Well, Spain was hot.
That’s it for the weather report, now over to our cricket correspondent…
Here are the match results for 11 August
Southgate v Winchmore Hill
Winchmore Hill won by 9 wickets
Southgate 111 all out (39.2 overs)
Winchmore Hill 114-1 (20 overs)
This fixture against champions-elect Winchmore Hill – the side that had comprehensively brushed us aside only two weeks previously – took place under the watchful eyes of the President’s Lunch attendees, who were treated to fabulous weather but not the closely fought spectacle they would have hoped for.
Southgate got off to a decent start with J Jouning playing positively and hitting some impressive strokes on the way to his 27. At the other end T Edrich and C Le Roux were removed in successive balls to bring T Allen to the middle. Tom anchored the innings for a number of overs from this point; a careful start developed into a top-scoring innings of 37 and he was not out at the lunch interval. However, with runs hard to come by and Winchmore’s attack a constant threat, inroads were made at the other end and by the interval Southgate had slumped to 89-7. T Allen was joined after the break by P Dunnett but their brief partnership was ended when the former was dismissed by an inswinger that may have been doing too much to hit leg stump. P Dunnett showed glimpses of what his indisputable talent is capable of, scoring a classy looking 15 before falling to the off spin of Hill’s captain, leaving Southgate all out for 111 inside 40 overs.
With so few runs to play with and a used pitch at our disposal, captain R Johnson elected to use the old ball and open with two spinners; himself and A Sivarajah. Filled with confidence taken from the previous encounter and the low target, the Winchmore Hill opening pair took the game to our spinners and were able to score freely. A Sivarajah was replaced by H Bajwa, but this did little to stem the flow of runs, and Winchmore steadily closed in on our total. C Le Roux bowled an excellent spell and a couple of well-directed yorkers nearly squeezed through Winchmore’s defenses, but ultimately his efforts went unrewarded.
With the Hill openers having raced to 100 without loss within 20 overs, the prospect of a second 10-wicket defeat to our local rivals within a month loomed large. It wasn’t to be though as Hadgie – bowling spin in the absence of a new ball – ripped a doosra past an advancing S Newman, and the ball clipped the bails to deny Dunnett a certain stumping. Unfortunately this only delayed the inevitable, and Southgate were defeated by 9 wickets.
In the changing room after the game we were treated to a 20-minute motivational talk from club legend Mickey Dunn. While the delivery was certainly unorthodox, the message that we’re currently not playing tough enough cricket was definitely valid. Although I do dispute that this means we’re a team of soft individuals, in the same way that I don’t believe that a team playing bad cricket is necessarily made up of bad cricketers. We are however a team bereft of confidence and belief at the moment and overcoming that obstacle is going to be key if we’re to record our first league win before the end of the season. Max Joseph
Enfield v Southgate
Southgate 228 all out (51.5 overs)
Enfield 192-9 (48 overs)
Southgate v Edmonton
Edmonton won by 9 wickets
Southgate 158-7 (55 overs)
Ravi Desai 51
Edmonton 160-1 (30.5 overs)
This was a vital game if we were to stay in the County League, but the day before there were several cry offs and on the day, one no-show. This sums up Mike’s dilemma all season, never a settled side. The toss was won and we batted on a warm day and dry wicket, the first one this season. We struggled against some tight bowling and there seasoned opener took 5 wickets for not many. Ravi came to the wicket to join Marett and both took the score to a reasonable 158 – Ravi got his 50, Marett was 29 not out.
We opened the bowling with Julius and Marett and it was quite plain we were not going to get lbw decisions as the umpire was upset with Shiv for not giving everything that hit a pad. They got away to a good start as we dropped catch 30 or 40 of the season – we have dropped an average of 4 catches per match, which is not acceptable at any level. With that in mind the opener, dropped on single digits, was 50+ not out at the end (I had him lbw on 6 but it wasn’t given ). To maintain our league presence we need better availability and much better fielding. With four games to go and a maximum of 40 points there is still hope. Roy Marett
Somebody v Southgate
And the results from 18 August
Brondesbury v Southgate
Brondesbury won by 119 runs
Brondesbury 261-6 dec (59 overs)
Southgate 142 all out (44.4 overs)
Rob Johnson 85
Southgate v Bessborough
Southgate 256-8 dec (50 overs)
Jamie Wilson 66
Having missed a great portion of the current season through injury, I don’t have a deep context to draw on, but I’d guess Saturday’s game is a fairly neat microcosm of our season as a whole. It now appears likely that Wembley and Hornsey will achieve the results necessary to deny us promotion, but we are now clearly the third best side in the division and those above us should be keen to avoid complacency.
