UK visitors Shapwick Occasionals snuffed out Midi CC’s hopes of celebrating the return from injury of captain Dom George by beating the home team in both matches played at St Pons de Mauchiens on 14 and 15 September.
George, whose broken finger ruled him out for a month before the summer recess, joint top-scored in the first 35-over match and returned the best bowling figures in the second, but his troops failed to rally to the cause and Midi went down by 70 runs and three wickets.
While Midi were never in contention in the first of the double-header games after Shapwick set them a winning target of 178, a raft of dropped catches and sloppy fielding in the second thrilling encounter allowed the visitors to overtake Midi’s competitive score of 187 with three overs to spare.
Midi’s first match of the September season of social friendlies started on a sobering note on a warm, sunny day with Shapwick’s openers, Pete Royall and Richard Edwards, compiling 71 runs before Nick Allison, in his first appearance of 2013, caught and bowled Royall for 17.
New recruit, Ramhari Kumbhar, followed up with his first Midi wicket, caught behind by wicketkeeper Marc Dalling, to reduce the visitors to 82 for two. Ramhari is doing a PhD in human genetics in Montpellier but his interest in playing for Midi has nothing to do with stem cell research on how to produce a winning cricket team.
Midi slowed the visitors run flow and with the introduction of George, who took two wickets for 15, and a second wicket for Ram, who ended with two for 24, saw Shapwick complete their 35 overs with 177 runs.
Midi President Dalling, recalling his epic innings of 94 against Shapwick last season when honours were even, started the run chase like a train, hitting three fours in Royall’s second over, before derailing himself leg before wicket to Robert Blackwell on 17.
Fellow opener, Jason Armstrong, who has provided Midi with a dependable backbone this season, tried to steady the home ship, but had to confront the curse of the UMC (usual Midi collapse), watching helpless as the home side were reduced to 51 for five, before he also succumbed on 17 to leave Midi on 53 for six.
A late flurry from George (17), ably assisted by Joe Whitworth who finished on 11 not out, took Midi past three figures to 107, a score which no doubt ensured a good night’s sleep for the visitors from Somerset ahead of Sunday’s match.
Armstrong once again provided Midi with a solid start when they batted first in the second match on another bright, sunny day and for once he kept pace with the frenetic Dalling as the pair compiled an opening stand of 35 runs in six overs before Dalling was stumped on 19.
After Armstrong was dismissed for 20 with the score on 48, Allison (27) and Ben Morgan combined for Midi’s best partnership of the weekend, taking the score to 122 before Morgan fell on 44, a score which included seven fours and a six.
George again showed his value as both batsman and bowler, linking up with Morgan and Alex Lalljee to move the score along before an unfortunate runout at the bowler’s end sent him back to the pavilion on 22.
Lalljee progressed to 25, a score which included an effortless six much to the amazement of son Felix, and helped Midi set Shapwick a winning target of 188.
Shapwick started disastrously after a brilliant throw from Armstrong in the deep sent Edwards back to the pavilion with the score on four.
Shapwick were groggy but Midi, instead of going for the jugular, opted to offer the visitors a winning window by dropping six catches before the drinks break, allowing Shapwick the luxury of passing the hundred mark with only three wickets down after 18 overs.
George’s introduction to the bowling attack gave Midi a sniff of victory and with four wickets in four overs, assisted by two brilliant catches from Patrick Dubois running in from the deep, Shapwick collapsed to 146 for seven.
But in a nail-biting finale, Royall (22) and partner Mike Evans (16) dug in and their 43-run partnership took Shapwick home with three overs to spare.
While George was the best of the Midi bowlers with four for 29, man of the match was Shapwick’s David Crosier who scored 43, while man of the series over the two matches was the visitors’ Mike Evans.
In the absence of our traiteur Ken Miller, George hosted a post-match BBQ for the visitors who have already indicated they will return again next year, this time as part of the planned triangular tournament in September.
Midi CC is now partnered with Cancer Support France, a local organisation providing support in English for those affected by cancer. Help raise funds for CSF by taking part in the Walk for Life being held this year in the Montagnac area on Sunday, 29 September. For further information visit the CSF website: www.csf-languedoc.com