Rogers’ 66 not enough to save Midi from home league defeat

All-rounder Paul Rogers finally found form with the bat but his breezy top-scoring 66
was not enough to save Midi CC from their third league defeat of the 2014 season,
going down by 51 runs at home to Armagnac-Bigorre CC on Sunday, 18 May.

Opener Rogers, whose tight, consistent bowling has been in sharp contrast to a
disappointing run with the bat, thrashed four sixes and eight fours to put Midi in a
strong position in chasing the visitors’ target of 241 in the 40-over match.
When he left, LBW to Sudhir with the score on 92, it was left to the dependable Nick
Allison to steer Midi to victory and revenge for their defeat to Armagnac-Bigorre by
five wickets the previous weekend at Seissan.

But in a rerun of a familiar script, while Allison provided the bedrock for Midi’s
innings, the team imploded once again at the other end with the Usual Midi Collapse
(UMC), plummeting from 139 for four to 143 for eight.

Midi CC, who opened their campaign in the Midi-Pyrénées/South Division with their
first win in four years, are now in danger of once again propping up the table in the
four-team competition after three subsequent losses.

While they still sit in second place on 38 points after four matches behind Armagnac-
Bigorre on 54 points, Toulouse CC (29 points) and Catus CC (30 points) have played
only twice.

Midi went into the match at St Pons de Mauchiens against Armagnac-Bigorre
confident they could reverse the result of the previous Sunday with the return of
some key players and home ground advantage.

After losing the toss on a sunny day, Rogers once again provided the bowling
spearhead, and supported by fellow spin bowler Neeraj Obhrai, pegged the visitors
back, limiting their openers to a scant 28 runs after eight overs for the loss of one

But opener Sriram, top scorer the previous week, once again emerged as Midi’s
nemesis, steering Armagnac-Bigorre to 201 for four before falling LBW to Patrick
Dubois for 89.

He was ably supported by Preetham who clouted 45 before becoming Dubois’ third
victim when Ram Kumbhar took a stunning catch on the boundary rope.

The visitors progressed to 240 for seven wickets, and while it was Rogers (1-34)
Neeraj (0-32) and Ram (0-35) who were able to contain the scoring from their
allotted eight overs it was Dubois with four for 67 and Dom George with two for 53
who did the damage.

Midi started their innings steadily, openers Rogers and Jason Armstrong taking the
score along to 27 before Armstrong went for six. Allison joined Rogers and the pair
moved the score quickly along to 97 before Rogers went.

Senior pro George then went quickly for a duck, followed by Neeraj who fell to a
wonder catch by bowler Sudhir for five.

Captain Alex Lalljee stopped the rot, dug in and compiled a handy 13 before being
bowled by Preetham with the score on 139.

The UMC then put paid to any hopes of a Midi victory, Martin Eede (0), Ram (0) and
Dubois (0), all falling to Tony Hands within the space of two overs.

Some late support for Allison from Joris Verdaasdonk (9) and David Amoros (six not
out) took the score along to a respectable 189 but well short of the 241 target. Allison
was the last wicket to fall, bowled for 60 by Gohel Abishek, his innings including 10

Midi now have to regroup for a vital home match on 31 May against Toulouse CC
who beat them by only one wicket in the match at Seissan on 10 May.

Midi’s road trip hits brick wall after first league victory

Midi CC, buoyed by a season-opening one-run victory over the formidable Catus CC,
embarked on their first road trip of 2014 with hopes high, but soon learnt that life at
the top can be short lived, going down by one wicket in a desperately close match to
Toulouse and then by five wickets to Armagnac-Bigorre.

Midi faced their first double header with the rare distinction of first place in the Midi-
Pyrénées/South Division after picking up 27 points at home the previous weekend.
While realists pointed out it was the division’s first match of the season, Midi had a
week to bask in the glory of a first league victory in four years.

But Midi ominously headed west to Seissan on 10 May with a depleted bowling
attack in the absence of the in-form Patrick Dubois and spinner Neeraj Obhrai and
with warhorse all-rounder Dom George playing with an injured ankle.

Vice-captain Paul Rogers stepped in as captain for Alex Lalljee and immediately had
to explain to his team why he lost the toss against Toulouse and Midi had to bat first
in the 40-over match on a cloudy but fine day.

It didn’t get any better for Rogers when he fell LBW to Philippe Fermanel in the
second over for a duck leaving Jason Armstrong, who survived a catch off a no ball
in the same over, to hopefully provide another foundation for Midi’s innings.

The man of the match against Catus with a stirring 88 not out was joined by Nick
Allison and the pair plodded along to 37 after 10 overs, the run rate not helped by a
slow outfield which saw Armstrong’s fine glances and cuts restricted to singles.

Just when it seemed that Midi had survived the early onslaught from Christophe
Srikanth, Fermanel and Mitish, Armstrong was well bowled by Rajesh for five and
Midi were 42 for two after 14 overs.

