Firstly, a report on the 1st XI game against North Middlesex on 20 July
Southgate v North Middlesex
North Middlesex won by 97 runs, Southgate 0 points
North Middlesex 202-9 (50 overs)
A. Siva Raja 4 for 60ish
Southgate 105 all out (36.2 overs)
R. Johnson 26*
It was a curate’s egg of a performance in the field. Having won the toss and inserted the league leaders it was vital that we kept their stroke players in check and restricted them to a chaseable total. With no Hadge to wobble it around (and to wobble around) the new, new-ball pairing of Blake and Bermans did exactly what was required of them. Blakey bowled perhaps his best spell of the season and was probably unlucky not to pick up more than the one scalp. A nerveless Josh Bermans meanwhile, bowled an accurate, one side of the wicket 5 over spell – a captain’s dream.
So with plan A going to plan it was time to unleash plan B. There is not much to plan B other than tossing the ball to David Woffinden from one end and Ashley Siva Raja from the other and telling them to bowl for the next 90 minutes or so. It is a pretty faultless plan on most occasions and so it proved again for at least 80 of those 90 minutes. Woffers tormented and tempted, bamboozled and befuddled, collecting 3 wickets with minimum fuss and no little skill. Ash bowled beautifully, comfortably his best performance of the year. Perhaps inspired by the presence of his father, the legendary Spitting Cobra, on the boundary he took the pace off the ball, got it above the eye line and gave it enough revs to consistently beat the outside edge. His figures of 4 for 60 in 23 overs were just reward.
Now here for the curate’s egg part. With the foot firmly on the jugular we let things slip. With North Middlesex 5 down for 120 we really should have taken advantage but with Evan Flowers, perennial thorn in our side, still there and recently joined at the crease by a fresh-faced youngster at 7, the game swung. The youngster was clearly unfazed by the Woffer’s bowling machine and rather as if facing a bowling machine in the school nets, he kept smashing Woffers straight back over his head for four. Missed chances then took their toll with both batsmen badly dropped, the runs started to pile up and the 160 run chase turned into a faintly respectable 202. There were some notable performances in the field, not least from Tom Allan who took three excellent and increasingly insouciant catches in the deep. His third catch was probably the best and the only surprise was that he didn’t pop on his slippers, light his pipe and pull up a chair before snaffling it. Rob Johnson also bowled well after a loose first over and kept the pressure on before the inevitable declaration came at the 55 over mark.
202 in 45 overs on the Walker Ground is a perfectly reasonable equation. Only 1 plan required in these situations: solid start, wickets in hand, mid innings acceleration, steady controlled finish for the loss of maybe 5 or 6 wickets. Best laid plans and all that. After last weeks heroics I suppose it was a lot to expect of Blake & Edrich (the new Compton and Edrich?) to repeat the trick, particularly after three sizzling hours in the field. Tom was adjudged to have nicked one to the keeper while Chris Blake, having started positively, lost an all-Australian battle, falling foul of a quick bouncer and popping it up in the air to short mid-wicket. Consolidation was required. Tom Allan and Phil Dunnett looked to be providing just that before Athers drilled one straight to extra cover.
