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Cricket: Low Scoring Thriller!

Metro Cricket Team

Low Scoring Thriller in Cup Final Prelude

20th July 2019

After a pitch inspection that had the team waiting for news at Paddington the good news was that despite the heavy rain the pitch was suitable for play. The venue was well off the beaten track up a narrow, winding lane so the old sound to disturb play was the steam whistle and the gentle rumble from the nearby railway.

The day was dry with some pleasant sunny spells but not easy for cricket as there was a stiff and, at times, strong breeze blowing across the square. The home side won the toss and had no hesitation in asking the Metro nine to bat first.

The action began at ball four as Matt hit the ball high into the air and the bowler positioned themselves to catch it only for the ball to slip through their grip as the batsmen took a single. The bowlers kept things very tight and when Rory was offered a more demanding caught and bowled opportunity he hung on to dismiss Nick. He almost had a wicket maiden until bowling a wide – but he did make good use of the extra ball as Andy was given half out leg before.

This was to be important as in the next over and facing just his next ball Andy was dismissed by Ed. A promising partnership for the third wicket was ended when Matt was run out by a good throw in from the fine leg boundary as he tried to get back for a two without getting his bat down; this stand had added 21 runs and was the highest partnership of the innings as Somerset kept the pressure up by taking regular wickets.

The next was another run out: Prem was caught out backing up too far as Somerset fielded well to keep the pressure on the batsmen. Mark was then bowled by Ed before Mo, who scored fastest on the day, before hitting one shot too many in the air to be caught in the covers, followed shortly afterwards by Asif who was caught at point. Rory was left not out when Mujahaid was bowled by Somerset’s Rory and there were just 84 runs to defend in the Somerset innings.

Before that there was a very good tea that included fantastic scones and the traditional speeches that celebrated the spirit of the game. Asif then opened the bowling with Mo at the other end and there were four dots at the start of every one of the first four overs that left hope in Metro hearts as Mujahaid had caught Ed off Asif – so the score was just 11 for one.

Good fielding all round kept the scoring opportunities limited but the home side, with time and overs on their side, could just wait for the runs to accumulate slowly. Rory worked hard to pick up the next wicket with both halves of an lbw decision, before the over of the match from Mo – a double wicket maiden with Rory and Alan both clean bowled and the game perhaps hanging in the balance as forty-six runs were still needed with four wickets lost. Here Somerset grabbed their opportunity – benefitting from the wind making it hard for Andy to get the ball down straight while Rob was also striking the ball cleanly when the opportunity arose to reach the day’s top score of 27.

With eighteen overs completed the scorers were level and the game seemed over. Up stepped Mo to repeat his earlier feat, a second double wicket maiden – Rob was caught in the covers by Matt after an expert flick on by Andy before Rory ran in sharply from mid-wicket to catch Heidi. This could however only delay the inevitable as the batsmen ran through to win the game at the start of the next over – completing the run before the ball crossed the mid-wicket boundary.

So sadly, as slip up in the race for the league title, but much encouragement from the game to take to the cup final – especially Mo’s bowling, no extras in his 5 overs, 2 maidens, four for just seven runs!

Devils Lose Two and One

Metro Devils Cricket Team

Devils Lose Two and One

22nd June 2019

Well the weather has improved and Metro have beaten Yorkshire twice, in the BBS cup at home and away in the league. The cup win means a home semi-final with the opportunity to avenge last year’s defeat in the final as Sussex visit on 6th July.

The Devils have not taken up playing golf but did lose two players to injury, Ahmed unable to bowl after his first over had conceded just 8 runs and then at the start of the chase, Jack – who pulled up lame taking an easy single while running for Hassan.

They ended up on 153 chasing 155 to win as Brenda was run out on the last ball of an enthralling match. In fact, if the scores had been tied the Dolphins would have won as they had taken 7 wickets while the Devils only took two.

