the batting was the exciting partnership of Tom Edrich and Phil Dunnett, both looked in good touch from the beginning with Dunnett in particular timing the ball majestically through the covers and memorably down the ground.
Dunnett was adjudged LBW for a brisk 20 and replaced by Rob Johnson who showed positive intent from ball one.
There followed an excellent partnership of 122 between Johnson (70) and Edrich (49) combining quick singles with some aggressive intent, especially against the Holtwhites spinners. One delivery sailed into the houses as Johnson took the attack to the bowlers however his dismissal was followed by that of Edrich and the momentum of the game had changed again. Cameos from Mir and Ali kept Southgate in the hunt with just over six an over required however their wickets exposed the youthful lower order and a collapse duly followed.
Seeing these sorts of run chases home it one of the toughest parts of cricket and with a strong bowling attack and diminishing light it was an opportunity for someone to make a name for themselves. That however wasn’t to be and Southgate fell 40 short, which on reflection could have been recouped by better bowling at the death, one senior batsman batting for another 3 overs or fewer extras (33!).
That said it’s hugely encouraging to see some of Southgate’s youngsters playing competitive 1st team level cricket with some of the senior players and I hope lessons were learned by all on the day, that alone would be a fitting legacy for this competition.
The final will be played at the Walker Ground on Saturday 24th September, wickets pitched at 12:30.