Wickets then started to fall in batches. Jouners fell for the Aussie’s slower ball, whilst Phil, having looked good for 20, went to an outrageous Tom Nicholl slip catch – having failed with the bat I suppose it was almost inevitable that he’d contribute something pivotal. [N.B. for those with long memories, Tom Nicholl was the 15-year-old who scored an unbeaten century coming in at 9 for North Middlesex in a League fixture some years ago, helping them recover from 70 for 7 to 320 for 7 declared – the scars run deep]. With the impressive Aussie tiring and his equally impressive new-ball partner losing the zip of his first 10 overs it was now down to what else North Middlesex had in the locker. Sadly their locker was rather too full for our liking. We certainly didn’t expect a quicker, more aggressive clone of the Aussie to come charging in down the hill. Bowling straight and fast the “Bird”, cleaned up our lower order, taking 5 for 22 in 8 outstanding overs. Only Rob Johnson (26*) held firm, battling admirably while wickets tumbled all round him. We finished second, by some distance. North Middlesex were the better team, they took their chances, they dug in when they could have been rolled and they unfurled the best seam attack that we’ve come across this season. There is work to be done if we want to avoid slipping into relegation contention. It has been a frustratingly fractious few weeks off the pitch – it is now time to pull together and get on with the cricket. Jamie Jouning
and now fast forward to Saturday 27 July
Harrow v Southgate
Southgate won by 5 wickets; Southgate 10 points
Harrow 139 all out (45.3 overs)
D Woffinden 5-62
Southgate 140-5 (35.3 overs)
I, like many others I’m sure, have got a bit blase about looking at the weather forecast in the past month. Then something catches my eye on Thursday as I walk past a newsstand. It’s a copy of the Daily Express, without a picture of Lady Diana on the front! What must be so important to push some new half baked conspiracy theory to page 9? Killer Thunderstorms. I bought the paper.* It turns out they were due for Saturday. As we were due to start a run of four must/should win games, the scenario of having one abandoned was not something I wished to dwell on. So I turned to page 9 for some light relief…
There should be a word for use by a cricketer facing the same situation that we did on waking on Saturday morning. I propose something like, Wellitssunnynowbuttheforecastisrubbishatleastweareplayingawaysoiwonthavetobotherwiththecovers. However, many people gave their lives to ensure we wouldn’t be speaking German, so perhaps the least we can do is give their grammar a wide berth too.
I haven’t visited Harrow Town for a few years, but I can assure readers that the facilities are much improved, following an injection of money and effort. It is a theme that you will be hearing more about at Southgate over the next few years and I would encourage you to get involved.
It was baking hot and brilliantly sunny at about the time that the first storm was due to roll in . It became clear we might be lucky and get a full game in.
Our warm-up round the ground revealed short boundaries and a quick, cracked outfield that without doubt would have had Ben Hartman fielding in a helmet at third man.
Dunnett duly won the toss and inserted the opposition with half an eye on trying to force a quick finish.
Blake and Berman bowled tidily once again, the former unlucky not to dismiss the opening left hander, Arshad, with a beauty that bounced a touch and was well dropped by your correspondent. Runs were coming relatively quickly with pace on the ball and good value for shots, so Sivarajah and Woffinden were brought into the attack to slow things down. The Harrow batsmen struggled immediately and soon enough found themselves 40-5, courtesy of a couple of loose shots, a suicidal single to Johnson at mid off and an unplayable ball from Woffinden. Never did I expect to write those last words.
For the mathematically inclined (that might just be Berman), it felt a little like Algorithmic Batting. If first 3 balls = dot, then swing. If last ball = boundary, then dot. etc etc.
For those of you wondering the fate of Arshad, he was dropped once again by me at gully and went on to top score with a decent 48. He formed a 40-run partnership with the number 6, both batting rather more sensibly against our slow bowlers than their comrades. The pair were broken up by a wonderful catch from Setia, comfortably our best fielder of the day with a brace of catches and a classy runout, all at important moments.
Desai at number 10 took a liking to that most seducing temptress Woffinden and slapped 40 runs, mostly over Blake’s head at cow corner, before succumbing to his charms and falling deliciously into Jouning’s delicate embrace at short third man. He helped take the Harrow score from 80-8 up to 139 all out. Woffinden took 5-62 and Sivarajah 3-46, both dominating the game admirably.
Tea was noteworthy for the quality and quantity of spread as well as the variety of options. I believe there was plenty for all the players and umpires, as well a little left over for the supporters of both sides, which I think is important to help create an friendly and inclusive atmosphere.
During tea, the weather had closed in considerably and before long, spots of rain began to fall and dark clouds dominated the sky.
Chasing 140 can be a tricky task, particularly given our poor batting against North Mid last week. Blake and Edrich got us off to a very useful start – a quick 30 off the seamers. Two quick wickets followed and Harrow brought on their accurate slow bowlers Herath and Desai. Jouning and Robinson knew that 65 were required at 20 overs to ensure we were ahead of the rate in the event of rain.