On a perfect afternoon for cricket, with lots of pleasant blue sky but the temperature not too hot, the day started well for the home side as they won the toss and asked Dorset to bat. It was the visitors, however, who may have been the happier after the opening exchanges as they reached 48 for 1 after seven overs having lost run one opener bowled by the home skipper.

Tim McKenzie remained in however and was hitting the ball hard to all parts of the ground – although the stumps at the bowler’s end did deny him one almost certain four, stopping the ball dead and turning a good shot into a dot ball. There was just one chance offered in his innings, the ball after his new partner had been run out from sharp fielding by Brenda at mid-wicket, as he skied one toward square leg but Ryan could not quite get under the ball. He retired on 51, including three fours and a huge 6 over square leg from a no ball, with the score on 116 at the end of fourteen overs. This left Ben and the away skipper, Steve, to finish off the innings which they did well including getting 15 vital runs off the final over.

The chase started after just a short break, as it was agreed to take tea after the game, with Ryan and Chris opening. They only managed 14 together before Chris was bowled bringing Hassan and Ryan together. They batted well taking the runs on offer and picking the extras donated by the visitors to get to a position that looked to have the Devils well ahead until Ryan was run out in not quite getting back for a second run with 80 runs on the board after eight overs and two balls.

However this wicket led to a collapse of near national scale; Asif went two, boundary 4, then caught out and Dave Samuels was also out before the half way mark,leg before to the way skipper. At ten overs the Devils with 97 had 32 more runs in the bag, so still seemed well placed with Everton, Brenda and the injured Jack all still to bat.

The visitors had other ideas and kept their bowling tight and fielding energetic, so that after Hassan was bowled by his opposite number with the score on 105, they were able to squeeze with Everton and Brenda unsure of their running together and so were restricted to a partnership of 34 from 44 balls. The Devils scoring worm had still stayed ahead of the Dolphins apart from the end on the 14th over when it was one behind.

There was some confusion about Jack coming into bat with a runner before Brenda ended the eighteenth over with a single. The score 140, the worm 5 ahead and 15 needed from two overs. A single from Brenda and three lusty blows all for 2 from an immobile Jack left the worm 8 ahead and the equation of 8 needed from six balls.

Who was the pressure on as Tim was given the ball for the last over? A dot meant very clearly the batsman, but then Brenda got one very fine behind the stumps for two and perhaps the pendulum swung back? The next ball was probably the most critical in the over as a great stop by the Dolphins total at square leg meant a dot ball. Brenda got off strike to leave Jack with the task of scoring 5 from two balls, so a boundary needed. Jack could only manage a two to fine leg and then that single as Dorset collected the ball at fine leg to run out Brenda at the bowler’s end with a relay throw via the wicket keeper.

Wow – amazing stuff which leaves the league for the Devils to concentrate on with games to come against Dorset away and Berkshire at home, their last home fixture of the season on August 10th.

Report by Paul Toplis


Cricket: It’s a Washout! 

Metro Devils vs Gloucestershire Growlers 

It’s a Washout! 

Metro Devils vs Gloucestershire Growlers 

5th May 2019

A washout that was not just rain but hail too at about six-fifteen; the fourth time that rain had interfered with the Devils match against the Gloucestershire Growlers bringing it to an end. The home side was very disappointed as this meant their fantastic performance could not end as a win, with just 24 runs required and plenty of overs to spare. This was however not quite the washout of the week before when Metro had not been able to start their defence of the National League title in Yorkshire as the game was called off on Friday evening. A rearrangement is hoped for.

Wicket, bat and ball with the cricket match in the background
Wicket, bat and ball with the cricket match in the background – photo by Charlie Raven

So to return to this Saturday where the match between two well-matched teams began with the home skipper, Hassan, hardly able to get out quickly enough a decision to field first after winning the toss. The home side had two debutants Prem Sellathurai and Mujahaid Zabit while the visitors included one very familiar face in their team – Aemonn having joined the Growlers over the winter. A winter that was still present as a shower delayed the start until almost one thirty.

