Metro v Northants Steelbacks – 19 June 2021
Arriving at Highgate for the home match against the current BCEW League champions the whole of the sky was a carpet of solid duck egg grey clouds; with no glimpse of blue or the sun.
There had been concern from umpires about being able to play but with the boundary adjusted to avoid soggy spots there were just a couple of pitch ends that were slippery and play got underway on time with the forecast suggesting a full game could be played before the rain arrived. Metro had lost the toss and was batting – with a third opening partner for Matt; this time it was Justin.
Northants chose to open the bowling with the pace of Asif in tandem with their total bowler; allowing Metro the race to 50 within six overs. Justin had enjoyed a six over the short straight fine leg boundary and then a reverse for four through third man when he nicked the last ball of the sixth over to the keeper.
Matt continued to build patiently with Andy Law until the keeper took a second catch to dismiss Andy and bring Mark Bond to the crease for his first innings of the year. Matt Dean offered a chance off the third ball of the next over, and a difficult chance to the total fielder cordon in the seventeenth over but Metro reached drinks held at the sanitation break at the end of the eighteenth over with 145 on the board. Mark had to scramble home for a single ball before Matt completed the 100 partnership with a single off a no ball.
The partnership reached 116 when Mark was run out backing up too far as Matt clipped to Asif at mid-wicket with no interest in a quick single. Was he waiting for his next ball, perhaps, as he picked up Asif for a 6 over midwicket to bring up his third hundred of the season. Asif took a great caught and bowled catch to dismiss Mo before Matt accelerated his scoring at the end of the innings with 31 from his last 13 balls; Metro declaring after 30 overs on 249. The innings had been completed in good time – under two and a half hours.
The Northants innings started slowly against Mo and Gareth, and Metro was pleased to pick up a wicket in that opening spell with a great catch from Rory at point.
As openings batsman, David Howells, settled into his innings he managed to accelerate the rate by hitting 31 off the last two total overs in the first 10, and Northants were then much closer to the required scoring rate and not far short of the Metro total at that stage.
Justin and Rory however put the brakes on with 6 overs for just 21 runs and the wicket of the visitors’ number three. Asif had then come in and had been swinging hard at the six balls he had faced, so Metro brought Nick into bowl with a plan to create chances for a catch.
The plan took just one ball to work as the ball went high in the air out to cow corner where the safe arms of Matt were waiting to grab the ball. Sadly, however by this time, it was not just the ball dropping out of the sky but a niggly fine drizzle had started too. By the start of the next over umbrellas were going up on the side of the ground and the umpires were busy collecting towels to dry the ball.
Hassan bowled the next over with reasonable control but when Mo was then given the ball the over included two huge loopy no-balls as he could not hold the damp ball. At drinks the batsmen were worried about rain on their glasses impeding their vision further but the umpires allowed three more overs – including another from Mo with the same number of loopy no-balls before they decided that play was no longer possible with 9 overs left in the match.
Northants were 100 behind Metro and with a team of 10, six wickets were needed for victory so the match was well balanced and the weather had robbed all of a chance to complete a fascinating game.
David Howells was left on 105 from 67, with a boundary count almost matching Matt Dean’s with three 6s and twelve 4s. The sides meeting again at Northants on Sunday 18th July.
Match report by Paul Toplis
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