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Cricket: Just 14 Days Earlier …

Photo of the Metro cricket team in group chat, Cricket: Match Report

Just 14 Days Earlier …

Somerset generously allow Andy Law to complete Hassan’s over as after two wides and a no-ball his elbow injury forces him to stop bowling. Amit then prevents Somerset getting a third batting bonus point by limiting them to 12 runs in the final over.

Less than twenty-four hours earlier there is a scramble to ensure that Metro have train tickets to get to Taunton with Covid travel restrictions in place; and this followed by one taxi not being able to find the ground and giving half the team an unwanted tour of narrow, leafy lanes. So not the best start for a team composed of several walking wounded.

This game is a repeat of the last BBS cup final; to be played in good cricket weather with some sun shining from a sky that is a mix of blue patches and puffy white clouds, but Metro win the toss and ask Somerset to set a target.

The same opening pair as at Highgate in the league make good steady progress although there are possible chances to the Metro totals but none stick, and Ed reaches 50 with three runs to third man in Rory’s first over. Perhaps the match changes in the same way as that last final however as Rory bowls Ed for 52 in a great wicket maiden in his next over.

Rob continues to build his innings with Rory Hossell running hard to try and turn his possible twos into threes and fours, with Metro hampered by injury in chasing the ball while fielding.

When not bowling Rory is alert as the keeper making several blocks to prevent fours from being struck behind the wicket. There are other catching chances but eventually, Rob is run out as he cannot get back for a two having scored 114 out of 204. The next ball the alert Mo runs out Rory Hossell.

Mo bowls Matt at the start of the final over so that just 10 runs are added in the last two overs. The bowling effort has been good with Asif a late team inclusion justifying his inclusion with a tidy three over for 18; so will 213 be enough?

Metro open with Mo, one of the few fully fit players, alongside Matt Dean nursing a hamstring injury and keen to score in boundaries and gentle singles, so Mo will need to curb his enthusiasm to match his partner’s ability.

At the end of the third over Matt skies one towards mid-on and Rory Hossell calls for the catch but fails to hold it. This allows Metro to make steady progress with the scoring worm initially matching Somerset’s, and only starting to edge ahead only as they reach their century partnership in the thirteenth over.

Matt had reached his 50 in the twelfth over with a powerful drive through the covers to one of the excellent boundary riding fielders. The Somerset boundary fielding was sharp with a number of good stops and chases to ensure that good shots went just for one or two.

Somerset get chances with chances that might have been caught on another day but this seemed to be Metro’s lucky day and none are taken.

As the match neared its end there were two more batsman’s milestones as Mo’s 50 came up just before drinks with a clip to square leg for a single while Matt’s 100 came up from 73 balls when a rare fielding lapse allowed three to be taken as the ball was hit into the covers.

The scorecard shows a win by 10 wickets but this was a much more tense and hard, fought affair than that may suggest. Mo ended with 80 and Matt exactly matched Rob’s 114 although Matt’s included 10 boundaries and no all run fours.

So Metro have a home cup semi-final on 3rd July at Highgate; by which time hopefully a fully fit team will be available.

Match Report by Paul Toplis



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First cricketing walk in the woods for 18 months!

Close up of a cricket bat, a Wicket made from white pumbling tubes and on grass beside a Blind Cricket Soundball which is a Junior football with a bell inside it.Text says Metro Blind Sport cricket nets and training tuesdays 5 pm at Highgate Woods cricket nets

Metro Devils cricket team practice session at Highgate Woods

The Devils congregated at Highgate Woods on Saturday for the first practice session since September 2019. You wouldn’t have known it. Paul Toplis organised us into pairs and everyone got a chance to bat and bowl on a typically windy afternoon on the slope of the home pitch. Alongside some very old-timers, we had Anil and Hassan joining us for the first time.

They showed great promise with both bat and ball. The slope of the pitch accompanied by a gust of Spring wind certainly tested their bowling initiation but credit where credit’s due, they did really well. Even Paul laid down his sophisticated scorecard system and joined in the pairings. I have never seen him bat nor bowl before and he performed admirably.

Everyone reported aching bits of the body on the walk back to the tube station. I suspect it will be a lot worse for everyone tomorrow! So, keep up the training and focus on flexibility. It’s alright for the youngsters but us oldies need to get our Pilates etc in as much as possible!

Special thanks to the Devils who helped handle my guide dog Varley. It was his first time at the cricket. He obviously hated being lashed to the kit wheelbarrow and did try to intercept some balls when sitting with me at mid-wicket. There is definitely room for improvement there!

Bring on the season and the competitive matches we know and love. Oh, and boy are we looking forward to having teas provided and the toilets by the changing rooms open!

Finally, I have to report a sad loss: on the return tube journey, I was a little lost at Leicester Square. I turned around just as another Southbound train came into the platform. The subsequent rush of air took my favourite Antigua baseball cap straight off my head and it went sailing onto the tracks. Varley didn’t leap down to rescue it although a passing youth did say he was tempted having witnessed the rather amusing sight. Why did I change my Devils cap for my Antigua one when leaving the pitch?

by Chris Lewis



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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