Metro Devils Cricket Team
Metro Devils Cricket Team

Once able to start the Devils made the early running with the skipper taking a diving catch at short cover in Jack’s first over, this wicket being followed just two overs later by that of the away skipper bowled to leave the visitors on 17 for 2 at the first bowling change. A couple of overs later after two batsmen had been clean bowled Aemonn was facing Asif’s hat trick ball; which he was able to block. A few overs later he did not block but skied the ball straight up, surely aware of the risk giving who was bowling, as Ryan was able to run down the pitch and take a brilliant diving catch, perhaps an early contender for “catch of the season”; with just 60 runs on the board.

The next wicket to fall also involved Ryan who gathered a wild return from Hassan to complete a run out just one ball before thunder and lightning brought a ten-minute break in play that reduced the game to 50 overs. The next few overs were the best for the visitors as their opener, Dan, reached 50 before having to retire; and the Devils then regained the upper hand as Jack took his third wicket. This left the visitors desperately running hard to grab as many runs as possible. Rob and Dave Samuels both picked up wickets and then, Ryan having moved off the boundary to short cover, secured a run out as one risk too many was taken – leaving Dan on 62 and a target of 151 to win from 23 overs.

With rain still threatening and the temperature distinctly chilly tea was hurried as sitting outside was unpleasant and the devils were very keen to start their run chase. Metro openers Prem and Ryan raced, at times literally – as Ryan could certainly run three while Prem ran two and was not far short of running two while Prem ran one, to 76 from eight overs before another twenty-minute rain break before the umpires were satisfied that the ground was dry enough to play safely again. Ryan reached his 50 with a drive through cover for two off a no-ball with 83 on the board just one over later. Hassan joined Prem before being forced off injured to be replaced by Ahmed as the continued chill had forced Mujahaid, among others, to change from his kit into warmer clothes leaving a limited choice of substitutes. The Growlers were still unable to slow the scoring rate which remained at about ten an over until the final storm came leaving Prem on 31 scored at a run a ball.

The next cricket at Highgate sees Northants playing Metro on the 18th, while in other news the delayed 2018 T20 cup finals saw Somerset emerge as winners by beating Yorkshire and Northants on another chilly, but at least dry, day in Wolverhampton.

Report By Paul Toplis



Cricket and London Buses?

Metro Cricket Team

What Do You Know About London Buses?

23rd June 2018

It is said that you wait all day for one and then they come in twos and threes. Yorkshire and Metro will meet in all three cricket formats this year; with a Metro trip away in the T20 cup to follow next week’s BBS cup and this Saturday’s league match. Those from God’s own country will be hoping that the results do not all follow that from this week.

There was for them, the unwelcome arrival of three wicket maidens at Highgate. The first came in just the third over of their innings as their opener got just too much on a defensive prod at Mo’s bowling and was caught and bowled via a well held low catch.

The very next over more misery was heaped on them as their top total was bowled by Rory. After four overs they were three down and still over 300 runs behind the home team; by the time Mo and Rory had finished their opening spells one more wicket had gone down with just a couple of runs added.

There was then rather a long wait for that third wicket maiden as just two wickets went down in the next six overs with batsmen nicking Hassan through to the keeper. Ryan took the ball next; his second delivery was clipped firmly toward mid-wicket, but although struck low and flat it was in the air allowing Nick to run in from the deep, and dive to grab a brilliant catch and remove the only visitor to have reached double figures.

Mark wrapped up the innings by grabbing two more nicks – one from Rob and the other giving Ryan his second wicket. The innings was all over in far too few overs – no last-ditch effort needed here by Metro to get a win.

The visitors had been restricted in their batting as a result of the huge efforts they had put in fielding – resulting in three injuries, a ball in the face, a tweaked hamstring and an ankle turned over. They had all run themselves into the ground chasing the ball on a hot, sunny afternoon facing two batsmen who were both hitting the ball with power and placement.

