Depleted Midi battle to brave defeat against Toulouse

Midi CC, stricken by the late withdrawal of two key players, went down bravely to
table-topping Toulouse CC on Saturday, 20 June, and will now have to wait until next
weekend and the result of Catus’ match against Armagnac-Bigorre to find out if it can
finish the season in a best-ever second position.

Midi, who went into the away match against Toulouse with a record three wins in its
league campaign, was confident of pulling off a surprise victory but the team, already
without anchorman Nick Allison, was reduced to 10 men when both seasoned
veteran Dom George and strike bowler Patrick Dubois were forced to withdraw.

Midi’s total of 125 all out in 34 overs after being put into bat by Toulouse was simply
not enough and the home side rattled off the runs in 25 overs losing only three
wickets in the process.

Midi started its 40-over innings on a fine, hot day at Seissan in disastrous fashion
with club president Marc Dalling falling first ball to a fine catch in the deep after
mishitting a full toss.

He was followed not long after by captain Paul Rogers who once again threatened a
big innings but fell on 13 runs to a juggling catch by Christophe Srikanth at deep
square leg.

But Midi was given hope by its two new recruits, Ankush Lal and Harshesh Bhatt,
who once again came together in a time of a crisis with the score on 22 for two, and
steadily took their side to a measure of respectability.

Ankush had looked well on the way to his second big score of the season following a
century against Armagnac-Bigorre, when a rush of blood saw him clean bowled by
Toulouse skipper Brett Trudgett for 36 with 71 runs on the board.

Phillipe Fermanel, who took five wickets in Midi’s home defeat against Toulouse in
May, was again the danger man, following up the wicket of Rogers with the LBW
removal of Martin Eede, who compiled a gritty 16, and then Harshesh who was
caught for 26 with the score on 108.

With half the side gone and the tail now wagging furiously, Midi scratched, scraped
and scampered in a bid to set Toulouse a competitive target.

Talismanic Frenchman David Amoros provided an unexpected anchor, and after the
quick exit of Ram Kumbhar, the Zivanovic brothers, Pierre and Lucas, all out for 0
with the score on 110, he was joined by official scorer Reg Gratton, who put away
his pencils and rubber, to help push the score along to 125, with a last-wicket
partnership of 15.

Gratton put the UMC (usual Midi collapse) behind him and rolled back the years,
drawing one wag to comment that he must have been pretty ordinary back then. His
neatly compiled five runs helped Amoros to a creditable and undefeated 11 which
included one scintillating boundary.

Naga mopped up the Midi tail taking four wickets for 38 runs while Fermanel ended
with three wickets for 21.

Even though the outfield was slow, the 126-run target seemed easily attainable and
openers David and Rob Johnson patiently accumulated 42 runs in the first 11 overs
before Ram struck to give Midi its first scalp – a running catch behind the wicket from
Marc Dalling at second slip.

But it was hardly a sniff for Midi as all of the Toulouse top order posted creditable
scores to push the score past the 126 target.

Lucas Zivanovic, while bowling a raft of wides, was Midi’s best bowler with two
wickets for 32 in his four overs.

Captain Paul Rogers was deeply disappointed after the match. “I am not a happy
bunny,” he told his team and hopped, or rather limped, off back to the team hotel.
He had said more than once during the Midi innings that there were hundreds of runs
to be made on the benign track. But evidently no-one listened.

Rogers’ pronounced limp (ankle tendon), was compounded by injuries to Harshesh
(upper leg muscle), Ram (upper leg muscle) and Gratton (First World War wound),
so it was a ravaged side that faced Armagnac-Bigorre in the 20/20 competition the
following morning.

While club president Dalling once showed his consistency with another duck after his
side lost the toss and was sent in to bat by Armagnac on another fine and hot day,
Midi once again had to thank Ankush and Harshesh for posting a competitive target.

Ankush played superbly and hit 12 fours and a six in his 76 and Harshesh was on 36
not out alongside Eede with nine as Midi finished with 148 for only three wickets
down.

Midi’s stint in the field was not a pretty sight with runs conceded as injured players
struggled to return balls and the young Zivanovic brothers being asked to cover
every blade of grass on the oval.

Captain defiant Rogers, who had elected not to bat, bowled a courageous four overs
and took one wicket in conceding 22 runs while Pierre Zivanovic snared two wickets
for 31 runs supported by brother Lucas who took one for 14 in an attempt to peg
back Armagnac.

Lucas also took two brilliant catches to remove the openers and it seemed that a
miracle was in the offing when Midi went into the last two overs with four wickets
down and 19 runs needed.

But, having been earlier warned by the umpires that penalties would be exacted if
Midi could not meet the over rate requirements, Midi suddenly found themselves with
Armagnac facing a new target of 14 runs when five runs were added to its score.

It was a body blow and arguably turned the match in Armagnac’s favour. The
winning runs were scored in the last over with three balls to spare.

Dalling, who had taken over as captain from the ailing Rogers, decided to forfeit the
following 20/20 match against Toulouse concerned that his players might compound
their injuries and that Midi were not in a position to make a match of it.

He was also aggrieved that Midi had lost on a penalty-runs decision that was more
akin to a one-day international than a friendly club match.

“We know that there are rules, but we feel that this was not in the spirit of the game
and we will accordingly be writing to the Association des Clubs de Cricket du Sud-
Ouest (ACCSO) to express our concern and disappointment that the umpires should
act in this manner.”

Dalling was impressed by the team spirit shown at the weekend despite the injuries.
“Congratulations everyone for this weekend,” he said in an email to the players. “We
may not have won but I was impressed by your courage, your motivation and your
refusal to give up when all seemed to conspire against us.

“Special thanks go to Paul, Ram and Harshesh for playing through the pain barrier,
Reg for his efforts, Ankush for showing us how it’s done with the bat and last but not
least the Zivanovic brothers who fielded in everyone else’s place.”

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