Drinks were taken at 18 overs in light drizzle, despite the umpires being asked whether it might be prudent to take them at 20 to ensure a result first and foremost. I can understand why they were taken at 18 overs, but perhaps there should be scope within the rules for neutral umpires to use their discretion in such situations.
After drinks, Robinson walked past one to the relief of all concerned. Johnson (21) and Jouning (41) took the score over 100 and the match was all but won. It was left to Dunnett (23*) and Yeomans (3*) to see us home for a well deserved victory in 35 overs.
Within 30 minutes of finishing, the heavens opened. Results elsewhere went our way with Shepherd’s Bush and Brondesbury only managing 4 each. Thus we find ourselves fourth in the league with opportunities in the coming weeks to consolidate this position. Paddy Robinson
*Of course, I have never, ever bought the Express.
Southgate v Wycombe House
Wycombe House won by 55 runs; Southgate 0 points
Wycombe House 161 all out (49.5 overs)
Southgate 106 all out (39.4 overs)
This weekend’s fixture began with mixed feelings of anticipation and trepidation for the 2nd XI. Anticipation at playing lowly Wycombe House and trepidation at the rain that was forecast to fall at Southgate prior to even commencing warm-ups. However by the end of the day those feelings had been well and truly reversed as both the rain and our batting failed to make an appearance.
The day started well enough, we welcomed Club Captain Faisal Mir back into the game after his spell on the treatment table and captain for the day Suresh won the toss and invited our visitors to bat on a well-used wicket.
The Southgate opening pair of Wadham and Kalagara soon had the batters in a spot of bother and through bowling tight areas they were able to score at just over a run an over. Suresh struck first by bowling a straight one that then bought what could only be described as “a mouth in pads” to the crease as he loudly informed us of how good he was, where he was going to hit the ball and instructed Suresh to fetch the two balls he actually laid a bat on. He fell to Wadham in the next over for one of the best single-figure innings ever witnessed.
The comedy continued as Suresh removed the remaining opener who forgot that if he wanted to bat two metres outside of his crease he would have to make his ground if he didn’t want to be run out.
A good start by us and we were massively on top. Wycombe House then found their way back into the game as their middle order set about rebuilding. They were very watchful against an accurate Sage and punished anything loose coming up the hill (which occurred too often unfortunately).
Sage toiled away in the manner that only he can: with ridiculous field placements, bowling in a hat, knees and hips clicking away on delivery stride and wearing those far too visible lucky pants. He bowled a very well controlled 16-over spell and was well rewarded with 4 wickets.
Matt Stratten got into the wickets column on his first bowl of the season, Suresh picked one up too and Wadham finished with two for ten from his ten, including six maidens. Apologies but its the only chance I have had to stick some decent figures on here.
We went to tea knowing that chasing 162 was very much ‘on’ but my optimism soured when I reached the tea table and remembered I should have waited for an away fixture to have a break from my diet regime. Although I will give a special mention to the appearance of coronation chicken sandwiches.
Things didn’t start so well and we were soon two wickets down with few runs on the board. Olly Bellwood, promoted to number three to rest a stiffening Fais, played one of the best knocks I’ve seen from him. He found the middle of the bat very regularly, unfortunately he also found the fielders with the same regularity, and alongside Matt Stratten we rebuilt the innings to reach 50 without further mishaps.
Cue disaster. Our opponent earlier described as a mouth in pads was now a mouth in gloves as he kept wicket and he did so with the same circus approach as he batted. He was however incredibly good at putting ridiculous pressure on an ageing umpire. Without sounding bitter, these were some if the most untoward scenes I have seen on the cricket field and showcased the need for us to provide our own umpire. I lost count of the number of times this chap, along with a guy fielding at point and another at long off would run up to the face of the poor umpire demanding he raise his finger.
This however is by no way an excuse for the poor showing of our batting as 50 for 2 became 80 for 8 and just before the rain did decide to show itself we were skittled out for 106.
