Back to the Bowler; Back to the Cup Final
6th July 2019
Metro met Sussex for the first time since last year’s cup final in the semi-final at Highgate on a Saturday where a gentle breeze and good cloud cover made for excellent playing conditions. There was some variation a few spots of rain as the second innings got underway and warm sunshine as a very close and exciting match drew to an end.
Sussex won the toss and asked Metro to bat first; the game starting on time as both teams had overcome the chaos on the northern line to arrive in good time for pre-match warm up and practice. Metro made a steady start until the fifth over when Alex Towers bowled both Ryan and Andy to make the opening exchanges fairly equal.
Justin joined Matt D at the crease and this pair then put on 178 for the third wicket against some good tight bowling from Sussex. The stand was broken when Matt was out caught off the bowling of Phil Daniels, and the home skipper joined Justin with just over six overs remaining. Rory scored a very brisk 35 in a partnership of 65 before Justin was caught off the bowling of Dan Field. There was just time for Mark to face a single ball as Metro reached a total of 278.
A total that meant the match was set up for a good second half, as the chase was on and a good bowling and fielding effort would be needed if this was to be defended. The start was all that Metro might have dreamed of as first ball Hassan grabbed a catch from Amit’s bowling to dismiss the dangerous Dave Daniels. Hasan then opened from the other end as Dan Field came in a three. He played a magnificent innings scoring 181 from 103 balls with eighteen boundaries including two sixes, as well a vast number of well run twos – taking on all the Metro fielders.
The scoring worms were never very far apart for the whole innings, Sussex edged ahead early but after 15 overs had 126 compared with Metros 129. The Sussex worm went ahead again in the second half but Metro had been chipping away at the wickets so perhaps the defining moment of the game was when Ryan was asked to bowl the twenty seventh over. Dan hit the first ball hard but almost straight up; it was not the first chance offered as others had been put down. Ryan called for the catch, steadied himself and held on to grab the eighth wicket.
This was the second back to the bowler incident – the first having been an amazing run out by Amit, who might have been offered a return catch by Dan from a very well struck shot, but managed instead to deflect the ball onto the stumps and run out the unfortunate non-striker who had been, very properly, backing up. The final return was a catch taken by Justin the start the penultimate over of the thirty, although the match did not last quite that long as three balls later Justin hit the stumps to end the match – a win for Metro by 14.
This sets up Metro for a second cup final in a row – this year they will play Somerset at the Gloucestershire Brightside Ground in Bristol on the 31st August. Before that Metro will finish their National League campaign with three away matches, the first in a fortnight against Somerset followed by trips to Surrey and Kent.
They will be chasing Northants for a league title as the Steelbacks victory on Sunday over Somerset put them on top of the league. There are two more matches this season at Highgate – Lancashire visit again but this time for a T20 on 3rd August and the Devils entertain Berkshire on the 10th, in a match where they may still be in contention for a Regional League title.
Report by Paul Toplis