It seemed as if Mo Ghalib had secured a draw for Metro at Sussex on Saturday; he had batted very carefully and patiently for over an hour and a half, facing 92 balls for his 50, and then he just popped the ball over the ring of total fielders to Dan Field at mid-wicket and was caught with just ten balls left in what had become an absorbing match.
Metro had taken a rather below full strength side with just nine players to the beautiful Sussex ground at Blackstone looking for a win to give them a chance of winning the BCEW league and the day, at the ground, had started well as Rory called “tails” correctly to win the toss and had asked the home side to bat first. Metro had not had the best preparation for the game with very busy trains disrupting their travel to the ground.
It was a very sunny, warm day although there was a pleasant breeze to take the edge off the heat and Metro started well in the field almost getting a run out early. Mo took a good catch in the deep and Lois safely took one, while impressing behind the stumps, to give Gareth two wickets and limit the Sharks to 16 for 2 early on.
Good sharp fielding ran out the home side’s skipper with the score on 92 and the game seemed fairly evenly balanced but then Toby Collins joined Dan Field and the home side started to find the boundary as with limited numbers there were gaps in the field. This pair put on 189 with Toby scoring 57; when he went Dan continued to score quickly with a total of seven sixes scored mainly over the square leg boundary in his unbeaten 157.
Sussex declared after 30 overs having scored 327 and tea was taken; having it seemed ensured they would get a draw, although the main question was had they given themselves enough overs to get a win.
It seemed as if they had as wickets tumbled early – Alex Towers very pleased to take a catch to dismiss Mark, before Josh was bowled by ‘Tiny’ and then without any more runs being scored Matt was caught at mid-off by Toby and so Mo joined the Metro skipper with 22 on the board. Only another ten had been added when Rory was caught behind by the Sussex skipper and Mo began his marathon innings to look for a draw. Lois and Everton did not hold out for too long but Gareth then provided great support facing four full overs for a couple as the score moved to 87 with just over eight overs to go.
Sussex were concerned that they might not have enough overs left to take the win, and with it the league title, as the ‘Wembley Wall’ joined Mo in the middle. At this point Mo very carefully kept himself on strike – scoring only in boundaries apart from on the last ball of every over when he either placed the ball into a gap or just played ‘tip and run’ with Matt running for Hashmukh; who faced only three balls as twenty-six were added and both sides counted down the overs to go with different emotions.
Metro now face Yorkshire in the David Townley T20 cup competition next Saturday at Highgate, hoping to get a place at finals day on the 24th September at Wolverhampton cricket club.
– Report by Paul Toplis