Brondesbury CC 247-8 (64overs) Southgate CC 221-9 (56 overs)
Southgate gained a much needed and hard earned 4 points from their important bottom of the table clash at the sweltering Walker Ground on Saturday in a match which to be honest, showed why both teams are battling it out at the foot of the Middlesex League Premier Division.
In view of recent batting collapses It was good news that Southgate were able to field first and they made a great start as excellent bowling by Rashid and Keaton Critchell saw the visitors in some trouble at 16-3 after7.1 overs. Brondesbury’s prolific batsman James Overy, scorer of over 500 runs already in the league this season fell lbw to Rashid.
Michael Stevens took over from Critchell and soon induced a snick from Ward and Alvin leapt and swooped as in days of yore to grab a brilliant high catch at slip for the fourth wicket. Just before lunch Mikey struck again when Bron’s dangerous overseas player Allen was lbw.
Rashid bowled steadily throughout the morning and with Bron 88-5 at lunch hopes were high.
Someone commented that this was more like a Southgate lunch score !
Soon after lunch Mikey picked up another wicket and at this stage with Bron at 104-6 there was only one winner.
Or was there !
Now was the time for Ashley Sivarajah , our talented left arm spinner to enter the fray and finish off the visitors to open the door for a home victory. Unfortunately Ashley was on MCC duty at Lord’s in the Test Match, selling clothes in the shop but surely as a professional cricketer it would have been better for him to be actually playing cricket rather than selling the sports’ accoutrements !
With Mukesh Bhatt also unavailable the Southgate attack was lacking a spin option and was thus rather one paced although Ben Elders bowled a steady spell down the hill in only his second 1st XI league match and Marcello de Crescendo on debut bowled his off spin with good flight but not such good direction. However, Marchy made a good impression with his fielding and his general enthusiasm and at his present rate of improvement is definitely one for the future. His three overs were the only respite from seam throughout the innings.
The Bron number 6, Bethel went on to score 95 * and with the help of each member of the late middle order enabled his team to finally declare, after 64 overs, at 247-7 as the Southgate bowlers tired in the afternoon heat.
One highlight, unfortunately with no positive outcome, was a magnificent, wide, half volley stumping attempt on the leg side by Phil Dunnett off Rashid, which impressed some former wicketkeepers in the pavilion, but for some reason not the square leg umpire.
(A personal note here as I have a great obsession about the use of a third man to medium and faster bowlers at all levels, from Test matches down, at all times, especially in good, dry conditions. The lack of one in this instance probably cost upwards of 30 runs which may have been the difference to the end result. Captain Phil shares the view of most Test and County captains by not employing one so it must be me that’s wrong !)
Southgate started well with yet another new opening partnership of Alvin and Luke Hutton, the latter having surviving Glastonbury and looking in good form.
The Bron opening bowler was captain Adam Wilson, who took all ten wickets in the previous league match. Alvin (24) and Luke (20) started well before they were both out within a few minutes of each other. Once again Mike Stevens (25) made a start but was very unluckily caught down the leg side off a terrible ball from the off spinner. Critchell came and went and at 88-4 there was a familiar feel to the Southgate batting.
There followed a rather strange, in the circumstances, partnership between Tom Edrich and Fred Wilson . Needing to score at 4.5 runs per over to win the match they added just 38 in 18 overs before Fred was out, leaving the remaining batsmen a mammoth task. Perhaps a little more urgency in running between the wickets would have helped.
Arnie Sahota ( 41) arrived and changed the picture for a while but it was all too late and although Rashid (15) raised hopes again the winning chance had disappeared.
Tom Edrich battled through and finished on 55* from 118 balls. A difficult innings for him, having to overcome his recent poor form whilst still being aware of the target ahead. He was, in the end, the perfect person to block the last two balls to save the game for his team.
A game that Southgate should definitely have won and again the lack of a big innings by just one batsman was the problem.