On a scorching summer’s day we won an extremely valuable toss and proceeded to assemble a very competitive score. The wicket, despite being used for a second time, made for a good game of cricket and, while certainly more helpful to batsmen, still gave occasional encouragement for both seam and spin.
Southgate’s openers gave the deceptive impression of men who had been playing regular cricket as an unlucky Billy Dean was smartly caught at point having raced to 23 and Jamie Wilson top-scored (as well as providing the firm foundation for a big team total). In truth, at 193-3 from 30 overs with a confident Woffenden/Bellwood partnership at the crease, we were eyeballing something in the region of 300. But the dismissal of those two in quick succession triggered a mini-collapse. It required a smart effort from 8, 9 and 10 to bat the final overs at a decent rate to help us reach the consolation prize of 256 for 8 from our 50.
The abiding memories of Bessborough’s efforts in the field were polarised by an admirable seam-bowling effort in tough conditions and some tremendously inane chirp. There were two young men primarily responsible for this brain-pollution and the team’s own umpire wore a solid line in world-weary acceptance, having presumably been subjected to these tortuous banalities for the majority of the season. Perhaps more so than the absurdly self-congratulatory Usain Bolt, that man deserves a gold medal.
Our 256 looked a decent target, but that perception was briefly challenged. After the restart our two opening bowlers, feeding off each other it seemed, proceeded to supply the two proficient opening batsmen with a steady stream of hittable length balls. That both bowlers returned to bowl much better spells with the older ball made this start even more frustrating. But, after an opening period at ten per over, Bessborough could have been forgiven for feeling very confident about reaching our total and leapfrogging us in the league.
Fortunately for us the run-rate never quite got low enough to be ignored and tighter bowling coupled with a solid effort in the field eventually got to the more dangerous of the two openers. Having scored more than two thirds of the partnerships run’s with some confident strokes, he popped one up in the air and was “safely” caught by Billy Dean at mid-off.
The remaining period of the game is what leads me to suggest that our season can be summed up by this fixture. Having had the upper hand for the majority of the game, we had weathered the openers’ barrage, and were now presented with a real opportunity to close out the match. That we were only able to take 7 wickets can be put down to a few factors; a trio of disappointing dropped catches, a slight shortage of intensity in the field, and the bowling of four or five good balls per over.
We can rightly feel unlucky that our opposition chose to abandon victory so soon in proceedings, a strange decision in the circumstances, but the truth is we got roughly what we deserved in this match. However, I don’t want to sound too negative, so I’ll finish by saying that we have a solid unit with ready, willing replacements in most areas of the team and it won’t take much to turn us into a side that plays good, winning, cricket. Onwards and upwards! Ollie Bellwood
South Hampstead v Southgate
South Hampstead won by 16 runs
South Hampstead 155 all out (51 overs)
Mike Carter 16 overs 7-52
Ravi Desai 16.4 overs 2-36
Chris McLean 9 overs 1-33
Southgate 139 all out (39 overs)
Ram Mahbubani 27
Sal Syed 26
Shiv Sharma 19
Ollie Gray 14
With four league games remaining and with a fighting chance to avoid the drop from the Middlesex League, the 3rd XI side this week was once again hampered by poor availability and, as such, a few players had to be drafted in from the 4th XI. Still, on paper, we looked like a strong batting side, albeit a little weak in the bowling department … but we should know by now that one cannot always go by what a side looks like ‘on paper.
We were playing away to South Hampstead, so one would be forgiven for thinking the venue would be in the vicinity of South Hampstead, right? Wrong! In much the same manner as RyanAir or EasyJet flights land at airports that are nowhere near the city they claim to be flying to, the game was played on council maintained grounds all the way over in Greenford just off the A40 (close to the Northolt Airfield). Not surprisingly, by the scheduled start time of 1pm, we were still four players short as they had gone to the SHCC home ground in Kilburn and were now hastily making their way to Greenford.
Being a typical council ground, there were three pitches side-by side, with our game on the middle pitch, which meant short and almost over-lapping boundaries. The wicket itself was nothing to write home about but we were lucky enough to have – at one end only – a sightscreen that can best be described as a sail, made of white tarpaulin flimsily attached to a wooden frame. The only good thing about the ground was the pavilion, with modern and clean changing rooms and a nice bar & balcony area.
Skipper Mike Carter won the toss and chose to field. On the hottest day of the summer, with the combination of a dry outfield, a very short boundary at one end and only four bowlers at our disposal, our aim was to restrict the oppo to a manageable total. Our attack was led by Josh Berman and Chris McClean, who both started off well bowling tight, line & length deliveries to make it difficult for the opening batsmen to score. Chris eventually managed to get one nipping back to bowl their No.1 out cheaply, but their No.2 stood firm and kept the scoreboard ticking over. Chris & Josh kept toiling away in the heat but no further breakthroughs were forthcoming… it was soon time for a change.