Allison, whose partnerships with Armstrong have been a feature of Midi’s season so
far, was the only batsman at ease with the Toulouse attack and as he accumulated
the team’s highest score, he watched helpless in the face of the Usual Midi Collapse

George departed for eight, Martin Eede followed on five, both victims of an on-fire
Skrikanth who went on to destroy Midi’s middle order, sending back President Marc
Dalling (0), Ram Kumbhar (0) in the same over with the score on 72, then removing
American import Ken Miller (0) in the next.

Midi had slumped from 58 for two to 72 for seven and only some dogged late support
for Allison from Joe Whitworth (5 not out), supported by David Amoros (5) and Pierre
Ziavanovic (5), enabled Midi to post a three-figure target of 101.

Allison’s was the eighth wicket to fall, another Skrikanth victim, but he had scored a
vital 38 with four fours, the only Midi batsman to post double figures ahead of
George (8) and five other batsmen weirdly on five apiece. Skrikanth finished with the
remarkable figures of six for 16 runs.

A crushing defeat looked in the offing but George and Rogers pegged back the
Toulouse openers and Pierre Zivanovic took a brilliant skied catch off Rogers’ first
over to give Midi some early hope.

Rogers’ tight bowling was matched by Midi in the field and he got his second wicket,
caught by Ram, to restrict Toulouse to 32 for two after 10 overs.

Rogers was joined in the bowling attack by Ram whose shorter run has oddly
produced genuine pace and direction and he bowled Amit Singh on 18 to leave the
home side tottering at 34 for three.

Rogers’ inspired spell had Toulouse foundering, and he took another two wickets,
one a tumbling catch at point by George, which saw half the home side out for only

Midi were beginning to dream the impossible dream when Ken Miller struck to
remove Mitish for four with the score on 47.

But they had not reckoned on Skrikanth who followed up his brilliant bowling spell
with a solid innings that edged Toulouse towards the target.

Rogers had to ring the changes with his occasional bowlers after he, Ram and
George had bowled their allotted eight overs. The score moved to 81 for eight when
Dalling atoned for his duck with the wicket of Fermanel, caught again by Ram at
extra-cover from a ball that even the President admitted left a lot to be desired.

The last wicket pair faced a target of 20 and, with overs to spare, sensibly moved the
score along slowly and it was man-of-the-match Srikanth who broke Midi’s hearts
with a match-winning four off Miller and his team’s high score of 38 not out.

Rogers was the pick of the bowlers with exceptional figures of four for 10 runs while
George took two for 26 and Ram one for 13, the trio getting Midi so close to their first
win on the road for nearly five years.

Midi, rightly aggrieved that they hadn’t finished off the job, had – for them – a
subdued night on the town (Auch) before confronting Armagnac-Bigorre on a day
that dawned with rain and a possible cancellation.

Midi went into the match without George who decided not to risk further damage to
his ankle so had a further reduced bowling attack against a team who are arguably
the strongest in the division having recruited a number of players from last year’s
champions, Noé-Gascogne, who no longer play.

Under an overcast sky, Midi won the toss and Rogers boldly decided to bat, his
audacity heightened by the quick loss of four wickets for 24 runs – Dalling and the
Captain himself for two runs and runmakers Armstrong and Allison for two and three
runs respectively.

With opening strike bowler Preetham taking the first three wickets and threatening to
run through the side, Midi needed a miracle in the shape of a thunderstorm or similar
climatic intervention.

Alas, the gods served up the UMC (Usual Midi Collapse) and Midi plummeted from
41 for four to 45 for eight with wides providing the only scoring sideshow for the
beleaguered visitors.

The ever improving French junior Pierre Zivanovic injected the one bright note into
the sorry litany of failures with a breezy 12, the only player to score double figures,
taking the final score to 70 before he was out LBW.

Midi went into the defence of the moderate target without wicketkeeper Eede who
tweaked a calf muscle in his innings. Dalling stepped into the breach as Eede nursed
the injury with a frozen paella kindly donated by Rogers from his mobile home fridge.

Armagnac-Bigorre were never really threatened in their run chase after the opening
stand posted 34 runs. A brief lapse of focus saw the home side slip from 55 for two
to 64 for four but they eased to a five-wicket victory with 22 overs to spare.

Rogers was once again miserly, returning one wicket for 10 runs off four overs, while
Pierre’s younger brother Lucas surprised everybody, particularly batsman Andrew
Gatsby, with a first ball clean bowled and figures of one for five off 1.2 overs.

Midi can take encouragement that next Sunday’s return match against Armagnac-
Bigorre at St Pons de Mauchiens will be much more competitive with the return of
some key players and home ground advantage.

President Dalling was heartened by Midi’s application in the field in both matches
and was confident that the team would surprise Armagnace-Bigorre after the
weekend setback.

