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
chance.

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
Aliens.

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
taking.

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.

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