North Middlesex 242 for 9 (50 overs)
Ed Harvey 5 for 68
Scott Ellis 54, Jeremy Dangerfield 48*
240 for 8 (50 overs)
Southgate travelled to runaway leaders North Middlesex on the back of three consecutive defeats failing to defend decent totals, so it was a welcome change when captain J Dangerfield lost the toss and reported that we would be fielding first. Having 2 seam bowlers to open the bowling was also a novel change and H Thompson (6-0-35-2) and L Babwah (16-5-37-1) got us off to a great start, the former making 2 early inroads and the latter bowling with excellent control. Liam in particular bowled beautifully despite falling spectacularly delivering his first delivery and twice aborting his run up as flies crashed into his eyes. When deep into his spell he enticed their number 4 into edging to the skipper at first slip it was the very least he deserved.
W Khan (7-0-41-1) and R Johnson (4-0-24-0) bowled decent spells in the middle overs, but the star of the first innings was undoubtedly E Harvey (13-0-64-5) who bagged his first Southgate fifer with a wonderful spell, the highlight being a stumping given out by the home umpire who uses a shooting stool; the manner in which he perches at square leg gave a charming armchair umpire aesthetic to the dismissal. It was welcome reward for Ed who has bowled well in previous weeks without such success.
Tea was a decent spread.
With 2 games on at North Middlesex the boundaries were small all the way around (their keeper/captain had managed to hit a 6 that didn’t make it off the – admittedly vast – square) and it was still batting friendly conditions weatherwise even if the wicket was a touch soft and green. Chasing less than 5 per over didn’t seem overly daunting, but we would have to bat well and in partnerships.
Unfortunately that did not really transpire. M Hughes (11) and J Murray (20) made a decent start but fell in quick succession, shortly followed by M Joseph (4). C Edwards made a swift 17 and W Khan fell for 7 meaning that when R Johnson’s (2) desperate dive couldn’t prevent the ball from rolling back onto his stumps the score was 99-6 from 27 overs.
We rallied with S Ellis (54) playing in his usual swashbuckling manner and he was ably supported by L Babwah (27). Their partnership took our score beyond 150, but when Liam was stumped and Scott picked out a fielder at long off we found ourselves on 172-8 after 41 overs with J Dangerfield (48*) and E Harvey (24*) at the crease. With 70 needed from 54 balls and only 2 wickets in hand this pairing initially looked to consolidate and secure a draw and the extra point for passing 194.
However, as the North Middlesex field placing became increasingly attacking, Jez and Ed counter punched. Some entertaining strokeplay saw the ball flailed to all parts and in the final 5 overs 48 runs were scored. The last over saw us requiring 23 to win and with North Middlesex fielders scattered to all parts it was clear that we were now the only side that might get maximum points. Some tremendous hitting from Jez got us needing 13 from the last 2 balls and a 6 followed by a 4 meant we fell 3 runs short of an unlikely victory.
We can certainly take confidence from the fact that we took 1 more wicket and scored 2 fewer runs than the side 30 points clear at the top and thus the gap between us and everyone else isn’t as big as the league table makes it look. But there was a feeling of what might have been. If one of the top 5 had converted a start we might’ve had a memorable win to celebrate.