Wild scenes as Midi seal victory in league season opener against Catus

Wild scenes of jubilation erupted on Sunday as Midi CC’s French talismanic fielder
David Amoros took a rasping catch at extra cover to seal a dramatic one-run win for
the home side against Catus CC in the opening league match of the 2014 season.
Midi, who had not won a league match in the Midi-Pyrénées/South division for more
than three years, delightedly mobbed Amoros as the visitors’ last pair looked set to
overhaul Midi’s score of 215 for only three wickets after accumulating 20 runs.
But Midi’s long drought ended in style when young league debutant Lucien Calkin
forced a rash shot from Catus’ last man Ibrahim and Amoros snared the sharp

Midi’s shock win owed much to the home side’s South African connection – Jason
Armstrong top scored with 88 not out and Patrick Dubois took four for 35 – and new
coach Martin Eede who has injected much-needed belief in a team looking back on a
2013 season that yielded only two wins in 13 league, cup and friendly matches.

Calkin, Midi’s France Under-19 international, also announced his league arrival after
climbing from his sick bed, with a jaunty 16 not out and a vital 3 for 31, unexpectedly
good figures for the young cricketer who plays wicketkeeper for the national side.
Midi, who have never beaten Catus in league or cup, won the toss on a fine, sunny
day at the St Pons de Mauchiens ground on 4 May and the opening pair of vice-
captain Paul Rogers and Armstrong made a steady start until Rogers departed in the
fifth over with the score on 26, bowled by Karim for 12.

Nick Allison joined Armstrong and resumed where they had left off the previous week
when they put together a partnership of 133 in Midi’s friendly match against the Oslo

Armstrong, the quiet accumulator, whose most prized possession is his wicket,
rightly decided that staying at the crease was paramount and with this in mind the
run rate gave new meaning to snail’s pace – seven overs yielding nine runs as the
pair progressed to 50 in the 14 th over.

But the resilience paid off with the score quickly moving to 88 in the 20 th over when
Allison fell to Farouq for an uncharacteristically stoic 11.

With the sprinkle of spectators confused by the absence of the UMC (Usual Midi
Collapse), former captain and senior pro Dom George joined Armstrong and the pair
set about giving the visitors a score to chase in the 40-over match.

Armstrong, happy to progress in singles as the visitors moved fielders to the
boundary, provided the foil for George who plundered the bowling for 66, hitting nine
fours and a six before being bowled by Shafiq with the score on 193.

With only two overs remaining, Calkin was the perfect incoming batsmen, hitting two
fours and a six in a quickfire innings that took Midi to 215 for three wickets, their first
200-plus score in league matches in three seasons.

Man-of-the-match Armstrong, who scored 49 against the Oslo Aliens, hit 11 fours in
a chanceless innings and rightly earned loud applause from his teammates for a job
well done.

Slow bowlers Rogers and Nareej Obhrai opened the bowling for Midi a move by new
Captain Alex Lalljee that surprised the visitors who stuttered to 25 in six overs before
Richard Harris was caught by Calkin off Obhrai for 10.

With all of Midi’s bowlers, except Rogers and Joris Verdaasdonk, gifting the visitors a
raft of wides, Midi looked to be set on a familiar path of self-destruction.
But Dubois, whose opening two overs must have delighted the opposition, pulled
himself together and with Catus seemingly cruising on 79 for one after 14 overs,
produced a beautiful ball to bowl Australian Ken Sutton for 27.

Midi’s fielding tightened up after a dropped catch and a stumping chance, and
Dubois and George had Rofiq, Shafiq and Rob Allen back in the pavilion and half the
side out with the score on 131 and 20 overs gone.

Catus never really recovered and when Dubois took his fourth wicket to remove
danger man J.Patras, a lofted catch in the deep coolly taken by Joris Verdaasdonk,
Midi dared to dream that an almost unheard of league victory was theirs for the

Three quick wickets took the visitors from 175 to 184 for nine – two from Calkin, one
from George – and with the last pair needing 22 to win, Midi could be forgiven for
prematurely celebrating a famous victory

But Ibrahim had other ideas and, throwing caution to the wind, strange when Catus
had overs in hand, took his bat to Calkin before Amoros carved his name in the
record books. Amid the last-wicket mayhem, Verdaasdonk produced a niggardly
penultimate over under pressure yielding just one run.

Dubois was the pick of Midi’s bowlers with four for 35, Calkin returned three for 31,
George two for 51 and Obhrai 1 for 43. Wides had another field day, adding 37 runs
to the Catus score.

Midi’s victory should put them in the right frame of mind for their road trip this
weekend to Seissan and a double header in the league against Toulouse CC and
Armagnac-Bigorre CC. Captain Lalljee expects to field a full team for both matches,
an unusual occurrence and one which might produce a rare victory away from home.