Southgate 132 ao (44.1)
Shoaib Zulfiqar 39
North Middlesex 109-2 (23) – won on faster run rate
(especially of weather) dreary; bleak.
“a cold, dreich early May day”
Our team arrived in reasonably high spirits to a resplendent Walker Ground. The oppo were well into a lengthy warm up and brought the aura an athletic group of 20 and 30 somethings in matching training gear brings to a club cricket ground. Skipper Jez lost the toss (2 out of 2) and we were inserted to bat in the grey.
Shoaib and Waqas got us off to somewhat of a flyer against some fairly innocuous looking seam playing some lovely shots in the process. Soon spin was brought on and Waqas was first to fall, bowled by a half tracker. Jez settled in just where he left off last week and Shoaib continued onto a well-made, top scoring 39 before he was stumped. Again, showing parallels with the week before Jez picked his fielder well and took his total number of drops to five in just two innings.
Luck nor ability was on the side of those at the other end as Lynch (0) and new ex-LSE addition Pranay (1) did little to trouble the scorers. Taking time away from a Premier League relegation fight Mark Hughes strode to the crease and played with style and freedom as he and Jez enjoyed what would be our strongest period of the match before they both ultimately succumbed to spin for 29 and 30 respectively. The remaining five batsmen added just 17 runs as they were largely undone by skiddy spin. It rained throughout our innings and most of the time it was far beyond what you would typically regard as playable.
Teas were excellent as our new trio in kitchen continued to impress with their heartily filled sandwiches and excellent pasta bakes.
There was a lengthy delay after tea as sense was seen and it was agreed that we wouldn’t be starting in torrential rain. The delay had the typical tensions where the side on top is desperate to get out there and vice versa. Ultimately, we did start in soggy conditions as we hoped to either snag some early poles and see if we could defend our meagre total or draw out the process of bowling the 20 overs required to make it a game whilst doing our finest rain dance. Pranay took the new ball and with the assistance of a lot of sawdust he had fetched from Pets at Home in the delay bowled excellently at high pace with little luck or reward for his full nine overs straight through.
Cox took the new rock/bar of soap up the hill and bowled tightly. Harvey got us on the board with his first league wicket for the club clean bowling the weaker of the two openers. The other opener batted well accumulating steadily as he saw Pranay off. The game was rapidly slipping away and all that could save us would be rain. It seemed we had our miracle as rain came in 18th over and the umpires gave us the option to leave the field. The camp was split on whether what we were doing was “piss-weak and embarrassing” or simply “not giving them something for free” and ultimately we agreed to continue in farcical conditions.
Sam bowled a few nice overs and #Marchy’s flight deceived the opener leading to a Bellwood stumping as the game petered out as they got past the 20 overs. A couple of large sixes from Captain Creatine batting for North Midd put them with-in touching distance of our score before a final slip and slide in field lead to Bob Cole pulling the stumps and putting us out of our misery. Some harsh lessons were learned about playing in the rain. The importance of the toss was reinforced, and it became apparent we should have taken the rain when offered. Had we gone off we surely wouldn’t have come back on would have a point for our labors.
Spirits remained high in the bar after and some commiseration lager was consumed. The future of the season was heavily debated with projected outcomes ranging from “bottom half, but solidly competitive” to “we won’t win a game”. This correspondent (played 5, lost 5, aggregate of 38 runs this year) believes the positive shoots of growth are there and with improving availability and form the wins will come particularly as we move into the time games.