It was a real shame as we fielded pretty well and didn’t build on the start that Olly gave us. I did however indulge my day off from the diet by consuming a copious amount of cider and smashing a chicken burger.
Until next week… Samuel Wadham
Twickenham v Southgate
Southgate won by 7 wickets; Southgate 10 points
Twickenham 97 all out
Running late for the start of the game, stuck on Kew Bridge looking to the blues sky , I hoped Mike had won the toss and fielded first as tropical storms were due by 5pm (Daily Mail headline) . I arrived 5 minutes before the start to find out obstacle one was out of way: we were fielding. That left two obstacles: the Twickenham team and the weather. Niroosh opened the bowling with me on a pitch that was sandy brown, with the outfield covered in stringy grass, the worst this season by far.
Niroosh bowled very tightly and took two early wickets, then Marett found his line and length after a couple of overs and secure two more wickets – 2-25, one bowled, stump out of ground). Niroosh then removed another to end his very tidy spell with 3-11. He was replaced by Ray who is growing in stature every game I see him play, and he finished with 3-27.
Marett was replaced by Mike who fell into line and length. He had a couple of catches dropped, then went on to finish with 2-31 as we bowled them out for 97. Catches from Mike 2, Rikki, Will Dias and Ray with 1 apiece.
The sky’s were getting darker and darker so we had a nervous tea with one eye on the sandwiches the other on the sky.
We needed a good positive batting response and Paul, 11, and Ali Lynch, 17, got us off to a good start. Will Temple was umpire and gave Paul out lbw to a good left arm bowler, Rikki Uppal played the shot of the day, a back foot square drive, then drove off the back foot a young quickie and was cleaned up for 19. By this time the rain had started and it was getting darker. Adam came to the crease and with no trouble elegantly struck the ball all over the park with ease and was 30no. Ricky at that stage was his partner, helmetless and looking like an English Tendulkar gloving the ball for 4 over the keeper’s head 20/20 style. Ricky ended 7 no.
We finished on 101-3 off 17 overs, an all-round solid performance.
Will kept really well again and Paul and Will Dias’s fielding on that outfield was outstanding. Roy Marett (Old Spice)
no game, unable to raise a team
Sunday Development XI
Putney v Southgate
Southgate won by 68 runs
It was an early start for the team as the match was all the way in Putney in Sheen Park so most of us had to make travel arrangements on the tube, which was an extremely long and tiring journey supposedly taking 90 minutes. And with Josh as transport minister we got there 20 minutes early which was soon then made up for as Shiv somehow struggled to buy 3 items of food at Tesco (orange, drink and chocolate). Nevertheless we ended up at the ground 15 minutes late and got underway with no time to spare.
We lost the toss and were put into bat although that was Tom’s intentions anyway… With Phil and Marcello opening we were soon a wicket down after the first ball of the game. Phil caught at slip. In came Tom and not long after Marcello was caught on 8. Ali (21) came to the crease and built a good 3rd wicket partnership with Tom (39) of about 50-odd runs. After being at 14-2 we set a score of 174 with hard-hitting cameos surprisingly from Josh for 31, then Ray (28*) and Ashley (21). There were a few interruptions from a dog that just wouldn’t give up playing fetch on the field and a car that decided to drive across the field as if there wasn’t a macth. For those reasons tea was a bit late.
Tea was extremely delicious however with fresh grapes, crisps and chicken sandwiches. Having re-fuelled, we went out to ball with Niroosh and Josh opening. Niroosh got the opening wicket but was dispatched by the following batsman whilst Josh as usual kept the economy low and as usual struggling to get a wicket. William got the key wicket of their number 3 batsman with a wide half-volley being tossed up into the air into Josh at mid-off and from then on began the onslaught. With Ashley taking 3 quick wickets and Ray taking the coveted wickets of Chris Rodgers and the captain, KFC became the motivation. So a hungry Matthew Dias took the last 3 wickets and ended the game as we bowled them for 106. The win was not as easy as it sounded but satisfying- especially after that long journey. We all soon enjoyed a celebratory, deserved KFC albeit in different places. Niroosh Sugumaran