Yes, despite that outstanding bowling display the win had been set up by a glorious and disciplined batting performance from Rory and Nick who scored 310 between them in just 22 overs. Their innings was almost flawless – perhaps just one chance was offered in the eighteenth over when Rory top edged high into the air only to see the ball drop out of reach of the keeper who had chased it and then bounce and swerve away allowing two runs to be taken. The innings included a six, and thirty-eight boundaries as Nick scored 156 from 78 balls, and Rory 118 from 64.

Next week the teams meet again in the BBS cup – who knows what will happen, so support for the home side will be very welcome ahead of what will be what can be expected to be a crucial league match for Metro against Warwickshire on the 7th July.

Report by Paul Toplis


BBS Cup Quarter Final

Metro Cricket Team

Warwickshire; The Expected Result?

9th June 2018

Metro have found Warwickshire barring their progress in the cup for several years and on Saturday after a very hard fought game it boiled down to this; there were 19 more, of the 181 needed by Warwickshire for a win, still required with 7 wickets down and three overs remaining.

For the visitors the wickets were critical as they had arrived with only nine players. The question thus was could Metro’s pair of totals bowling at the death defend 19 from three overs?

Amit had the first ball, of the three, from the café end; his action sends the ball looping high and dropping on a length. Gerald is on strike but cannot make effective contact with the first two balls; but then the line strays leg side and two runs are taken to fine leg. A dot follows and then he gets solidly under one and lifts it high, for a one bounce four to fine leg. The field is in close, to try and prevent the single but he plays with soft hands to drop the ball onto the strip and race through for a single to keep the strike.

Hassan comes back to complete his spell from the scorebox end; his action very different – the ball low and skiddy, often close the its third bounce as it reaches the striker. The first ball is squirted to point; for just a single and Metro have what they want – the Warwickshire total on strike. Now an error from the keeper as the next ball slips past him and a bye is taken.

Warwickshire seem to take control next ball, Matt Dean at square leg strays behind square – for a no ball – that is driven past mid off for two. Seven needed from ten balls. Hassan holds his nerve and keeps it straight as two dots follow. Then Warwickshire take a single to third man, to put Gerald on strike for the last over and Ezekiel blocks out Hassan’s last ball. Six needed, or five as a tie will win it for the visitors as they have lost less wickets.

Amit pitches up and Mo, behind the stumps does well to block the ball; the next one is edged up and Mo makes no mistake holding the catch to set up a semi-final at Highgate on the 30th June against Yorkshire who beat Gloucestershire on Sunday.

Great celebrations by Metro follow.

Not that those quite match the individual celebrations from Amit at his earlier match winning contributions – his speed, after grabbing chances at short square leg from both Warwickshire’s England stars, could surely only be matched by one of the home side.

The first catch had been the breakthrough Metro were after as the visitors had looked to be taking control at 66 without loss after ten overs; before Justin was caught for 46. Luke marshalled the rest of the innings batting carefully and aware that the required run rate was always under control. He batted nearly two hours for his 45; departing sixth with the score on 151.

The Metro bowling display was brilliant, backed up by energetic and enthusiastic fielding to make sure that the rate never got too low. The best figures of the day belonged to Amit and Mo with two wickets each; Mo’s for just 23 runs from his six overs; while Gareth took four to add to his five from the week before.

Earlier in the afternoon, batting first after having been put in, the Metro innings was based on a rapid 52 from Matt Dean out of a score of 79 for three and then solid contributions from all led by Ryan who came in as Matt left and batted for over an hour in scoring 35 while the team score increased by ninety-five.

After he was out from the second ball of the twenty-sixth over with Luke and Justin bowling Metro collapsed; Mo followed at the end of the over bowled by Justin, leaving Rory as a spectator for the next over from Luke. This was a fast and accurate over – dot, bowled, no ball, dot, bowled, not and then lbw. Metro had not batted their full allowance of overs, as Justin had two left and Luke one, and surely had not scored enough.

It was all set up for a test of bowling skill and Hassan and Amit passed with flying colours.

Report by Paul Toplis