The skipper then brought himself & Ravi Desai on at first change, and this seemed to have an immediate effect. Ravi frustrated the batsmen from one end with his trademark off spin, interspersed with fizzling top spinners, while at the other end Mike started picking up wickets at regular intervals with his accurate medium-paced bowling forcing the batsmen to play their shots. This included the prized wicket of the No.2 who, having scored 44, played a cover drive straight into the reliable hands of Mark Hughes at short mid-off; Mark did extremely well to hold on to the catch as it had been struck fiercely. It wasn’t long before Mike had a 5-wicket haul under his belt, while poor Ravi was still looking for his first at the other end. The pair kept going and eventually Ravi managed to entice the batsman to step down the track and Ricky Gunn duly obliged with a very clean and stylish stumping. By now the score was around 140 odd, and we were well and truly into the tail. Ravi picked up 1 more wicket but was unfortunate to have missed out on more as there were a number of dropped catches off his bowling; while at the other end the skipper seemed to be having all the luck as he picked up a further 2 wickets to finish off on an incredible 7 for 52 off 16 overs!!! At the drop of the final wicket, we had bowled 50.4 overs and restricted the oppo to 156 which looked like a very gettable target.
The interval was a welcomed break from the searing heat. In the pavilion, with lively reggae music playing in the background, we were treated to a variety of sandwiches along with traditional scones with clotted cream & jam. A perfect English spread on a perfect English summers day. And to wash it all down there were jugs of chilled milk that, not surprisingly, were emptied very quickly. On such a hot day, and the final day of Ramadan, it was definitely not easy for yours truly to hold my resolve and not break my fast.
Onto our innings: with 49 overs to get 157, and with a team full of batsmen, the skipper decided that he had already played his part with the ball and so dropped himself down the order… all the way down to No.11, thinking that he would not even need to bat. Sadly things did not go well for us right from the start, as our openers Mark Hughes and Doug Gordon were both adjudged LBW cheaply within the opening 5 overs. Sal Syed and Shivraj Sharma then steadied the ship by seeing off the opening attack, with Sal hitting their opening bowler for a straight six in his final over. The first change of bowling brought on the oppos talented 13-year-old off spinner who had performed well in the corresponding fixture at the Walker Ground two weeks before. He promptly had Sal caught behind which brought Ollie Gray to the crease. Shiv, by now growing in confidence, started playing his strokes and hit a couple of boundaries, and together with Ollie started to get the scoreboard moving again. The pair looked steady until Shiv got one unplayable, pacey delivery that cut back through the gate and hit the stumps. This then triggered the almost customary mini-collapse, which saw Josh, Ricky and Chris lose their wickets in quick succession for not many runs. We were scoring at a reasonable rate and had plenty of overs in hand; however with only 3 more wickets in hand, we still needed around 55 runs. Ollie and Ram Mahbubani then took up the strike and reduced the required target to around 40 when Ollie was caught. Next up was Ravi, feeling very confident with the bat after scoring an impressive 51 the previous week. He supported Ram who, by now, had his eye in and was scoring freely. Things seemed to be going well until there was a mis-field, and having already run a single, the pair decided to go for the second run. Ram was comfortably home but sadly Ravi was run-out. At this stage we needed around 30 off 13 overs.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man: enter Captain Carter, the last man. The stage had been truly set for a memorable Captain’s innings. We could all visualise the headlines; “Carter takes 7 wickets, hits the winning runs & carries hit bat to earn 10 points”. Ram and Mike looked comfortable and played responsibly, blocking the straight ones and scoring off the loose ones. By now, the required target had been reduced to just 14 runs needed off 9 overs when another one of those unplayable deliveries sneaked through Ram’s gate and looked to be going over the stumps but somehow managed to just kiss the top of the bails on its way. The contact was minimal but just enough to dislodge the bails… and with that it was game over!
So close and yet so far, this defeat really hurt as it was against our closest rivals who are also fighting for survival. It was a crucial game for us to win. We have to focus on the positives as we still have three league games left, all of which are at home. We need to capitalise on our home advantage win all three games to have any chance of staying in the League. It is achievable and it certainly ain’t over yet, so let’s keep fighting.
Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish ‘Eid Mubarak’ to my teammates who celebrated the end of Ramadan on Sunday. I’m confident, now that Ramadan has ended and people returning from their holidays, the availability for all the sides for the remaining fixtures will be better than has been of late. Sal Syed
Osterley v Southgate
I have a couple of match reports from 11 August that I’ll upload later today or tomorrow, and please send match reports for Saturday to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll upload them later in the week