After going through its first season unbeaten at the club’s new home in Pouzolles, Midi CC suffered a first defeat in the Blevins Franks South-West Regional League, going down to old rivals Toulouse by 83 runs on Sunday, 20 May.
Midi scored a record 375 runs in the home win over Toulouse last season but was never in the hunt in this match after the visitors posted 280 for nine wickets from its 40 overs.
Midi, who finished a respectable fourth in last year’s league campaign, had gone into the first game of the 2018 season on the back of some regular practice under the expert tutelage of its American marquee player Ken Miller but some early wayward bowling and a few dropped catches allowed Toulouse openers Darshan and Rayan to lay the foundations for an emphatic victory.
It took a brilliant catch from resident Dutchman Joris Verdaasdonk off his own bowling to break the opening partnership sending back Rayan on 52 with the score on 110.
Darshan was next to go bowled by Miller with the score on 130 but with a run rate of nearly eight an over, Toulouse looked set for a formidable score. Miller, who took 2 for 22 off his five overs, Verdaasdonk (1 for 20) and captain Dom George (1 for 19) slowed the run rate down with the veteran all-rounder taking the vital wicket of Tanjil after a quickfire 48.
However, with grey skies moving in and thunder rumbling in the distance, a middle order burst produced eight sixes and took the Toulouse score to 280. It could have been more but for pace bowler Sher Ahmad who took three wickets in two overs in his second spell and ended with three for 50.
The rain threatened but never materialised and Midi, with four new players in the side, decided to play themselves in, the openers Biff Batstone and Shakeel Akram grafting a studious 35 in the first 10 overs before Batstone fell for three.
Shakeel stepped up the tempo in his first match for the club but Midi was always behind the run chase. When Shakeel departed after a solid innings of 63, which included four sixes, it was left to Ben Morgan (18) and Louis Parry (17) to shore up the innings and step up the run chase. But once they were gone and with the score on 152 for six wickets, Midi faced the nigh impossible task of scoring 129 runs off the last nine overs.
Miller (13) and George (19) edged the score towards respectability but Midi finally fell for 197 with George clean bowled and Mark Hayden stranded on five not out.
The match was technically a home match for Toulouse as their own ground was unavailable and it could be argued that as Midi was therefore playing an away match its unbeaten home record was still intact. But that’s ridiculous. Fortress Pouzolles is no more.
Midi will now have to lift its game for the second league match of the season, a home fixture against Eymet CC on Sunday, 27 May, but to be played at the Catus CC ground to lessen the travelling distance.