At the first selection meeting in early May the euphoria of back to back promotions suddenly seemed like a distant dream on learning that over the winter half of the 1st XI and several of the 2nd XI players had departed (or in one case would do so after the selection meeting!). The result was that one month before my 55th birthday I was selected to open the bowling for the 2nd XI and in turn handed over the captaincy to Doug Gordon who proceeded to lead what could only be described as a 4th XI against North London. We were predictably hammered by 160 runs.
With my wife who “Does not like cricket” threatening to spend the entire summer (aka the cricket season) in Spain (she actually has a one-way ticket for next Tuesday) I was sorely tempted to join her. However the lure of a Saturday afternoon high ultimately trumped four months of sunshine and sangria so I decided to stay for the challenge.
Two weeks later in glorious sunshine we headed to Old Owens’ in distant Hertfordshire to face the mighty Finchley. I felt we might have some chance because the previous week in a rain abandoned affair against Hornsey a new player Rory Davis had made a very impressive 70. However as Finchley raced to 90-1 hope began to fade and was then taken away completely when the said Mr Davis, after misjudging a catch, had to leave for A&E with a fractured cheek. In all we dropped a dozen or more catches, some sources say 14, which allowed Finchley to post a fairly impressive 180. Only 6-39 by the captain prevented them surpassing 200.
However what followed was one of the most impressive run chases I’ve seen from any Southgate XI. Against two more than capable seamers Babs got us off to a great start by batting like God for 30 and then Ali Lynch and Shiv put on well over 100 together to take us within touching distance of the line. We ended chasing down 180 in just 33 overs for the loss of only 4 wickets.
The following week Mike Carter and Ankit combined brilliantly with the new ball to restrict South Hampstead to only about 60 off the first 20 overs. This made it easy for the captain to take over and snuffle 6-21 to restrict the opposition to 112 all out. In reply steady contributions from Partha Dave, Richard Ingilby, Bill Dean and Christian McLoughlin led to a very comfortable victory.
Having two weeks previously played a Middlesex league game in Hertfordshire we now headed to Walthamstow, which was once in Essex, to face North Middlesex. Fearing that the local authority pitch would deteriorate in the second innings the captain, on winning the toss, elected to bat. At 15-3 I was fearing the worst and wondering if I’d made the wrong call. However step up Bill Dean and after missing just one week with his fractured cheek the much lauded Mr Davis. Helped to some degree by the bowler who had taken all three wickets coming off after just 7 overs, the pair took us to about 100 before Rory Davis (probably getting a little bit excited) was bowled for a very well formed 37. Deano continued in his steady way finally falling for 70 and with some late hitting from Ricky Gunn and the captain we reached a very creditable 183 for 6 in our 45 overs.
In reply Ankit put in a tight opening spell (9 overs for 14 runs) but when the opposition captain joined the experienced opener North Middlesex were suddenly in with a shout at 60-2. However once our captain had taken 3-0 the game was all but over as a contest. After spells from Harshil Vipani, Doug Gordon and Deano, the captain returned to snare the last two wickets and to record another 5-fer. So another 10 points for the team and three good victories in a row.
I think I made the right decision not to spend the summer in Spain.