A thrilling finish in North London

North Middlesex CC, Sunday 15 September 2019.

Railway Taverners 222-4 (34.4 overs; E Reilly 92*, D Skinner 50, J Dasari 2-43) beat St Anne’s Allstars 219-8 (M Biss 75; S Perera 32; Thompson 31*) by 6 wickets.

Allstars debut: Matt Biss

Report by Garreth Duncan – Photos by Pete Cresswell

September brought a mini-heatwave to London, and a finish to the cricket season bathed in sunshine. At the Oval, England bowled out Australia to secure a consolation victory and a drawn Ashes series. On a beautiful day in North London, we competed fiercely in a fabulous, evenly matched game against Railway Taverners, but couldn’t quite get over the line as the Taverners avenged last season’s defeat.

Enthusiasm for our final game continued unabated, and we arrived with 13 players, club skipper Pete Cresswell kindly volunteering to umpire and score. The North Middlesex pitch looked in excellent condition, and I had no hesitation in deciding to bat first on winning the toss. Samer Hafiz, who had spent his last appearance padded up for 30 overs of the epic Cresswell-Rattan opening partnership against Mighty Wanderers, opened the batting with Matt Biss, finally making his debut after meeting us at the Paddington Rec nets. Having got used to the pitch (which played slightly slower and lower than it looked), they quickly stepped it up as Matt got his drives going and Samer pulled Staw over mid-wicket for 6 via a tip over from the the fielder. They had put on 36 before Samer was LBW to a ball which kept a bit low.

Sachin Singh started in sparkling fashion, whipping the ball strongly through square leg before he top-edged another pull of Shaw and was caught at fine leg. Jono Beagle continued where he’d left off against Crossbats as he joined his Cambridge team mate Matt in a handy partnership of 55. Jono and Matt know each other’s game well, and it was a bit of a surprise when Jono was run out – albeit to a superb direct hit.

Sam Perera has had an Allstars debut season to dream of – he will finish leading run scorer by a distance – and he looked in fine touch once again as he and Matt put on another 46 after the drinks break. But having played superbly for his 75, Matt pulled Mathias Winter to square leg. This brought about a mid-innings wobble as the return of the accurate “Jocky” brought the Taverners back into the contest. Steyn Grobler was lbw to another shooter, Dharani Ronanki cut Mathias to point and Sam became the second to pick out fine leg to leave us 174-7. Paul “KP” Bowman and Gren Thompson counter-attacked, Gren hitting his first ball for 6 as we finished the innings strongly. 219-8 looked like a decent score at the break, but we knew that we’d have work to do on a quick outfield.

After another delicious North Middlesex tea, we took the field. KP and Gren started well against openers Ewer and Vale, but despite two probing spells they couldn’t get the breakthrough. The spell of the day was, however, still to come. Jagath Dasari has had a great introduction to Allstars cricket this season, showing pace and control in every game he’s played, but a first Allstars wicket had still eluded him. Finally, he got his reward as he produced a fabulous spell, dismissing both openers – Vale edging a snorter to keeper Dharani, and then Ewer edging to Samer at slip in the following over to leave the Taverners 39-2.

Taverners are a strong batting line-up, and their skipper Reilly and Dave Skinner then came together in a partnership of 94, beginning slowly before going for it after the drinks break. Vivek Seth bowled tightly again, and finally dismissed Skinner to another sharp catch from Dharani after he’d passed 50. Sam struck in his final over to bowl the dangerous Spee. The Taverners still needed 53 off the last 4 overs – but by now the bearded Reilly was fully into his hitting arc, and was joined by Greg Powles. We gave it our all – but we couldn’t prevent them knocking off the runs with 2 balls to spare.

So the regular season ended in defeat – but it didn’t stop us from all enjoying a drink together as we celebrated another great season. The Taverners are a generous bunch, and treated us to a fabulous spread at the pub in Crouch End which gives them their name. We look forward to playing them again next season.

We will still end our season in style with our tour to Portugal – and we then have our end of season dinner on 9 November to look forward to.  Many thanks to everyone who’s played for us this season!

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